Blackened Salmon

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Blackened salmon with bold spices is a tasty dinner made in just 15 minutes! Apply a quick dry season blend to each fish fillet, then pan fry until a flavorful dark crust appears on the surface. It’s that easy!

Blackened salmon fillets in a cast iron skillet

Blackened salmon is a go-to recipe when a seafood craving hits! It’s quick and easy to prepare with minimal effort. It’s one of those dishes that can be paired with any side dish to mix up a weeknight dinner. A blend of savory, spicy and sweet seasonings are generously coated on each fish fillet, adding delicious flavors and textures while it cooks.

Once the salmon is added to a hot pan and cooked for just a few minutes on each side, the taste is magically transformed making each bite better than the last. Fans of spiciness and crispy salmon will devour this dish!

The spice rub

When I’m looking to instantly add flavor to proteins, a dry spice rub does the trick. My blackening spice is a mixture of paprika, cumin, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, chili powder, and black pepper.

Several different dry seasonings in a white bowl

The balance of heat, savory notes, and sweetness from the spices get enhanced when cooked in the oil to help the fat-soluble flavors intensify.

A generous coating of the blackening spice is applied to the flesh side of the salmon fillets. For those who like extra crispy fish, the skin can be left on and fried in the pan. Otherwise, remove the skin and season both sides of the salmon.

Photo of a person applying a dry rub seasoning to salmon fillets

Choosing the right oil

The salmon gets pan-fried in a thin layer of olive in a large heavy skillet. Be sure to take into consideration the oil smoke points. The frying oil should be hot enough to quickly sear the surface of the salmon, but not be too hot where it becomes overly smoky and breaks down. It takes a few minutes on each side to create a crispy layer and deep golden colors on the salmon surface.

Fish spatula lifting blackened salmon out of a cast iron skillet

The result is tender and flaky salmon with a boldly spiced crust, it’s irresistible! I like to serve the blackened salmon with grilled corn salad or broccoli rice. Blackened salmon is a simple and tasty recipe that once mastered will be put on repeat and served weekly at the dinner table.

Photo of blackened salmon dinner topped with garnish and served in a cast iron skillet

More salmon recipes

Sugar helps with blackening the fish

Adding a small amount of brown sugar to the blackening spice mixture not only adds a hint of sweetness but also accelerates the browning on the surface of the fish. Sugar is composed of two simple sugar molecules, glucose, and fructose. At around 200°F (93°C), the fructose begins to caramelize, and deep brown pigments form on the surface. This is much lower than the 300°F temperature needed for Maillard Browning reaction to occur on its own. The result is an attractive blackened crust in a short period, which is helpful because the salmon cooks very quickly.

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Blackened Salmon

Blackened salmon with bold spices is a tasty dinner made in just 15 minutes! Apply a quick dry season blend to each fish fillet, then pan fry until a flavorful dark crust appears on the surface. It's that easy!
Pin Print Review
4.45 from 54 votes
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time15 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Caribbean

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds salmon fillet, skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • In a small bowl combine paprika, cumin, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, chili powder and black pepper.
  • Cut salmon fillets into 4 equal pieces, about 6 ounces in weight each.
  • Season each side of the fillet with 1 teaspoon of the blackening seasoning mix, 2 teaspoons total.
  • Heat a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot add the oil.
  • Place salmon fillets in the pan and cook until lightly charred and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Flip and cook until the flesh flakes easily, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Transfer to a plate, serve with lime wedge and sprinkle with parsley.

Recipe Video

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Nutrition Facts
Blackened Salmon
Amount Per Serving
Calories 238 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 130mg43%
Sodium 377mg16%
Potassium 27mg1%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 0.4g2%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 35g70%
Vitamin A 450IU9%
Vitamin C 0.8mg1%
Calcium 60mg6%
Iron 0.5mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

34 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Mark says

    WOW! I haven eaten blackened Salmon at as many as 15 different restaurants across the USA. I made this for my wife and kids and served it on a bed of ceasar salad. It was far superior to any restaurant dish I had ever eaten. THANk YOU!

  2. Rebekah says

    I made this on a frying pan (skipped the lime and parsley and used light brown sugar in lieu of dark brown sugar). I’m pleased with how it turned out.

  3. Kevin W Quinlan says

    I’ve been preparing blackened salmon for years, but hadn’t used sugar. Definitely going to include that next time. This dish goes very well with a pinapple salsa (pinapple, red pepper, jalopino, red onion, lime juice).

  4. Michelle Wilson says

    I’ve made this several times now and its a HUGE family favorite! It’s so delicious that it’s hard to believe that it’s that easy to prepare. My daughter has since asked me to make her a BIG bottle of the seasoning because her and her hubby love it so much. Thanks again Jessica!

  5. James Moore says

    This is the first time I have tried this recipe. My wife who doesn’t usually like pink fish ate 2 servings. She finished way before me and kept shushing me, so she could enjoy and not have to talk. So I would say that it was a resounding success. Thank you for making it so easy.

  6. Ricardo Flores says

    I’ve had this salmon three times, following the recipe in exact detail. It comes out excellent. The seasoning blend is easy and pairs well with the salmon. Have had it with brown rice, rice pilaf and baked potato, always enjoyable. We like salmon for the health benefits. This recipe adds the zing!

  7. Linda Cross says

    Made this Blackened Salmon and it was delicious! Loved the spice mixture it is the very best ever. This blackened salmon was the best I have ever eaten.

  8. Shannen Soden says

    Ms. Gavin, thank you so much for your recipe. I looked at other recipes and only one other offered exact measurements for the rub mix. I appreciate you giving the measurements and important information along with the instructions. We literally just finished eating and it was so delicious 😋. I am so glad that I did your recipe instead of the other persons that I found. We loved it so much that I feel no need to even try the other one out. Part of my to-do list tomorrow, is making up a big quart size mason jar of the rub for my future meals. Thank you again for including the measurements and extras that others did not!

  9. Matt says

    I found your recipe a couple of years ago and have made it dozens of times. It is a family favorite and a staple in our rotation. Consistently good and timeless. Thanks for sharing

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