Cajun Salmon

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

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. Wild caught is the way to go! It’s most sustainable and has the best flavor. Buy it either fresh from the fish counter or frozen works too.
  • 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 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:

  • Quick Broiled Salmon Another fast way to cook salmon? Broiled! It’s flaky and full of savory flavor, and it takes only 10 minutes to cook.
  • Easy Pan Seared Salmon Here it is, pan seared with lemon and clean flavors. A favorite easy way to cook fish in a flash, and the flavor is unbeatable.
  • Pesto Salmon Bright green basil pesto is a natural fit with baked fish! An easy weeknight meal that also works to impress guests.
  • Easy Oven Baked Salmon This easy oven baked salmon comes out perfectly tender and flaky! Cooking salmon in foil makes a moist piece of fish every time.

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

Description

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.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound wild caught salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1/2 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

Instructions

  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 1/2 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.

Notes

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

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Seared
  • Cuisine: Cajun inspired

Keywords: Cajun salmon

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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