Easy Cajun Blackened Salmon | Quick and Easy Main Dish

I have a thing for fish. I love it. In fact, I could eat it most nights out of the week. I’m not super picky, I like just about every variety. Not all my kiddos share my adoration of fish dinners, however. Well, unless they’re battered, deep fried, and served with *gag* ketchup, that is.

Don’t get me wrong, I love fried fish, too, but that’s not an every night kind of dinner. What you see above, though, is just that. That is a simple Easy Cajun Blackened Salmon coated in a lovely homemade Smoked Cajun Spice Blend (recipe included below), fried in a little oil in a cast-iron skillet, and served on a bed of rice with some equally lovely homemade Mango Salsa (recipe located HERE!).

Easy Cajun Blackened Salmon from foodiewithfamily.com

Is the Homemade Smoked Cajun Spice Blend spicy?

The short answer is that it is entirely up to you! Isn’t homemade wonderful? We like pretty fiery stuff, so I mix ours up pretty hot. The recipe I’ve shared below is what I think of as middle-of-the-road (I add significantly more ground cayenne pepper to our version), but you can reduce, omit, or increase the spicy stuff to make it exactly what your family loves. The most important ingredient is the Smoked Sweet Paprika.

To make it just a little easier for you, I’ve made a list of all of the spices and herbs you need to whip up your very own batch of Smoked Cajun Spice Blend. If  you don’t feel like going to the store, they are conveniently all Amazon.com affiliate links so you could order them and wait for your ingredients to come to you!

This recipe makes a goodly amount of spice blend. You KNOW I wouldn’t saddle you with a one-trick pony, right? This spice blend is so darned good on the Easy Cajun Blackened Salmon, which probably goes without saying since I’ve put the two recipes here together, but it’s also wonderful on chicken and pork, whether grilled, broiled, pan-fried or what-have-you’d. We’ve sprinkled it on popcorn and homemade tortilla chips, too!

Cook’s Notes

for Easy Cajun Blackened Salmon

  • Easy Cajun Blackened Salmon is not a fancy pants salmon. This particular filet in the pictures came from a bag of frozen, individually wrapped salmon fillets from the Wegman’s seafood section. I’ve used frozen, IQF salmon fillets from Aldi and been happy, too. If, by chance, you are one of those lucky folks who live somewhere that fresh salmon is plentiful and affordable, you can make this with fresh fish as well. Oh, and if you’re one of those people, would you mind terribly if my family and I moved in with you? We take up a little space what with there being seven of us, three dogs, thirty something chickens, a couple of ducks, a kingly amount of Legos, and a few musical instruments, but we’re super helpful and have great attitudes. No? Whatever. Fine. Salmon hogs. My point is this, make it with whatever salmon you can lay your hands on easily.
  • Do I have to thaw the fish first? Sorry, but yes. If you have the frozen fillets, thaw them according to directions. There is no short-cut there. You need fully thawed fish for this to work, and I don’t recommend a microwave thawing method, because that can thaw unevenly and cook some of the edges before you mean to cook it. That makes for rubbery, yucky, grody fish. Trust me. So, how do I make frozen fish fillets taste great? It really is simple, the keys are thawing the fish properly, then seasoning it properly, then cooking it properly. Sounds like a ton of pressure, right? Wrong. It’s three easy steps, and I do mean easy. Thaw the fish slowly. This could mean overnight. Please don’t microwave thaw the fish. You’ll regret it. If you’re in a serious hurry, put the filets on an upside down metal cookie sheet and flip it every 15 minutes or so until its thawed. (This is NOT an FDA recommended method, but I’m keeping it real folks. Do this at your own risk.)
  • After your fish is thawed and unwrapped (or vice versa), dab both sides with a paper towel to dry the surface a bit. It doesn’t need to be bone dry, just not drippy. Lay it on a pan or platter. Now you can season. Today we’re talking Easy Cajun Blackened Salmon, so the homemade Cajun seasoning (or purchased Cajun seasoning of choice) is what we’ll be using.
  • Heat a clean, dry, cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. After that you can add the oil, swirl until it’s shimmery and THEN -and only then- can you add your seasoned fish. Make sure you’re laying it down in the pan where you want it to sit, because you are not going to TOUCH that fillet for a couple of minutes. I mean it. Resist the urge to scoot and mangle that poor thing around the pan. Flip when the fish looks cooked about 2/3 of the way up the sides, cook ’til the fish looks done all the way up both sides, let it go another minute, then pull those lovely fillets out of the pan and onto a plate to rest, lightly tented, for a couple of minutes before serving. That doesn’t sound too daunting, does it?


