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Spice up your next healthy seafood dinner with this easy 5-ingredient blackened salmon recipe, which comes together with just 5 minutes of prep! It’s a classic Southern favorite that’s crispy on the outside, moist and buttery on the inside, and loaded with zesty Cajun flavor.

Side shot of a black and white plate with a piece of blackened salmon, rice, and green beans.
Table of Contents
  1. How to Make Blackened Salmon | 1-Minute Video
  2. Why You’ll Love this Recipe
  3. Ingredients
  4. Directions
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. Storage Tips
  7. Frequently Asked Questions
  8. Recipe Variations
  9. Blackened Salmon Recipe

If you love salmon recipes, be sure to try this salmon marinade with lemon and herbs, a pan of roasted salmon with Old Bay, this flavorful 4-ingredient brown sugar Dijon roasted salmon, and these easy salmon patties, too!

How to Make Blackened Salmon | 1-Minute Video

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Quick. The fish is ready from start to finish in about 15 minutes!
  • Healthy. We all know that salmon is full of protein, healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and other good-for-you nutrients, but sometimes the same old piece of fish gets boring. Instead, kick your salmon up a notch with a flavorful Cajun blackened seasoning rub. It’s a nutritious and satisfying dinner that’s decidedly not boring!
  • 5-Ingredients. Not counting the salt, pepper, and olive oil, this dish comes together with just 5 simple ingredients (and you probably have most of them in your pantry already). That makes grocery shopping easy and keeps the budget in check.

Omg! I just finished eat this and all I can say is wow! That was by far the best fish I have ever eaten in my entire life! I didn’t mix everything in a bowl, I just sprinkled all of the seasons over the fillet and then pat it in well. Turned out AMAZING! Thanks for the recipe! This will be my go to fish seasoning.

– Tori
Overhead shot of blackened salmon on a plate with rice and green beans.

What does it mean when fish is blackened?

Salmon is “blackened” when it’s rubbed with a special seasoning of herbs and spices, and then cooked in a hot cast iron skillet. The dish is typically associated with Cajun cooking, and became popular in the 1980’s as a way for restaurant chefs to replicate the taste of charcoal grilling in a commercial kitchen (source).

The end result is salmon with a crispy “blackened” exterior and a tender, buttery inside. While it may appear burnt, the dark colored (and deeply flavored) seared crust is a result of the charred spices on the outside of the fish. It does not taste burned at all!

Homemade blackened seasoning in a small white bowl on a white table.

Ingredients

I consider this healthy blackened salmon a 5-ingredient recipe (not counting the salt, pepper, or olive oil). Here is an overview of the ingredients that you’ll need, but as always, the full set of measurements and specific cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of this post.

  • Homemade blackened seasoning: There is no single recipe for a classic blackened salmon seasoning, but most blends include the spices used here: cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, kosher salt, and ground black pepper. Control the level of heat in your seasoning rub by increasing, decreasing, or omitting the cayenne pepper. The kosher salt is also important. It pulls moisture from the outer layer of the fish, helping to achieve a seared crust and tender, buttery inside.
  • Olive oil: to help sear the salmon, giving it that great blackened crust, and to prevent it from sticking to the skillet.
  • Salmon: a skin-on fillet that’s cut into individual pieces is easiest to cook in the cast iron skillet. The skin provides a safety layer between the fish’s flesh and the hot skillet, helping the salmon retain its juices and cook evenly. The skin also holds the fish together, making it easier to flip without the flesh falling apart. In a pinch, use salmon with the skin already removed — just be careful when turning it in the pan! Fresh or frozen (and thawed) is fine. Thaw salmon in the refrigerator overnight. To quick-thaw, place it in a large Ziploc bag and submerge it in a bowl of cold water. Use as many (or as few) salmon filets as you need.
Process shot showing how to make blackened salmon.

