Up your weeknight salmon game with this 15-minute recipe for blackened salmon! Made with a handful of pantry spices and a splash of vegetable oil, you’ll be on your way to a delicious and healthy dinner in no time. Enjoy blackened salmon over a simple salad, with your favorite veggie side dish, or flaked and served in tacos. The options are endless!

What Does Blackening Mean?

Blackening is a cooking technique, not a spice blend. And while the technique involves a spice blend known as blackening seasoning, it’s actually all about the cooking method.

Blackening is a cooking technique that involves coating meat, fish or seafood with a blend of spices and then searing it in a hot skillet (most often cast-iron) until it develops a blackened, crusty exterior.

The intense heat of the skillet and the combination of spices create a unique and flavorful crust that seals in moisture and adds depth and complexity to the protein being cooked. Once you try our blackened salmon, check out our blackened white fish recipe.

a mix of spices and dried herbs in small piles in a medium shallow white bowl

Blackening Spices

The best blackening season is one that’s made with a variety of dried herbs and spices. It’s essentially a cross between Cajun seasoning and Creole seasoning. A good blackening seasoning should be smoky, a bit spicy, herby and salty. All that being said, blackening spice blends can vary depending on who’s in the kitchen. Here’s the blend of spices we prefer for a blackening seasoning:

  • Smoked paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried Oregano
  • Kosher salt
  • Black Pepper

How to Make Blackened Salmon


  • 2 tablespoons blackening seasoning
  • Center-cut salmon fillet
  • Canola oil


  1. Heat a splash of oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. Cut the salmon into individual portions then coat each fillet in blackening seasoning.
  3. Once the oil is shimmering, add the salmon and cook until both sides are blackened and salmon is cooked through.
  4. Enjoy blackened salmon as is with a simple side dish, or flake it into chunks and make Blackened Salmon Tacos!
blackening spice blend on raw salmon fillets on a large white plate

Tips for Blackening Fish

  • Cooking time will depend on how thick your salmon fillets are. The thinner the fillets, the less time they will need. The thicker they are, the more time they will need. You’ll know the salmon is done cooking when each side is blackened and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 125ºF for medium-rare, 135ºF for medium, or 145ºF for well-done.
  • The easiest way to determine doneness is to use an instant-read thermometer. This is our favorite thermometer in the test kitchen.
  • Be sure to pat the fish dry with paper towels before coating it in the blackening seasoning. This will encourage searing, not steaming.
  • For a Cajun flare, coat the salmon in Cajun Seasoning instead of blackening seasoning (it uses similar ingredients but it slightly spicier). Use any leftover seasoning to make Cajun Shrimp or Cajun Shrimp Pasta.

What to Serve with Blackened Salmon

We’ve got tons of side dish recipes for salmon, but here are a few we particularly love with this blackened salmon!

Our Simple Fennel Salad is bright and tart—the perfect pairing for this bold, smoky salmon. It’s as simple as can be, which means together, this meal will be ready in a flash!

In keeping with the Southern flare of this recipe, pair blackened salmon with our Chorizo Corn Maque Choux. Then round out the meal with our Healthy Skillet Cornbread (or our gluten free version).

Cabbage pairs wonderfully with blackened salmon—try our Mexican Coleslaw or Asian Cabbage Salad.

Any green bean dish a great pairing with salmon. Try my Green Beans and Potatoes or Roasted Green Beans.

Storage and Reheating

  • Leftover blackened salmon should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. For longer storage, freeze the salmon for up to 3 months.
  • If salmon is frozen, allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating gently in a nonstick skillet with a splash of oil. Cook just until warmed through to avoid over cooking.


What is the best recipe for broiled salmon?

We have tested broiling salmon countless times and have landed on this broiled salmon recipe—it’s truly the best!

How do you properly grill salmon?

Grilling salmon can be intimidating, but this Glazed Grilled Salmon will walk you through the entire process.

How can you cook salmon when the cut is uneven?

One way to avoid an uneven cut of salmon is to request a center-cut fillet of farm-raised salmon. However, if you have an uneven piece of salmon you can fold the thin end of the fillet over itself so that it matches the rest of the fillet in thickness. Secure it with a toothpick or kitchen twine. Alternatively, trim the thin ends from the salmon fillet and cook them separately (or at the same time but for less total time than the rest of the fillet).

What is a great and easy salmon recipe?

Salmon recipes just don’t get any simpler than this pan-seared salmon recipe. It’s a fan-favorite and comes out perfectly cooked every time!

Blackened Salmon Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Category Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine Amercican
Author Jenni Lata


The best recipe for blackened salmon uses a simple homemade blackening seasoning, thick fillets of salmon and a cast-iron skillet. Simple, easy and BOLD in flavor!


Blackening Seasoning

  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • teaspoons dried thyme
  • teaspoons dried oregano


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 (1-pound) center-cut salmon fillet, skin and bones removed


Blackening Seasoning

  • In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons smoked paprika, 1 ½ tablespoons (1 tablespoon + 1½ teaspoons) kosher salt, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 2¼ teaspoons cayenne, 1½ teaspoons thyme, and 1 ½ teaspoons oregano.


  • Cut salmon evenly into 4-ounce portions.
  • Season each salmon piece generously with blackening spice, about 1 teaspoon on each side.
  • Transfer remaining blackening spice to an airtight glass container and store at room temperature.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Once oil is shimmering, add salmon and cook until blackened on both sides and an instant-read thermometer registers 125ºF, about 3 minutes per side depending on thickness of filets.


Store remaining blackening seasoning in an airtight glass container at room temperature but away from sunlight and heat. Blackening seasoning is best used within 3 months. 


Serving: 1(4-ounce) filletCalories: 180kcalProtein: 22gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1.5gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 630mg
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
blackened salmon in a cast-iron skillet

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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