Blackening seasoning turns mild cod into one of the best fish recipes around. Blackened cod has a bold, flavorful crust and tender flaky texture. It can be cooked on the stovetop or air fryer.
This has become one of my favorite easy fish recipes, especially because the air fryer makes it a great option for cooking just one or two filets for an easy dinner in. And while we love this blackened cod on its own with simple sides like rice, a salad, or even french fries (!), it’s also a great for filling fish tacos.
Best of all, this dish has no need to marinate, uses pantry ingredients that you probably already have on hand, and cooks in 4-5 minutes. Here’s how.
What is “Blackened” Cod?
When any fish is labeled as “blackened”, it is a result of two things - 1) coating the chicken with a spice rub of dried herbs and spices (called blackening, blackened, or Cajun seasoning) and 2) cooking over high heat until a nearly black crust forms on the outside. Blackened cod is not burned, but heat darkens the seasoning blend as it cooks. Blackened proteins are most often found in Cajun cuisine and they are a great addition to your favorite Cajun recipes.
- Cod - Cod has a mild flavor that gets a huge boost from flavorful blackening seasoning. However, you can cook almost any fish this way. It’s particularly great with salmon, halibut, or mahi mahi.
- Blackening / Cajun Seasoning Blend - Get the full recipe here or in the recipe card below. It is a mix of paprika, salt, dried thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, dried oregano, and cayenne powder. You can make a big batch of this seasoning and store it in a small bowl or jar at room temperature. For a more mild taste and less spice, feel free to skip or reduce the cayenne pepper.
- Cooking Oil - Use any high heat cooking oil like canola, vegetable, grapeseed, or avocado oil. Olive oil will work in a pinch, but its lower smoking point may cause it to burn before the fish is done cooking.
- Butter - Cooking the fish in butter adds flavor and creates a sauce that can be drizzled over the finished dish.
- Lemons - Finish the fish with a few lemon wedges to squeeze over top.
What to Serve with Blackened Cod
Blackened cod is great served with any of your favorite Cajun side dishes like red beans and rice, roasted okra, or with another simple grain like Coconut Rice or Baked Green Rice. It also makes a flavorful but light meal served with a salad like my Fresh Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Salad.
How to Cook it on the Stovetop
- Combine spice blend with oil.
- Coat the fish on all sides with seasoning.
- Brush a heavy-bottomed large skillet (for best results, a cast iron is great). Add butter until it melts.
- Sear the cod on one side until a dark crust appears, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the cod to cook it on the other side.
- As the cod finishes cooking, tip the pan and spoon the spices back over the top of the fish. Continue cooking until it has a flaky texture and is cooked through (use a meat thermometer to check that it has reached an internal temperature of 145°F), 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Serve lemon wedges on the side.
How to Cook it in the Air Fryer
Blackened cod can be cooked in the air fryer and turns out flaky and tender. Prepare it according to the stovetop directions above and then transfer it to a preheated air fryer. Be sure to spray the basket with nonstick cooking spray before adding the seasoned fish to prevent it from sticking. Cook, without turning, until the fish is flaky and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes at 375°F.
Tips for Success
- Dry the cod - Be sure to get the cod very dry before adding it to the spices. The spices will adhere better to the fish if you remove all of the excess moisture from the surface first.
- Use similar-sized pieces - Look for pieces of cod that are a similar size and shape. Using fish filets of a similar thickness and size will help them to finish cooking at the same time.
- Keep an eye on the heat - The cod needs to be cooked at a fairly high heat to achieve that flavorful blackened crust, but the spices can still burn, so keep an eye on the temperature. You may need to reduce the temperature in the pan as the cod cooks.
More Seafood Recipes
- Cajun Fish with Sweet Peppers
- Broiled Honey Lime Salmon
- Thai Shrimp Salad
- Honey Paprika Broiled Salmon
- Turmeric Fish Skewers with Herb Sauce and Peanuts
- Mixing Bowl
- Skillet or Air Fryer
- 3 Tablespoons Cooking Oil (see note)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder (not onion salt)
- ¾ teaspoon Garlic Powder (not garlic salt)
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper (preferably fresh-cracked)
- ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (more or less, to taste)
- 1 pound Cod (substitute any flaky white fish)
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- Lemon Wedges, for serving
- In a shallow bowl or baking dish, whisk together oil, paprika, salt, dried thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper.
- Pat fish very dry with paper towels (this is important to help the spices to stick.) Add the fish to the spice mixture, turning to coat.
- Heat a large cast iron pan to medium heat. Add butter.
- When the butter melts, remove the fish from the marinade. Add the cod to the hot pan and cook on one side until a dark crust appears, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Flip the cod to cook it on the other side. As the cod finishes cooking, tip the pan and spoon the spices back over the top of the fish. Continue cooking until cooked through (145°F), 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Transfer the cod to a serving plate. Drizzle any remaining spices and butter from the pan over the cod.
- Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over the top.