Old-Fashioned Fried Bluegill


I call this recipe “Old Fashioned” not because the cooking method is old, but rather because the feelings it invokes are old to me. I remember back years ago when my brother and I were a couple of barefoot kids with free range of the farm. It was back when our summers revolved around a tiny farm pond down the road from the house. I like to fry my fish outdoors when possible; it keeps down the heat, mess and odor in the kitchen. It just feels right, too. A cast iron Lodge Dutch Oven on a propane burner or turkey fryer is just the ticket. Fry in a mix of vegetable shortening and a high smoke point oil like peanut or safflower.



  • 3 to 4 bluegill per person are usually sufficient, but some of us require a few more
  • 1 part all purpose flour to 3 parts corn meal. Two cups of total meal is normally enough to fry 15- to 20 gills
  • Salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning to taste added to the fish meal, generally 1 tablespoon of each in two cups of meal



  1. Preheat an inch or two of oil in your dutch oven to a temperature of 325-350 degrees.
  2. Toss the fish into the meal mixture to coat then drip into the hot oil. Generally speaking, small panfish will finish in about 5 minutes. If your fish are a bit on the large side, make a few parallel slits in the skin before breading. The extra openings allow the hot grease to penetrate a bit deeper and allow the larger fish to cook through without overdoing the crust. Since this method requires minimal prep, it’s a great way to prepare fish stream or lakeside as well.

Prep time is 30 minutes, and cook time is five minutes per batch.


Recipe courtesy of Michael Pendley/Realtree Outdoors/Timber 2 Table.


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