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My blackening seasoning includes spices and herbs for authentic NOLA flavor. Use this recipe to make blackened chicken, steak or other meats.
I’ve seen many comments from people who believe that blackened meat is the same as burnt meat. The fact is, blackened and burned foods are NOT the same thing at all! Let’s clear up the confusion, because the difference is about flavor… BIG flavor!
Blackening seasoning, also known as blackened seasoning, is a mixture of dried chiles, herbs and spices. The flavor is spicy, but not in a burn your throat kind of way.
Blackening spices can vary from cook to cook, and regionally as well. Generally speaking, the blend uses Cajun spices. Some people use the same blackened seasonings for ALL proteins, including fish and seafood. I’m not a believer that “one size fits all” when it comes to blackening food.
Blackened seasoning for meat vs. fish and seafood
We use different spices to season chicken than we do fish because some spices compliment certain food better than others. For this reason, I think we should also use different spice blends to make blackened chicken or steak than we would for blackened fish and seafood dishes like blackened shrimp.
This isn’t to say that you can’t or couldn’t use my blackened seasoning recipe for meat on a shrimp or fish dish. But, compare the spices I use for this blend with those I use to make blackened shrimp and I think you’ll be surprised at the difference.
What is blackening?
Thinking back to elementary school days, you may remember learning about homonyms. Those are words that look and sound alike, but have different meanings.
The word “blackening” defines a spice blend AND also the cooking process.
The blackening technique
The cooking technique involves brushing melted butter onto food, then dredging it through a spicy dry rub of seasonings. The cooking process takes place very quickly, because it’s done at a high temperature. Essentially, you are searing the spices onto the food. The combination of butter, seasoning, and high heat is what creates the crispy, flavorful blackened crust.
Late New Orleans chef, Paul Prudhomme, is the father of the blackened cooking technique, as well as the first recipe for blackening seasoning. Chef Paul’s restaurant, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen popularized blackened dishes, but soon thereafter, others, like Emeril Lagasse, began to create it in their restaurants too.
The blackening technique works best in a cast iron skillet, because iron retains heat so well. However, you can also make blackened food on a hot flat top grill.
To clarify, blackened food is NOT burned. The black crust on the food contains spices, and delicious ones at that. As mentioned earlier, the spices and herbs can vary, but for a true authentic New Orleans blackening spice blend, plenty of ground cayenne (cayenne pepper) should be used.
Video: How to make blackened seasoning
My method of making this blend is very different from most other blackening seasoning recipes you might see online, too. I dry toast the spices to bring out their essential oils.
Watch the video in the recipe card below to see how easy it is to make this flavorful spice blend!
Blackening seasoning ingredients
The ingredients in a typical blackened seasoning recipe are:
- cayenne pepper – The amount of cayenne used can really make or break a good blend.
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- paprika – Any type of paprika works. The flavor varies a lot from brand to brand as well as between smoked and sweet paprika.
- ground black pepper
In addition to those spices, I also include chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin and coriander seed.
Customizing this recipe
Feel free to personalize your homemade blackening seasoning by adjusting the ingredient amounts, and/or by adding other ingredients to your blend.
I suggest that you start by making my recipe for blackening seasoning, and use it for any blackened meat. From there, adjust the ingredients to your own preferences.
This recipe yields about 3/4 cup of blackened spice blend.
- In a skillet over high heat, dry toast the cumin and coriander seeds for 2 minutes.
- Then, blend the toasted cumin and coriander in a spice grinder with the dried oregano and red pepper flakes. A coffee bean grinder works well, too.
- Pour the blend from the grinder into a bowl and add the other ingredients. Whisk everything to combine. That’s all there is to it – simple, right?!
Store your blackening seasoning in a airtight container in a cool, dry location.
How to blacken food
I like to use this on chunks of filet or rib eye steaks, but you can use it to blacken chicken, pork, or even vegetables. Here, I cubed up 1 pound of beef filet tenderloin, but you don’t have to cut the meat; it works on whole cuts as well.
Be sure that the food you’re blackening is relatively thin. The blackened crust forms very quickly, so use meat that will cook through in no more than 4-5 minutes time.
Also, be sure to ventilate your kitchen well, because this process creates a lot of smoke.
- Get a cast iron or other heavy bottomed skillet screaming hot. Be sure the skillet is completely dry!
- Drizzle melted butter over the meat.
- Toss the food in blackened seasoning.
- Cook per recipe instructions.
Other homemade spice blends
- Montreal seasoning
My copycat Montreal seasoning recipe is made with pantry spices, plus dill seed, and orange zest. It doesn’t include the excessive salt like the store brand, making it perfect on grilled meats.
- Adobo seasoning
Easily made with 5 pantry spices, think of adobo seasoning as an American equivalent of a Latin all purpose seasoning salt or a basic Creole seasoning.
- Seafood seasoning – This is one of my favorite blends! My seafood seasoning recipe is a perfect substitute for Old Bay. I used it on grilled fish and in seafood dishes.
Blackened Seasoning for Meat
- In a skillet over high heat toast the cumin and coriander seeds for 2 minutes.
- In a spice grinder or coffee bean grinder, blend the toasted cumin and coriander with the dried oregano and red pepper flakes, pulsing a couple times.
- Pour spices from grinder into a bowl and add the other ingredients. Whisk together to mix well. Store in a air tight container.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.