Cajun style blackened cod topped with a fresh tomato corn salsa is a delicious quick dinner. Cod is coated in butter and a blackening seasoning blend, then seared at high heat making a super flavorful crust. It’s topped with a fresh corn, tomato, and basil salsa to balance out the spice. Ready in about 30 minutes!
Cajun Blackened Cod Recipe
In this blackened cod recipe, fresh cod fillets are cooked with the classic New Orleans blackening method. They are coated in a butter and blackened seasoning blend then seared in a hot cast iron skillet. A corn and tomato salsa balances out the spice.
Why you'll love this recipe
- Quick and easy. This easy dinner recipe is ready in under 30 minutes, making it a great option for a busy weeknight!
- Zesty Cajun spice. The cod has just the right amount of mild spice, balanced out by the fresh tomato corn salsa and basil.
- Main dish + a side. This recipe has a side dish built in. Just pair it with some rice, and you have a complete delicious meal!
What is blackened cod?
First let’s talk about cod fish!
Cod is a firm, lean, and flaky white fish. It has a mild flavor, and can be baked, poached, fried, or pan seared.
My favorite way to cook it is to blacken it!
Blackening is a technique in Cajun cuisine where a protein is coated in a spice blend, then seared over high heat in a cast iron skillet. This method creates an amazing blackened crust that is FULL of Cajun flavor.
I break down everything you need to know about blackening foods, plus the perfect blackening seasoning recipe in the post Homemade Cajun Blackening Seasoning. If you want more information about blackening fish specifically, check out Blackened vs Grilled Fish.
Between these posts, you’ll be a pro at blackening all your favorite proteins (and some veggies too!)
This mouth watering blackened cod has a spicy crispy crust, and a flaky texture inside. It’s paired with a fresh flavorful corn and tomato salsa to cool down the spice.
It’s the best way to prepare cod!
A cast iron skillet is a kitchen work horse!
It heats evenly and retains it heat for a long time, making it great for searing meats and blackening foods. It's also oven safe up to 500°F (260°C).
This is the Lodge 12 inch cast iron skillet I use.
Ingredients & Substitutions
See the recipe card below for the complete list of ingredients and measurements.
- Cod filets - You can use fresh or frozen cod for this recipe. Sometimes cod is sold as a whole larger fillet that can be broken down into about 4 smaller pieces.
- Blackening seasoning - This cajun seasoning is the magic of this recipe! Blackening seasoning is a special blend of cajun spices that creates the flavorful crust of blackened foods. You can make your own Homemade Blackening Seasoning (I highly recommend it!) or use store bought. I like making my own so I can control the salt level. I find more store bought blackened seasoning blends have too much salt and not enough flavor. If you do want to make your own blackened seasoning, you will need paprika, smoked paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme, and dried basil.
- Avocado oil - I prefer to use avocado oil for blackening foods since a high heat is required, and avocado oil has a high smoke point. You can also use grapeseed oil or clarified butter. Use olive oil in a pinch, but it will cause more smoke.
- Unsalted butter - Finishing off the fish in butter gives it a rich flavor.
- Corn - I use fresh corn when available, but you can substitute for canned corn or frozen corn. Just make sure to defrost and thoroughly dry the corn before searing.
- Cherry tomatoes - You can also use grape or Roma tomatoes if needed. Just chop them smaller if needed.
- Fresh basil - Adds a nice herby flavor to this dish. You can substitute for chives, cilantro, or green onions.
How to make blackened cod
Step One: Char
Sear corn over medium-high heat until blackened on one side.
Step Two: Salsa
Combine ingredients for tomato corn salsa together and mix well.
Step Three: Season
Mix melted butter and blackening seasoning together, then brush evenly over both sides of the cod.
Step Four: Sear
Sear cod fillets over medium high heat on each side until blackened. Spoon melted butter over the fillets.
Fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C)!
PRO TIP: An instant read thermometer is one of my MOST used kitchen utensils! It's great for blackening fish since fish can overcook quickly, and this thermometer will quickly read the temperature.
- Thoroughly dry corn. The corn has a tendency to pop in the pan, especially if it has excess moisture. Pat the kernels off with a paper towel. They still may do some popping, so I use a splatter screen for safety and to prevent excess mess.
- Check for bones. Gently run your finger along the cod fillet to check for any small bones. You can remove them with a fish bone tweezer.
- Preheat the skillet. Whenever blackening foods, always preheat the skillet for about 5 minutes so it is fully hot. This is an important step to getting that delicious blackened crust.
- Use an instant read thermometer! Fish is easy to over or undercook. Using a meat thermometer is the best way to tell when it's perfectly done. Cod should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) at the thickest part of the fish.
- Take note of the fillet size. Before you start cooking, take note of the thickness of the fish. A cod loin has a thicker end and a much thinner end. The thinner pieces will finish cooking much faster, and can be removed from the pan first.
