Blackened Salmon

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This easy blackened salmon recipe features bold spices for a tasty dinner in just 15 minutes! First, apply a quick dry homemade blackening season blend to each fish fillet, then pan-fry in olive oil until a flavorful dark crust appears on the surface. Weeknight blackened salmon is that simple!

A cast-iron skillet is a perfect tool for these four blackened salmon fillets, seasoned with a dry rub, limes, and spicy pepper.
Table of Contents
  1. Blackened Salmon Seasoning Rub
  2. Choosing the Right Oil for Blackened Salmon
  3. More favorite salmon recipes
  4. The Secret in the Blackened Salmon Spices
  5. FAQ About Cooking Blackened Salmon
  6. Blackened Salmon Recipe

This easy blackened salmon recipe is my go-to when a seafood craving hits! The dry rub is quick and easy to prepare with minimal effort, and the salmon cooks perfectly in a hot cast-iron skillet. Blackened salmon is one of those dishes you can pair with any side dish to mix up a weeknight dinner. The blackened seasoning rub is a blend of savory, spicy, and sweet seasonings that are generously coated on each fish fillet, adding delicious flavors and textures while it cooks.

The best part of this blackened salmon recipe is that it takes almost no time but feels impressive. Once the salmon is added to a hot pan and cooked on each side for just a few minutes, the taste transforms, making each bite better than the last. The meaty, savory, umami flavors come out, and it will satisfy meat-eaters and fish-haters alike. Fans of spiciness and crispy salmon will devour this dish!

Blackened Salmon Seasoning Rub

Whenever you’re cooking salmon, chicken, or even steak, there are several ways to add extra flavor and retain moisture. Of course, marinades and sauces are a nice option, but sometimes you want to highlight the meaty, savory flavor of the meal without adding extra sauce.

A dry spice rub does the trick when I’m looking to add fast flavor to proteins. So how do you make a blackening seasoning mix? My blackening spice recipe is a mixture of paprika, cumin, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, chili powder, and black pepper. Although I use it here in a blackened salmon recipe, it also works great on other types of fish fillets, chicken, and even pork. 

A white stone mortar contains a mix of spices for blackened salmon seasoning, including red paprika and chili powder, yellow cumin, tan garlic and onion powders, brown sugar, white salt, and black pepper.

If you’re unfamiliar with the magic of dry rubs, you liberally coat the salmon with spices and seasonings. The balance of heat, savory notes, and sweetness from the spices get enhanced when cooked in olive oil, which helps the fat-soluble flavors intensify. The spice blend takes on deep, nuanced flavors permeating the salmon and highlighting the texture, flavor, and spice level.

When making this blackened salmon recipe, I apply a generous coating of the blackening spice 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 fish fillet with the blackening seasoning blend before you cook the salmon.

Using a spoon and a mortar filled with a blackening seasoning blend, a cook generously coats the flesh side of four salmon fillets on a baking sheet.

Choosing the Right Oil for Blackened Salmon

When making this blackened salmon recipe, I haul out my trusty cast iron pan, which is perfect for pan-searing salmon and adding that ideal crispy finish. Of course, any heavy pan will do, but I highly recommend considering cast iron for this recipe.

I pan-fry the seasoned salmon fillets in a thin layer of olive in my large cast-iron skillet. When you make this salmon recipe, be sure to consider oil smoke points. The frying oil should be hot enough to sear the surface of the salmon quickly but not so hot that it becomes overly smoky and breaks down.

I cook the salmon in the hot skillet for a few minutes on each side to create a crispy outer layer and deep golden colors on the salmon surface. The salmon should flake easily when finished.

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Salmon fillets cook quickly, making this quite a fast, easy (weeknight-friendly) meal to prepare. The cast-iron skillet gets that high-temperature heat you want for an extra crispy outside. The result of this cooking method is tender and flaky salmon with a boldly spiced crust—it’s irresistible! 

I often add limes to the salmon presentation so diners can squeeze a little lime juice on the blackened salmon. It’s quite flavorful, but you can always offer salt and pepper to taste. I like to serve this blackened salmon recipe with grilled corn salad or broccoli rice. Blackened salmon is a simple and tasty recipe—once you master it, you’ll want to put it on repeat and serve this favorite fish weekly at the dinner table. 

Blackened salmon fillets cook in a cast-iron skillet while a fish spatula is used to gently lift one fillet out of the pan to check for doneness.

More favorite salmon recipes

The Secret in the Blackened Salmon Spices

Wondering how to cook blackened salmon so it gets that caramelized texture and flavor without tasting burnt or bitter? 

The secret to cooking the best blackened salmon is in the blend of spices. I add a small amount of brown sugar to the blackening spice mixture because it not only adds a hint of sweetness to the salmon (or any protein) but also accelerates the browning on the surface of the fish.

FAQ About Cooking Blackened Salmon

How do I mix my spices for my blackened salmon seasoning?

