Blackening seasoning is the best spice blend to have in your cabinet. It goes with everything from fish to steak to veggies and makes everything taste amazing.
Homemade blackening seasoning made with paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and a hint of spice tastes better than store-bought options and is better for you. Try it with these Blackened Salmon, Blackened Shrimp, or Blackened Chicken Salad.
Whenever possible I like to create my own spice blends at home. Not only can it be a great way to save money, but it also lets me control the ingredients so I can adjust them exactly to my liking. Lately, I have been using a lot of this homemade blackened seasoning blend for fish and chicken on the grill.
It's a simple rub to put together but adds the most amazing flavor to meat and veggies. Once you start using, I can pretty much promise you will be putting it on everything. It makes amazing chicken tacos, the best pan-seared fish, and even tastes good in soups and chilis. One more favorite use for this easy spice blend - use it for sweet potato fries. The sweet and spicy combination is hard to beat.
What's in homemade blackened seasoning?
There are tons of variations of blackening seasoning out there and specific blends can have all different spices, herbs, and add-ins (we will get to that in a minute). Let's start with the basics. Any good blackened spice blend will have paprika (smoked or sweet), garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, oregano, salt, and either cayenne pepper or chili powder. Additionally, some spice blends will have spices like dried thyme or basil.
Now let's talk about store-bought blackened seasoning. It's important to pay attention to the ingredients if you reach for a store blend. Many will have sugar, preservatives, or unnecessary amounts of salt. Some also contain things like MSG or fillers. That's why I like to make my own - you get to control what's in it.
How is this different from Cajun seasoning?
There are three spice blends that belong to the same flavor family - blackened seasoning, Cajun seasoning, and Creole seasoning. They all start with a similar base - paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Things change slightly after that.
- Cajun seasoning: The spiciest option that usually includes cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
- Blackened seasoning: Has a medium spice level and usually relies on chili powder or a smaller amount of cayenne pepper.
- Creole seasoning: The least spicy option and one that usually has more herbs like thyme and basil. May use chili powder or cayenne to add just a small hint of spice.
How to use Blackened Seasoning?
This is one of those spice blends that will quickly become a staple when you want to add flavor to almost anything. We use it on grilled meats, fish, seafood, veggies, and even use it in soups and stews. It's versatile and delicious. With that said, there is a traditional blackening technique that most people think of when they think of blackened meats and seafood.
- Start with melted butter: Almost all blackened recipes start with some melted butter to get the spice blend to stick to the protein. For example, if you were making a traditional blackened fish dish, you would pour some melted butter on the fish and then press it into the blackened seasoning.
- High heat: The next important thing when cooking an authentic blackened meal is to use high heat, ideally in a cast iron pan. You want a serious crust on the protein. For quick-cooking proteins, like fish or shrimp, you can fully cook it in a skillet. For proteins that take longer, like pork tenderloin, you could finish it in the oven.
For a healthier option, you can skip the butter and simply press the protein into the seasoning mix. We do this for the grill all the time. You can also use this to season up roasted vegetables, potatoes, and it is amazing on sweet potato fries.
Recipe Ideas and Tips
The thing I love most about making homemade spice blends is the fact that you can tweak the ingredients to make it taste exactly how you like. Make it spicy or mild, add extra herbs, go light on the smoke, add some sweetness, you get the idea. Here are some common adaptations:
- Add sweetness: Add some brown sugar for a sweet and spicy combination.
- Add extra spice: Add some cayenne pepper to kick up the heat.
- Add more smoke: For a smokier flavor, add some cumin.
- Add less smoke: swap in sweet paprika for the smoked paprika.
- Add herbs: Add some dried thyme and/or dried basil to your spice blend.
- Low sodium: Leave out the salt if you are looking for a lower sodium option. You can always add it after cooking your proteins.
How long will blackening seasoning last in the pantry?
Generally speaking, homemade blackened spice blends will last 1-2 years in your pantry, assuming the herbs you use to make it aren't old already. Make sure to store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot.
More homemade spice blends
Homemade Blackening Seasoning
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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