A tasty Cajun-style rub gives this blackened salmon a wonderful flavor and cooking it in a hot pan seals the juices in, keeping it extra juicy.
Ready in about 25 minutes, this truly quick dish is perfect for a busy weeknight. Even the leftovers are good!
I love salmon and make it quite often for my family. I often make baked salmon because it's so easy and tasty. And poached salmon is moist and delicate. But this recipe is even better because it's exceptionally juicy and flavorful.
The spice combination is amazing. And when it gets charred in a hot skillet, the flavor is so intense. Blackening also keeps the inside of the fish extra juicy because searing the fish in a hot skillet seals the juices in.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make blackened salmon. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Dry rub: I use kosher salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper.
Salmon fillets: Try to find fillets that are about the same size and thickness.
Butter: The milk solids in the butter brown as we heat it and help with the blackening process.
Blackening salmon is truly easy. Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
You start by mixing the dry rub ingredients in a bowl. Then, rub the spices all over the fish.
The next step is to cook the salmon in butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, about 3 minutes per side. It won't be fully cooked at this point, but the outside will be nicely blackened.
Now, place the skillet in a 425°F oven for 5-7 minutes to allow the fish to finish cooking and reach an internal temperature of 145°F. After those 5 minutes, it should be juicy and perfectly cooked!
The reason we finish the dish in the oven is to ensure that the fish is fully cooked without charring the outside too much.
As an alternative, you can remove the skillet from the heat, tightly cover it with foil (or a tight-fitting lid), and allow the fish to finish cooking in the skillet's residual heat for about 5 minutes.
Frequently asked questions
Blackening means coating the food in a mixture of spices, then cooking it in a hot skillet. The spice coating gets charred, giving the food a very dark, almost black appearance.
I like to use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. It's superb in terms of heat retention and does a really good job of blackening the fish.
As long as the skillet is well-seasoned and you use plenty of butter, there shouldn't be any issue with the fish sticking to the pan.
Yes, but you should defrost it. In fact, one of the reasons I like making this recipe is that I always have frozen salmon on hand. But you do need to defrost it fully before using it in this recipe.
I love this recipe as is and almost always make it as written. But in case you'd like to vary the basic recipe, here are a couple of ideas for you:
- You can make the rub as spicy as you like. I add just a bit of cayenne for a hint of spice. You can double the amount and make it truly spicy.
- Instead of butter, you can use ghee (clarified butter) for frying the fish. It's preferable to use butter because it promotes browning, but ghee should work too.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for up to 3 days. Reheat them very gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power.
I sometimes crumble them cold over a salad the next day for my lunch. Or I use them in this cobb salad instead of chicken.
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Perfect Blackened Salmon
- 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
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 (6 oz) salmon fillets skin-on, pin bones removed
- 4 tablespoon butter
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- In a small bowl, combine the kosher salt, paprika, thyme, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne.
- Sprinkle the salmon fillets with the seasoning mixture, pressing with your fingers to help the coating adhere.
- Heat the butter in a large 12-inch well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat. Swirl to coat.
- When the butter starts foaming, add the salmon fillets, skin-side down. Cook them, undisturbed, until their bottoms are blackened, about 2-3 minutes.
- Turn the fillets to the other side and cook them for about 2-3 more minutes to blacken the skin side.
- Carefully, using oven mitts, transfer the hot skillet to the preheated oven. Let the fish finish cooking in the oven until its internal temperature reaches 145ºF, about 5-7 minutes.
- Transfer the fish to plates. Spoon the pan juices on top and serve.