Directions

This easy recipe only requires about 5 minutes of prep and less than 10 minutes to pan blacken the salmon in a hot cast iron skillet — perfect for busy weeknights! You’ll find detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick overview:

  • Stir together the blackened salmon seasoning in a small bowl.
  • Rub all over the top of the fish.
  • Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over a medium flame.
  • Cook the salmon, flesh-side down, in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes (or until it achieves that “blackened” sear). Flip the fish and continue cooking for 5-6 more minutes, or until the skin becomes crispy and the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  • Garnish the fish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, lime juice, lemon wedges, or lime wedges.
Square side shot of blackened salmon in a cast iron skillet.

I made this tonight and it was amazing! I made a sauce from the leftover oil and drippings in the pan and served it over top of the salmon and served the salmon on top of a bed of rice pilaf with a side of baked parmesan asparagus. SO GOOD!!!!

– Amber

Serving Suggestions

There are a variety of ways to enjoy this healthy blackened salmon. For instance, make salmon tacos and top with mango salsa. The Cajun-flavored fish is also delicious in blackened salmon pasta with Alfredo sauce, or on toasted sandwich rolls with a creamy remoulade or tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato.

You might also like to serve the fish with easy side dish recipes like coleslaw, a wedge salad with buttermilk ranch dressing, skin on mashed red potatoes, Jiffy cornbread with creamed corn, tomato cucumber onion salad, Southern succotash, Southern-style green beans, and okra and tomatoes.

Horizontal overhead image of a plate of blackened salmon on a wooden table.

Storage Tips

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. The cooked salmon can be frozen for four to six months, too. Thaw cooked salmon in the refrigerator or immersed in cold water.

Use cooked, thawed salmon in salads or as a substitute for canned salmon in casseroles, pasta dishes, sandwiches, or wraps. I love to use the leftover blackened salmon to make salmon salad with mayonnaise, finely-diced celery, pickle relish, and salt. It’s delicious scooped with crackers or tucked inside sandwiches!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does blackened mean spicy? Blackened salmon that’s served in restaurants is often pretty spicy. The benefit of making your own seasoning at home is that you can pick the flavors that you like most, and you can control the amount of spice in your dish. Keep the heat relatively mild by cutting the cayenne in half. For a spicier piece of fish, increase the cayenne in your seasoning blend. As written, this blackened salmon recipe tastes zesty and slightly smoky (thanks to the cumin and smoked paprika), and spicy — but not too spicy.
  • What is the difference between blackened and grilled salmon? Blackened salmon is not grilled, but instead is rubbed with a special seasoning of herbs and spices and then cooked in a hot cast iron skillet. The dish is typically associated with Cajun cooking, and became popular in the 1980’s as a way to replicate the taste of charcoal grilling in a commercial kitchen.
  • Is blackened salmon healthier? Blackened salmon is a good-for-you dish that’s rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. It’s not necessarily healthier than grilled salmon — just different.
  • What’s the best skillet to use? A cast iron skillet is the best tool for cooking blackened salmon. The heavy pans retain and distribute heat evenly, creating that perfect sear that is a hallmark of this recipe. If you’re in the market for a new pan, check out our collection of the best cast iron skillets (including the 12-inch Staub fry pan shown here).
Close up front shot of blackened salmon in a cast iron skillet with lemon wedges.

Recipe Variations

  • Cooking just for two? Cut the ingredients in half and only prepare two salmon fillets. The cooking process remains the same. If you make a full recipe of seasoning, just save the extra spice blend for another meal.
  • If you’re serving picky kids, omit the blackened seasoning from their individual pieces of fish. Instead, season the kids’ salmon with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sear in the skillet according to the recipe instructions. There’s no extra work for you, and everyone’s happy!
  • Instead of making your own spice mixture, you can purchase a prepared blackened seasoning at the grocery store.
  • Use the same seasoning blend to make blackened chicken.

