1. Home
  2. Recipe Box

Best Paddlefish Recipes

These paddlefish recipes offer you many methods to use for cooking; frying, smoking, grilling and even broiling.  Some folks favor smoked and other love is fried.

Paddlefish are a cousin to sturgeon and are also known as spoonbill, spoonbill cat and shovelnose cat.  Paddlefish seldom bite a baited hook, but on occasion are “snagged” accidentally by anglers using treble hooks.  

Spoonbill is a great tasting fish – as long as you clean it right.  A fish under 65 pounds is the best tasting; smaller even better. 

If you only keep the ones under 10 pounds, you usually do not have to trim the red meat.  At 15 pounds the red meat begins to get oily and needs to be trimmed (in the directions below).  The best ones yield three 4″ fillets from each side.

As soon as you land the fish you would do the following:
Tip 1:  Kill the fish as soon as you have it in the boat (hit it on the head), tie a line through it’s gill plate, cut both sides of the gills off and put the fish back in the water. Let it bleed out.  This will get rid of the soured blood taste.

Tip 2:  Keep the fish cold.  This is very important.  If you have ice, put it down into the belly of the fish – you want to cool down the meat as soon as possible.

Tip 3:  There are no bones in paddlefish, so filleting them are very simple.  The third most important step to guarantee great taste is removing the long fibrous “cord” (really looks like a spinal cord).  It’s the first thing you remove from the fish so the fillets are not ruined. 

You can cut around the tailbone at the tail, then saw the tailbone/backbone off the ribs and pull the tailbone right out.  You  cut off all the red meat and gray fatty tissue.  One speck of red meat will ruin the flavor.  Then you can cut into steaks.  Place in salt water for 30 minutes to cool.

You may soak them in buttermilk for a few hours to remove any smell or taste that is left over.  Guarantees great results.  Now on to the recipes!

Fried Paddlefish Recipe #MissHomemade

Paddlefish Recipes

Frying the paddlefish steaks like catfish seems to be the favorite way of preparing the spoonbill fillets.  Tips below on preparing my first paddlefish recipe.  If you have a favorite way to fry fish, now is the time to use it.

FRIED PADDLEFISH RECIPE (Fried Spoonbill Recipe)

paddlefish cut into 1 inch chunks

egg and milk to dip fish into
Seasoned Flour
1 cup flour in an resealable bag
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper
Old Bay seasoning (optional)

breadcrumbs or cornmeal on paper plate
oil for cooking

This is a real simple way to fry spoonbill.  You dip the fish in egg wash, place in the resealable bag and shake until completely covered.  Redip in milk and dredge in breadcrumbs or cornmeal.  Drop tenderly into the hot oil and fry each side until golden brown.  Bring it out and let it sit on paper towel to drain. 

Serve with hush puppies.  Baked potato or french fries and coleslaw (below) complete the meal.

Grilled Paddlefish Recipe #MissHomemade


paddlefish fillets, cut into strips or small chunks

You have many choices right now, but I am giving you two right now.  You may grill the spoonbill directly on the grates or in foil with lemon pepper and butter.  The second option is to let fish marinate overnight in your favorite barbecue sauce and grill it that way. 

My favorite is using a homemade whiskey barbecue sauce.  You would cut the fillets into strips or chunks and let it marinate in the barbecue sauce overnight in the refrigerator.

Take the fish out of the sauce and wrap with 1/2 strip of bacon (optional).  Pin with a toothpick if you are using bacon and grill until bacon is brown.

You may skewer the fillets (like below) or place directly on an oiled grate.

Grilled Paddlefish Recipe #MissHomemade

The second way to grill paddlefish is to place it directly on the grates or put the fish in foil.  When fish is in the foil, pour some melted butter over fillets and season with lemon pepper.  Grill for 15 to 20 minutes.  Serve with lemon wedges. 

Or you may use a mixture of olive oil, salted butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste in a bowl and use this to marinate the fish while cooking.  Delicious.


pat of butter
lemon pepper

Place a pat of butter on fillet and season with lemon pepper.  Broil until cooked.

Best Fish Recipes

Recipe Box

Smoked Paddlefish Recipe #MissHomemade

SMOKED PADDLEFISH RECIPE (Smoked Spoonbill recipe)

paddlefish, 2″ x 3″ x 4″ chunks or small fillets

2 gallons water
2 cups kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar

Brine fish for 36 hours.

Dry on a rack in the refrigerator overnight.  Use cherry chips for the smoke (or applewood).  Smoke fillets for 4-1/2 hours at 175 to 200 degrees until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees.  It will take longer if you use larger pieces of fish.