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This Cajun salmon is pan seared with a special mix of spices! It comes out crisp, blackened and full of flavor: the perfect easy dinner.

Cajun salmon
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Want a salmon recipe to impress? This Cajun Salmon is so tender and full of savory flavor, everyone around the table will fall head over heels. This beautiful piece of fish has a crispy blackened top, seasoned with a special blend of homemade Cajun spices. It packs a bit of heat, just enough to make you immediately want another bite. Even better: pan searing salmon is the fastest and easiest way to cook it! Just a few minutes in a blazing hot pan, and you’ve got dinner.

The key: homemade Cajun seasoning

The key to this Cajun salmon? Make it with our Homemade Cajun Seasoning! While you can find it homemade, this blend is truly unique and brings in the best savory flavor. It also has just the right amount of heat, which can vary in store-bought varieties.

Every Cajun chef has their own special blend, so there’s no “true” definition of exactly what spices should be included. Our research found there are certain heavy hitters in Cajun cuisine: paprika, garlic, onion, cumin, and of course, cayenne for the heat! We added fennel seed for an even more pronounced savory flavor. Here’s what you’ll need to make Cajun seasoning:

  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Thyme
  • Fennel seed (optional)
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne
  • Salt and black pepper
Cajun salmon

Best salmon to buy

The other main ingredient in Cajun salmon is of course, the fish! You’ll want a great piece of salmon for this recipe. It can be overwhelming to find the right variety at the store, so here’s what we look for:

  • Buy wild caught salmon. Fish that is wild caught in your country is usually a sustainable choice. There are also quality options in well-regulated farms; see Seafood Watch Consumer Guide.
  • Coho is a good choice. Coho salmon has great flavor and is a good mid-range option. Avoid Atlantic salmon as it is typically farmed salmon.
  • Make sure to buy skin on. You’ll need skin-on salmon for this recipe.

How to make Cajun salmon: the basic steps!

Once you’ve got your ingredients, you’re 10 minutes away from a great piece of Cajun salmon. The technique you’ll use is pan searing: you’ll cook a few minutes on each side. It’s also called “blackening” because the salmon gets a blackened crust on top! This is a technique used in Cajun cooking. (For a variation on this recipe with less heat, see Blackened Salmon.) Here’s how to make blackened Cajun salmon:

  • Brine the salmon. Place the salmon in a salt water solution for 15 minutes. This also allows the salmon to come to room temperature, which is important for even cooking. If you’d like, use this time for mixing up the Cajun spices.
  • Add Cajun seasoning. Pat the salmon dry and season it with the Cajun spices.
  • Use an aluminum or cast iron pan! You’ll get the best sear from a stainless steel or cast iron skillet. Don’t use non stick!
  • Cook skin side up for about 3 minutes, then flip and cook 2 to 5. Cook the fillets over medium high heat until they’re cooked about halfway. Then flip and cook until just tender and pink at the center (measure using a food thermometer to 130 degrees Fahrenheit). The exact timing for when it’s done varies based on the thickness of the fish.
Cajun salmon

Sides to serve with Cajun salmon

Now that you’ve cooked that beautiful piece of Cajun salmon: what sides go with salmon to make a healthy dinner? There are lots of side dishes that have a Cajun flair that would work well here. Here are some of our favorites:

Cleaning the pan after making Cajun salmon

After you make this Cajun salmon, you might notice that the pan has a thin layer of blackened spices on the bottom. This is perfectly natural! And there’s a perfectly natural easy way to clean the pan, too.

  • Deglaze the pan with water. Place the pan back on the stove with water inside, and heat it over medium heat. Use a spatula to gently scrape up the blackened bits as they start to loosen. They should all come up, just like when you use a liquid to deglaze during the cooking process.
  • Use a non-toxic kitchen cleaner. If you have bits that are really stuck, we like to use a cleaner like Bon Ami.
How to make Cajun salmon

More easy salmon recipes

Love salmon? It’s one of the most popular fish in America these days. Here are a few more easy ways to cook it that we often find on our table:

This Cajun salmon recipe is…

Pescatarian, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Cajun salmon

Cajun Salmon (Fast & Easy!)

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5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


This Cajun salmon is pan seared with a special mix of spices! It comes out crisp, blackened and full of flavor: the perfect easy dinner.


  • 1 pound wild caught salmon fillets, skin on
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons homemade Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or more olive oil for dairy free)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus one drizzle
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Brine the salmon: In a large shallow dish, whisk together 4 cups room temperature water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt until dissolved. Place the salmon in the water and wait for 15 minutes.
  2. If you haven’t already, mix up the Cajun seasoning.
  3. Pat the salmon dry with a clean towel. Rub it generously with oil and sprinkle it with the kosher salt and blackened seasoning.
  4. Heat a large skillet (not non-stick*) over medium high heat and add the butter and olive oil. When butter is melted, add the salmon skin side up and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked about ½ way to center of thick part of salmon.
  5. Flip the salmon (a fish spatula makes easy work of it). Tilt the pan down slightly and quickly spoon the pan juices over the top of the fish a few times. Drizzle with the lemon juice and spoon the pan juices a few times again. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness, until just tender and pink at the center (the internal temperature should be between 125 to 130 Fahrenheit in the center when removed). Remove from the heat and serve.


*You’ll get the best sear from a stainless steel or cast iron skillet.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Seared
  • Cuisine: Cajun inspired
  • Diet: Gluten Free

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. A.M. Coffee says:

    Amazing!!! I made this tonight with the Cucumber Salad and Easy Lemon Orzo. What a great combo. It was a big hit with my husband. Definitely cooking all of these again very soon. Thank you.

  2. S G says:

    My boyfriend loves salmon so we tried this recipe out – and it was absolutely delicious! Paired it with some rice and your dill sauce recipe and we have a new favorite weeknight dinner!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Thank you!

  3. Thomas Ferguson says:

    Freaking very delicious, I will definitely be making this again. Brining the fish is a game changer, it a definitely a must do.

  4. Natalee Terrill says:

    This recipe was delicious! I’m a pretty inexperienced cook, but this recipe was so easy to follow. I’ve never cooked salmon before but this was a perfect beginner recipe for me. Boyfriend and I absolutely loved it!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for making.