Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe

You know how to fry catfish, but do you know how to make tartar sauce and chips (French fries) from scratch? With this recipe, you can do it all. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with homemade chips and tartar sauce

You can use any white-fleshed fish for this recipe. If you have access to ocean fish – great! But for those who don't live near the sea, I believe catfish is the most comparable freshwater fish we have to popular saltwater species such as cod or haddock. Catch something in the neighborhood of a five-pounder, and you're in business. You don't want to use something like crappie or bluegill, which can be so thin that they get lost among the French fries.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 3 hours
Cook time: 30 minutes

Catfish Ingredients:

  • 4 catfish fillets
  • 4 large starchy potatoes
  • Vegetable/peanut oil for frying

Beer-Batter Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups flour, plus extra
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • Half a can (4 ounces) of light beer

Tartar Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced pickles or cornichons
  • Splash of pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon capers, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried dill
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste


  1. Cut potatoes, peeled or unpeeled, into desired size strips. For crispier fries, cut them thinner. Soak potato strips in water for about 2-3 hours.

  2. Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe
    I cut my potatoes a little thicker for a more traditional take on this British classic. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  3. In the meantime, make the beer batter by combining the dry ingredients first, and then whisk in the beer. Refrigerate the batter, covered, for up to 3 hours until you’re ready to use it.

  4. Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe
    Refrigerate beer batter until you're ready to use it on the catfish fillets. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  5. Combine tartar sauce ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use. This tartar sauce recipe will stay fresh for at least a week in your refrigerator, although I've kept it for much longer.

  6. Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe
    Homemade tartar sauce is always better than store bought, which often tastes one-noted and boring. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  7. To fry the chips, first drain potatoes and lay them out onto a large cookie sheet lined with paper or cotton towels. Dab the potatoes to get them as dry as possible – water and hot oil do not mix. Then heat oil to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, and fry in batches until potatoes become tender, about 5 minutes. They will still be blond at this point. Drain them on paper towels or on a cooling rack.

  8. Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe
    Knowing how to make your own French fries is a skill everyone should keep under their belt. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  9. Then crank up the oil temperature to 375 degrees. Fry the chips again until golden and crispy – do not overcrowd the pan to keep the oil temperature from dropping too much. Transfer chips to a cooling rack, toss with salt to taste and keep warm.

  10. Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe
    Double fry the chips so they are soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  11. Rinse catfish fillets with cold water and dab dry. Cut the fillets into smaller pieces if desired. First, lightly coat the fish with plain flour (do not skip this step) and then coat with the beer batter.

  12. Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe
    Dab catfish fillets dry with a paper towel after rinsing. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

  13. Carefully drop the fillets into the hot oil (375 degrees) and cook until golden and crispy. Drain before serving with chips and tartar sauce.

  14. Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe
    Cook battered catfish fillets until golden brown and crispy. (Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley photo)

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