Blackened Chicken is flavored with a little Cajun heat and has a perfectly charred crust. The chicken is perfectly cooked – seared just until the spices blacken and can be used in so many dishes.

Blackened Chicken can be the star of a dish or can be the protein in so many delicious meals – sandwiches, salads, wraps, or pasta dishes! It packs a ton of flavor but requires very little effort to make. It is such an easy way to get some delicious protein on the table really quickly – and it is low carb, keto, Paleo, & Whole30 compatible.

Blackened Chicken is a recipe that I personally have always wanted to post on my site, but my husband has had a vendetta against it. He’s from Louisiana and has always felt that blackened chicken is all people think of when they think of Cajun cuisine. There are so many other things that he feels are better representations of the food of his people – like Gumbo, Red Beans & Rice, Crawfish Étouffée, or Jambalaya.

Against his wishes, I made and photographed this “burnt chicken recipe,” and he loved it. It had been so long since we’d had it, and all he could remember is dry, burnt-tasting chicken in “Cajun Pasta” dishes from places like Applebee’s. To his surprise, real blackened chicken isn’t actually burnt chicken!

Blackened chicken is chicken that is cooked at a pretty high heat so that the spices on the outside get a slight char but don’t actually burn. The spices are a basic Cajun seasoning with a little extra cayenne. My husband loves Cajun seasoning, so of course, he loved this chicken.

Cooked blacked chicken breasts on a white serving dish.

The trick to making blackened chicken is to use an oil with a high smoke point, like avocado oil, and cook the chicken using medium high heat – then allow the chicken to rest after it is cooked so that all of the flavorful juices stay inside the chicken. Serve it with your favorite sides, and it will please even your toughest critics!

Table of Contents

🥘 Ingredient Notes

The ingredients in blackened chicken laid out and labeled.
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • Oil – I like to use avocado oil because it has a very high smoke point and does not easily burn. High-quality olive oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil would work as well. I would not use butter, though it would be tasty – it can burn at the temperature needed to blacken chicken. If you have ghee, that would work too. Here’s a list of different oils and their smoke points.

Blackening Seasoning

The blackening spices that I use for this easy chicken recipe are just a small portion of my Homemade Cajun Seasoning with some cayenne pepper added. (I like to keep a jar of Cajun seasoning around for cooking. To make blackened seasoning from it, I add two tablespoons to a small bowl, then add cayenne pepper to it.)

To mix up a batch of blackening seasoning just for this recipe, there are exact quantities in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Smoked Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Kosher Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper – You can reduce the quantity of cayenne pepper if you don’t like heat.
  • Dried Thyme
  • Onion Powder
  • Black Pepper
  • Dried Oregano

🍽 Equipment Needed

  • A Heavy Skillet or Pan – Ideally, a cast iron skillet, a stainless steel pan, a grill pan, or a griddle if you have one. You want a pan with a heavy bottom that can maintain a consistent temperature and hold heat without overheating. Thin, cheap pans will get hot really quickly and can cause the oil & chicken to burn before they have a chance to cook.
  • Tongs

🥣 How to Make It

Blackened chicken is so easy to make. Simply rub the chicken with oil, then coat it with blackening spice rub, sauté it on both sides in a hot skillet, let it rest, then enjoy! Ok, it is a little more nuanced than that.

Begin by mixing up the seasoning blend, then start heating up a skillet over medium-high heat. (Pictures 1 – 2)

Ideally you want to use a cast iron skillet, a stainless steel pan, a grill pan, or a griddle if you have one. (You want a pan with a heavy bottom that can maintain a consistent temperature and hold heat without overheating. Thin, cheap pans will get hot really quickly and can cause the oil & chicken to burn before they have a chance to cook.)

Next, trim the chicken breasts to remove any excess fat, then pat them dry with paper towels. Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally, so you have two thin chicken breasts instead of one giant chicken breast. Repeat for all chicken breasts so you end up with four cutlets.

Coat the sliced chicken breasts with oil, then fully coat both sides with the seasoning blend. (Pictures 3 – 5)

A collage of images showing how to make blackened chicken, steps 1 - 5.

