Step-By-Step How To Make Catfish Stew (South Carolina Recipe)

Catfish stew recipe slow cooker

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As the months begin to fade to fall, there are three things I look forward to. College football, cooler weather, and soups and stews. Nothing warms you up like a good pot of soup or a stew. I have a lot of favorites that I like to make, but one of them has to be Catfish Stew.

The abundant catfish that lives in the southern lakes is a delicacy in the south. Catfish is a moist, slightly sweet and flaky texture. One of the main things about catfish fillets is to draw the bloodline before cooking.

This darker meat can have a strong fishy flavor and removing it is best practice. You are left with pearly white fillets that are moist and delicate.

Where did catfish stew



Considered by many to be a traditional South Carolina dish, catfish stew combines tomatoes, bacon, potatoes and catfish fillets to make a hearty and filling stew. Catfish stew was a staple food along the shores of many fish camps in the early days. Come like me to make catfish stew, South Carolina style.

Catfish stew can have a few different names, such as South Carolina catfish stew, Charleston catfish stew, Lowcountry catfish

stew, and Carolina catfish stew. So if you are looking for the name, know that sometimes it has different names.

In this catfish stew recipe, the catfish is broken during the cooking process. You don’t really see much once you’ve cooked to the consistency I prefer. This is what makes a great southern catfish stew that is sure to please your taste bud!

Ingredients—What You’ll Need to Make

South Carolina

Catfish Catfish


If you can get fresh catfish fillets, as you caught them yourself, those are the best. If not, you can buy them at most grocery stores.

Here are some species of catfish found in most southern waters


Canal catfish:

These are the most common catfish that people eat. These are very tasty, but stay away from the bigger ones. Larger fish tend to be a bit stronger in flavor. I like to keep catfish weighing less than 10 pounds to eat. In addition, your biggest fish is your breeding fish that helps replenish the water.

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Blue Catfish:

In my opinion, this is the catfish that eats best in fresh waters. Again, try to stay away from the bigger ones. The larger ones can be stronger and are also spawning fish.

Flat-headed catfish:

These are also very good catfish to eat. Actually all these species make a great fried fish, except for bullhead catfish.

Bullhead Catfish:

In my opinion, this is not a catfish that eats well. You will also hear these called by the name of mudcat or mudfish.


I like to use red potatoes or reddish potatoes. You will need about 8 potatoes for this recipe.


2 medium onions. I like to cut onions into smaller pieces.


Bacon Bacon is

what this dish really does. The smoky flavor of bacon is really what sets this fish recipe apart from others.

I like to use good quality thick bacon to remove fat. I cut the bacon into small pieces and I will place the bacon in a large pot with my fire over medium-high heat and then cook the bacon until the fat gives up. This is how I start this catfish stew recipe.


2 to 3

celery stalks


I will use 2

to 3 cloves of garlic

Tomato paste

I use a can of tomato paste Diced tomatoes

2 cans of diced tomatoes or fresh diced tomatoes if you have them.



Worcestershire Can you tell? Because I sure can’t haha. This recipe calls for 2 tablespoons Worcestershire




like to use Texas Pete or Franks Red Hot for this catfish stew recipe. 2 tablespoons is what I recommend. If you like it hotter, then you can use more. You can always let people add more as they dip their bowls when they’re ready to eat them.

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like to use sea salt or kosher salt. I feel that regular table salt can give your dish an unpleasant taste. I recommend adding just a small amount of salt to get started. 1 teaspoon of salt should be a good starting point. Let it cook for a while and then try it.



I like to use black pepper in this dish. I don’t add too much as I add hot sauce, but black pepper has a nice warm, woody flavor that really adds depth to this dish. Start with 1 teaspoon.


You will need about 2 quarts or 8 cups of water


How to cook

: Step 1:

Start with a large heavy-bottomed pot or a large Dutch oven


Step 2: Cut the bacon into small 1-inch pieces. Put in the Dutch oven and light the fire over medium-high heat. We want to start pulling fat out of bacon.

Photo by Nicolas Postiglioni

Step 3: Once the bacon has begun to remove the fat, we will put the celery, onions and garlic. Let them cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until celery and onions become translucent. Be sure to stir often so as not to burn the garlic and onions.

Catfish Stew

Step 4: Add the water. Next, add the tomato paste and hot sauce. You can also add the seasonings at this point as well. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to incorporate the tomato paste.

Step 5: Add the

potatoes Once the tomato paste has been incorporated, lower the heat to medium heat. Step

6: Add the catfish fillets. While cooking the catfish fillets, I like to use my wooden spoon to break the fillets.

Step 7: I like to let the potatoes cook very well. I will usually let this simmer for about an hour and a half to two hours. This will cause the catfish stew to thicken slightly as the potatoes cook and the stew is reduced.

The total time will vary on how you like your stew. I like mine to thicken a little. Be sure to add some water to it if it overcooks.

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Step 8: Once you’ve reached the right consistency, it’s time to serve it. Pour the stew into a bowl. Serve with crackers and hot sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use olive oil or vegetable oil instead of bacon?

Yes. You can use olive oil or vegetable oil instead of bacon if you are looking for a healthy alternative. I will say that bacon is part of what gives this catfish stew recipe its unique flavor.

Can I add Cajun seasoning?

Yes, you can also add Cajun seasonings. Check out this homemade recipe for Cajun seasonings.

Cajun seasoning

What can I add to make

catfish stew spicier?

If you want to make catfish spicier, you can add some flakes of red pepper, cayenne pepper or just add a little more hot sauce. If I’m serving a large crowd or my family, I’ll let them add more of the spicier ingredients if they want when they get their own bowl.

Can I add other vegetables to this dish?

yes. You can add many other vegetables to this dish, such as red peppers, green peppers, and okra, to name a few. This catfish recipe is the basic recipe that is known for the cuisine of the Deep South. From here you can make your own recipe.

What other spices and seasonings can I use?

Some people like to add bay leaves, thyme leaves, oregano leaves, and even a tablespoon of chili powder. Again, you can make this your own recipe, but I’m giving you the starting point.

Photo by Victoria BowersSide


for serving catfish stew?

  • White Rice: Catfish stew can be served over the top of the rice in a bowl for a real South Carolina dish!
  • Marinated cucumbers Onions and vinegar (cucumber salad)
  • Cornbread
  • Fried green tomatoes
  • Saltine Kale

crackers I hope you really enjoyed this article on how to make catfish stew! Please leave me your comment and let me know what you think! Remember, let’s make food junk!


Also, check out one of these recipes:

Marinated for Smoked Meat JerkyChicken Bog | A Traditional South Carolina Dish Southern Food Junkie ChiliBrunswick StewHome

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