Field To Table

Bullhead Recipes – Pan-fried & Baked

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This Bullhead Recipe is easy and delicious. It’s similar to catfish but with a more mild flavor. It pairs well with this quick citrus salsa.

Fish fry with salsa and lemon wedges.Pin
Fried Bullhead

I honestly think that we are turning into pescatarians lately! Maybe because it is Springtime in the Northeastern United States and fresh fish are everywhere! I love it! I don’t think it would be too hard to be pescatarian, except perhaps the occasional big juicy burger which I may or may not be able to live without!

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Honestly, there are no 2 fish or seafood that even resemble one another! The diversity is unending! As is evidenced by this Bacon Horseradish Crusted Grouper and these Strawberry Infused Sea Scallops!

What are brown bullhead?

These brown bullhead are a firm textured, mild flavored fish that’s closest relatives are the many species of catfish.

close up of pan fried BullheadPin

The fish are native to North America, east of the Mississippi River but have been introduced into waters all over the world. They are best fished for at night. Although in the spring, when spawning they can taken during the daylight hours.

Various bait types will work for taking bullhead. Worms, corn, canned shrimp, occasionally they can even be caught using a Rapala crankbait. The one technique that is important is that they are usually (except for the crankbait) on the bottom because they are bottom feeders.

The smaller fish are usually tastier than larger ones. Large ones tend to have a “muddy” flavor, for lack of a better adjective.

How to prepare these catfish

Although fileting of these fish can be done, you waste a lot of meat when you do this. Our favorite way to prepare is to skin them and dress them (remove innards). Once they are cooked, the meat just slips right off of the bone.

What you need

  • bullhead – you can use catfish or cod if you don’t have access to bullhead.
  • flour – you can also use bread crumbs or cornmeal. If you do, you will need to dip them in an egg wash so that the bread crumbs stick to the fish.
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • celery seed
  • lemon juice
Ingredients for brown bullhead. Details in recipe below.Pin

How to make them

The process of making bullhead is incredibly easy.

  1. Dry fish well between paper towel.
  2. Add spices and flour to small bowl.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Place flour mixture on a flat plate. Dredge fish in flour.
  5. Flip and dredge the other side. Shake off excess.
  6. Add a bit of oil to a heavy bottom pan over medium-high heat. Add fish. Brown on first time until golden. Flip. Brown the other side. Adjust heat if needed.
Step by step photographs of the process for making fried bullhead. See details in recipe below.Pin

Garnish with lemon wedges, fresh parsley and a few dashes tabasco sauce for a bit of a kick.

NOTE: The fish should be white on the inside. Look in the rib cage. If it is red, it stills needs to cook. Fish flakes easily with a fork when it is done.

To keep fish warm between batches, place them on a wire rack placed over a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Place the baking sheet in a warm oven. 200-250°F / 100°C

If you are looking for delicious bullhead recipe, this one is a favorite with family and friends alike.

Fried bullhead on vintage gray plate.Pin

They are super easy to prepare. Either a quick pan fry or about 20 minutes in the oven and you have a delicious dinner! They are also delicious on the grill!

If you would like to oven bake them. Just season with salt, pepper, celery salt and/or lemon pepper. Then bake at 350°F / 180°C.

While the fish is cooking you can whip up this 10 minute citrus salsa with just a few ingredients! The salsa pairs beautifully with the bullhead!

How to store fish

Fresh, cleaned and skinned fish can be put in freezer bags and frozen for up to six month. For smaller fish, we usually add a few tablespoons of water. It seems to delay freezer burn.

Cooked fish is best eaten fresh. Do not refreeze cooked bullhead. Leftovers can be refrigerated for 2-3 days. Reheat in a 350°F / 180°C oven wrapped in aluminum foil for about 15-20 minutes until hot.

Sauces to use

Side dishes to serve with bullhead

Other fish recipes

Tools I use

Either way you prepare them the fish is flaky, tender and super moist!

Pan fried fish on vintage metal platter.Pin

Could you live as a pescatarian? Inquiring minds want to know! Leave me a comment below!

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If you have any questions or comments, please ask in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you.

I hope you enjoyed the recipe today.

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

Binky's signature
Bullhead arranged on platter.Pin

Bullhead with Citrus Salsa

Fresh bullhead is a mild flavored, tender, flaky fish that is available at local markets in the Northeastern United States. It pairs beautifully with this citrus salsa!
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 250kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $4


  • 4 bullhead, dressed and skinned

For Pan Fried

For Oven Baked

  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 3 fresh lemons

For Citrus Salsa

  • 1 can mandarin oranges
  • 1 can diced or crushed pineapple
  • 2 tbsp finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 jalapeno, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red, orange or green bell pepper
  • 2 tsp chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 lime, juiced


For Pan fried Bullhead

  • Wash and dry bullhead.
  • Mix flour with spices and lightly dredge bullhead in flour. Shake off excess.
  • Add oil to frying pan and heat over medium high heat. Add bullhead to the pan and saute’ until golden brown. Flip to brown the other side. Squeeze juice of half a lemon over each fish. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve with salsa and lemon wedge.

For Baked Bullhead

  • Wash and dry bullhead. rub each side with salt, pepper and celery seed. Then with the juice of half of the lemon.
  • Place on baking sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes until internal reaches about 145°F. Serve with salsa and lemon wedges.

For Citrus Salsa

  • Open and drain pineapple and orange slices. Add to a medium bowl. 
  • Toss with the rest of the chopped vegetables and spices and the lime juice. 
  • Can be made ahead. Flavors will mingle and the salsa will become hotter, so adjust the jalapeno’ according to your tastes.
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Leftover fish and salsa should be stored separately.
Leftovers can be refrigerated for 3-4 days.
Reheat fish in microwave or, covered, in 350°F oven for about 15 minutes, until hot.
Do not refreeze cooked fish.
Raw, cleaned fish can be frozen in freezer bags up to six months.


Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 1552mg | Potassium: 355mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 453IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 4mg
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Originally published June 6, 2016. Updated July 25,2022.

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  1. 5 stars
    The citrus salsa look so fresh and delicious! I can’t wait to make this for dinner this week!

  2. 5 stars
    One of my favorite meal options. Pan-fried sounds delicious and combination of Salsa makes it perfect.

  3. 5 stars
    I really enjoy a fruit salsa with fish! I’ve never head of bullhead fish before but will be on the lookout! Great recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    wow..this citrus salsa looks absolutely delish…gotta give this fish recipe a try. thanks for sharing.

  5. 5 stars
    This is awesome I’ve always joked about eating this fish as we catch so many they are a pest but here it is!! Hahaha now I actually have to try it!!

  6. I must admit, I couldn’t live as a pescatarian…. mostly because I don’t eat much seafood at all. My husband on the other hand, definitely could! I’ve never heard of the bullhead but he did try catfish on a trip to New Orleans and loved it. That salsa looks divine too! ❤️

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