Blackened seasoning was first used by chef Paul Prudhomme from New Orleans and is today utilized in recipes worldwide. While you can prepare this seasoning in various ways, there are a few standard elements that give blackened seasoning its distinct taste.
Blackened seasoning is a mixture of ground powders, spices, and herbs. It is commonly used when blackening foods. Cayenne pepper, garlic, and onion powder are common ingredients in most blackened seasoning mixes.
In this article, I’ll explore what blackened seasoning is, its uses, and how it differs from Cajun and Creole seasonings.
Blackened seasoning is a powdered mix that typically consists of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground Cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, and salt. This seasoning is used to coat meats, fish, and other items before they are blackened.
It offers a steady balance of both spicy and piquant flavors, giving a distinct taste to any dish you make with it. While blackened seasoning is spicy, its heat is balanced out by the herbs, so you can add strong flavors to your dishes without making them excessively spicy.
Blackened seasoning is used when blackening foods. In this cooking style, seasoned foods are prepared in a way that covers them in a dark crust with a distinct look and flavor.
While blackening can be used on meat and vegetables, it’s most popularly used for cooking seafood, mainly fish and shrimp.
To blacken your dishes, you need to:
- Brush or marinate the ingredients with melted butter, olive oil, or any other sticky coating that will allow the powders to stick to them.
- Roll the coated ingredients in blackened seasoning. Then, leave it to sit, so that the flavors get absorbed into the pieces.
- Toss the pieces into a cast iron pan or skillet and sauté them for a while until you find a dark, crusty, charred layer on either side of the meat. Make sure to take the meat out soon after this layer is formed to avoid overcooking.
Most homemade blackened seasoning recipes only use spices, herbs, and salt. This means that there are no ingredients containing gluten added to the mix.
Homemade blackened seasoning does not contain any traces of gluten. However, if you’re using store-bought seasoning, make sure to check the ingredient list to confirm that there is no gluten in it.
Most people get confused about the differences between different types of seasoning, especially between blackened and Cajun seasonings. This is because many of the same ingredients are used in both.
However, while both mixes use similar ingredients, there’s a significant difference between the two.
Cajun seasoning is made primarily with spices and is designed to impart more heat to your food due to the spicier ingredients it comprises. Blackened seasoning uses both spices and herbs and has less heat than Cajun seasoning.
The most apparent difference between Cajun and blackened seasoning is the degree of heat it adds to your dishes.
Cajun seasoning typically includes:
- Crushed red pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Other ingredients that vary based on the chef’s preference
Additionally, Cajun seasoning isn’t typically used to blacken meats, but just to favor them.
As many people confuse blackened and Cajun seasonings, there’s similar confusion when differentiating between blackened and Creole seasonings.
The primary reason for this mix up is because Creole seasoning uses many of the herbs used in blackened seasoning. However, there’s a clear distinction between Creole seasoning and blackened seasoning, and many of the core ingredients tend to differ.
Creole seasoning primarily relies on herbs like parsley, oregano, thyme, basil, and rosemary. It also uses paprika in small amounts. Blackened seasoning, on the other hand, mixes both herbs and spices to create a distinct taste.
Because Creole seasoning lacks spices, it has a more zesty or piquant flavor that goes well with soups, dressings, and as a garnish on almost any dish.
Let’s take a look at the difference between the three types of seasonings we’ve covered: blackened, Cajun, and Creole:
|Blackened||Uses a mix of herbs, spices, and peppers.||Both spicy and piquant|
|Cajun||Primarily uses peppers and spices, including Cayenne pepper, paprika, and crushed red pepper.||Spicy flavor|
|Creole||Primarily uses herbs to impart taste, including rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, and oregano.||More piquant or savory|
The best blackened seasoning you can buy should meet your spice preferences perfectly. It should not be too spicy, but it shouldn’t lack peppers either. It should be a balanced combination of herbs and spices and give your dishes both a spicy and piquant flavor at the same time.
While it’s entirely possible to prepare a zesty and flavorful blackened seasoning at home, there are plenty of options on the market for you to choose from. Here are some of our favorites, all of which are available on Amazon:
Formulated by the inventor of blackened seasoning himself, Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic is ideal for seafood recipes. Of course, this mix can be used on various dishes, but it was made primarily for seafood and pairs well with it.
That said, this seasoning is still versatile enough for you to mix with:
It’s sure to impart a solid peppery and smoky taste to any dish without overpowering the natural flavors of the food.
This mix from Traeger is considered the perfect accompaniment for barbequed meat—both red meat and poultry. All Traeger rubs are both kosher and gluten free and come in a handy aluminum tin with an opening allowing you to sprinkle seasoning on your meat carefully.
Another classic New Orleans blend, Zatarain’s has a spicier flavor than regular blackened seasoning due to the presence of both paprika and red peppers.
Unlike regular blackened seasoning, this variation adds a bit of heat to your dishes and goes well with steaks and wings. It’s a great option if you want to experiment with spicier dishes without adding the heat level of Cajun seasoning.
Emeril’s seasoning blend combines all the common ingredients used in blackened seasoning along with:
- Soybean oil
- Black pepper
- Red peppers
- Dried chili peppers
This unique blend comes in a sprinkling jar so you can quickly season your favorite dishes.
While this mix is still a blackened seasoning, its flavors lie closer to that of Cajun seasoning, thanks to the added spice. Like Zatarain’s, it’s a good way to get your palette prepared for the added kick of Cajun seasoning without starting on the deep end right away.
This organic blackened seasoning blend from Frontier uses a variety of spices and herbs to bring you a unique flavor. Aside from the typical ingredients, it also includes:
- Organic mustard
- Bay leaves
The blend is certified organic and kosher and is ideal for seafood dishes.
Blackened seasoning is a great way to add a distinct flavor to your food without spending too much time puzzling over flavor combinations. This mix also allows you to try blackening your dishes, which is a great way to char seafood, meats, and veggies.
And the best part? You don’t need to be limited to store-bought mixtures – you can easily source the ingredients and make a homemade blend that meets your taste perfectly!