This Blackened Chicken is one of the most flavorful chicken recipes and couldn’t be any easier—we’re talking on the table in 20 minutes!
To make this simple recipe, chicken fillets are pounded thin so they’re incredibly tender. They’re coated in blackening seasoning and pan seared to create a perfectly charred, crispy crust and a juicy, tender interior. Serve this chicken with some sautéed veggies and whole grain rice for a complete meal the whole family will love!
This recipe is easy to double and super freezer-friendly for a simple thaw-and-eat dinner throughout the busy work week. The robust blend of herbs in this recipe creates a cajun rub that results in a smoky, slightly spicy flavor that you’ll absolutely love.
What is blackened chicken?
Contrary to how it may sound, blackened chicken isn’t a result of your chicken being burned, overcooked or sticking to the pan. Instead, blackened chicken is a smoky, slightly spicy dry rub that infuses otherwise bland chicken with a burst of flavor. Once the chicken is rubbed with a few staple seasonings, it’s cooked over very high heat, resulting in a lovely blackened outer crust and a moist tender inside.
Is blackened chicken spicy?
The beauty of this recipe is that you can control just how spicy the chicken is by adding more or less cayenne pepper to the spice blend. Choose the amount of cayenne pepper that’s right for you and your family’s flavor preferences. If you have picky eaters, start with less cayenne pepper in the spice blend (mild heat) and lightly sprinkle additional cayenne pepper on the individual servings of those who like higher heat.
- Medium heat (used in this recipe): 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Mild-medium heat: 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Mild heat: small pinch cayenne pepper
Can I use this blackened rub on other proteins?
Yes, you can use this blackened rub on a variety of meat and seafood. We’ve coated chicken, beef, pork, fish and shrimp with this spice rub and then seared them on high heat. All have the same result—a deeply delicious Cajun char.
You can also use this rub to blacken vegetables or tofu for a vegetarian or vegan option.
What should I serve my blackened chicken with?
Low-carb: This blackened chicken served over a plate of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, thinly sliced onions and your favorite dressing makes for a tasty dinner or lunch idea. One of our favorite ways to serve it is on top of FfL’s Cobb Salad.
With a grain: For a heartier, yet quick-and-easy meal, cook short grain brown rice (or your favorite grain) in a rice cooker. Pair it with a side salad or some sautéed or steamed veggies and you’ve got yourself a complete meal.
For more delicious options, check out the ways to reinvent your leftovers listed below.
A few ways to simplify your week and prep ahead: (on your food prep day or the night before)
We’re always looking for ways to reduce time in the kitchen and simplify healthy eating, especially throughout the week. You can prep the different components of this salad ahead of time and then assemble right before serving.
- Prepare your dry rub and store in an airtight container.
- Chop any sides you plan on serving your chicken with (veggies, potatoes, etc.)
How to pound out a chicken breast (if you’re pinched for time, purchase pre-sliced cutlets instead)
Cutlets are essentially chicken breasts that have been sliced in half through the equator to create two thin pieces. They tend to cook more evenly, soak up more flavor and stay juicier than whole chicken breasts.
If you purchase chicken breasts, you can make your own cutlets by following these simple steps:
- Lay the chicken flat on a cutting board and carefully slice through the center horizontally (parallel to the cutting board) to create two fillets.
- Place the chicken fillets between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper. If using plastic wrap, moisten chicken with a few drops of water so the plastic wrap doesn’t stick.
- Use a meat mallet, the side of a wine bottle, can of food, a rolling pin, pan or pot to gently pound out the chicken.
- Starting with the thickest part of the chicken, start to pound on the chicken gently. Make sure you use tiny taps rather than hard hits. If you pound out the chicken too hard, you’ll pulverize the fillet rather than flatten it.
- Gently pound the chicken to an even thickness. Generally, about 1/2″ is a good thickness.
What pan should I use for this recipe?
Blackened chicken should be cooked in a stainless steel or cast-iron skillet (avoid non-stick). The heavy bottom helps to create a charred, crisp crust.
Storing your chicken (be sure to make extra!)
While the ingredients are out and the dishes are dirty, we highly suggest making extra! You can serve it as-is or mix-and-match it with other ingredients to create a variety of meals in a pinch (there are quite a few ideas below).
It’s also extremely freezer-friendly. Just let the chicken cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container or freezer bag (squeeze out any excess air). Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
Some ways to reinvent your leftover Blackened Chicken:
- Blackened chicken sandwiches
- In a taco (can also use blackened shrimp)
- In a quesadilla
- On top of FfL’s Cobb Salad
- With a creamy bell pepper sauce
- In a grain bowl: Bowls are literally one of the BEST ways to mix and match leftovers! Snag and steam a bag of your favorite frozen veggies (or sautéed some). In a bowl, layer rice, chicken, veggies and any other fun leftovers you have in the fridge that will complement the other flavors. Get creative—possibly add a few slices of avocado? Enjoy!
- With cucumber feta salad (DELICIOUS!): In a large salad bowl, add romaine, tomato, cucumber, onion, olives, crumbled feta and chicken. Drizzle olive oil over and add desired amount of oregano. Toss, serve immediately and enjoy!
- Tossed with pasta (can also use blackened shrimp)
- Served with a heaping spoonful of Mango Salsa (can also use blackened salmon)
- With an apricot glaze (can also use blackened steak)
- With pineapple chutney (can also use blackened pork)
This blackened chicken is one of the most juicy, flavorful chicken recipes and couldn’t be any easier. The recipe is easy to double and super freezer-friendly for a simple thaw-and-eat dinner throughout the busy workweek. The robust blend of herbs in this recipe creates a Cajun spice rub that results in a smoky, slightly spicy flavor that you’ll absolutely love.
- In a small bowl, mix together cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
- Slice the two chicken breast through the center horizontally (parallel to the cutting board) to create four fillets. Cover the fillets with plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet, side of a can or a rolling pin to create an even thickness, about ½-inch thick (detailed instructions above).
- Pat the chicken dry and coat the chicken with spice mixture, making sure to coat all sides and rub it in a bit. Keep in mind, the more you use the spicier it will be.
- Melt butter in a medium-large skillet over medium-high heat (keep your eye on it so you don’t burn the butter). Once hot, add chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes per side until blackened and no longer pink inside (internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165°F).
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board and wait at least 5 minutes before slicing or chopping the chicken. Serve with your favorite sides.
If using a grill to cook your chicken rather than a pan:
Heat your grill to medium/medium-high heat and brush with oil. Once sizzling hot, add chicken and grill 4-5 minutes per side, until just cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and wait at least 5 minutes before slicing or chopping the chicken.