If boring chicken dinners have you in a weeknight rut, try spicing things up with Blackened Chicken! Boneless, skinless chicken breasts begin a deeply flavorful makeover with a coating of smoky, savory spices. Then, it's a quick pan-sear to lock in the flavor and they're off to the oven, baking to tender, juicy perfection!
This pan-to-oven method is the secret to flawlessly cooked Blackened Chicken every single time. Quick and easy to make, use this recipe as a simple weeknight dinner entree or take it down a happy road of decadence and use it to top off Fettuccini Alfredo! Or, keep it light and serve it as a flavorful hit of protein atop just about any salad!
WHAT IS BLACKENED CHICKEN?
Blackened Chicken is a Cajun dish in which chicken breasts are coated in Blackened Seasoning and pan-seared. Contrary to what many might believe, blackened food is not cooked until it's burnt -- it's just well seasoned.
It is actually the amount of red spice in the blend that gives blackened food that deep, dark, black coloring.
ABOUT BLACKENED SEASONING
Blackened Seasoning is the brainchild of the famous New Orleans restauranteur, Paul Prudhomme, and it was first used to season redfish. The chef would dip the fish in butter, dust it liberally with a piquant blend of chili powders, dried herbs, and spices, and send it off for a quick pan sear in a screaming hot skillet.
This seasoning trend took off in a big way, and it wasn’t long before more than just fish was getting blackened.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED TO MAKE BLACKENED CHICKEN
- Blackened Seasoning
- Chicken Breasts
- Oil (and/or butter)
To make Blackened Chicken at home, you’ll need spices on hand to make Blackened Seasoning or you could use a store-bought Cajun seasoning Mix (e.g., Magic Seasoning or Zatarain’s brand).
You’ll also need boneless, skinless breasts, and oil.
A great Blackened Chicken Recipe comes down to two simple things: (1) A fool-proof cooking method and (2) the seasoning. We'll get to the cooking part later, but for now, let's focus on Blackened Seasoning.
Blackening Seasoning is spicy, smoky, and adds a great deal of flavor to any type of protein it comes into contact with. The spice mix consists of:
- Garlic Powder
- Dried Thyme
- Onion powder
- Dried Oregano
- Cayenne Pepper
- Salt and Pepper
Blackened Chicken is most often made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This a versatile recipe that can be served as the star of the dinnertime show, sliced up on top of pasta, or over a salad!
A JUICY COOK TIME TIP:
When you're picking up your package from the poultry aisle at the grocery store, take care to note that teeny-tiny chicken breasts and monster-sized breasts will not cook within the same amount of time. Smaller ones will likely need 2 to 3 less minutes cook time in the oven, while the large chicken breasts will require a few minutes than the indicated cook time.
SHOULD YOU USE OIL OR BUTTER?
Last, but not least, the oil. Traditionally, blackened foods go for a dip in butter and then make their way to the skillet. However, instead of using butter, this recipe uses oil. Because of the milk solids in butter, it burns easily, especially if you are not paying close attention to the heat of the skillet and the cook time.
Oils like canola and avocado oil have a higher smoke point than butter, which means they are far less likely to burn. As you probably know, burnt food has an unappetizing bitter note to it. No, thank you. This issue can easily be resolved by swapping out butter for oil.
We kept the ingredient list as short as possible for this Blackened Chicken Recipe, and therefore, only called for oil -- no butter. However, if you are a stickler for the rules of Cajun cuisine, try using a half-and-half mixture of melted, unsalted butter and oil. This way, you'll get the flavor of the butter and high smoke point of the oil.
HOW TO MAKE BLACKENED CHICKEN
- Make the Blackened Seasoning - Add the spices and dried herbs to a small bowl and stir to combine.
- Prep and Season - Pat the breasts dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture, ensuring a good sear. Then, drizzle them with oil and sprinkle the Blackened Seasoning over the breasts. Rub it in to adhere, and don't worry if all of it doesn't stick to the breasts.
- Pan-Sear the Chicken - Add oil to a large cast-iron skillet (or large fry pan) over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature. Sear each breast for 2 ½ to 3 minutes on the first side, then flip, and sear 1 to 2 minutes more. Make sure you don't overcrowd the pan, searing in batches as needed.
- Finish In the Oven - If your pan is not large enough to house all of the chicken with a little space in between each breast, transfer it to a baking dish. Then, bake for 20 minutes at 350°F (or until the internal temperature registers 165°F). Allow it to rest about 5 minutes before serving or slicing, and enjoy!
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BLACKENED CHICKEN
Bread, potatoes, green veggies -- you name it, you can pretty much serve it alongside (or below) Blackened Chicken.
Dirty Rice is a particularly popular side dish for this Louisiana mainstay, but the options certainly don't stop there. You could also use this recipe to add a Cajun twist to Fettucini Alfredo, to top off just about any salad, or even as the filling for a savory, Louisiana-style sandwich.
5 MORE CHICKEN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breasts
- Creamy Chicken and Dumplings
- Baked BBQ Chicken Leg Quarters
- Crock Pot Chicken and Rice
- Best Ever Chicken Pot Pie
Spice up dinnertime with Blackened Chicken! Boneless, skinless chicken breasts get a flavor makeover with homemade Blackened Seasoning and are cooked to tender, juicy perfection!
If you already have store-bought or Homemade Blackening Seasoning, feel free to sub that in place of the spices below. Use 2-3 tablespoons, depending on how salty the mix is.
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
- 2 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 ¾ teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 3 tablespoons canola or avocado oil (separated)
Preheat the oven to 350°F and have ready a rimmed baking sheet.*
Add all of the spices to a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to use.
Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle all of the Blackened Seasoning over the chicken breasts and rub all over to adhere. Don't worry if all of the seasoning doesn't stick to the breasts.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature. Sear each chicken breast for 2 ½ to 3 minutes on the first side, then flip, and sear 1 to 2 minutes more. Do not over-crowd the pan and sear in batches if needed.
Transfer the chicken to the baking dish* and bake for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Allow to rest about 5 minutes, serve, and enjoy!
If you have an oven-safe pan large enough to house all four chicken breasts without overcrowding, feel free to use that instead of a baking dish in the oven.