Made this tonight to go on top of a salad and it was fantastic. Just enough spice to give it a kick but not make my nose run. The salmon was cooked perfectly with this recipe as well (and I always overcook salmon). Will be using in the future!

– Abby
Overhead image of blackened salmon on a wooden table.

More Dinner Ideas Using Salmon

Looking for even more ideas? Check out this convenient collection of 20 of the best salmon recipes!

Square side shot of blackened salmon in a cast iron skillet.

Blackened Salmon

5 from 19 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 283 kcal
This healthy and easy 5-ingredient blackened salmon comes together with just 5 minutes of prep!

Ingredients
  

  • 4 salmon fillets, skin-on (about 5-6 ounces each)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne (omit or decrease for a mild flavor)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Optional for serving: lemon wedges and fresh chopped herbs such as thyme, oregano, or parsley

Instructions

MAKE HOMEMADE BLACKENED SEASONING

  • In a shallow bowl, mix together cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
    Homemade blackened seasoning in a small white bowl on a white table.

SEASON FISH

  • Pat seasoning mixture onto the flesh side of each piece of salmon.
    Process shot showing how to make blackened salmon.

COOK SALMON

  • In a large skillet, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Place salmon, flesh-side down, in the hot oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes, and then flip salmon with a spatula. Cook for about 5-6 more minutes, or until skin becomes crispy and fish flakes easily with a fork.
    Square side shot of blackened salmon in a cast iron skillet.

Video

Notes

  • Control the level of heat in your seasoning rub by increasing, decreasing, or omitting the cayenne pepper.
  • Use fresh salmon or frozen salmon for this recipe. If starting with frozen salmon, make sure that it’s completely thawed before using. Thaw salmon in the refrigerator overnight. To quick-thaw, place it in a large Ziploc bag and submerge it in a bowl of cold water.
  • Skin-on salmon works best because the skin provides a safety layer between the fish’s flesh and the hot skillet, helping the salmon retain its juices and cook evenly. The skin also holds the fish together, making it easier to flip without the flesh falling apart. In a pinch, use salmon with the skin already removed — just be careful when turning it in the pan!
  • Garnish the fish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, lime juice, lemon wedges, or lime wedges.

Nutrition

Serving: 1fillet (6 ounces of salmon)Calories: 283kcalProtein: 43.5gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1.7gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 437mg
Keyword: blackened salmon, blackened salmon recipe, blackened salmon seasoning, healthy blackened salmon
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan

This post was originally published in August, 2017. It was updated in May, 2024.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says:

    You are so right, salmon is anything but boring! I make it all the time for my husband and I, so I’ve got to try this version! Love how easy it is, Blair!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Gayle! It’s definitely a must-try if you get tired of your go-to salmon recipes! 🙂

      1. Tracy Dalton says:

        5 stars
        So so amazing, healthy and easy!!!

        1. Blair says:

          Thanks, Tracy!

  2. Jeanette Venn says:

    I have never been a salmon girl. I am a big seafood person. I will have sandwiches out of a can but a filet no. I have picked off everyone’s plate for a taste in very expensive places. Have been sick recently & have been “receiving Meals On Wheels”. You never know what you are getting. Salmon turns up not so impressed. Well I loved it???????? So Blair look forward to trying this.

    1. Blair says:

      That’s awesome, Jeanette! It’s never too late for our tastebuds to change!! So glad that you’ve been treated to some homemade meals while you’re recovering, too!

  3. Barbara says:

    i dont eat fish is there a substitute for this recipe

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Barbara! Yes, Blackened Chicken is also delicious! Just use the same seasoning and sear the chicken in your skillet until it’s cooked through. 🙂

  4. Denise Carberry says:

    I’m up in my summer house in Alaska with a freezer full of Salmon that was given to me. Bless my neighbors Heart. I didn’t even have to clean it. LOL. This recipe looks so amazing that I have to try it. I love Salamon and am always looking for new ways to prepare it.. Thanks so much Blair for all you fabulous recipes.

