This blackened halibut is so delicious! The inside of the fish is tender and flaky while the outside is crusty and well-seasoned.
Ready in just 20 minutes and truly easy to make, this is the perfect recipe to make on a busy weeknight.
Halibut is a white-fleshed mild-tasting fish, and as a result, halibut recipes are often mildly flavored. I actually prefer bolder flavors. Happily, blackening turns this fish into an intensely flavorful dish that my entire family enjoys.
My first time trying blackened fish was during a visit, a few years ago, to the American South. I really enjoyed the bold flavors of the dishes I tried there! So as soon as I returned from my trip, I started making this recipe at home.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this halibut recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Spices: I like to use paprika (or smoked paprika), dried thyme, dried oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
- Kosher salt: If using fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use, or the fish could come out too salty.
- Halibut fillets: I like to use skin-on fillets. I find fish skin to be absolutely delicious. But if you'd rather use skinless fillets, that's fine.
- Butter: For cooking the fish. You can also use a high-smoke-point oil such as avocado oil. But butter is more flavorful and will also better promote the blackening process thanks to the milk solids it contains.
Making this blackened halibut recipe is truly easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
- In a shallow dish, whisk together the spices and the salt. You can use a small hand whisk or simply a fork.
- Next, sprinkle the halibut fillets with the spice mix and press to help the spices adhere to the fish.
- Fry the fish pieces in butter over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
- Spoon the tasty pan juices on top of the fish and serve.
While you certainly want the fish to be cooked through, you don't want it overcooked. Overcooked fish is dry and gummy. I find that 3 minutes on the first side over medium-high heat followed by 3 minutes on the second side over medium heat is perfect for 1-inch-thick fillets.
You'll probably need to adjust the cooking time according to the conditions in your own kitchen - how thick your fillets are and how hot your pan gets.
I used to make this recipe on a gas cooktop and the fish needed about 4 minutes per side.
Now I cook using a ceramic cooktop that gets considerably hotter (now I know why chefs prefer gas cooktops - those give you much better temperature control) and I find that I need to cook the fish for a shorter time.
Frequently asked questions
When blackening food, the food is dipped in melted butter and then dredged in a mixture of herbs and spices. It is then cooked in a very hot cast-iron skillet.
This creates the characteristic brown-black crust on the food, the result of browned milk solids from the butter and charred spices. So in this recipe, the halibut becomes crispy and blackened when the seasonings used to coat it become charred in the hot skillet.
Blackening is a very tasty way of preparing fish. The inside is tender and flaky while the outside is crusty and boldly seasoned. Blackened salmon is excellent too.
To check if the fish is done, use the tip of a small knife to peek at its interior. The flesh should have turned from translucent to opaque.
Another way to test for doneness is to gently twist a fork and see if its flesh flakes (separates) easily or resists flaking. Once it's cooked through it should flake easily with minimal resistance.
Of course, the best way to ensure the fish is fully cooked is to use an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature in the thickest part should read 145°F.
Yes. Any firm-fleshed white fish should work, although some of them might have thinner filets, and then you would need to cook them for a shorter time. I've had success with using cod in this recipe.
- You can make this recipe as spicy or as mild as you'd like by experimenting with the amount of cayenne you use.
- Try using smoked paprika instead of regular paprika. It adds a wonderful smoky flavor to the dish.
- As mentioned above, you can make this recipe with other types of white firn-fleshed fish such as cod.
This main dish is quite versatile and can go with many side dishes. I like to serve it with any of the following sides:
If you have leftovers, you can keep them in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. Make sure you reheat them very gently though, so as not to dry out the fish. I usually reheat them covered in the microwave, on 50% power.
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Blackened Halibut Recipe
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 (6 oz) halibut fillets skin-on, 1 to 1/12-inch thick
- 4 tablespoon butter
- In a shallow dish, whisk together the kosher salt, paprika, thyme, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne.
- Sprinkle the halibut fillets with the seasoning mixture, pressing with your fingers to help the coating adhere.
- Heat the butter in a large 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.* Swirl to coat.
- When the butter starts foaming, add the halibut fillets, skin-side down. Cook them until their bottoms are blackened, 3-4 minutes.
- Turn the fillets to the other side, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the fish turn from translucent into opaque and white (it’s fine to cut a small slit and peek), about 3 more minutes.
- Spoon the pan juices on top of the fish and serve.