How To Blacken Fish Without A Cast Iron Skillet Blackened Fish Recipe

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15 mins

12 mins

27 mins

6 servings

6 fillets
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
518 Calories
40g Fat
1g Carbs
38g Protein

Show Full Nutrition Label


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


  • 10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, melted, divided

  • 6 (4 to 6 ounce) firm  fish fillets, 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Cajun blackening spices

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


    • 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

    • Spicy blacked fish lends itself to many tasty garnishes and side dishes. Consider garnishing the fish fillets with chopped parsley, pineapple salsa, or lemon wedges.
    • For side dishes, serve the fish with remoulade sauce, coleslaw, a flavorful rice pilaf, grilled corn on the cob, steamed or roasted asparagus, cornbread, or a simple tossed salad.

    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.

Video about How To Blacken Fish Without A Cast Iron Skillet

Best Blackened Fish – How to Blackened Fish

It’s quick and easy to cook blackened fish. Use any type of fish for this blackened fish recipe but it’s ideal for milder fish which will benefit most from this spicy preparation. All you need for blackened fish is butter, lots of spice, and a very hot skillet. Check out the Chef Buck website for more info

I use Lodge cast iron skillets which work great and aren’t crazy expensive. Check current prices for Lodge skillets on Amazon

And check out all Chef Buck Recipes at

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How to Blacken Fish

You can use almost any fish for this recipe, just be mindful of the size of the filet and adjust the cooking time as needed. Fish is easy to cook, and even easier to overcook, which you’ll want to avoid.

If frozen, allow the fish to thaw completely, and pat it dry. Let the fish sit at room temperature at least 15-20 minutes before cooking, don’t take the fish right out of the fridge and throw it into the skillet.

Melt just enough butter to coat all the fish, then dredge the filets in the butter. Season both sides of the fish well. Many seasonings will work great, but some of my favorite spices for blackening fish are paprika, Italian seasoning, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt. There is no wrong amount of spice; if it sticks to the fish, it’s enough.

Heat a lightly oiled skillet on medium heat and then when the skillet is hot, add in the fish. The filet should sizzle when it hits the pan. How long the fish cooks will depend on the size and thickness of the filet. Leave the fish alone and allow it to cook undisturbed for 3-5 minutes, depending on the size of the fillet. Adjust the stove temperature as needed.

You can make due with any skillet, but a cast iron skillet is ideal. I travel with a Lodge brand cast iron skillet which works well and is priced well, too.

Turn the fish once and continue to cook on the other side for 2-4 minutes as needed. If the fish filets are especially thick, sear the sides of the fish as well.

Serve this blackened fish recipe away. Fish is a quick entrée to prepare and makes a nice main course for yesterday’s leftover side dishes. Whether you’re serving salmon, tuna, swordfish steaks, mahi mahi, etc., you can whip up a fancy feast in quick time with this quick blackening technique.

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