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Blackened Salmon Recipe: A Flavorful and Easy Dinner Option

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Blackened Salmon

Blackened salmon is a flavorful and easy way to enjoy a healthy meal in minutes. Using a simple blend of Cajun-style spices, butter, and a touch of lemon, you can pan-sear this fish to flaky perfection.

You’ll love how quickly this dish comes together, perfect for a weeknight dinner or a special occasion. The key to a perfect blackened crust is keeping the fish cold until it hits the hot skillet. Your taste buds will thank you for this delicious treat!

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

When making blackened salmon, you’ll need some key ingredients for the seasoning and the fish itself. Here’s a list to get you started along with possible substitutes:


  • Salmon Fillets: Fresh is best, but frozen works too. Aim for skin-on fillets if you prefer extra crispness.
  • Butter or Olive Oil: Butter gives a rich flavor, but olive oil is a healthier choice.

Spice Mix

  • Paprika: Adds a smoky flavor. You can use regular or smoked paprika.
  • Garlic Powder: For that classic garlic taste.
  • Onion Powder: Enhances the flavor profile.
  • Dried Oregano: Provides a hint of earthiness.
  • Dried Thyme: Great for a subtle herbal note.
  • Cayenne Pepper: Adds heat. Adjust to taste.
  • Black Pepper: For a bit of bite.
  • Salt: Balances and enhances all the flavors.

Possible Substitutes

  • For Butter: Use ghee or any cooking oil.
  • For Paprika: Smoked paprika if you want a deeper flavor.
  • For Garlic Powder: Fresh minced garlic, though it might affect texture.
  • For Onion Powder: Finely chopped fresh onions, though they may not stick as well.
  • For Dried Oregano & Thyme: Fresh herbs are fine but use them in smaller amounts.
  • For Cayenne Pepper: Ground chipotle or red pepper flakes.
  • For Black Pepper: White pepper if you prefer a milder taste.
  • For Salt: Use sea salt or kosher salt as alternatives.


  1. Prepare the Salmon

    Pat the salmon fillets dry with a clean towel. This helps the seasoning stick better.

  2. Make the Blackening Rub

    In a bowl, mix garlic powder, salt, onion powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and paprika.

  3. Coat the Salmon

    Brush melted butter over the fillets. Use a spoon to scatter the spice mixture evenly on the top side of each fillet.

  4. Heat the Pan

    In a large, heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of melted butter over high heat.

  5. Cook the Salmon

    Place the salmon fillets with the seasoned side down in the hot pan. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes until the surface is blackened.

  6. Flip the Fillets

    Gently lift the fillets with a spatula. Add the remaining melted butter to the skillet, then flip the fillets to cook the other side. Cook until the salmon is cooked through, about 3 more minutes.

Use these steps to make a flavorful and easy blackened salmon dish. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Cooking the Salmon:
For a perfect crust, keep your seasoned salmon cold until cooking. Use a preheated skillet over medium-high heat. This helps in creating a nice sear.

Spice Adherence:
Brush the salmon with melted butter or olive oil before applying the spices. Lightly pat the spices to help them stick better.

Cooking Time:
Cook the salmon skin side up for 3-4 minutes. Flip carefully and cook for another 3-4 minutes until it’s opaque and flakes easily.

Equipment Choices:
Use a cast iron skillet for even heat distribution. It also helps in achieving that crispy crust. A non-stick skillet can work well too if you’re worried about sticking.

Store leftover blackened salmon in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It will stay fresh for up to 3-4 days.

When reheating, use a skillet over low heat to maintain the texture. Avoid microwaving if possible as it can make the fish rubbery.

Freezing Leftovers:
You can freeze blackened salmon too. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. It can last for up to a month. Thaw it in the refrigerator before reheating.

Serving Suggestions:
Pair your blackened salmon with a side of steamed veggies or a fresh salad. It’s also great over a bed of rice or quinoa. Enjoy your delicious meal!

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Trying out different variations can make your blackened salmon even more exciting.


  • Spice Mix: Use your favorite spices or add more heat with extra cayenne pepper. You can also try adding some smoked paprika for a deeper flavor.
  • Cooking Method: If you prefer, grill the salmon instead of using a skillet. Grilling brings a smoky flavor to the dish.
  • Toppings: Top the cooked salmon with mango salsa or a dollop of avocado cream for a fresh taste.

Serving Suggestions

  • Side Dishes: Pair your blackened salmon with rice, quinoa, or a fresh salad. Roasted vegetables like asparagus or Brussels sprouts also go well.
  • Sauces: Drizzle with lemon butter sauce or tartar sauce for added flavor.
  • Presentation: Serve on a bed of leafy greens or alongside mashed potatoes. Try sprinkling with fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro.

Quick Tip

Keep the cooked salmon leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. Use them in sandwiches or salads for a quick meal.