The next time you need a kitchen confidence boost, make this Blackened Salmon! Fillets of salmon that are coated with a blend of spices, then pan-seared to flaky perfection, this method of cooking fish is both shockingly simple and restaurant-level scrumptious.

Easy blackened salmon in a skillet with lemon

Blackening is a cooking technique that can be used with any firm-bodied fish, and it’s popular with chicken too. The fillets are brushed with butter (it must be butter to turn black—more on that momentarily), then coated liberally with a blend of herbs and spices (generally referred to as “blackening seasoning”).

The salmon isn’t burned. Rather, the color comes from the milk solids in the butter deeply toasting and the spices charring when the fish hits the hot pan (helllllo, FLAVOR!).

I cherish the moment when I break my fork down through the “lid” of the blackening seasoning to reveal bright pink, tender flakes of salmon underneath. (Though if blackened protein isn’t your preferred flavor profile, try Poached Salmon instead.)

We eat salmon often at home. It’s widely available, healthy, and since it’s a firm-bodied fish, it can stand up to a wide range of cooking techniques and flavor directions.

Most often, we cook salmon in the oven via this reader-tested, 100% foolproof method for Baked Salmon in Foil. I change up the herbs and spices to create spinoffs like Baked Teriyaki Salmon and Spicy Baked Salmon. 

Sometimes, we get wild and put the salmon on the grill—see Grilled Salmon in Foil.

Now that the weather is heating up, I’ve been looking into more ways to cook salmon that don’t involve turning on the oven.

Further, since it’s just the two of us at home, it’s nice to have recipes for cooking individual salmon fillets so that I have the option to make only what we need for that night or the next day or two.

And of course, any salmon we (and you!) cook needs to taste FAB.

Four pieces of blackened salmon with lemon

After all, if you are going to cook fish, why waste your time and ingredients on making something bland?

Blackening fish hits on all of the above. The flavors are bold, you can scale it to one or to a crowd, and it’s super quick and easy.

This bang-up blend of blackening spices delivers. This recipe is perfect for busy weeknight dinners, and it tastes special enough for company.

Even if you never cooked fish, you will nail this recipe. I’ve included all the tips you need to make the best blackened salmon, plus a helpful instructional recipe video.

What Does “Blackening” Mean?

As outlined above, to “blacken” something, you use butter and a blend of spices and herbs to coat the surface of the ingredient. Then, you cook it in a skillet over high heat to toast the spices so they impart rich, unique flavor.

The butter helps the spices crisp up on the outside while the inside stays perfectly moist, and it contributes to the signature dark color too.

Blackening originated as a fusion of Cajun-Creole cuisine and was first introduced to the public using redfish fillets at Commander’s Palace restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana (see this NPR article for more about the history of blackening).

The dish quickly gained popularity and—fortunately for us—it happens to be very easy to recreate at home.

You may be wondering how blackening differs from grilling. The difference between grilled and blackened salmon lies in the spices. While you may season your food before grilling it, the cooking method doesn’t rely on those seasonings. Blackening requires spices in order for the cooking method to work.

Spices in a glass bowl

What Are Blackening Spices?

You can find as many recipes for blackening spice as you can cooks who make them. Everyone has their own method for creating the perfect salmon rub.

While many recipes for blackened salmon call for making a whole jar’s worth of the blackening spice blend, I prefer to mix up only what we need for a single recipe. Today’s will yield enough rub for four fillets.

Popular blackening spices include garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. While I love these vibrant spices all together, if you prefer your salmon with a little less kick, try this Pan Seared Salmon recipe.

My personal tip is to add a little brown sugar to the blackening rub. It helps the fish caramelize when it hits the heat of the pan. 

How to Cook Blackened Salmon

If you have a decently stocked spice cabinet and a sturdy skillet, you’re 99% of the way to making blackened salmon.

The Ingredients

  • Salmon. Salmon is a well-loved, healthy dinner ingredient at our house, and this blackened preparation is truly one of our favorites! Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and potassium (read more about salmon health benefits here).
  • Blackening Spices. Paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, thyme, and oregano. BOOM! A flavorful, lightly spicy combination that gives this salmon irresistible flavor.
  • Brown Sugar. My secret, delicious addition to the rub.
  • Butter. Helps the spices stick to the salmon pieces and critical to the blackening technique.
  • Lemon. I love a bright, finishing squeeze of lemon juice over the top of my salmon.

