Blackened Fish Recipe (Easy & Under 15 Min!)
This blackened fish recipe is a great option for a quick and flavorful dinner. In under 15 minutes, you’ll get a seasoned, blackened crusted fish filet full of peppery, smoky, and slightly spicy aromas.
What Makes Blackened Fish Blackened?
Blackened fish was first invented by a chef in New Orleans during the 1980s. Chef Paul Prudhomme created blackened fish to help imitate the flavor and texture of charred meat without using a grill.
Prudhomme dipped firm pieces of white fish into melted butter, coated each side thoroughly with a mix of seasonings and spices, and seared each side on a hot cast iron quickly to imitate charred meat.
The best method to blacken fish is using a cast-iron skillet on the stove to get a very hot sear and imitate the charred texture on the fish. However, you can also make blackened fish without a cast-iron skillet using an oven on the broil setting, but it won’t necessarily have the same crust or charred exterior. Just make sure to watch the fish carefully to prevent it from burning too.
What Fish is Best for Blackening?
The best fish for blackening is firm white fish because it keeps its shape during searing and lets the flavor of the heavy seasoning come through. In the original recipe, Prudhomme used redfish (otherwise known as red drum), but you can also use trout, tilapia, or red snapper. If you prefer fish with a stronger flavor, you can also use other types of fattier fish like salmon.
Is Blackened Fish the Same as Cajun?
While blackened fish was created in New Orleans, this cooking method of imitating charred meat on a cast iron with seasonings is not traditionally a Cajun culinary method. However, it does use a blend of spices and ingredients often used in a lot of Cajun cooking like paprika and cayenne.
Blackened Fish Seasoning Ingredients
The seasoning for blackened fish is where a majority of the flavor comes from and can be adjusted based on your preference. This recipe calls for paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, cayenne, black pepper, dried thyme, and dried oregano. You are also welcome to add additional spices like cumin, dry mustard, or even brown sugar.
What Oil to Use for Blackened Fish
Traditionally, blackened fish is made using a lot of butter, but in an effort to keep this recipe healthy I like to use olive oil or avocado oil. These are fairly neutral-tasting oils so they won’t interfere with the flavor, but have a high smoke point which is perfect for reaching the higher heat when charring the fish.
What to Serve With Blackened Fish
Some easy and delicious ways to serve blackened fish are with corn tortillas, cabbage, grilled zucchini and squash, and salsa to make it into a taco. If you want a quick meal, you can also add it to a plate of seasoned rice and a side of steamed broccoli.
- Mixing bowl
- paper towels
- Cast iron pan or heavy bottomed pan (for stovetop option)
- Parchment paper lined sheet pan (for oven option)
- ½ tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ¾ tsp cayenne
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp dried thyme
- ⅛ tsp dried oregano
- 2 4 ounce white firm fish redfish, tilapia, or trout
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Mix the seasoning in a bowl.
- Pat dry the fish.
- Coat the fish with the seasoning on all sides thoroughly.
- METHOD A, Stovetop: Preheat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Cook the fish on each side for 2 minutes or until charred on each side. Use an internal thermometer to check the fish temperature, it should reach a minimum of 145 °F
- METHOD B, Oven: Preheat oven on broil at 500 °F. Line a pan with parchment paper and place on the top rack for 2-5 minutes until the fish turns opaque and reaches an internal temperature of 145 °F.
- Remove the fish when it’s finished and serve immediately.