Cajun Blackened Salmon with Homemade Smoked Cajun spice blend | www.foodiewithfamily.com

  • I’d be a horrible, terrible, no-good blogger if I didn’t tell you that you’ll probably want leftovers of Easy Cajun Blackened Salmon. What? Left-over fish? I haven’t taken leave of my senses, however it may sound. Leftover Easy Cajun Blackened Salmon is the key ingredient in my Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad and that salad is one of my best-loved dishes from my kitchen. Want a sneak peak?

Blackened Salmon Caesar Salad hard boiled eggs Parmesan from foodiewithfamily.com

This is one time when leftover fish is very, very good indeed!



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4.7 from 3 reviews
Easy Cajun Blackened Salmon | Quick and Easy Main Dish
Fabulous, flavourful, versatile Homemade Smoked Cajun Spice Blend and a fast, fantastic Cajun Blackened Salmon. Family-friendly and frugal to boot!
For the Smoked Cajun Spice Blend:
  • 6 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper (can be adjusted up or down or omitted entirely depending on your heat tolerance.)
  • 2 tablespoons dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
For the Cajun Blackened Salmon (per serving):
  • 1 skinless, boneless salmon fillet (if frozen, thawed completely according to package instructions)
  • 1 teaspoon or more Homemade Smoked Cajun Spice Blend, to your own taste
  • 2 teaspoons canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil
Optional, for serving:
To Make the Smoked Cajun Spice Blend:
  1. Whisk all the ingredients together. Store in a jar with an airtight lid for up to 6 months.
To Make the Cajun Blackened Salmon:
  1. Lightly pat both sides of the fish fillet with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Do not squash the fish you're not trying to completely dry it. Sprinkle at least ½ of a teaspoon of the Homemade Smoked Cajun Spice Blend over each side of the fish fillet. For stronger Cajun flavour (or if you're using a larger fillet), sprinkle up to 2 teaspoons of the Smoked Cajun Spice Blend over each side of the fillet.
  2. Place a clean, dry cast-iron skillet on a medium-high burner for at least 1 minute. Pour the oil in the pan and swirl it to coat. When the oil is shimmery, lay the seasoned fish fillet down in the pan and do not touch it (I mean it!) until the fish appears to be cooked (colour has changed from bright pink to opaque light pink) ⅔ of the way up the sides. If it smells like the spices are blackening too quickly, turn the heat down a smidge. When it appears cooked ⅔ of the way up the sides, carefully flip it over. Again, do not move or squish the fish! Let it cook for at least 1 more minute, or until the fish appears opaque or cooked all the way up the sides. Transfer the fillets to a plate or platter and lightly tent with foil. Do not crimp the foil, or you'll destroy the crispy spice coating you worked to achieve! Remember, too, that fish -like meat- continues to cook a bit from residual heat when removed from the pan.
To Serve:
  1. Serve the cooked fillets over hot rice with a scoop of fresh mango salsa, or other fruit salsa.

This post was originally published on August 22, 2013.

Easy Cajun Blackened Salmon from foodiewithfamily.com


  1. jeri says

    I’m frequently lucky enough to score some frozen salmon fillets at my 99 cent PLUS store. I don’t kid myself that it’s the wild, line caught variety that the foodies go on about, but it’s still got all those Omegas that are so good for you and it’s affordable. I don’t know why I’ve never thought to blacken it. Thanks for your great idea.

