You won’t believe how easy it is to make air fryer catfish nuggets! Panko bread crumbs give them an extra-crispy coating while the inside cooks to fork-tender perfection.
Is it just me, or is finger food always more fun to eat? If you’re looking for an easy and delicious new recipe to try, you’re going to love these air fryer catfish nuggets!
Tender fish bites are coated in panko bread crumbs and air fried to crispy, golden perfection. These yummy nuggets are so perfect for dunking in all your favorite sauces.
When you want an easy dinner that will be devoured by kids and adults alike, try making catfish nuggets in the air fryer. Don’t be surprised if these become a new family favorite!
How to Air Fry Catfish Nuggets
A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.
STEP ONE: Rinse the fish and pat it dry with paper towels.
STEP TWO: Cut the fish into 1-inch to 2-inch chunks and place in a medium mixing bowl.
STEP THREE: Pour the buttermilk over the fish and let it sit for 10-20 minutes at room temperature.
STEP FOUR: In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg well with 3 tablespoons of water. In another bowl, whisk together the breadcrumbs, flour, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper.
STEP FIVE: Drain the catfish through a fine mesh strainer.
STEP SIX: Dredge each piece of catfish in the egg, then press into the breadcrumb mixture. Shake off any excess.
STEP SEVEN: Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F and working in batches, place the breaded nuggets in a single layer in the basket. Spray lightly with cooking oil spray.
STEP EIGHT: Air fry for 8 minutes, flipping the nuggets halfway through the cooking time.
STEP NINE: Remove the nuggets once they have reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F and are fork tender in the middle. Repeat with any remaining nuggets.
What to Serve with Air Fryer Catfish Bites
- Air Fryer Broccoli
- Air Fryer Hush Puppies
- Garlic Cheese Bread
- Instant Pot Potato Salad
- Mac and Cheese without Milk
How Long to Cook Air Fryer Catfish Nuggets
You want to cook the air fryer catfish bites long enough to let the breading get crispy while ensuring the fish is cooked all the way through.
The exact timing will depend on your make and model of air fryer and the size of your catfish bites.
For me, 8 minutes is usually just right. The nuggets are done when the outside is golden and the catfish has reached an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
I always recommend using an Instant Read Thermometer for the most precise cooking!
Tips for Making the Best Catfish Nuggets in the Air Fryer
- After breading, make sure to shake off any excess panko bread crumbs so they don’t fall off in the air fryer and burn.
- Don’t overcrowd the basket. It’s better to work in batches to ensure the best results.
- Make sure to flip the catfish bites halfway through the cooking time so they get properly crispy on all sides.
- To store leftover catfish nuggets, place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To reheat, air fry the bites at 400 degrees F for 3 minutes until heated all the way through. If reheating from frozen, increase the time to 5 minutes.
More Delicious Panko-Breaded Recipes
- Air Fryer Avocado Fries
- Air Fryer Cheese Curds
- Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- Air Fryer Popcorn Shrimp
- Air Fryer Zucchini Chips
More Air Fryer Fish Recipes You’ll Love:
- Air Fryer Catfish
- Air Fryer Cod
- Air Fryer Tuna Melt
- Air Fryer Haddock
- Air Fryer Mahi Mahi
- Air Fryer Salmon
- Air Fryer Tilapia
- Air Fryer Tuna Steaks
- 45 Easy Air Fryer Fish Recipes
- 3 catfish filets, thawed
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg, beaten well
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1 to 2-inch chunks and place in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the buttermilk over the fish and let it sit for 10-20 minutes at room temperature.
- In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg well with 3 tablespoons of water. In another bowl, whisk together the breadcrumbs, flour, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper.
- Drain the catfish through a fine mesh strainer. Dredge each piece in the egg, then press into the breadcrumb mixture, shaking off excess.
- Preheat the air fryer basket to 400 degrees F for 5 minutes and working in batches, place the breaded nuggets in a single layer in the basket. Spray lightly with cooking oil spray.
- Air fry for 8 minutes, flipping over halfway through cook time.
- Remove when the nuggets are fully cooked to 145 degrees F and fork tender in the middle.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 395Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 119mgSodium: 845mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 30g
This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.