Channel Catfish Flavor Profile

Catfish Flavor Scale

Channel Catfish have a distinctive taste; moist, sweet and mild flavored with firm flesh which has less flake than other whitefish. They are considered the best eating catfish in North America. Most commercial catfish in the United States are farmed Channel Catfish, and unlike most fish, farmed catfish are preferred over wild because aquaculture raised catfish have a more consistent flavor and does not have a muddy taste. They are FDA regulated and fed a diet of grain. Since they do not have scales Catfish are not kosher.

Basa (Vietnamese catfish) has a milder flavor and a more delicate texture which may be more approachable for people who do not care for catfish. Swai have a coarser texture than Channel Catfish & Basa, with tan to beige colored flesh which cooks up white.

Typical Cooking Methods

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Deep-Fry
  • Grill
  • Poach
  • Saute
  • Smoke
  • Steam
  • Sushi

Purchasing Guidelines

The meat of fresh catfish is white to off-white with pinkish hues, an iridescent sheen and noticeable translucence. Avoid fillets that are reddish or yellowish. After cooking the flesh is white and opaque. The quality of catfish is dependent upon the water conditions and feed. Watch out for “specials” which may feature the less-desirable and often muddy tasting wild river catfish. Do not confuse ocean catfish (wolfish) with farmed channel catfish.

Alternate Names

Spotted Catfish , Willow Catfish, Fiddler , Forked-tail Catfish

Channel Catfish Description (Ictalurus puncatus)

Channel Catfish©Andrew Grygus – [email protected]Linking and non-commercial use permitted.

Channel Catfish have a rather flattened head with barbels resembling cat whiskers and deeply forked tails. They have no scales (although some species do have overlapping armor plates) but are covered with a slippery protective mucus. They are usually bluish olive, black or gray on the upper part of the body, usually with dark spots flecked on their sides, with to color fading to white on the belly. The skin is tough and is generally not eaten.

Average market weight of Channel Catfish is 1 to 1 ½ pounds but can grow to 57 pounds.

Blue Catfish Description (Ictalurus furcatus)

Blue CatfishIllustration by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service = public domain.

Blue Catfish appear very similar to Channel Catfish and are also raised by aquaculture, but not to the extent that Channel Catfish are.

Fresh Availability

Fresh seafood availability chart: green areas show peak availability, light green show limited availability, gray indicates not available fresh. Frozen product is available all year long.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec


Channel Catfish Butchering Yield Percentage and Recovery

Item To Skin/On Fillets To Skin/Off Fillets To Skirt/Off, Skin/Off
Whole Head/On gutted,
4 lb – up
63% 50% 42%
Whole Head/On gutted,
2 lb – down
60% 40% skirt is too thin
Skin/On Fillets 87% 67%


Range & Habitat

Channel Catfish is the most farmed fish in North America, mostly in the South, especially Mississippi. Wild Channel and Blue Catfish are native to North America and range from the central drainages of the Mississippi River from southern Canada to northern Mexico.

Typical Wholesale Products

Catfish is available Whole, H & G, Fillets (Skn/Off), Steaks, Strips, Nuggets.

Catfish Sustainability Information

Name Alternate Names Catch Method Catch
Catfish Channel Catfish Farmed, closed system US Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png low
Disclaimer: The sustainability info above is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, each program randomly updates their information without our knowledge. We therefore recommend that you verify the current accuracy of this information.
Green-icon_20.png = Best Choice/Recommended Yellow-icon_20.png = Good Alternative Red-Dot_20.png = Avoid/Not Recommended Updated
July 2013


Nutritional Information

based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving.

* Calories/Calories from fat 231
* Protein grams 27
* Fat grams 13
* Saturated fat grams 3
* Sodium milligrams 91
* Cholesterol milligrams 81
* Omega-3 grams .7


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David Buchanan is a professional chef and author of, a site geared towards providing chefs and culinarians useful info to help in their kitchens.


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