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This tender, juicy, and flavor-packed blackened chicken recipe comes together in just 20 minutes for a weeknight dinner to get excited about.

tender juicy sliced blackened chicken on wooden cutting board

Get ready for a trip to New Orleans without having to leave your own kitchen. This restaurant-quality blackened chicken recipe brings full-on Cajun/Creole flavor to add some zest to your normal dinner routine.

This easy 20-minute chicken dinner results in some of the best – most tender, juicy, and flavorful – chicken you can whip up on a weeknight! We use chicken thighs, but you can easily swap them out for chicken breasts if that’s your preference or if that’s what you have on hand. With a simple two-step cooking method and a well-balanced blackened seasoning, you can’t go wrong.

Don’t be worried about the spicy-heat level here. We only use a touch of cayenne pepper, and you can reduce it even more if you like. This is a meal that the whole family loves, kids included.

chicken and rice dinner with blackening seasoning

Also, it’s perfect for a romantic dinner for two at home for Valentine’s Day or date night. This supper looks and tastes impressive, but really couldn’t be easier to make. If you can season chicken and sear it in a skillet, you got this.

And this recipe is a great option if you’re a beginner cook but want to make a beautiful meal for your sweetheart. Because the meat is intentionally blackened, you have some leeway. If you accidentally overcook it a little bit, no one will ever know!

front view of cast iron blackened chicken on wooden serving board

What is Blackened Seasoning?

Blackened seasoning (or blackening seasoning) is a savory blend of spices and herbs that’s generously applied to the outside of chicken, red meat, or seafood, similar to a dry rub.

After that, the seasoned item is seared in an extremely hot skillet. This browns the outside of the meat and “blackens” the spices, which form a crust. Then depending on what you’re blackening, it’s transferred to the oven to finish cooking.

Feel free to get creative here; you can use blackened seasoning on just about anything.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Added to oven-roasted French fries, or duck fat potatoes
  • On roasted or steamed broccoli or cauliflower
  • Added to the ground meat mixture when you make homemade burgers
  • As a rub for grilled steak, chicken, or chicken wings
  • To jazz up steamed rice or Alfredo pasta
close up overhead view of blackened chicken thighs with yellow rice

Why This Recipe Works

  • Chicken thighs. Dark meat chicken stands up well to a screaming hot sear and results in the most tender, juicy, and moist chicken!
  • Blackening seasoning. This is a blend of savory spices and herbs with a touch of sweet heat and a hint of smokiness. It hits all the right notes and packs a punch of flavor without being overly spicy-hot.
  • An easy two-step cooking method. We start by searing the chicken in a hot cast-iron skillet on the stovetop to seal in moisture and blacken the outside. And then we transfer the whole thing to a hot oven to finish cooking.
  • Affordable restaurant-quality at home. This economical meal uses budget-friendly chicken thighs! But it’s impressive enough for entertaining with, or for surprising your signifiant other with a dinner that feels special.

Blackened Chicken Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions

The interesting thing about blackened seasoning is that it’s pretty much a marriage of two other spice blends originating in Louisiana: Cajun seasoning and Creole seasoning.

Cajun seasoning is known for being on the spicier side, while Creole seasoning is typically more herby.

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

blackened chicken ingredients
  • Sweet paprika – A common ingredient in Cajun seasoning, sweet paprika adds subtle sweet, earthy, fruity flavor notes here.
  • Salt – Salt is optional here, but helps bring out the flavors of the other spices and the meat you’re seasoning. You can omit the salt, or adjust it down for a low-sodium spice mix.
  • Onion powder and garlic powder – These are found in both Cajun and Creole seasonings, and they’re traditionally added to blackening seasoning as well.
  • Thyme and oregano – Frequently found in Creole seasoning, these add aromatic herby flavor here.
  • Cumin – This spice is optional here; it adds even more depth with an earthy, smoky flavor.
  • Black pepper – Adds a piquant bite.
  • Smoked paprika – Adds smoky notes.
  • Cayenne pepper – Cayenne pepper adds spicy heat. You can add more or less based on your preferences.
  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs – Leave them whole and trim off the excess fat. Or you can use boneless skinless chicken breasts instead.
  • Avocado oil – Or you can use another mild or neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable oil. Ghee is also a good option, and will add a rich buttery, nutty flavor.