    1. Blair says:

      Wow — lucky you! Salmon is one of our favorite foods, so I can only imagine how delicious the fresh-caught version is! I hope that you enjoy this easy recipe, and have a great vacation!

  5. Mimi says:

    5 stars
    This was a quick, delicious dish. It only took me about 20 minutes to prep 4 small salmon portions and throw in green beans as a side. Oh, I sprinkled parmesan cheese om mine for a good zest and texture! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Blair says:

      Excellent! So glad that you enjoyed it, Mimi! Thank you for letting me know. 🙂

  6. tina says:

    This is the recipe that I’ve been dreaming of finding – delicious. Thank you!

    1. Blair says:

      Awesome! Enjoy, Tina!

    2. Thelma Locke says:

      I’m making this for Christmas dinner! My DILis Haitian and my son And her love spicy. I’m sure this is going to wow them!! Thank you

      1. Blair says:

        Perfect, Thelma! I hope that your family loves it! 🙂

  7. Amy Decker says:

    5 stars
    Simple and delicious! Alaskan sockeye salmon is my favorite! The sous vide method is yummy too, just sear it afterward in a cast iron pan.

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Amy!

  8. Tania says:

    Hi Blair can I make this recipe in the oven as well.

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Tania! Yes, you can definitely bake the salmon in the oven. Here’s a link to a baked salmon recipe in case you need specific instructions. Enjoy!

      1. Janie says:

        Oven baked recipe directions,can I us veg oil.

        1. Blair says:

          Yep, vegetable oil is fine too! It has a high smoke point, so that’s great.

  9. Kari says:

    This took 15 minutes. I’m confused. False advertising.

    1. Blair says:

      Hey, Kari! The recipe says that the prep time is 5 minutes and that the total time is 15 minutes. Sorry if you were confused by that, but I hope you enjoyed the meal! 🙂

  10. Donna says:

    Made this recipe today. Salmon was very tender and delicious. I cut the cayenne in half but I think it’s still too much so next time, I will omit it.

  11. Ericka says:

    My goodness!! This recipe is AWESOME AWEDOME AWESOME!!!!!!!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Ericka! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! 🙂

    2. Tori says:

      5 stars
      Omg! I just finished eat this and all I can say is wow! That was by far the best fish I have ever eaten in my entire life! I didn’t mix everything in a bowl, I just sprinkled all of the seasons over the fillet and then pat it in well. Turned out AMAZING! Thanks for the recipe! This will be my go to fish seasoning.

      1. Blair says:

        That’s wonderful, Tori! Thanks for taking the time to leave me a note. So glad that you loved it!

  12. Rubén Rodríguez says:

    5 stars
    Excellent Recipe! Good job!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Rubén!

  13. rissa says:

    What heat about should i put the fleshy side on 2-3 min ?? medium ? sort of high heat? i truly want that crispyness. i love that part!

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Rissa! Leaving it on medium heat should do the trick, but if you really want an even crispier sear you can certainly turn up the heat to medium-high. Enjoy!

  14. john says:

    5 stars
    Just tried it, came out really well. Thanks!!

  15. Lisa says:

    5 stars
    Quick, easy & delicious. Omitted cayenne, as I didn’t have any on hand. Thanks for posting.

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Lisa! 🙂

  16. Laurie says:

    Blair , what do you suggest if my salmon is skinless? Blacken both sides?

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Laurie! Yep, I would season both sides. Enjoy! 🙂

  17. Carmela says:

    5 stars
    Made it for dinner last night for my boyfriend and he loved it. I used fresh, skinless salmon and the crust made from searing the spices was great..
    It’s a healthy, delicious salmon dish that’s not plain and boring. I will definitely make this again!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Carmela! So glad that you enjoyed it!

