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Blackened Salmon is made with a quick and delicious blend of Cajun spices, then pan seared with butter to create a crispy crust. The end result is restaurant-quality salmon that is flaky and moist and ready in all of about 20 minutes!

Salmon is always a huge hit in our house. It is so versatile and incredibly easy to whip up for the family. If you’re looking for some other salmon recipes be sure to try our Hot Smoked Salmon, Garam Masala Salmon Steaks, and Miso Salmon.

blackened salmon in cast iron skillet topped with fresh lemon juice and herbs

Blacked Salmon Recipe

If you have never ordered blackened salmon at a restaurant then you have been missing out all your life! It’s so insanely flavorful, true, but also the seared outer crust is absolutely incredible! You’ll often see it served with pasta, but it’s just as good with mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, or even some kind of rice on the side.

Blackening is a delicious method to use on fish and comes out quite tasty. A lot of people will mistake blackening for burning, which is not what we are doing at all, even though it might look like it with the dark color that the salmon takes on.

pan seared blackened salmon in cast iron skillet with lemon wedge

This salmon is brushed diligently with butter before it is seasoned. So when we take the fish fillet to the hot cast iron skillet to sear, the milk solids turn black and the seasoning forms a nice charred crust we called blackening. This method can be used on pretty much any type of fish fillet, especially catfish, but it also works on chicken as well.

Get ready to bring this delicious charred crust right into your own home kitchen! When you break open that dark outside, you will discover a delicious pink and flakey center of perfectly cooked salmon.

Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top and sprinkle with some fresh herbs and you have yourself restaurant level version of blackened salmon to WOW your family with.

pan seared blackened salmon fillets in a cast iron pan with lemons

Recipe Ingredients

  • Salmon fillets: Make sure the skin and bones are removed, which they usually are at the store. I always have a bag or two of frozen salmon fillets in the freezer since they are so versatile and they work perfectly here.
  • Seasoning: The dry rub includes a variety of seasonings commonly used in Cajun cooking such as smoked paprika, onion powder, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, dried thyme, basil, oregano. It’s not too spicy – just a really robust flavor profile.
  • Butter: Salted butter is best and you’ll want it melted for brushing onto the salmon.
  • Olive oil: This has a higher smoke point that butter and helps the salmon not to burn. It also helps ensure we don’t stick to the pan, and adds its own wonderful flavor.
butter, olive oil, spices, and salmon fillets

How to Make Blackened Salmon

  1. Combine spices. Mix the smoked paprika, onion powder, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, thyme, basil, and oregano in a bowl to make the homemade spice rub.
  2. Butter and season the fillets. Brush the salmon on both sides with half of the melted butter. Evenly sprinkle both sides of the salmon with the blackening seasoning, then drizzle one side with half of the remaining butter.
  1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Place the salmon fillets buttered side down and don’t move them. Drizzle the remaining butter over the top of each fillet.
  2. Cook and enjoy! Cook for 2-5 minutes on each side, just until the salmon develops a nice, dark crust and is cooked through so that it flakes easily with a fork and is opaque. Do not overcook.
Blackened salmon fillets in cast iron skillet topped with fresh herbs

Blackened Salmon FAQ

Can I adjust the spice?

As written, this salmon isn’t overly spicy. But if you prefer a really spicy seasoning, you can increase the cayenne pepper to 2 teaspoons.

How to prevent burning the fillets?

If you have very thick salmon fillets, you may need to decrease the temperature to medium or medium-low in order for the salmon to cook through without burning on the outside.

How to store leftovers?

This salmon is best the day it is made, but it can be stored in an airtight container for up to one day. Gently reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat just until it is warmed.

Recipe Tips

  • Heat the skillet well: If your skillet isn’t hot before placing the fillets in it, they will likely stick to the pan. Just make sure your skillet is nice and hot prior to cooking.
  • Don’t move the fish: When you first put the fish in the skillet, don’t move it. Let it sit and create that beautiful charred crust.
  • Serving: Blackened salmon is extra delicious with a side of Caesar Salad, pasta, or mashed potatoes.
  • Variations: You can adjust the spices however you like. Feel free to add more or less spice, herbs, etc
a close image of salmon fillets in a cast iron pan with a blackened crust

What to serve with Blackened Salmon

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Blackened Salmon
Yield: 4 servings

Blackened Salmon

Blackened Salmon is made with a quick and delicious blend of spices, then pan seared with butter to create a crispy crust. The end result is restaurant-quality salmon that is flaky and moist and ready in all of about 20 minutes!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

Salmon

  • 4 salmon fillets, skin and bones removed
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Garnish

  • lemon cut into wedges
  • chopped fresh parsley or thyme for serving

Instructions

  1. Mix the smoked paprika, onion powder, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, thyme, basil, and oregano in a bowl.
  2. Brush the salmon on both sides with half of the melted butter. Evenly sprinkle both sides of the salmon with the blackening seasoning, then drizzle one side with half of the remaining butter.
  3. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Place the salmon fillets buttered side down and don't move them. Drizzle the remaining butter over the top of each fillet.
  4. Cook for 2-5 minutes on each side, just until the salmon develops a nice, dark crust and is cooked through so that it flakes easily with a fork and is opaque. Do not overcook.

Notes

  • Spicy Blackened Salmon: As written, this salmon isn't overly spicy. But if you prefer a really spicy seasoning, you can increase the cayenne pepper to 2 teaspoons.
  • If you have very thick salmon fillets, you may need to decrease the temperature to medium or medium-low in order for the salmon to cook through without burning on the outside.
  • Blackened salmon goes well with Caesar Salad, pasta, or mashed potatoes.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 752Total Fat: 58gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 204mgSodium: 954mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 51g

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.