The Directions

  1. Pat the salmon fillets dry, melt the butter, and stir the blackening rub ingredients together.
    Two pieces of fish being coated in spices
  2. Brush the butter over the fillets. Top each fillet with the rub mixture. I like to use a little spoon to scatter it on, then pat it with my fingers.
    Four pieces of salmon in a skillet skin side up
  3. Start the salmon fillets flesh (spice)-side down in a hot pan. Flip each piece over and cook on the other side.
  4. Top with lemon juice, and ENJOY!

Tips for Perfect Blackened Fish

  • Keep the Salmon Cold. The butter will adhere better with cold fish, so keep the salmon in the refrigerator until you’re ready to start the recipe.
  • Use a HOT Pan. You want the pan to be extra hot so the fish blackens properly and doesn’t stick. Use a heavy-bottomed, sturdy pan or cast iron skillet for the best results.
  • Don’t Move the Fish. When you first add the fish to the pan, do not move it around. Let it cook for a few minutes so it forms that delightful butter/spice crust.

Some recipes suggest you add oil to the pan, but I don’t find it necessary. Brushing the fish with butter before adhering the spices, combined with the natural fats in the salmon itself is enough to cook the fish.

As long as your skillet is nice and hot, you should not have an issue with sticking. 

Four blackened salmon filets in a skillet

What to Serve with Blackened Salmon

More Ways to Use Blackened Salmon

In addition to serving this blackened salmon on its own with any of the sides above, you can also use it (or your leftovers) to make a variety of new dishes:

  • Blackened Salmon Tacos. Take a note from my Blackened Zucchini Tacos recipe, and pile this salmon into tortillas with fresh veggies, cheese, and beans.
  • Blackened Salmon Pasta. This salmon would be delicious served over a bed of pasta. Try it with either the Pasta al Limone mentioned above or this Quick Garlic Pasta with Olive Oil and Parmesan.
  • Blackened Salmon Salad. Blackened salmon makes a wonderful protein addition to salads like this Spinach Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing. If you’re using leftover salmon, you can serve it cold or at room temperature.
  • Blackened Salmon Scramble. I love adding leftover salmon to my scrambled eggs. This would be tasty and hearty for any meal.

Storage and Reheating Tips 

  • To Store. This salmon is best the day it is made, but you can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
  • To Reheat. To avoid drying out your salmon, gently reheat it in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat until just warmed through.
  • Any leftovers would be delicious in one of the recipe ideas listed above.

More Easy Salmon Recipes 

Healthy blackened salmon in a skillet with lemon

Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe

Roll up your sleeves and preheat that pan. It’s time to rock the rub and cook perfect blackened salmon at home!

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment to let me know how it goes. Your comments are so important to my site’s success, helpful to others, and they mean the world to me too.

Easy blackened salmon in a skillet with lemon

Blackened Salmon

4.95 from 84 votes
How to cook the BEST Blackened Salmon - Fillets of salmon brushed with butter, rubbed with a bold spice blend, and pan-seared to perfection, this easy recipe is simple and impressive!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillet portions skin-on
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • Chopped fresh parsley or thyme for serving

Instructions
 

  • Place the salmon on a large plate, flesh-side up, and pat dry.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, brown sugar, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, thyme and oregano.
  • In a separate small bowl, melt the butter. Brush the butter over the flesh-side of the salmon fillets, then sprinkle the flesh sides evenly with the spice mixture. Lightly pat the spices to adhere as needed.
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet or similar heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat (no need to add oil). Turn on the exhaust fan and open a window if things start to get smoky. Once the pan is completely hot (a droplet of water should dance on its surface), working quickly but gently, add the salmon fillets, one at a time, flesh-side down. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes without disturbing the fillets, until the surface is blackened (peek as little as possible so that the salmon gets a nice dark color), then carefully turn each piece of salmon over.
  • Continue cooking over medium heat, until the skin becomes crispy, and the fish is fully cooked through, about 5 to 6 additional minutes depending upon the thickness of your fillets. The fish should reach 145 degrees F on an instant read thermometer and flake easily with a fork at its thickest part.
  • Squeeze lemon over the salmon, then transfer the fillets to serving plates. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of fresh thyme and additional lemon wedges.