  18. Ina M Neal says:

    Hi Blair,
    I have never eaten salmon. My husband it’s eat every time we go out to eat. It just don’t look like something I would enjoy. After seeing yours, I decided to try your recipe. OMG! This was amazing! I made extra seasoning, so maybe we will have more tomorrow. Thanks

    1. Blair says:

      That’s amazing! I’m so glad that this recipe changed your mind about salmon! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know!

  19. John B says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely wonderful taste- the cumin came through particularly well. My cayenne pepper is old, so I used chipotle pepper seasoning.
    It’s too bad we’re limiting shopping now. Otherwise, I’d run back for more.

    1. Blair says:

      Thank you, John!! 🙂

  20. Johanna says:

    5 stars
    I’d love the oven version. Excellent recipe for sure!! I LOVE Salmon!!!!!

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Johanna!

  21. Sarah says:

    5 stars
    this turned out amazing!
    Quick question – can cayenne be replaced with chilli powder? I ran out of cayenne for the next time I make this.

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Sarah! Glad you liked it! You can definitely use chili powder here, but it’s not nearly as spicy as the cayenne, so the dish will be mild. It will also have a slightly different flavor, but still good. 🙂

  22. Norma says:

    5 stars
    Seeing your post today of your Blackened Chicken recipe reminded me that I had intended to comment on this delicious salmon recipe! For years I have been purchasing a popular commercial brand of fish seasoning, which is good but has some ingredients that I prefer not to consume, and it’s just one more thing to have to remember to buy and keep on hand. Making my own is so simple and I always have the ingredients in my pantry. This is a great recipe and has become my go-to. I switch around the cumin to paprika ratio because my husband doesn’t care for cumin so I have to be sure it’s not the dominant flavor, but the rest is the same as you have listed. It’s also easy to adjust the spice level–a great advantage when making one’s own blends! Perfect and so easy!

    1. Blair says:

      Thank you, Norma! I’m so glad that you have been able to tweak the seasoning to suit your husband’s preferences. Thanks for taking the time to come back here and leave me a note. 🙂

  23. Amber says:

    5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was amazing! I made a sauce from the leftover oil and drippings in the pan and served it over top of the salmon and served the salmon on top of a bed of rice pilaf with a side of baked parmesan asparagus. SO GOOD!!!!

    1. Blair says:

      Wow — that sounds like a delicious meal, Amber! So glad that it was a hit!

  24. Abby says:

    5 stars
    Made this tonight to go on top of a salad and it was fantastic. Just enough spice to give it a kick but not make my nose run. The salmon was cooked perfectly with this recipe as well (and I always overcook salmon). Will be using in the future!

    1. Blair says:

      Sounds like a delicious meal, Abby. Thank you!

  25. Yvonne Casselle Robinson says:

    5 stars
    This receipt is the BOMB !!!! Awesome and Spicey just like we like it . My hubby and I thought we was eating in New Orleans at our dinner table in New Jersey .

    1. Blair says:

      Awesome! So glad that it was a hit, Yvonne1 Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

  26. Walt says:

    5 stars
    Can I use regular Paprika instead of smoked Paprika?

    Thanks
    Walt

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Walt! Absolutely! You won’t get the same smoky flavor, but it will still be good!

  27. Sarah says:

    This has become my family’s favorite salmon (or steelhead trout) recipe. My tip is to mix up a large batch of the seasoning (6 or 12 times makes theath easy) and store it in a jar. Then you can get the salmon in the pan really quick.

    1. Sarah says:

      *the math, not theath

    2. Blair says:

      Great tip, Sarah! I often do the same! Thanks so much for your note. I’m glad that your family enjoys the fish!

  28. Nancy Smith says:

    5 stars
    I use this rub on steak and chicken amazing
    Thanks

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thanks, Nancy! Yes, I’ve done the same and I agree — it’s very versatile. Glad that you enjoy it!

  29. Vanessa says:

    What if your salmon fillets don’t have skin, Is the cooking time still the same ?

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Yes, that’s fine! Cooking instructions are the same. Enjoy!