  2. says

    Okay, I have to tell you that this is the best frozen fish I’ve ever cooked. Aldi Special.
    AND I also have to say that I had given up buying it because I thought I was a salmon snob. The only reason I had it is because my husband bought it. Turns out I just didn’t have a good recipe.
    I even ate the delicious spicy, crispy skin. I have NEVER eaten salmon skin knowingly.
    I didn’t have the fruit salsa to go with it, so I made a delicious guacamole, thinking we could slather the salmon with it, if it wasn’t any good. No need; we ate the guacamole over lettuce with chips. And I have a whole jar of cajun spice left….
    And I’m back to buying cheap Aldi salmon. Thank You for this amazing recipe!

  3. says

    You are welcome to move in with us. My husband would spend all his time fishing if it were possible. Sadly we are no longer at the stage where we would look at the freezer and go “oh, not MORE salmon”. But it was good while it lasted. However, we are family of five, three dogs, five cats, two geese, lots of chickens, a parrot and two goldfish. No lego but a goodly amount of musical instruments, some of them rather large. We may all have to squish up a bit.

  4. says

    Medium high heat? I like to do mine the old fashion way and do it on the hottest cast iron I can get. Then again, I’m doing mine outside so the tell-tale plume of billowing smoke doesn’t set off my smoke detectors, ha ha ha.

    Looks great! Your blackening rub is spot on.

  5. Tabby says

    Late to the party on this one, but I have another serving suggestion for ya: A local restaurant makes a similar blackened salmon, and they top it with a dollop of tzatziki. The contrast between the heat of the spice rub and the coolness of the yogurt and cucumber is an experience I highly recommend!

  6. says

    I followed your recipe & directions all the way. The salmon turned out deliciously fantastic. It was my first time trying salmon. With this recipe I’m for sure going to be eating a lot more salmon. My husband said it is the best fish recipe he’s had ever. Thank you so much for this recipe that turned our many meals to come into something to look forward to. Love the spice & zest ~

  7. Maria Garsee says

    I just tried this today for lunch. I got to say it was so good. I will definitely be making this again this weekend when my husband comes home.

  8. jennifer says

    So tasty! My second time cooking salmon and it was great. My kids loved it, too. I cut the cayenne in half just to be on the safe side. Happy to make this one again and again!

  9. says

    Like others I was stuck with what my wife bought at the store, frozen skinless salmon thingies. I searched the internet for a decent recipe and yours looked great so thought I would give it a try. WOW! I modded some existing seafood seasoning, made the salsa with fresh pineapple rather than mango since this also came home from the store with my wife, served it over a bed of rice and voila. It was spectacular. I would say that it was slightly overdone letting it cook up to 2/3 before the turn, so I might go to 1/2 as I like it a bit more “rare.” Also, I find that the quick defrost is easy in cold water in the sink (my fillets were individually sealed in plastic). Good recommendation! Enjoy your Carnival cruise. We went on one last year and had a blast :-)

    • says

      Fabulous, Doug! I regularly sub in pineapple salsa (but use canned because for some WEIRD reason, one of my sons and I can eat canned but are allergic to fresh!) when good mangoes aren’t anywhere to be found. It could be that the fillets I used were thicker and held up well to the 2/3 rule. I prefer mine mid-rare. And I had a lovey time on the Carnival cruise!

  10. Donna M. says

    Found your recipe while searching for blackened salmon. Used it because it used frozen salmon filets. My husband and I LOVE it. We make it at least once a week, sometimes twice. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Susan says

    Love that you posted the recipe for the seasoning. I’ve used commercial blackened redfish seasoning, but can’t find it where I live. And that’s one of the few ways I can get my husband to eat fish. I’ve always used it on tuna, but it would be nice on salmon, too. Looking forward to trying it.

  12. says

    This looks so good! I love salmon, but everyone else in my family prefers white fish. Can you use the same technique to cook other types of fish? (We just moved near the coast, but I’m a TOTAL spaz when it comes to cooking fish! Help!)

    • says

      You can use the same technique, but white fish tends to be a lot more delicate structurally than salmon, so you’ll need to adjust cooking times and temperatures!


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