I like to mix my blackening seasoning rub in a small bowl or a mortar. Most spices are already pre-ground, so there’s no need to use the pestle to crush the spices. Just stir them together in the bowl, so they blend well. I use a teaspoon of paprika and cumin, the two flavors I like to highlight. Next, I use a ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Then I go a little lighter on the heat with a ¼ teaspoon of chili powder and black pepper. I also use a teaspoon of brown sugar and blend it together as my rub. You can adjust amounts to suit your taste.

How long does it take to cook blackened salmon?

It’s often hard to know how long to cook salmon because it depends on the thickness of your fillets, your pan, and even the type of oil you use for the recipe. I start with a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and then turn it up to medium-high as needed. I watch it carefully until the salmon fillets flake easily with a fork. Typically, it’s a few minutes on each side. The salmon will continue to cook slightly more when you take it off the heat.

Why should I use olive oil for my blackened salmon?

I personally prefer cooking with olive oil in many cases. Some people express concerns about the smoke point of olive oil, but extra virgin oil is fine up to 410 degrees. Most home cooks use melted butter, margarine, or vegetable oil for pan-frying because quality olive oil can get a little expensive. That said, this blackened salmon doesn’t need much oil, and I find that the Mediterranean flavors pair well with this easy blackened salmon recipe.

Four blackened salmon fillets are perfectly cooked in a cast-iron skillet, surrounded by limes and red peppers for color.

Sugar helps with blackening 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 the 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, like most fish, cooks very quickly.

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Blackened Salmon

Blackened salmon with bold spices is a tasty, healthy salmon recipe you can make in just 15 minutes! Apply a quick dry blackened seasoning blend to each fish fillet, then pan-fry until a flavorful dark crust appears on the surface. It's that easy!
Pin Print Review
4.67 from 56 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 

  • Mix Blackening Spice – In a small bowl combine paprika, cumin, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, chili powder, and black pepper.
  • Prepare Salmon Filets – Cut salmon fillets into 4 equal pieces, about 6 ounces in weight each. Season each side with 1 teaspoon of the blackening seasoning mix, 2 teaspoons total.
  • Cook Salmon – Heat a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot add the oil. Place the 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.
  • Plate & Serve – Transfer to a plate, serve with a lime wedge and sprinkle with parsley.

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Notes

  • Storing: Blackening seasoning can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Cooked salmon can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
  • Reheating: Cover and microwave the salmon on high heat in 15 to 30-second increments until hot.
  • Make it Whole30 and Keto: Omit the brown sugar. Use sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil. 

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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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38 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Judy says

    Salmon and halibut are my favorite fish. I have to go to WA state Sunday for a family emergency so maybe I can get some fresh Alaskan salmon to make while there. Thank you for another super beautiful dish to make and share.

  2. Matt says

    Made this for the first time tonight and it was as advertised – perfect texture and flavor. Will be a go-to dish from now on in our family!

  3. Glenda says

    Absolutely delicious! Will make again for sure as is. So easy and quick. My husband loved it. Thank you

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much! You can use the blackening seasoning on other types of fish, seafood and chicken too!

  4. Sheila Flores says

    My family and I really enjoyed this salmon. It’s so easy and delicious. My son commented that it’s even better than the Blackened Salmon that he often orders at our favorite local seafood restaurant. I’ll be making this dish on a regular basis. Thank you!

  5. Mark Boehlen says

    Made the Blackened Salmon for dinner tonight. It made a wonderful meal that is quick and easy to prepare. Additionally, at 377 mg this is a friendly recipe for someone who is on a sodium restricted diet.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes, you can bake the salmon at 375 degrees until the fish flakes easily or reaches 125-130ºF internal temperature.

  6. Mori says

    I tried this recipe the other day for my family and they loved it. I’d love to share my photos! This was my first time making a dish like this…your recipe was very helpful, the instructions as well. So proud of myself. Thank you!

  7. Lynn Taylor says

    This recipe was easy and worked out so well. The spice rub is delicious.. You just have to check on it so it isn’t over-cooked. Thanks! Lynn

  8. Dani M says

    Very good, loved the seasoning blend but we opted for cooking on the grill.
    My husband grills everything and anything and I’m not the kinda gal who will turn down her man wanting to help with dinner. (: But next time I’m surely going to try the heavy skillet! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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).

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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

  18. Robert Hicks says

    Thank you, Jessica for a great recipe. I used 1-1/2 pounds of skin-on Salmon and cut it lengthwise into 2 pieces. The pieces cooked in the hot pan skin-side down for 4 minutes, undisturbed. I then flipped it (using 2 fish spatulas), cooked it for 3 minutes, sprinkled it with lime juice and added a Tbsp of butter. As the butter melted, I spooned it over the flesh, let it cook for 1 minute and plated the pieces – topped with the lime slices. The exterior was crusty, with a moist, flaky and flavorful inside. Servings were on a bed of cooked long-grain rice. I find that the butter addition with any fish searing, helps to enhance the flavors. I’ve also tried your exact recipe with Swordfish and received the same tasty results. The spice rub works equally well on Catfish and it has become our go-to for any blackened fish recipe.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m thrilled to hear that the blackening spice tastes good with other types of fish, too! I will have to try the butter next time I make this dinner recipe. Thanks, Robert!

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