- Don’t touch the fish too much. Once you lay the fillet down, leave it alone. Don’t touch it until you are ready to flip it over. Cod is very flakey and can easily flake apart when cooking, so be gentle with the fish fillets.
- Don’t force the fish. The fish will naturally release from the pan when it's ready to flip. If you try to move it and the fillet feels stuck to the pan, leave it for another 30 or so seconds and try again.
For an in-depth post all about blackening fish, check out Blackened vs Grilled Fish.
Storage & make ahead
How to store leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Store tomato corn salsa and fish separately.
How to freeze: Do not freeze this recipe.
How to reheat: Reheat fish in a 300°F (150°C) oven until warmed throughout. You can add a little oil or butter on top, then cover with foil to prevent it from drying out.
Make ahead: This blackened cod dish is best served fresh. You can prep the corn a day ahead of time and remove the kernels from the cob. You can also prep the tomatoes and onions and store them together in the refrigerator.
What to serve with blackened cod
This delicious blackened fish recipe already has a built in side, so you really only need one more to make a complete meal.
Keep it simple and serve it with rice or quinoa. You can also go for a simple salad topped with Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette to use up the rest of the basil.
You can also change it up and serve this recipe with corn tortillas to make blackened cod tacos!
Try one of these other side ideas, or check out the full post on What to Serve With Blackened Fish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cod can be prepared in many ways, like frying, baking, poaching, and pan searing. My favorite way to make cod is pan searing it like in this recipe. Pan searing cod creates a flavorful outer crust with a crispy texture.
Blackening seasoning and Cajun seasoning are two different Cajun spice blends. While the ingredients in both seasonings are mostly the same, there are some differences. Blackening seasoning is specifically used to blacken foods.
A cast iron skillet is the classic choice for blackening foods. It heats evenly and retains heat for a perfect blackened sear. If you don’t have one, you can substitute for a stainless steel skillet. I don’t like using a non-stick skillet for blackening, as they don’t do as well at high temperatures, especially the non-toxic ones.
The best way to know when cod fish is fully cooked is to use an instant read thermometer. Cod is fully cooked when the thickest part of the fillet reaches 145°F (63°C). The fillet should be opaque and white in color, with no translucent areas remaining.
Cod is a really flakey fish, so it tends to fall apart when cooking. To lessen this, place the fish in the pan, then don’t touch it again until it's ready to flip. The fish will naturally release from the pan when it's ready to flip over.
More Blackened Recipes
More seafood recipes
Blackened Cod Recipe
- cutting board
- sharp knife
- PREP FISH: Check fish for any bones by running your finger along the fillet. Remove any bones with fish bone tweezers. Pat fillets down with paper towels. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients.
- PREP VEGGIES: Remove husks from corn and cut kernels away from the cob. Dry corn thoroughly. Slice tomatoes into quarters. Finely dice red onions. Mince garlic. Chiffonade (thinly slice) basil.
- CHAR: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon avocado oil and swirl to coat. Add corn and let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes until charred on the bottoms. A splatter screen is helpful for this, as some corn may splatter. Remove from heat. Wipe out skillet if needed.
- SALSA: Combine diced tomatoes, charred corn, red onion, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, blackening seasoning, and basil in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
- SEASON: Combine melted butter and blackening seasoning together in a small bowl. Brush evenly over both sides of the cod fillets.
- SEAR: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add avocado oil to the skillet and swirl to coat. Turn on stove ventilation. Add cod to the hot oil, and cook 3-4 minutes, until fish is blackened and releases from the pan naturally. Gently flip fillets and and cook for another 2-4 minutes on the other side, until an instant read thermometer reads 145°F (63°C). In the last minute or 2 of cooking, add in the butter to melt. Spoon melted butter over the cod.
- SERVE: Serve fillets warm, topped with tomato corn salsa and a squeeze of lemon.
- You can use store bought blackening seasoning, but I highly recommend you make your own Homemade Blackened Seasoning! Different seasoning mixes have different amounts of salt, so season accordingly. I find store bought blackening seasonings to be way more salty than my homemade mix, so if using store bought you may need less seasoning.
- Dry corn really well. It has a tendency to pop out of the pan. A splatter screen is really helpful for this.
- You MUST fully preheat your cast iron skillet for about 5 minutes to get the blackened crust.
- Don’t skip the instant read thermometer! It is SO helpful for knowing when food is properly cooked.
- The fish will naturally release from the pan when it's ready, don't force it.
- Thinner pieces will cook faster, so remove those first.
- How to store leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Store tomato corn salsa and fish separately.
- How to freeze: Do not freeze this recipe.
- How to reheat: Reheat fish in a 300°F (150°C) oven until warmed throughout. You can add a little oil or butter on top, then cover with foil to prevent it from drying out.
- Make ahead: This blackened cod dish is best served fresh. You can prep the corn a day ahead of time and remove the kernels from the cob. You can also prep the tomatoes and onions and store them together in the refrigerator.