Jump to RecipeJump to VideoLeave a ReviewPin Recipe

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Zesty, crisp on the outside, and juicy on the inside, this blackened chicken is a delicious and easy dinner that’s ready in about 20 minutes! With a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and some pantry seasonings, the simple meal is a quick last-minute option for busy nights.

Close up front shot of blackened chicken on a plate with rice and cornbread.
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love this Recipe
  2. Ingredients
  3. Directions
  4. Preparation and Storage Tips
  5. Expert Tips
  6. Blackened Chicken Recipe

If you love cast iron chicken recipes, try our popular skillet chicken with apples and onions, this cast iron skillet chicken breast, this one-skillet peach chicken, a pan of balsamic chicken and mushrooms, and fried chicken cutlets with creamy milk gravy, too!

Even after so many years, my blackened salmon remains a hit here on the blog and in my own kitchen. I figured it was time to put the same homemade blackened seasoning to good use for an equally delicious blackened chicken recipe. It’s the perfect way to add a little bit of Cajun flare to that same ole’ boring chicken that’s probably stashed in the back of your freezer.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Quick. With minimal prep time and just 12 minutes of cooking time, blackened chicken is a great weeknight meal for your busiest days. It’s ready from start to finish in less than 30 minutes.
  • Affordable. Since you only need chicken breasts and a handful of pantry staples, this is a budget-friendly dinner. The simple Cajun-inspired seasoning only requires 4 spices — plus salt and pepper!
  • Family-friendly. Some blackened chicken recipes can be incredibly spicy. This version is the perfect balance of zesty kick and bold flavor without overpowering the dish. It’s mild enough that my three kids can enjoy it, but it’s not boring!
Horizontal side shot of the best blackened chicken recipe in a cast iron skillet.

What does blackened chicken mean?

Blackened chicken refers to chicken that is dipped in butter, dredged in a seasoning made with herbs and spices, and cooked in a hot cast iron skillet. This 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 (source).

The end result is chicken with a crispy “blackened” exterior and a tender, juicy inside. While it may appear burnt, the dark colored (and deeply flavored) crust is a result of cooked milk solids from the butter and charred spices.

There is no single recipe for a classic blackened chicken seasoning, but most blends include some or all of the following ingredients: thyme, oregano, paprika, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Blackened chicken typically has a bold and savory flavor profile with a hint of smokiness from the cooking process, along with a spicy kick from the seasoning blend, resulting in a flavorful and slightly charred taste.

Square side shot of blackened chicken on a blue and white plate with cornbread and salad in the background.

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need for the best blackened chicken recipe. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, kosher salt, and ground black pepper: combine to make the blackened chicken seasoning. Add ½ teaspoon onion powder to the blackened spice blend for even more savory flavor.
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts: this recipe calls for about 1 lb. of chicken (or 2 chicken breasts). If you’re serving a larger family, prepare twice as much seasoning and use 2 lbs. of chicken. You can also use the same seasoning for tenders, wings, and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The tenders will cook faster than a large chicken breast, so they might not need to go in the oven at all. Chicken thighs may require a few extra minutes.
  • Butter: dipping the chicken in melted butter before adding the seasoning helps the seasoning adhere to the meat and helps to create that blackened effect in the hot skillet.
  • Vegetable oil: a neutral oil with a high smoke point for pan-frying the meat.
Bowl of homemade blackened chicken seasoning.

Use a Cast Iron Skillet to Make Blackened Chicken

Cast iron skillets are always my preference for cooking meat on the stove top, and they work particularly well for this recipe. Here’s why:

  • High heat: cast iron skillets can handle very high temperatures, which gives you the flexibility of cranking up the heat to get a nice sear, transferring the pan to a very hot oven, or placing the skillet under the broiler to finish a dish.
  • Browning: cast iron retains and evenly distributes heat better than a nonstick skillet. This means that your chicken browns more evenly, gets a better sear, and therefore tastes better. Juicy chicken breasts are always the goal!
  • Oven-safe: you can transfer the skillet from the stovetop to the oven, allowing you to sear the blackened chicken, and then finish the meat gently in the oven without burning or drying out.

The Best Cast Iron Skillet to Use

If you’re in the market for a new pan, be sure to check out our roundup of the best cast iron skillets (including a few that I personally own and love). Here I’ve shown the Staub 11-inch skillet. Any cast iron skillet that’s at least 11-12 inches in diameter will work well for this dish.

Process shot showing how to blacken chicken.

Directions

You’ll find detailed directions for this blackened chicken in the recipe card below, but here’s a quick overview:

  • Stir together the blackened chicken seasoning.
  • Dip the chicken in melted butter and coat with seasoning.
  • Sear the chicken in a smoking hot cast iron skillet, and then transfer to the oven to finish.
  • Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute (rather than run out on the plate), so the meat stays nice and juicy.
Front shot of cast iron skillet full of blackened chicken.

Serving Suggestions

There are a variety of ways to enjoy blackened chicken. For instance, make chicken tacos and top with mango salsa or pico de gallo. The Cajun-flavored chicken is also delicious in blackened chicken pasta with Alfredo sauce, or on a blackened chicken sandwich with a creamy remoulade or tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato.