How to Make Blackened Chicken

how to make blackened chicken
  1. Add all spices to a small bowl and stir to combine. 
  2. Season the chicken on both sides with the spice mixture.
  3. Heat a medium-large cast-iron skillet over high heat until it’s very hot. Once hot, add the oil, and then carefully add the chicken in a single layer. Cook until blackened on both sides, about 1 minute per side, flipping once. 
  4. Transfer the skillet to the oven to finish cooking the chicken, about 8 to 10 minutes more in a preheated 400F oven. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165F on an instant-read thermometer when it’s fully cooked.

Pro Tip: For the Most Juicy, Moist Meat

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Once the chicken is out of the oven, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before thinly slicing so it stays juicy, moist, and flavorful.

How to Serve Blackened Chicken

This chicken main course pairs really well with any number of side dishes. Here I served it with homemade Rice a Roni, garnished with fresh cherry tomatoes and parsley.

Here are a few other ways to serve blackened chicken:

  • Make it into tacos with pico de gallo and queso fresco.
  • Turn it into the star of a salad with leafy greens, charred corn, cherry tomatoes, and any other veggies you like.
  • Serve it on a bed of pasta, such as fettuccine alfredo or homemade mac and cheese.
hand holding meat fork to serve blackened chicken

Blackened Chicken Recipe FAQs

Where Did Blackened Seasoning Come From?

The blackening technique in cooking is credited to Paul Prudhomme in the 1980’s. Paul was an American celebrity chef who specialized in Cajun and Creole cuisines. He was also the chef-proprietor of the restaurant K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans. You can read more about him on Wikipedia.

Can I Use Chicken Breasts Instead of Chicken Thighs?

Yes! Use the same amount of boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of thighs, and follow the same process. Start checking for doneness in the oven a couple minutes earlier.

top view of plated chicken and rice meal on dark wooden table

How Do You Get Blackening Seasoning to Stick?

You can think of this spice mix as any other dry rub. Simply rub it on raw chicken, steak, shrimp, fish, etc. and it should stick fine.

The traditional blackened recipe calls for first brushing raw fish with butter before sprinkling on the blackening seasoning. However, I find that this step is optional because the spices stick well directly on raw fish, chicken, and steak. But I can imagine that the butter adds richness and depth of flavor, so feel free to try it that way!

Is Blackening the Same as Charring?

Blackened chicken and charred chicken both walk the fine line between blackened-but-not-burned. And even though the two might look similar, blackened chicken and charred chicken are not the same thing.

Charred food or charbroiled food often has a blackened appearance, typically caused by cooking it on a grill or over an open flame. On the other hand, blackened food is seasoned with a specific spice blend and cooked over high heat to blacken it.

close up top view of sliced blackened chicken on cutting board

More Easy Chicken Dinner Ideas

close up of chicken with blackening seasoning and yellow rice on plate

Let’s Connect

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Did you make this recipe? Please rate it and leave a comment below. You can also tag @anediblemosaic on social media.

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Blackened Chicken Recipe

Prep Time3 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Other Time5 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
This tender, juicy, and flavor-packed blackened chicken recipe comes together in just 20 minutes for a weeknight dinner to get excited about.

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Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Add all spices to a small bowl and stir to combine.
  • Season the chicken on both sides with the spice mixture.
  • Heat a medium-large cast-iron skillet over high heat until it’s very hot. Once hot, add the oil, and then carefully add the chicken in a single layer. Cook until blackened on both sides, about 1 minute per side, flipping once.
  • Transfer the skillet to the oven to finish cooking the chicken, about 8 to 10 minutes more. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165F on an instant-read thermometer when it’s fully cooked.
  • Once the chicken is out of the oven, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before thinly slicing.

Video

Notes

  • Serving Suggestion: In these photos, the chicken is served with homemade Rice a Roni and garnished with cherry tomatoes and parsley.

Nutrition

Calories: 240kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 685mg | Potassium: 349mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 1016IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Main Course, Spice Mixes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Blackened Chicken, Blackened Chicken Recipe, Blackened Chicken Seasoning, Blackened Chicken Thighs, How to Cook Blackened Chicken, How to Make Blackened Chicken

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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