If you're looking for dinner in under 15 minutes, make this blackened salmon! Fresh salmon filets are coated in a blend of bold spices and pan seared until tender and flaky. Customize your spice level and serve this easy dinner with rice, over a salad or in tacos.
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 over high heat to toast the spices and create a crusty, blackened finish. Although it does have a deep color, the fish is not burnt, .
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.
Blackening is a method used in cajun cuisine. Cajun seasoning tends to be more spicy.
Blackened salmon seasoning
- Smoked paprika
- Ground cumin
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- 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
Jump to the recipe card below for the full recipe and instructions!
- Pat the salmon dry and brush the tops with butter or oil.
- Mix the blackening seasonings together in a shallow bowl or dish. Place each salmon fillet flesh side down in the 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. Once it's hot, place the salmon flesh (seasoning) side down and cook on high for 2-3 minutes without moving them to blacken the surface.
- Flip each fillet over, turn the heat down to medium 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.
Prefer to watch instead of read?
Top 3 tips for perfect blackened salmon
- 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.
You can store it in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
The best way to reheat is in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add a little extra olive oil to a pan and cook until the salmon is warmed 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 Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad, Easy Italian Pasta Salad, Kale and Goat Cheese Salad or this 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.
More salmon and seafood recipes:
- Tahini Ginger Salmon with Sesame Asparagus (Sheet Pan)
- Honey Glazed Salmon
- Air Fryer Shrimp
- Sheet Pan Honey Garlic Shrimp
For the Salmon:
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 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 1/2 a lemon
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 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.
- 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!