Notes

  • TO STORE: This salmon is best the day it is made, but you can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.
  • TO REHEAT: To avoid drying out your salmon, gently reheat it in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat until just warmed through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 313kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 35gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 109mgPotassium: 911mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1209IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 35mgIron: 2mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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183 Comments

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  1. Wow, just WOW! This is so easy and the flavor is incredible. I’ve never made blackened salmon before so I was nervous but this recipe really is perfect. Thank you!5 stars

    1. Savannah, I am so excited to hear you loved this, thank you for sharing this wonderful review!!

  2. THIS is the blackened salmon recipe I’ve been LOOKING for. PERFECT and THANK YOU … NO changes needed and none applied!!!!!!5 stars

  3. This was so easy to make and whole family loved it. We’re still talking about it 4 days later! Definitely a keeper!5 stars

  4. Wow!! Erin, you’ve done it again!!! 
    The Blackened Salmon was the BEST tasting recipe I’ve ever tried!! The seasonings are exceptional & I’m amazed at how perfect they turned out. As a matter of fact, it beats any restaurant that I’ve ever been to & I’ve been to many fine dining places. 
    On a scale of 1-10, you rate 10!!!! Thanks again!! 5 stars

      1. I made this for me and hubby, it wasn’t so good I’m making it for a dinner party. I’ll have to cook in batches as my pan only holds 4-5 pieces. .I’m thinking I’ll put the cooked pieces on a rack in the oven. Should 275 degrees be ok?5 stars

        1. Hi Bridget! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review! I have never tested cooking this in batches and leaving it to warm in the oven so I wouldn’t be able to advise if this would work or not. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  5. Just made this tonight and it was delicious! I’m a bit intimidated by cooking salmon and still learning to use my cast iron pan properly so was a little nervous to make this but I followed the recipe exactly and it came out perfectly! Can’t wait to use the leftovers in a salad tomorrow!5 stars

    1. This was the 3rd blackened salmon recipe I’ve tried and it’s my favorite! I used just a tiny bit less brown sugar than called for, but that was my only adjustment. Perfect hint of sweet, perfect level of spice. Really good all around flavor. This will be my new goto! Thanks so much! :) 5 stars

  6. Curious; is there a particular reason I wouldn’t want to  just mix the spices into the butter and paint the spices butter onto the cold salmon? I’ve used this technique with high temperature meat roasting and it works well there. 

    1. Hi Mike! I’ve found that adding the butter to the salmon first helps the spices to stick and creates a delicious flavor. I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it!

  7. I didn’t have skin on one side so ran out of rub.
    Had to sub chipotle for cayenne so not as spicy .it was gr8 even with all changes and i know when i make enough correctly it will taste great! Blackened shrimp anyone.5 stars

  8. Just tried this last night and it was great! I recommend this for my nutrition clients for healthy clean eating recipes.

    5 stars

  9. I don’t ever leave comments on recipes. Wow! This was so darn delicious. My house did fill with smoke, but it was worth it. Thanks for such a great salmon recipe!5 stars

  10. Just recently started liking salmon and made this recipe for dinner, it was delicious!! So simple and so much flavor!5 stars

  11. First—way too salty. Cut the salt in half, or more. Second, too high of heat will burn all the seasoning…trust me on this! Will make again as the salmon was moist and what wasn’t burned, was very good.4 stars

  12. This recipe is so clear and easy to understand! Thank you for this recipe. Doing anything Blackened always intimidated me a bit and with this it made it easy!!! Thank you!5 stars

  13. This recipe is was amazing ? I’ve always seen blackened salmon and didn’t know how to make it. I googled it and found this awesome recipe and it won’t be the last time using this recipe yummy!!5 stars

  14. Was craving blackened salmon and came upon this recipe. This recipe looked simple and easy to follow. It was so delicious! Definitely will keep this recipe and will be using often !! It was oh so very good. Thank you Erin!5 stars

  15. This was delish! I did not have Cayenne in my spice rack so used chili powder instead. Such a yummy fish! I do need to get a fish turner though to make flipping easier. Thanks for great recipe!5 stars

  16. This recipe was DELICIOUS! Super simple, easy to follow, and turned out absolutely perfect. I’ve always struggled with over cooking my salmon but I honestly can say this turned out to be the perfect restaurant quality taste and medium temperature salmon! I cooked 2 salmon fillets for 3 mins on the first side and flipped over for 5 mins on the second side and voila! Highly recommend!5 stars

  17. Going to make this tonight AND the shaved Brussels salad. Both sound YUM MEEEE! I’ll keep you posted.

  18. This was excellent. Made with your oven roasted Brussels sprouts and a side of jasmine rice. Definitely keeping this in my rotation!5 stars

  19. This Blackened Salmon recipe is OUTRAGEOUSLY DELICIOUS!!!! It’s easy and takes a short amount of time. It’s not the first time I’ve made it…and it won’t be the last!
    I look forward to making it for guests. Thanks Erin?5 stars

  20. I usually avoid cooking seafood because I find myself overcooking it, but I love Erin’s site and figured I’d give this recipe a try…. ended up making this last night and it was SO GOOD and soooo easy!!!! It literally took less than 15 mins from prep to serving. I like my salmon medium-rare so I only let it go for about 4 and a half minutes on the second time (until internal temp was around 120) and it was buttery, crunchy, and had an amazing sear. I was also shocked how moist and flakey it was with such little butter/fat — such a heathy, delicious option! I did have to open the window and turn on the fan because it got SMOKEY in my apartment, so beware!

