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posted February 07, 2022

Lemon Pepper Grilled Catfish

Whether you have some fresh-caught catfish waiting in the freezer, or you’re looking to branch out and try something new, this lemon pepper grilled catfish recipe is a perfect place to start. 

Grilled catfish filet on a cedar plank with text overlay - Lemon Pepper Grilled Catfish.

Can You Grill Catfish?

Catfish is an excellent fish to cook on the grill. It’s a sweet and rather mild fish that absorbs other flavors easily. Keep in mind farmed catfish tastes much milder than wild-caught catfish. Wild catfish can be fishy and even a bit muddy.

With this in mind, this recipe rubs the fish in a flavorful lemon pepper mayo and cooks the catfish on a cedar plank to infuse it with all the good BBQ flavors possible. This recipe can be cooked on any grill you have available, including a gas grill or pellet grill. I quite like the flavor added by cooking on a charcoal grill.

Cedar plank on a grill.

Grilled Catfish

This grill catfish recipe is a great recipe to try if you’ve never tried catfish before. The flavors are fresh and traditional,  so you can rest assured that your entire family will at least TRY dinner.

This lemon pepper catfish is a classic in terms of flavor, but grilling it on a cedar plank adds a smoky element that turns it up a major notch. It’s a great way to cook up some fish from a recent fishing trip or to try out something new.

Seasoning paste being spread on two catfish filets.

How to Grill Catfish

It doesn’t get much easier than this grilled catfish. This catfish cooks in less than 30 minutes, and if you’re in a rush, you can quickly soak the planks and get right to it! Dinner will be ready before you know it.

  1. Soak. Fully submerge the cedar planks in water and soak for at least 45 minutes (or up to 2 hours) prior to cooking. For some added fun, add a few cups of wine, stock, or liquor to the water.
  2. Season. Make the mayonnaise-based paste (ingredients in the printable recipe card below) in a small bowl. Use the backside of a spoon to evenly spread the rub over both sides of the catfish.
  3. Grill. With your favorite grill preheated to 400 degrees F, place the planks directly on the grill grates, close the lid, and cook for 15-20 minutes. 
  4. Serve. Once the fish is fully cooked, remove it from the grill and top with parsley and parmesan cheese (the cheese is optional, but it really finishes this fish). Serve immediately and enjoy your gorgeous grilled catfish.

Seasoned catfish filets on cedar planks on a grill.

How Long to Grill Catfish

This catfish takes around 15-20 minutes to fully cook with the grill preheated and running steady at 400 degrees F.

When cooking fish (or any cut of meat for that matter), I prefer to monitor my meal by temperature instead of time. This way, I can ensure that the meat is cooked to the perfect doneness every time. Catfish is safe when cooked to 145 degrees F using a reliable thermometer. As you are nearing the 15-minute mark, take the temperature of your fish and remove it once the temp reaches 145 degrees F.

Instant read thermometer reading temperature of catfish at 145 degrees F.

Notes for Grilling Catfish

Before you jump into the recipe below, I have a few important notes you shouldn’t forget when making this catfish.

  • Soak the cedar planks. Soak the planks for at least 45 minutes before grilling. Right before placing the fish on the planks, cook on the grill for just a minute to dry the surface.
  • Skip the skin. Skinless catfish works best for this recipe as the filet can absorb some of the flavors from the cedar planks while it cooks on the grill.
  • Save some lemon wedges for serving. Fresh lemon is the perfect complement to the smoky catfish, and a fresh squeeze of lemon finishes this recipe off perfectly.

Grilled catfish filet on a cedar plank.

More Grilled Fish Recipes

Fancy yourself a fish fan? We’ll take any fish as long as we can cook it on the grill or in the smoker! Check out some of our other popular grilled fish recipes from Hey Grill Hey below.

Grilled Catfish Recipe

This grilled catfish recipe is ready and waiting for you! Here’s hoping you loved this recipe. Make sure you voice your opinions in the comments section below!

Fork flaking a piece out of a grilled catfish filet.

Lemon Pepper Grilled Catfish

Taylor Shulman
Whether you have some fresh-caught catfish waiting in the freezer, or you're looking to branch out and try something new, this lemon pepper grilled catfish recipe is a perfect place to start. 
Prep Time : 15 mins
Cook Time : 20 mins
Soaking Time : 2 hrs
Total Time : 2 hrs 35 mins
Servings : 4 people
Calories : 939kcal


  • 2 cedar planks


  • 4 skinless catfish filets

Lemon Pepper Rub

  • 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 cloves garlic (grated)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley (crushed)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest (fresh or dried)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon corander
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground rosemary


  • 3 Tablespoons parsley (finely chopped for garnish)
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese


  • Soak. Start by soaking the cedar planks for at least 10 minutes and up to 2 hours. If you want to jazz it up, you can add a few cups of wine, stock, or liquor to the soak.
  • Preheat. Preheat the grill to 400 degrees F for direct heat grilling. Allow the grill to preheat while you prep the fish.
  • Dry the plank. Choose the side of the plank you are going to cook the fish on and sear it over the fire for about 1 minute.
  • Make the rub. In a small bowl stir together the mayo, lemon juice, and spices to make the lemon pepper rub.
    3 Tablespoons mayonnaise, 4 cloves garlic, 1 Tablespoon salt, 1 Tablespoon cracked black pepper, 1 Tablespoon dried parsley, 1 Tablespoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon corander, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon ground rosemary
  • Season. Pat the catfish filets dry with a paper towel and coat both sides with the paste. Place them on the cedar planks.
    4 skinless catfish filets
  • Grill. Place the planks on the grill, close the lid, and cook for 15-20 minutes. You can tell when fish is done by how it flakes apart with ease, is no longer opaque, and you can see the white fat rendering from between the flakes.
  • Serve. Remove the fish from the grill. Top with fresh parsley & parmesan and enjoy.
    3 Tablespoons parsley, freshly grated parmesan cheese


Calories: 939kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 148g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 526mg | Sodium: 459mg | Potassium: 3293mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 755IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 153mg | Iron: 3mg
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