Blackened Fish

blackened fish recipe

The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 27 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 6 fillets
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
518 Calories
40g Fat
1g Carbs
38g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 518
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 51%
Saturated Fat 24g 122%
Cholesterol 251mg 84%
Sodium 186mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 38g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 72mg 6%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 890mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The traditional way to blacken fish is in a heavy cast-iron skillet over high heat. The advantage of cooking it outdoors on the grill is that you won't fill the kitchen with smoke. That makes this simple Cajun barbecue recipe great for outdoor entertaining and camping.

Many types of fish work well for this blackened fish recipe. It needs to be a firm fish; otherwise, it will fall apart under the intense heat. Bass, catfish, cod, pollock, snapper, and tilapia are just a few good choices for blackening fish. The fish fillets are dredged in melted butter, then covered in a Cajun blackening seasoning before placed in the skillet on a hot grill and cooked in more butter.

While you might be able to find it at some stores, the blackening blend is easy and inexpensive to make at home. The dry rub uses common ingredients like paprika, oregano, thyme, pepper, garlic, and salt. For that signature Cajun spice, you'll also need a good amount of cayenne pepper. It uses more cayenne than a typical Cajun seasoning, which is key to getting that blackened look and taste on the fish.

Serve this flavorful fish dish with your favorite barbecue sides. It's excellent alongside classics like potato salad and grilled corn on the cob and equally tasty with garden-fresh recipes like grilled eggplant or zucchini.

"My family loved the flavor of the blackened seasoning on the mahi-mahi fillets, and the weather was hot, so the oven was out of the question. My gas grill remained between 450 F and 500 F. You might have to plan on 2 to 3 batches depending on the size of your pan." —Diana Rattray

blacked fish on the grill/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients to make blackened fish

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  2. Prepare a high (about 500 F) gas or charcoal grill fire. Put a heavy cast-iron skillet or griddle on the grill grates. Get it good and hot for about 15 to 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can pre heat your cast iron skillet over medium heat on the stove for 3 to 4 minutes.

    cast iron skillet heating on a charcoal grill

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  3. Reserve 1/2 cup of melted butter for serving. Pour the remaining 3/4 cup melted butter into a shallow dish.

    melted butter in a white bowl

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  4. Dip each fillet into butter.

    raw fish in bowl of butter

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  5. Sprinkle Cajun blackening spices on both sides.

    fish filets covered with blackening spices in a casserole dish

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  6. Place into the skillet, in batches, if necessary, and cook until the bottom is almost black but not burned, 2 to 3 minutes.

    filets of fish cooking in a cast iron skillet over a charcoal grill

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  7. Carefully flip so fillets do not break.

    filets of fish cooking in a cast iron skillet over a charcoal grill

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  8. Pour about a teaspoon of ​butter on the cooked side and continue cooking about 2 to 3 minutes or until the fillet is finished (internal temperature of 150 F).

    filets of fish cooking in a cast iron skillet over a charcoal grill

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

  9. Remove fish from pan and place onto a large platter or individual plates. Serve immediately with the reserved butter for dipping.

    blackened fish recipe

    The Spruce/Julia Hartbeck

    Tip

    • It's best to cook about 2 to 3 fillets at a time (but don't overcrowd the pan). Wipe the skillet clean between each batch of fillets and keep the temperature nice and hot. 
    • Some good firm fish choices for grilling include catfish, grouper, halibut, red snapper, mahi mahi, redfish, and salmon.

    What to Serve With Blackened Fish

    How to Store Grilled Blackened Fish

    • Refrigerate the leftover blackened fish fillets in a shallow covered container and consume within 3 days.
    • To freeze the cooked fish fillets, place them in a freezer container or resealable freezer bag. Label with the name and date and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost the fish in the refrigerator overnight.
    • To reheat, place the fish fillets on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake the fillets in a preheated 275 F oven until the internal temperature reaches about 130 F, about 12 to 15 minutes.

    Is blacked fish burnt?

    Blackened fish is coated with a special Cajun spice blend. The fish is cooked at a high temperature until the coating is dark, almost black in places, but not burnt or charred.