Can You Eat Crappie: A Guide to Safely Preparing Your Catch

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Can You Eat Crappie?

Crappie Tacos
Photo via Aaron Schultz/Premier Angler

While this may seem like a silly question to most folks who have spent years catching this popular game fish, it is certainly worth exploring in more detail. As a short answer, however, yes, you can absolutely eat crappie!

And most of the time, crappie is delicious! Many freshwater anglers agree that crappie is one of, if not the, tastiest fish to come out of lakes, ponds, streams, or rivers.

While some may prefer the more pronounced flavor of salmon, mahi mahi, or tuna, crappie often make for the most simple and enjoyable meal for folks in regions without access to coastal waters.

Furthermore, the barrier to entry on crappie fishing is considerably lower than many other popular species. A simple panfish rod and reel combo, light mono or fluorocarbon line, a hook, minnow, and bobber gives you a healthy chance at pulling in a few crappie most days.

What Do Crappie Taste Like?

Unlike some of the saltwater species listed above, crappie actually have a very mild taste. When caught from colder water, the fish’s taste and texture is similar to that of both sunfish and yellow perch.

Also, it is worth noting that there doesn’t seem to be much discernible difference in taste between black crappie and white crappie.

The majority of the edible flesh is a white meat that lacks a strong, “fishy” taste. Crappie do have some red meat around the tail and fins that assists with swimming, however.

If you do ended up eating any of the red meat, you will notice a more distinct “fishy” taste.

How to Cook Crappie

Crappie Tacos
Photo via Aaron Schultz/Premier Angler

Most of the time, crappie is either baked or fried. When cooking, you want to make sure the fish has an internal temperature of 145 degree (Fahrenheit) before eating.

Depending on the preparation method you use, the actual cooking time will vary.

When baked, crappie are usually placed on a non-stick sheet and spruced with light seasoning. Butter is a popular additive to increase taste. Ideally, you will add your fish to a greased baking dish and cook on 400 degree for 15-20 minutes.

Once baked, crappie can be paired with rice, potatoes, pasta, and vegetables for a light, healthy meal.

Likewise, fried crappie pairs with all of the above. I personally recommend fried crappie, especially over a fire, for the best results. Make sure to heat enough oil that your filets will be covered, with the oil reaching an ideal temperature of about 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once your oil reaches this temperature, add a few filets to a medium or large skillet. If you have enough oil in the skillet, a properly breaded filet should turn golden brown within three minutes. You don’t want to “over” fry the filets, though.

One of the reasons I recommend frying the crappie is because you can make some incredible fish tacos with your filets!

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