Add a small amount of oil to the pan, then once it is hot, lay the chicken breasts down in the pan. It should sizzle right away.

Cook for 4 – 5 minutes, then flip and cook the other side. Try to keep the chicken still to avoid “breaking” the crust. It should release from the pan when it is ready to be flipped.

When the crust is “blackened” and the chicken is golden (I also like to do a “poke test” to check for doneness) remove it from the pan and move it to a cutting board to rest for 5 – 10 minutes.

A collage of images showing how to make blackened chicken in a skillet.

Check the internal temperature of the cooked chicken with a meat thermometer to be sure that it reaches 165°F before serving.

Then, slice it up and serve!

Blackened chicken breasts on a pile on a white plate.

Recipe Variations and Substitutions

  • Make it Spicier – If you’re looking for more of a kick, increase the cayenne pepper to ¾ – 1 teaspoon. (SPICY!)
  • Change Up the Protein – Blackening seasoning can be used on shrimp, fish (we like it on redfish & salmon), steak, pork, burgers, fries, chips – just about anything you can think of!
  • Use a Different Cut of Chicken – Use boneless skinless chicken thighs or chicken tenders instead of chicken breasts. (Blackened Chicken Tenders sound so good!) The chicken will come out juicier, but you will need to adjust the cooking time. (I recommend using a meat thermometer to check for doneness.)
  • Double the Recipe – This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to feed a larger group or to meal prep – simply double the amount of seasoning and the amount of chicken.
Chicken breasts cooking in a cast iron skillet.

🙋‍♀️ Frequently Asked Questions

Where did blackening come from?

The blackening technique was made popular by Chef Paul Prudhomme in New Orleans. He didn’t have a grill at his restaurant, so he used a hot cast iron skillet to develop the charred crust on his proteins. He has since passed away, but his cooking techniques and recipes are very popular.

What does it mean to blacken chicken?

Blackened food is coated in a high smoke-point fat, like ghee or avocado oil, then coated with a mixture of spices, and then cooked in a cast-iron skillet until the coating becomes very dark. The protein is perfectly cooked inside and remains juicy, while the outside has a charred crust.

Juicy blackened chicken breasts on a white serving dish.

✏️ Helpful Tips

  • Slice the Chicken Breasts in Half – Chicken breasts these days are huge, and the seasoning will end up burning before the chicken cooks all the way through if you leave the breasts whole. Thinner “cutlets” of chicken breasts cook quickly and allow the perfect amount of time for the seasoning blend to char.
  • Dry Your Chicken – Be sure to pat your chicken breasts dry with paper towels before coating them with oil. This will help the seasoning to stick to the meat and will prevent the chicken from steaming in the pan.
  • Use a Hot Pan – If your chicken does not sizzle when it hits the pan, the pan is not hot enough. If you add chicken to a pan that isn’t warm enough, it will brown but not blacken. The idea is to sear the outside of the chicken with the spices to create a crust – and lock in all the delicious juices of the chicken. Note, we want medium high heat – not high heat, to avoid burning the chicken.
  • Don’t Move the Chicken Around – Try not to shuffle the chicken around in the pan or flip it too many times. When it is cooked enough, it will “unstick” from the pan, and it will be ready to flip. If you move the chicken too much, the blackened crust can get stuck to the pan.
  • Don’t Overcook Chicken Breasts – Dry chicken is THE WORST. Most people, my husband included, who think they don’t like blackened chicken, don’t like it because it has been dry when they have had it. That is because it was overcooked. If cooked perfectly, your chicken will be so juicy. Cook it for 5 minutes on each side, then use an instant read thermometer or a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. If it reads 165°F, the chicken is done.
  • Let the Chicken REST – Resist the urge to cut into that cooked chicken right away. Let the chicken rest for 5 – 10 minutes so that it can finish cooking and also retain all of its moisture. If you slice into it immediately, all of the delicious juices in the chicken will gush out all over your cutting board, and you will end up with dry chicken.
Button linking to the Pinterest page for Southern Bytes.

How to Store Cooked Chicken

Once cooled, store the chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For best results, eat the leftovers within 5 days.

