Tender, juicy, and SO flavorful - blackened chicken breasts make a delicious and versatile meal! Chicken is seared in a hot cast iron skillet, then finished cooking in the oven to keep it extra juicy. The spicy cajun seasoning mix makes the perfect blackened crust. It's a Cajun cuisine staple.
The best blackened chicken recipe
Blackened chicken is a south Louisiana staple! You will find it in blackened chicken alfredo, blackened chicken sandwiches, wraps, salads, and more.
This easy blackened chicken recipe is super juicy and made with a special blackening seasoning mix - a necessity in any Cajun kitchen!
Want more chicken? See all the chicken dinner recipes.
- Why you'll love this recipe
- What is blackened chicken?
- Ingredients & Substitutions
- Equipment needed
- How to make blackened chicken breasts
- Expert tips for blackening chicken
- Storage & make ahead
- What to serve with blackened chicken
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More blackened recipes
- More Cajun recipes
- Cajun Blackened Chicken Recipe
Why you'll love this recipe
- The BEST JUICIEST chicken! Say goodbye to dry chicken breasts! Cooking chicken by searing it first in a cast-iron skillet, then transferring it to the oven to finish cooking creates the absolute best, most juicy chicken breasts! It is my foolproof method of cooking perfectly juicy chicken breasts every time.
- Bold Cajun flavors. Blackened seasoning with its heat and cajun spices, garlic, and lemon make a delicious combination of flavors.
- It’s easy! No pounding out chicken breasts or cutting thinner chicken cutlets involved in this blackened chicken recipe.
- Adjustable heat. You can make blackened chicken breasts as spicy (or mild) as you want by adjusting the amount of cayenne pepper.
- Versatile. You can use blackened chicken breasts as a stand alone main course, for pasta, salads, sandwiches, bowls, and more!
What is blackened chicken?
Blackened chicken is made with a Cajun cooking technique where chicken is coated in butter or oil and a special blend of spices then cooked at high heat. This results in the outside of the chicken having a delicious and spicy blackened crust, and the inside is tender and oh-so-juicy.
This technique was popularized by Chef Paul Prudhomme who specialized in Cajun cuisine.
The blackened seasoning is a spice blend of paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, and dried basil. To read all about blackening seasoning, its uses, its origins, and a recipe to make your own, check out Cajun Blackening Seasoning.
Blackened chicken is great served on its own or in pasta, salads, wraps, chicken sandwiches, and more!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Make a big batch of homemade blackening seasoning so you have some on hand for blackening chicken, fish, pork, shrimp, beef, or vegetables!
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts - This recipe will work for thicker chicken breasts or thinner chicken cutlets, but it is best with larger chicken breasts. You can also make this recipe with boneless skinless chicken thighs. They may require a slightly longer cooking time in the oven.
- Blackening seasoning - Blackening seasoning is a special spice rub of Cajun spices used to blacken food. It is usually made of cayenne pepper, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and dried herbs. It goes great on chicken, fish, shrimp, veggies, and more. It gets its heat from cayenne pepper, so If you want it extra spicy, add an extra ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. You can substitute smoked paprika for regular paprika, but I like using both for a smoky flavor. See Cajun Blackening Seasoning for the full batch recipe! Substitute for Cajun seasoning if needed.
- High heat oil + butter - I prefer to use a high heat oil like avocado oil for blackening chicken. This will produce less smoke than olive oil. You can also use clarified butter. Finish off the blackened chicken with butter for that rich flavor.
- Produce - Garlic is added at the end of cooking the chicken so it doesn’t burn. Lemon and parsley are optional toppings, but add a nice acidity and brightness to balance out the blackened flavor and butter.
See the recipe card below for the complete list of ingredients and measurements.
How to make blackened chicken breasts
STEP ONE: PREP
Mix blackened seasoning. Pat chicken dry and coat evenly with blackening seasoning.
STEP TWO: SEAR
Sear chicken in avocado oil in a hot pan until blackened on one side, then flip.
STEP THREE: BAKE
Transfer to the preheated oven to finish cooking, until chicken reaches 165°F (74°C).
STEP FOUR: FINISH
Add butter and garlic to the pan and stir to coat chicken.
PRO TIP: If you cooked the chicken breasts at high heat on the stove the whole time, they would turn out dry. Transferring the chicken breasts to the oven to finish cooking ensures they stay super juicy!
Serve with a sprinkle of chopped parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Expert tips for blackening chicken
- Pat the chicken dry. Drying the surface of the chicken is an important step! This ensures the chicken gets that flavorful blackened crust and a good sear.
- Get your pan HOT! Using a well heated skillet is essential to getting a blackened sear on your chicken.
- Cooking fat. Blackening is traditionally done with butter, but butter has a low smoke point. I like to use a high heat oil like avocado oil. You can also use clarified butter which has a higher smoke point. I try to stay away from olive oil since it has a lower smoking point. Finishing off the chicken in butter still gives it that rich buttery flavor.
- Don’t crowd the pan. Work in batches if you need to so you don’t crowd the pan. This will create steam, and make it harder for chicken to blacken.
