Can You Eat Crappie?

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Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post covering an often asked question when it comes to fishing… can you eat Crappie? Now, the short answer is absolutely, if fact, it is actually a nice tasting table fish with a very mild flavor.

It is however not as common to keep them for the table as many of the saltwater species we see in most restaurants so let’s check out the ins and outs of the consumption of this species below…

What are Crappie?

Can you eat crappie - Crappie in hands

So, before we start, let’s just quickly recap what we are talking about here. Crappie are the name given to two species of freshwater fish  – the Black Crappie and White Crappie.  They are native to North America and are popular as both a game and table fish.

White Crappie are found in more turbulent waters in the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay and Mississippi River basins expanding from New York and southern Ontario westward to South Dakota and southward to Texas. Black Crappie prefer the clearer waters of lakes in the Eastern parts of the United States and Canada.

They are a panfish with oval shaped bodies with downturned mouths ad a long upper jaw. They are heavily concaved around the upper part of the head and back. There are also some additions in sub species as follows:

  • White Crappie have faint vertical stripes and less spines on their dorsal fins. And as the name suggests, they are lighter in color than their cousins.
  • Black Crappie are darker in color with irregular black spots covering their bodies. They also have more spines on their dorsal fins as well.

Crappie generally live for up to around 9 years depending on their habitat and can reach sizes of up to 30 cm in length.

Note: Many jurisdictions implement seasonal restrictions and well as licensing and bag limit regulations -always check with local fishing authorities if you are fishing in a new area.

Can you eat Crappie

Although not as common as many saltwater species, Crappie is a popular table fish with a soft texture and mild taste. This quality however can be reduced dramatically if the fish are caught in muddy or stagnant water or not consumed immediately after catching.

Are they any good?

If you are not a fan of strong tasting or oily fish, then Crappie are the fish for you. They have a white, soft flesh and extremely mild taste meaning they take on many of the characteristics of others of their type such as:

  • They will take on the flavor of their surroundings – so avoid eating if they are caught in murky, stagnant or dirty water.
  • The older varieties tend to taste a lot stronger or ‘fishier’ so if you are planning to keep one for dinner, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the biggest one you catch.
  • Larger varieties (over 30cm or 12″) are also more susceptible to worms, parasites and increased absorbsion of waterway contaminants.

In most cases, as long as the water is clean and you are within your slot limit, then you are generally ok.


As with most white meated fish, Crappie do not need to be bled upon capture however if you plan to consume it, then it is always a good idea to place them on ice as soon as possible after it is landed. Many use an ice slurry in a cooler which is generally a ratio of 2 parts ice to 1 part water for this purpose.

Due to their eating habits, freshwater fish must be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed prior to consumption. From here, preparation will be determined by your planned consumption. If you plan to pan fry, then you can either scale and fillet or fillet and skin. Keep the meat refrigerated or on ice at all times before and after preparation.

Can you eat crappie - Crappie on a board

Can you freeze uncooked fillets?

Yes – Raw Crappie can be frozen for up to 3 – 8 months. It must gutted, cleaned and filleted then placed in an airtight bag or container (ziplock bags are good here) prior to being placed in the freezer. It is also highly recommended that you fill the container or bag with water to cover the fillets as well.

Can they be eaten raw?

No – This is not a good species for the sushi or sashimi wheel.

How to cook Crappie

At the end of the day, due to its white flesh, Crappie can be prepared in the same manner as most other fresh or saltwater species although it is best eaten as fillets. However due to its soft texture great care must be taken as it can easily be overcooked. Cooking options are as follows:


Crappie fillets can be cooked over charcoal or gas grills with any and all spices and seasonings as you see fit. Below is a common recipe:

  1. Heat a grill hot but not smoking.
  2. Pat bass fillets dry then spread butter or oil over the non-skinned side (or both if fillet is skinned) along with salt and pepper.
  3. Grill fillets until just cooked (fillets start to flake) – Do not overcook as the meat will go dry.
  4. Consume with salad or grilled vegetables.

You can of course use any other herbs or spices on the flesh to taste.

Pan Fried

Crappie are often referred to as panfish as they are small enough to fit in a pan. Cooking in this manner is essentially as above however I like to add garlic to the butter when I pan fry white fish fillets with the salt and pepper as well. I have seen many Crappie recipes with spices used to counteract the mildness of the flesh too so that is also worth a try. Of course, they can also be crumbed which entails:

  1. Gather three bowls and in the first, place some flour, eggs (beaten) in the second and breadcrumbs in the third.
  2. Pat dry each fillet (skin on or off to preference) and then cover in flour.
  3. Sink the flour covered fillets into the egg mixture and then cover in breadcrumbs
  4. Shallow fry in the oil of your choice in a pan large enough to hold the full size of the fillet.
  5. Spritz with lemon juice and consume with fries (chips), salad or whatever else takes your fancy.

Note: For extra flavor, add salt and pepper to the flour or even some grated Parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs. I have even seen some good recipes using BBQ rubs on the fillets as well.

Can you eat crappie - Deep fried crappie


 And there you go – my response to the question of whether you can eat Crappie. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences – or recipes – would love to see your recipes below too.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun

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4 thoughts on “Can You Eat Crappie?”

  1. Fried panfish. 2parts cornmeal 1 part flour add milk to the consistentsy of what would be pancakes. Dip fillets in batter then toss them in dry mix of cornmeal garlic powder and paprika or Cajun seasoning or both. Then pan fry in corn oil. Also works great for trout, bass, or walleye. Yes bass both small mouth and largemouth. Most people throw there bass back unaware of how good they are to eat. I usually all throw the 3 lb plus ones back. But thats why there are seasons and size limits. Nothing wrong with a few fish for the table especially with food prices what they are these days

  2. I like soaking all my fish in a 1 egg per 1 cup of butter milk blended with electric mixer. Let soak for 23 hours. Mix 2 cups corn meal and 1 cup self rising flour add what spice you prefer to flour mix and mix well. Roll filets in mix and drop in deep fryer or frying pan cook till done and enjoy


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.