Ways to Use Leftover Blackened Chicken

Reheating chicken can dry it out, so I like to use leftover chicken in other recipes instead of just reheating it and eating it plain. Blackened Chicken is one of the most versatile chicken recipes because you can do so many things with it:

  • Cajun Pasta Salad – Add blackened chicken to your favorite Pasta Salad Recipe.
  • Cajun Chicken Salad – Make a chicken salad using diced blackened chicken instead of plain chicken.
  • Green Salad Topped with Blackened Chicken – Top a bed of fresh greens with leftover chicken and build a flavorful salad.
  • Blackened Chicken Sandwiches – Place a piece of leftover blackened chicken on a bun with lettuce and tomato with a side of fries.
  • Cajun Chicken Alfredo – Combine a delicious alfredo sauce with pasta and leftover chicken – dinner is ready.

What to Serve with Blackened Chicken

I love to serve delicious blackened chicken with cornbread, mashed or roasted potatoes, and southern green beans. Blackened chicken goes so well with so many of my other favorite side dishes:

Have You Tried This Recipe?
Please rate it and leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you think!

πŸ“ Recipe

Blackened chicken breasts on a pile on a white plate.

Blackened Chicken

4.80 from 5 votes
Blackened Chicken is flavored with a little Cajun heat and has a perfectly charred crust. The chicken is perfectly cooked – seared just until the spices blacken and can be used in so many dishes.
Author: Kari
Servings: 4
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins

Ingredients  

Instructions 

  • Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk up until evenly mixed. (You can also use 2 tablespoons of leftover cajun seasoning if you have it from another recipe and add ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper.)
    1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a cast iron or other heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Slice the chicken in half lengthwise, to make two thinner chicken cutlets. (You should end up with four cutlets.)
  • Coat all sides of the chicken with the remaining oil, then rub with the seasoning mixture.
    2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, 3 tablespoons avocado oil
  • Lay the chicken cutlets in the pan and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, then flip and cook the other side. The chicken should sizzle as soon as it hits the pan.
  • Cook the chicken until it is as "blackened" as you desire.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Slice & serve. Enjoy!

Notes

This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled to feed a larger group or to meal prep – simply double the amount of seasoning and the amount of chicken.

How to Store Cooked Chicken

Once cooled, store the chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For best results, eat the leftovers within 5 days.

Recipe Tips

  • Use a Hot Pan – If your chicken does not sizzle when it hits the pan, the pan is not hot enough. If you add chicken to a pan that isn’t warm enough, it will brown but not blacken. The idea is to sear the outside of the chicken with the spices to create a crust – and lock in all the delicious juices of the chicken. Note, we want medium high heat – not high heat, to avoid burning the chicken.
  • Don’t Move the Chicken Around – Try not to shuffle the chicken around in the pan or flip it too many times. When it is cooked enough, it will “unstick” from the pan, and it will be ready to flip. If you move the chicken too much, the blackened crust can get stuck to the pan.
  • Don’t Overcook Chicken Breasts – Dry chicken is THE WORST. Most people, my husband included, who think they don’t like blackened chicken, don’t like it because it has been dry when they have had it. That is because it was overcooked. If cooked perfectly, your chicken will be so juicy. Cook it for 5 minutes on each side, then use an instant-read thermometer or a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. If it reads 165°F, the chicken is done.
  • Let the Chicken REST – Resist the urge to cut into that cooked chicken right away. Let the chicken rest for 5 – 10 minutes so that it can finish cooking and also retain all of its moisture. If you slice into it immediately, all of the delicious juices in the chicken will gush out all over your cutting board, and you will end up with dry chicken.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cutletCalories: 198kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 12gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 328mgPotassium: 164mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 529IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is approximate and is automatically calculated, so should only be used as a guide.

Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Cajun
Keyword: blackened chicken, cajun blackened chicken, cajun chicken, easy blackened chicken
Did you make this recipe?Mention @southernbytes or tag #southernbytes!

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Hi, I’m Kari!

I am a newlywed, food blogger, health coach, and mama to a hot mess of a border collie. I love to put a new spin on old family recipes and I try to make as many meals as possible with an Instant Pot.

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