Pair this blackened chicken recipe with easy sides like homemade coleslaw, Southern Caesar salad, baked potato wedges, Jiffy cornbread with creamed corn, Southern macaroni salad, Charleston red rice, Cajun mac and cheese,  Southern-style green beans, succotash, Southern collard greens, okra and tomatoes, and oven roasted brussels sprouts with bacon.

Overhead shot of blackened chicken on a blue and white plate with a side salad and cornbread.

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Prep ahead: You can make a batch of the blackened seasoning and keep it in the pantry for up to 6 months. This recipe yields enough seasoning for about 2 chicken breasts. Scale up the ingredients and make a larger batch to store and use for future meals (it’s great on various pieces of chicken, steak, fish, pork, and shrimp)!
  • How to Store: Leftover blackened chicken will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Leftovers are great in sandwiches and on salads.
  • How to Freeze: Wrap the cooked chicken tightly and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • How to Reheat: Warm the chicken in a 325 degree F oven just until heated through (do not overcook or the chicken will dry out). You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave until warm, about 30-60 seconds.
Horizontal shot of Cajun blackened chicken on a plate with rice.

Expert Tips

  • If your chicken breast is particularly large or thick, cover it with plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet to pound it to an even thickness. This will help the chicken cook through evenly.
  • Do not overcrowd the skillet. If you’re cooking more than two chicken breasts, you may need to work in batches. If the pan is too crowded, the chicken will steam rather than sear.
  • Preheat your skillet for about 5 minutes to establish an even heat before adding the chicken.
  • Make sure that the oil is hot before adding your chicken. When the oil starts to shimmer, it’s a good indication that it’s hot enough. If you add the meat before the oil is hot, the chicken will soak it up rather than sear.
  • Use enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. I’ve suggested 1 tablespoon in the recipe here, but you can adjust that based on the size of your pan. Always err on the side of more oil, rather than too little.
  • Cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your chicken. A meat thermometer is the best way to know when your chicken is done. It needs to reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
Overhead shot of a plate of blackened chicken on a wooden table.

More Easy Chicken Breast Recipes

Square overhead shot of blackened chicken on a blue and white plate.

Blackened Chicken

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 22 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 359.7 kcal
Blackened chicken is an easy, flavorful, family-friendly dinner that's ready in less than 30 minutes!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne (omit or decrease for a mild flavor, or add more to make it spicy)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb. total)
  • 4 tablespoons (½ of a stick) salted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil
  • Optional for serving: lemon wedges and fresh chopped herbs such as thyme, oregano, or parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, mix together cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
    Bowl of homemade blackened chicken seasoning.
  • Place melted butter in a separate shallow bowl.
    Melted butter in a bowl.
  • Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Dip chicken in melted butter, shaking off the excess, or use a brush to coat each piece with the melted butter. Rub the seasoning mixture evenly on both sides of the chicken.
    Process shot showing how to blacken chicken.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat for 5 minutes until it is smoking hot. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil (to coat the skillet). When the oil is hot, add the chicken to the hot oil and sear until a blackened crust forms on the outside, about 2-3 minutes per side.
    Horizontal side shot of the best blackened chicken recipe in a cast iron skillet.
  • Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 6-8 more minutes. Remove to a tray or cutting board. Let the meat rest for a few minutes before serving.
    Horizontal shot of Cajun blackened chicken on a plate with rice.

Notes

    • If your chicken breast is particularly large or thick, cover it with plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet to pound it to an even thickness. This will help the chicken cook through evenly.
    • Do not overcrowd the skillet. If you’re cooking more than two chicken breasts, you may need to work in batches. If the pan is too crowded, the chicken will steam rather than sear.
    • Preheat your skillet for about 5 minutes to establish an even heat before adding the chicken.
    • Make sure that the oil is hot before adding your chicken. When the oil starts to shimmer, it’s a good indication that it’s hot enough. If you add the meat before the oil is hot, the chicken will soak it up rather than sear.
    • Use enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. I’ve suggested 1 tablespoon in the recipe here, but you can adjust that based on the size of your pan. Always err on the side of more oil, rather than too little.
    • Cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your chicken. A meat thermometer is the best way to know when your chicken is done. It needs to reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
    • How to Grill Blackened Chicken: Use the same seasoning to grill the chicken. Follow the recipe instructions to dip the chicken in butter and then coat with seasoning. Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the grill with oil. Grill the chicken on each side until cooked through. This may take about 5 minutes per side for small chicken breasts, or up to 10-12 minutes per side for larger pieces. The meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

Nutrition

Serving: 1chicken breastCalories: 359.7kcalCarbohydrates: 1.5gProtein: 52.6gFat: 14.7gSaturated Fat: 8.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 3.2gCholesterol: 163mgSodium: 510.8mgPotassium: 628mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 0.1g
Keyword: Blackened Chicken, Blackened Chicken Recipe, Blackened Chicken Seasoning
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: cajun, creole, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
Close overhead shot of cast iron blackened chicken breast.

This recipe was originally published in June, 2020. 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

Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.