    Threw it on some tacos, added guac and veggies and salsa, and it was AMAZING! Saved another fillet for dinner tonight that I served w/ roasted veggies and sourdough bread. Will be making this again very soon. :)5 stars

  21. Unbelieveably delicious and looks great. Flavorful, smoke in kitchen not too bad if exhaust fan on. Worth every minute of prep time. Best I ever ate.5 stars

  22. The best. I leave it on the fish side for a good 4-5 minutes for a real blackening and my fillets must be quite a bit thicker, because it takes a lot longer than 5-6 minutes on the other side
    . I just let it go until it’s 145 on the thermometer and it comes out perfect!5 stars

  23. Easy and so delicious, pared with polenta and roasted carrots. I will definitely be adding this into my salmon recipe rotation.5 stars

  24. Thank you, Erin, for sharing this delicious and oh-so-simple to make recipe. At 58 years of age I’m learning to cook (thank you C) and am delighted I can now make blackened salmon! Served with a simple Caesar salad and crunchy sourdough bread, it’s complete, nutritious and delicious! I look forward to making more of your recipes. Thanks, again! ??‍?5 stars

  25. Made me look like a real chef?. Try this one y’all this is a home run. The spices married together wonderfully.5 stars

    1. This was an amazingly easy recipe that came out perfectly! I didn’t change a thing and highly recommend it exactly as published.5 stars

  26. VERY good. We had invited our daughter over for dinner for grilled salmon. I prefer skin-on for grilling as it makes it easier to handle, even on my fish grate. Just as we were starting to pre-heat the grill and prepare the fish for spices, I realized my wife had mistakenly bought skinless. I knew salmon could be cooked many ways, but was always interested in ‘pan seared blackened salmon.’. This was the first page the search sent me to. It looked reasonably as I had anticipated. She melted the butter; I mixed the spices & fired up the side burner on the grill and put on a cast iron skillet and then cooked them as suggested. YUM! … This saved the dinner and we have a new recipe/dish! Will definitely do again, as the opinion of all who ate!5 stars

  27. This was a hit with my wife. She typically orders fish blackened at any seafood place. I believe we will enjoy this recipe many times in the very near future.5 stars

  28. We had this delicious dish for dinner last night, and it was fabulous!! Your directions and comments were so helpful. I served it atop a individual salads with lemon dill dressing. YUM! We will have this often!!! Five star for sure!!!5 stars

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe, Evelyn! Thank you for sharing this kind review!

  29. My son requested blackened salmon when I told him we were having salmon, omg, this was amazing! And so easy, I’ll be back to this website for more great recipes!5 stars

  30. Made this for dinner tonight…….came out delicious, was easy and like you said with the cast iron skillet heated and butter on the salmon little sticking. It was perfect with my lemon garlic pasta and asparagus! My family loved it! and so did I! Thank you for sharing this recipe, I’ll definitely make it again!5 stars

  31. A-MA-ZING and honestly I don’t think it could get any easier. Served it along side a Arugula/shaved parmesan salad with a lemon vinaigrette – perfection in under 30 minutes!5 stars

  32. Excellent!!! I always wanted to know how to make blackened salmon and now I know. I broiled it on high (3rd rack level down from top) because we had the fire department here a week ago while searing tuna steak in a pan, but broiling worked great. Can’t go wrong with this recipe!!5 stars

  33. This is the first time I have ever written a review…my first attempt at making the blackened salmon came out perfect. Absolutely delicious!!!! My family loved it. Cant wait to try more of your recipes5 stars

  34. Whew
    Gotta say this recipe takes a chunk out of the recipe world.
    Followed the recipe as written and got eye raising results.
    Served with roasted broccoli and couscous5 stars

  35. My husband loved it!

    Recipe was easy to follow. No odd ingredients, stuff I already had on hand and the spices and brown sugar paired for an amazing flavor explosion that is unlike anything I’ve had. Great combination!!! Great tips!

    This was my first time making a salmon dish! Thank you!!!5 stars

  36. So good! Used a bit less cayenne pepper because I was using it for a Caesar salad, this paired perfectly with it! Saving this for my go-to salmon recipe.5 stars

  37. Love this recipe! I had two 8 ounce fillets and it took much longer to cook than the instructions . I ended up covering the pan the last 3 minutes so that the salmon would cook through . ( it was raw even after adding 3 more mins to this recipe )4 stars

    1. Hi Maria! So glad you were able to enjoy the recipe! It’s so hard to know what might of went wrong with the cooking time without being in the kitchen with you!

