This blackened salmon will be on the table in under 20 minutes! Coat fresh salmon filets in a blend of bold spices and pan-sear them in a cast-iron skillet until tender and flaky. Customize your spice level and serve this easy dinner with rice, over a salad, or in tacos.
Love quick and easy salmon recipes? Try herb grilled salmon with a creamy butter sauce or everything bagel salmon with roasted veggies on a sheet pan. Or put this blackened salmon on top of a salmon caesar salad.
We're always looking for healthy, easy recipes for busy weeknights. Salmon is something we try to eat at least once a week and I love that this salmon recipe takes less than 20 minutes to make. A bowl of salmon pesto pasta or tahini ginger salmon is a go-to because they're full of flavor and easy to make.
Pair it with air fryer asparagus and dinner is done. You won't believe you could get so much flavor out of a 20-minute dish!
Why You'll Love this Blackened Salmon
- Easy meal that's done in 20 minutes or less.
- Full of bold flavor you'll look forward to.
- Healthy dinner full of healthy fats and protein.
- Enjoy it as is with a side of veggies or serve it inside tacos or on top of pasta.
What does blackened mean?
Blackening is a cooking method in which fish or chicken is brushed with fat, coated liberally in a blend of spices, and seared in a hot skillet to toast the spices and create a crusty, blackened finish. Although the crust has a deep color, the fish is not burnt. The taste is bold, but not too spicy.You can blacken fish or try it on our easy blackened chicken.
Homemade Blackening Seasoning
You can purchase store-bought blackened seasoning rub at any grocery store or make your own homemade blackened seasoning with everyday spices you likely have in your pantry right now. Here's what you need for the quick spice rub.
- Smoked paprika
- Ground cumin
- Garlic powder
- Chili powder
- Onion powder
- Dried oregano
- Salt and black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
Here are the simple ingredients for the best blackened salmon. Most are pantry staples and easy (and affordable) to find in grocery stores. Jump down to the recipe card for the full list of ingredients.
- Blackening seasoning spices: A blend of smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, dried oregano, salt, pepper and and cayenne pepper.
- Butter, ghee, olive oil or avocado oil: Butter is the traditional ingredient used for blackening because the milk fats help turn it a dark color. However, you can use ghee or oil if you prefer. I love using avocado oil because it has the highest smoke point so your kitchen won't get as smoke over high heat.
- Salmon: Salmon is rich in healthy fats and protein. You can purchase 4 ounce salmon fillets at the meat section in the grocery store or buy frozen salmon and thaw it.
- Topping: A blend of oil, lemon juice and chopped parsley give the salmon a flavorful finish and shine. Whatever fat (melted butter, avocado oil etc), you used to brush the salmon at the beginning will work for the topping.
How to Make Blackened Salmon
The full printable for this easy blackened salmon recipe is at the bottom of this post, but let’s walk through the steps with some photos and a video so you have a clear idea of what to expect. These step-by-step instructions will make sure they turn out every time.
- Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel and brush the tops with butter or oil.
- Mix the blackening seasonings together in a small bowl or shallow dish. Place each fish fillets flesh-side down in the dry rub seasoning and push it firmly to evenly coat the salmon.
- Lightly brush a heavy bottomed skillet or cast-iron skillet with butter or oil and heat over high for 1-2 minutes. You'll know it's ready when a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Place the salmon seasoning side down in the hot cast iron skillet and cook on high for 2-3 minutes without moving them to blacken the surface.
- Flip each fillet over with a fish spatula, turn it down to medium heat and brush the tops with a mixture of oil, lemon juice and chopped parsley.
- Continue cooking for 6-8 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F. If the bottom is becoming too dark you can turn the heat down or flip the salmon on it's side to finish cooking.
Expert Recipe Tips
- Use cold fish and a very hot pan for ultimate blackening.
- Don't lift up the salmon after you place it in the pan. Peek at a corner to see if it's done, but don't lift it all the way up.
- Adjust the spice level by adding more or less cayenne pepper to the seasoning mix.
Grilling salmon is a cooking technique where the salmon is cooked over an open flame whereas blackening is a cooking method where the salmon is coated in spices and pan seared at a high temperature to create a blackened crust.
Blackening is a method used in cajun cooking, but it isn't the same as cajun seasoning. Cajun seasoning tends to be spicier. You can purchase cajun seasoning as well.
You can store leftover salmon in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. It's great to top salads or put in tacos the next day.
The best way to reheat is in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add a little olive oil to the pan and cook until the salmon is warm all the way through. You can also microwave it on high in 30 second increments until warmed through.
How to serve blackened salmon
- Over a bed of lettuce with your favorite veggies and dressing like the cilantro lime dressing in this BBQ chicken salad.
- Cut the salmon into chunks and serve them inside grain free or corn tortillas with guacamole
- As the main dish alongside your favorite sides like cauliflower rice, roasted mini peppers, air fryer asparagus, Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad, Easy Italian Pasta Salad, Kale and Goat Cheese Salad, Kale and Chipotle Sweet Potato Salad.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, don't forget to leave a star rating and review below and tag me with @what_mollymade on Instagram.
Find Another Easy Salmon Recipe
- Tahini Ginger Salmon with Sesame Asparagus (Sheet Pan)
- Air Fryer Salmon Bites
- Salmon Pesto Pasta
- Teriyaki Glazed Salmon
- Honey Garlic Salmon Rice Bowl
For the Salmon:
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, ghee, olive oil or avocado oil see notes
- 4 (6 ounce) skin-on salmon filets
- 3 tablespoons melted butter, ghee or avocado/oil oil
- Juice from ½ a lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Make the blackening seasoning
- Place the smoked paprika, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, onion powder, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a shallow bowl or dish. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels and spread the melted butter or oil on the top.
- Dip each piece of salmon into the seasoning and push down to create a thick, even coat across the salmon.
Sear the salmon
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet or cast-iron skillet over high heat and brush lightly with the same butter or oil used to coat the salmon. You’l know the pan is hot enough when a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Once it’s hot, place the salmon fillets flesh and seasoning side down. Allow them to cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes without moving. It’s okay to peek at a corner, but try not to lift of the salmon to look.
- While they’re searing, mix together the topping in a small dish. When the salmon is blackened and crusty, carefully flip the filets over then turn the heat down to medium. Brush the tops of each salmon filet with the prepared mixture and continue to cook over medium for 6-8 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145°. If the bottoms start to get too dark you can turn the heat down. If your fillets are thicker, you can flip them on their sides to finish cooking if needed.
- Remove from the heat and serve immediately. Enjoy!