Blackened Salmon

You’ll think you’re in the Bayou when you taste this Blackened Salmon

Blackened Salmon

Coated in a Cajun spice mix and cooked in a cast iron pan, Blackened Salmon brings New Orleans right to your table. Made popular by legendary Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme in the early 1980s with his famous Blackened Redfish, this technique creates a to-die-for crispy crust and a charred, smoky flavor thanks to its mix of sweet and savory seasonings. Chef Prudhomme’s dish was such a hit that it caused redfish to be overfished in Louisiana, so much so that the state had to rewrite regulations to replenish the redfish population! Good thing we have salmon!

If I hadn’t been at my own kitchen table the first time I tried Blackened Salmon, I would have thought I was in a restaurant–it’s that good. The technique is easy to master and the taste is decidedly southern, something my family fell in love with. Yours will, too.

Sweet and hot is the perfect taste sensation, especially infused into rich salmon coated in melted butter. The combination of the blackening spices, which you can customize to your liking (a little sweeter, a little hotter), take on a beautifully dark color when seared in the hot cast iron pan, making this dish one of a kind.

I love Blackened Salmon with Easy Goat Cheese Pasta because its creaminess deliciously balances the fish’s crispy crust, but it also goes really well with Pasta with Peas (and these two look great together on the plate!).

Blackening Technique

The road to perfect blackening is not rocky! The key is to preheat your cast iron skillet (to know if it is ready to receive your fish, put a drop of water in the pan and if it sizzles, you’re good to go). Then lay the salmon in the skillet flesh side down and leave it there until it forms the dark crust (that’s how it got its name–blackened!); this takes about 2-3 minutes because the pan is so hot. Flip it and let the skin get crispy and the fish cook through, about 5-6 minutes more, or until you reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. That’s it! Under 10 ten minutes for a restaurant-quality preparation you make in your own kitchen!

Ingredients

  • 4 skin-on salmon fillets 6 ounces each
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt for seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper adjust to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • Chopped fresh parsley or thyme for garnish
Blackened Salmon

How to Make Blackened Salmon

Step 1: Place your salmon fillets on a plate, skin-side down. Pat them dry with a paper towel.

Blackened Salmon

Step 2: In a small bowl, combine the paprika, brown sugar, kosher salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano and dried thyme. This is your blackening magic!

Blackened Salmon

Step 3: Melt the butter in a separate bowl. Brush it over the top of each salmon fillet, then distribute your spice blend on top. You can press a bit the spices into the salmon to make sure they adhere well.

Blackened Salmon

Step 4: Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. No oil is needed here, the butter on the salmon is more than enough. When the pan is hot (test with a drop of water and it should sizzle), add the salmon fillets flesh-side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes until you achieve that gorgeous blackened crust.

Blackened Salmon

Step 5: Gently turn the salmon over to crisp up the skin side, cooking for another 5-6 minutes. The goal is an internal temperature of 145°F, so if you have an instant-read thermometer, now’s the time to use it. If not, look for the salmon to flake easily with a fork.

Blackened Salmon

Step 6: Once cooked to perfection, squeeze a wedge of lemon over each fillet and serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley or thyme. Add a couple of lemon wedges on the side.

FAQs & Tips

How to Make Ahead and Store?

You can season the salmon and then store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2-3 days before cooking it. Once cooked, Blackened Salmon will keep in the airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months (thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat in a skillet over medium-high heat for just a few minutes).

Will blackening work on proteins other than fish?

Yes, it will work its magic on chicken, other sturdy fish (try catfish for a true Southern delight), and it’s a spectacular way to cook tofu.

What if you’re not a fan of spicy food?

Leave out the cayenne pepper in your spice mix: it will still blacken and still be delicious

Turn on the fan!

Sometimes blackening can produce some smoke in your kitchen, so turn on your kitchen fan before you start. It might make things cloudy but the flavor is totally worth it!

Are there other ways to use this Cajun seasoning?

Oh, yes! You can use it on lots of other things and you don’t have to only use it for blackening: it’s great on baked chicken, and I’ve rolled pork tenderloins in it before roasting and it was amazing. And how about this? Mix it into some melted butter and pour it over popcorn!

Blackened Salmon

Serving Suggestions

Blackened salmon goes so well with so many things. Try it paired with Cajun Dirty Rice with Sausage or Smothered Potatoes–divine! I’ve also flaked it over salads (you won’t believe how good it is over Mediterranean Rice Salad). Also, a rich, deeply flavorful dish like this is a great companion to vegetables, like Roasted Brussels Sprouts or, for a lighter touch, Healthy Brussels Sprouts Salad. If you have any leftover Blackened Salmon, put it into a sandwich and serve it alongside Vegetarian Gumbo (another Cajun favorite!).

Blackened Salmon
Blackened Salmon

Blackened Salmon

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 64 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 skin-on salmon fillets 6 ounces each
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt for seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper adjust to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • Chopped fresh parsley or thyme for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Place your salmon fillets on a plate, skin-side down. Pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • In a small bowl, combine the paprika, brown sugar, kosher salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano and dried thyme. This is your blackening magic!
  • Melt the butter in a separate bowl. Brush it over the top of each salmon fillet, then distribute your spice blend on top. You can press a bit the spices into the salmon to make sure they adhere well.
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. No oil is needed here, the butter on the salmon is more than enough. When the pan is hot (test with a drop of water and it should sizzle), add the salmon fillets flesh-side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes until you achieve that gorgeous blackened crust.
  • Gently turn the salmon over to crisp up the skin side, cooking for another 5-6 minutes. The goal is an internal temperature of 145°F, so if you have an instant-read thermometer, now’s the time to use it. If not, look for the salmon to flake easily with a fork.
  • Once cooked to perfection, squeeze a wedge of lemon over each fillet and serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley or thyme. Add a couple of lemon wedges on the side.

Nutrition

Calories: 64kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 1gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 584mgPotassium: 63mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1150IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 1mg
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