Outsider Cowboy Cooking: Pan-Fried Rainbow Trout

by Jim Casey

Eating fresh-caught fish is one of life’s simple pleasures. Rarely will anything taste as good. And trout is at the top of my list (along with crappie) for a few reasons: they are fun to catch, simple to prepare, and taste amazing. While you can cook trout any number of ways (bake, broil, or grill), pan-fried whole trout in a cast iron skillet over an open fire is as good as Cowboy Cooking gets, in my opinion.

Of course, this simple Pan-Fried Rainbow Trout recipe will work on both fresh-caught and store-bought trout.


  • 2 whole trout (cleaned/with or without heads)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 8 oz. cooking oil (vegetable/peanut/canola)
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. pepper
7 simple ingredients: trout, cornmeal, flour, lemons, oil, salt, and pepper.

Cowboy Cooking Equipment

Today I am using my Lodge Chef 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet, which I recently reviewed for Outsider. This 12-inch skillet is big enough to cook two trout at the same time. Of course, a good cast iron skillet will help ensure a uniform cooking temperature, even over an open flame.

You could easily prepare this recipe in a skillet on top of a charcoal grill, gas grill, or stove top.

Lodge Chef 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet

Prep Work

One of the reasons I love to catch and cook trout is the simplicity of preparing the fish. Trout do not need to be scaled (waste of time) and they do not need to be filleted (waste of meat and difficult). Plus, the fried skin is delicious.

Fresh-caught trout simply need to be gutted (entrails and gills removed). You can even leave the head on, if you want. Make sure to wash the cavity of the fish (and use your fingers/spoon/knife) to remove the bloodline along the backbone.

Once the trout is cleaned, score both sides of the fish with five one-inch cuts that just pierce the skin. Liberally salt and pepper the inside and outside of the fish.

Mix the flour and cornmeal together. Dredge each side of the fish in the flour/cornmeal mixture. Add a few lemon slices inside the cavity.

(Clockwise from top left) Salt and pepper the fish; coat in cornmeal/flour mixture; add lemon slices in cavity; fry in oil.

Pan-Fried Trout Directions

Place the cast iron skillet over the fire. Add the oil, and bring to heat. Add the fish to the skillet. Fry the fish for about six minutes. Flip, and fry an additional six minutes.

Remove the fish from the skillet and place on newspaper or a paper towel to cool. Plate the fish, and enjoy your Cowboy Cooking masterpiece.

Fry the trout for about six minutes on each side.


The following products were featured during today’s Cowboy Cooking. The links below are affiliate links, so if you click on the link and purchase the item, Outsider may receive a commission.

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