- Use a leave in thermometer. A leave-in thermometer is an excellent way to make sure your chicken breasts are properly cooked, but not overcooked. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and set it to 165°F (74°C). Remove chicken from the oven when it reaches this temperature. You will never overcook your chicken breasts this way.
- Ventilation. Blackening can sometimes be a smoky cooking process. Turn on your kitchen ventilation and open a window.
- Let it rest! Letting chicken rest is crucial to making juicy chicken. Let it rest on a cutting board for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it.
If you love the smoky spiced taste of this recipe, you'll also love this smoked beer can chicken!
Storage & make ahead
How to store leftovers: Store leftover blackened chicken breasts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Freezing directions: Freeze cooked chicken in an airtight container for 3-4 months.
How to reheat chicken breasts: For best results, reheat chicken in a hot skillet. Slice chicken into bite sized pieces. Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat and add chicken pieces. Cook for 1-2 minutes until chicken is warmed through, stirring occasionally. You can also reheat in the microwave for about 1 minute. Be careful not to overcook.
Make ahead: You can prepare the blackened seasoning a few days in advance to save time. Season chicken with blackened seasoning the night before. Pat dry with paper towels before cooking, as the seasoning will cause some moisture to form on the chicken.
What to serve with blackened chicken
This blackened chicken breast recipe is great for so many dishes! Here are a few of my favorite ways to serve them:
- Sliced on a salad with remoulade dressing and Homemade Croutons.
- In pasta tossed with Cajun Alfredo Sauce.
- As a main course topped with Cajun Garlic Aioli or Chipotle Lime Sauce.
- In a wrap or sandwich with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and Cajun Ranch.
- In Roasted Garlic Alfredo pasta with Blackened Corn.
- With creamy mac and cheese and roasted vegetables like asparagus and brussels sprouts.
See the full list of side dishes for blackened chicken in What to Serve with Blackened Chicken.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most blackened chicken recipes have a moderate spice level. The great thing about making your own blackened seasoning is you can adjust the heat level by adding more or less cayenne pepper.
Yes, you can use chicken thighs for this blackened chicken recipe. Use boneless skinless chicken thighs. They may require a longer cooking time in the oven to reach 165°F (74°C). For more, see Blackened Chicken Thighs.
No, blackened chicken is not burnt. It gets its blackened crust from a special seasoning mix that turns black when cooked at a high heat.
Cajun seasoning and blackened seasoning contain similar ingredients, but blackened seasoning is specifically used for blackening food. Both spice blends can have the following: cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, black pepper, white pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, dried basil, dried thyme, or dried oregano.
You can substitute blackening seasoning for a cajun seasoning mix. Both spice mixes have very similar ingredients.
The absolute best way to prevent dry chicken breasts is to not overcook them. Using a leave-in meat thermometer is the easiest way to do this. Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken breast and set to 165°F (74°C). Promptly remove the chicken from heat when the thermometer goes off.
More blackened recipes
More Cajun recipes
Cajun Blackened Chicken Recipe
- cutting board
- silicone tongs
Blackened chicken seasoning
- PREP: Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel.
- SEASON: Mix together ingredients for blackening seasoning in a small bowl. Coat the chicken breasts evenly with blackened seasoning mix. If using a leave-in meat thermometer, insert into the thickest part of the breast now.
- SEAR: Add avocado oil to the hot pan and swirl to coat. Add seasoned chicken to the pan in a single layer. Cook chicken for about 5 minutes on one side, until a blackened crust forms.
- BAKE: Flip chicken breasts over, and transfer skillet to the oven until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). This should take about 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your breasts.
- FINISH: Remove skillet from the oven and put over medium heat. Add butter and garlic to the pan. Stir to coat and cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and spoon garlic and butter sauce over the chicken.
- REST: Transfer chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
- SERVE: Sprinkle with parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Serve with your favorite sides!
- Add chicken to a zip top bag with the seasonings and shake well to evenly coat.
- Using a leave-in thermometer is an excellent way to make sure your chicken breasts are properly cooked, but not overcooked. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and set it to 165°F. Remove chicken from the oven when it reaches this temperature.
- Make the blackening seasoning more or less spicy by adding more or less cayenne pepper.
- Cooking time will depend on the thickness of your chicken breasts.
- If your chicken breasts are too large to all fit in the pan, work in batches.
- How to store leftovers: Store leftover blackened chicken breasts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- How to freeze: Freeze cooked chicken in an airtight container for 3-4 months.
- How to reheat chicken breasts: For best results, reheat chicken in a hot skillet. Slice chicken into bite sized pieces. Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat and add chicken pieces. Cook for 1-2 minutes until chicken is warmed through, stirring occasionally. You can also reheat in the microwave for about 1 minute. Be careful not to overcook.
- Make ahead: You can prepare the blackened seasoning a few days in advance to save time. Season chicken with blackened seasoning the night before. Pat dry with paper towels before cooking, as the seasoning will cause some moisture to form on the chicken.
- Other cooking methods: On the grill. Grill chicken for about 5 minutes on each side until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (74°C).