If you’re looking to add some spicy and smoky flavor to your dishes, blackening seasoning is a great option. Made with a blend of spices including smoked paprika, cayenne, thyme, and oregano, this seasoning mix adds depth and complexity to fish, seafood, chicken and more. In this article, we’ll share our go-to recipe for blackening seasoning plus a variety of ways to put it to use in everyday meals.

What is Blackening?

Blackening is a cooking technique, not a spice blend. And while the technique involves a spice blend, it’s actually all about the cooking process.

Blackening is a cooking method that involves coating poultry, meat, fish and 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.

What is Blackening Seasoning Made Of?

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.

Here are the ingredients in homemade blackening seasoning:

  • Smoked paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried Oregano
  • Kosher salt
  • Black Pepper
a mix of spices and dried herbs in small piles in a medium shallow white bowl

Difference Between Blackened Seasoning and Cajun Seasoning

Blackening seasoning and Cajun seasoning are very similar and most often can be used interchangeably. In general, Cajun seasoning tends to be slightly spicier and can be used in all kinds of applications including blackening, boiling, braising and more. The bottom line: the two seasonings have very similar ingredient lists with Cajun seasoning being a bit spicier than blackening seasoning.

How to Make Homemade Blackening Seasoning


  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons cayenne
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 ½ tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper


Stir all ingredients together thoroughly in a medium bowl. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

How to Blacken Foods

The best method for blackening food should follow this process:

1. Preheat a cast-iron skillet.

2. Pat the protein dry with paper towels.

3. Coat protein in melted butter or oil.

4. Dredge protein in blackening seasoning.

5. Add a drizzle of oil to the hot skillet and sear the protein until cooked through and each side has a blackened crust.

blackened salmon in a cast-iron skillet

What to Use Blackening Seasoning On

There are so many ways to use blackening seasoning! Fish and seafood are common (especially white fish, shrimp and salmon) as well as chicken and even tofu.

Blackening seasoning can also be used in other ways, such as mixed into marinades or sauces, sprinkled on vegetables or popcorn, or used as a rub for roasted meats.

Storage tips

  • Store homemade spice blends in an airtight glass container in a cool dark place.
  • It’s important to store spices and dried herbs away from heat and direct light—doing so will extend their shelf life and potency.
  • Homemade blackening seasoning is best when used within 3 months and should not be stored longer than 1 year. Any longer and the potency/flavor of the spices will be diminished.


What’s a good recipe for blackened salmon?

We’ve got just the recipe for you! Check out this Blackened Salmon Recipe then put it to use in our Blackened Salmon Tacos.

What are five spices that no cook should be without?

Aside from kosher salt and black pepper, we recommend having crushed red pepper flakes, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, garlic powder, and whole nutmeg. Check out our list of essential spices and dried herbs.

Is Creole seasoning the same as cajun seasoning?

While the two seasoning blends are similar, Cajun seasoning typically includes a variety of ground peppers such as black, cayenne, and white, while Creole seasoning is more herb-based and may contain oregano, thyme, rosemary, and paprika.

Blackening Seasoning Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Category Spice Mix
Cuisine Cajun, Creole
Author Jenni Lata


The best recipe for a quick and easy blackening seasoning spice mix! Use this on chicken, fish, shrimp and more!


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


  • Stir all ingredients together thoroughly in a medium bowl. Store at room temperature in an airtight container. Stir well before using.


Store blackening seasoning in an airtight glass container at room temperature. Best when used within 3 months. 


Serving: 1tablespoonSodium: 1080mg
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blackened spice mix in a shallow bowl with a spoon

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Photography by Megan McKeehan.

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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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