    2. I followed this recipe except for the brown sugar I completely forgot it when I mixed up the spices. Had to go to the store to get Cayenne if you could believe that lol. Everything went as promised though and it was delicious. I used approximately the thickness of what you showed in your pictures for mine that may vary for everyone as each filet is different. Very good recipe thank you5 stars

        1. Very good juicy and tasty my wife and picky daughter loved it. The cooking time was different but it still turned out really well. Thanks for the recipe.4 stars

  38. My husband prepared this for dinner last night! Oh my goodness! So yummy!! We had enough left over and going to try it on a salad tomorrow! If I could give it 10 stars, we would!5 stars

  39. Excellent taste and so easy and fun to make! My first try at blackening anything and, as you promised, I aced it! I did have some large pieces of fish so I covered the grill and cooked additional 4 minutes.5 stars

  40. This was the first blackened salmon recipe that caught my eye tonight. The spice mix smelled delicious!! I put the finished fish in a salad, and it was wonderful.4 stars

  41. Great recipe. The first time, my fillets were too thick so I threw them in the oven to finish. The second time trying, it went off without a hitch5 stars

  42. Delish! We usually do salmon teriyaki, but decided to go with something a little different and tried this recipe. The skin was so crispy and delicious. Like some others mentioned, it did take a little longer to cook (I used it was thick cuts of salmon). Thank you!5 stars

  43. Came out Perfect, I make this dish at least twice a month. My guest always ask me for recipe, I email them this website.5 stars

  44. I would like to bake my salmon in the oven with no spices as I have to stay on a strick bland diet. Any suggestions?5 stars

    1. Hi Thomas! I haven’t tried it myself so you will be experimenting. You could try following this recipe without all of the seasonings/spices cooking it the same way. Or you could try this one (minus the seasonings): https://www.wellplated.com/lemon-pepper-salmon/ You could even try this pan seared salmon on the stove top (although you will need some kind of oil to cook it in): https://www.wellplated.com/pan-seared-salmon/ Hope this helps!

  45. This recipe is amazing! It tasted like something you would get from a high-end restaurant. I did almost set the smoke alarms off though…ha ha.5 stars

  46. Awesome, tasty and simple recipe. This is my new go to blackening seasoning mix! Perfect on sockeye filets, thank you!5 stars

  47. Erin – this salmon recipe is the 7th recipe I’ve gotten off your website in the past couple of months and I love them all. I really appreciate your attention to detail. I’m pretty sure I should just buy your cookbook!5 stars

  48. I tried this recipe, tonight. I wanted to try a different blackened salmon recipe. This was the best yet. My family loved it. The cook time was right on the mark. Thank you for a great recipe.5 stars

  49. It was the best salmon recipe I’ve ever made!! Salmon was not my favorite type of fish, but this recipe is a game changer!!
    Smiles, MB5 stars

  50. Simple but delicious recipe that’s as fun to make (the “blackening” process) as it is delicious to eat! Highly recommend giving this recipe a try!!5 stars

    1. Hi Dawn, I am not sure how it would come out without the skin. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  51. Brushed on butter sprinkled on spices patted lightly, put flesh side down and most of spices fell off
    What can I do to make the spices stick better?4 stars

    1. Hi Teri, not sure if you read this in the post, but you want to make sure your salmon is cold. This helps the butter adhere to the salmon better, which in turn would help your spices adhere better. You may lose some of the spices when putting into the pan but it shouldn’t be all. The spices is what creates that nice blackened crust on top.

  52. I haven’t made this with your recipe , but I wanted to applaud you for how clearly it is written, how encouraging it would be to beginners.
    I’m giving it five stars because I am a cook and I cannot imagine how this could be anything but successful. (As for the comments on cooking times, so much depends on the thickness of the fish, the heat of the pan and even what pan is used.)5 stars

  53. I followed the recipe and it was delicious. Will definitely be making this again. One extra step I did was brushing the flesh with more melted butter when done with a squeeze of lemon on top.5 stars

    1. Hi Michael! I would not suggest using margarine. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes.

  54. Made this for the second time tonight, and it’s absolutely delicious. It reminded me of the blackened salmon I used to get at one of my favorite authentic soul-food restaurants. I paired it with some leftover Cajun linguini that I made last night and the meal was better than restaurant quality. The salmon was savory, spicy and a little sweet, cooked in a cast-iron skillet to the specifications in the recipe and I couldn’t imagine it being better.5 stars