Bring Some Cajun Spice into Your Life with Blackened Chicken

You are going to flip out ever this easy-peasy blackened chicken from the moment you try it.

Vertical image of a white plate with green beans, mashed potatoes, and spiced cooked chicken, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

Even though I’ve never been to Louisiana to experience the Cajun flavors firsthand, my husband is a HUGE fan of this type of cuisine. I am hoping to get down to New Orleans myself to taste it direct from the source, but until then, there are plenty of recipes like this one to turn to.

This dish is particularly fantastic because it is on the table in only 15 minutes.

That’s right, you read that correctly. This is a 15-minute entree, from start to finish. Pair it with a simple salad or a few quick sides, and you’re ready to eat!

So let’s talk about this whole “blackened” thing, shall we?

Vertical top-down image of two plates with green beans, mashed potatoes, and spiced tenders next to glasses of red wine.

For those of you who don’t know, blackened chicken is not the result of burning your poultry, cooking it for too long, or having an unfortunate incident where it happened to stick to the pan. And by no means is it the result of dropping it on the floor, or some other kitchen mishap.

The term “blackened” actually refers to the medley of Cajun spices that, when put to high heat, gives the poultry an exterior char.

I am sure that you have heard this term before, or that you have seen it on menus around town.

The spices that you are putting in your homemade Cajun seasoning are bold first and foremost, including cayenne, garlic, black pepper, and oregano.

Really, when it comes down to it, there are not a lot of ingredients required to make this stellar dish.

Now that unassuming poultry meat that you know all too well can get a serious makeover in terms of taste.

Vertical image of two white plates with cooked and blackened chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes.

From the moment when you put that first bite in your mouth, it’s pure magic. You won’t be surprised to see just how quickly it disappears from the plates on the table. Blink and you might miss it.

Here are some tips for making the best possible blackened chicken:

  • Make sure you mix the spices well, so they create an even seasoning mix.
  • When the poultry hits the cast iron skillet, the pan should be smoking hot.
  • Make sure the spices you use are all fresh and haven’t been sitting on your spice rack for months (or years). That way, you really get the full flavor that you’re going for from the seasoning mix.
  • Use a heavy cast iron skillet. While could definitely use the grill for this, it’s easy to burn seasoned poultry on the grill. Cook this dish on the stovetop instead, to provide more control over the heat of the cooking surface.

The best part is that for this recipe, you are using chicken tenderloin pieces instead of large breasts. This means you can skip the whole pounding step to try to get the breast thin and even. Instead, you have the smaller tenderloins that will cook quickly and evenly, without additional prep.

Vertical image of a fork holding a piece of cooked chicken in front of green beans and mashed potatoes.

This healthy and hearty meal will be on your weekly dinner menu in no time, without any guilt. And you likely already have all of the secondary ingredients right in your own pantry.

Check out my advice at the end of this article for suggestions to pair with this incredible chicken.

Print
Horizontal image of a white plate with blackened tenders next to green beans and mashed potatoes.

Blackened Chicken with Homemade Cajun Spice


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

With a spicy and bold flavor, blackened chicken upgrades that humble poultry into something truly delicious for dinner.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lb chicken tenderloins
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil or unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Place all of the dry spices in a small mixing bowl. Add garlic and stir until well combined, and mash the garlic pieces to release a little liquid.
  2. Pat the chicken tenderloins dry with a paper towel. Rub both sides of each with the seasoning mix.
  3. Heat oil or butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins in a single layer, and cook in batches if necessary.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes, until meat is browned and easily releases from the pan. Turn over and cook another 3-5 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink inside and reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F.
  5. Serve warm.

  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Poultry

Keywords: chicken, poultry, blackened, cajun spice

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Mince Garlic and Measure Ingredients

Horizontal image of a metal bowl with uncooked poultry, and smaller bowls of seasoning ingredients.

Peel one garlic clove and mince it finely, or pass it through your garlic press.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.

Step 2 – Make Spice Mix

Horizontal image of a cutting board with uncooked poultry tenders and a bowl of mixed spices.

Add the black pepper, salt, cayenne, cumin, oregano, and thyme to a small bowl. Add garlic and stir until well combined.

Make sure to mash the garlic pieces with the back of a fork, to release some of the liquid.

Horizontal image of a cutting board with uncooked poultry with seasoning.

Use paper towels to pat the chicken tenderloins dry. Rub both sides of each well with the spice mix.

Step 3 – Cook

Horizontal image of a pan with oil and cooked tenders with dark seasonings.

In a large skillet, heat oil or butter over medium-high heat. Once hot, add tenderloins in a single layer. You may need to cook in batches if necessary.

Cook on one side for 5 minutes. The bottom of each piece should be browned, and you will know that it’s ready to flip when it releases easily from the pan.

Horizontal image of two white plates with blackened tenders, green beans, mashed potatoes, napkins, and glasses of red wine.

Flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. The center of each piece should no longer be pink, and the internal temperature should be 165˚F. You can check this with a meat thermometer.

Serve immediately.

How Can I Serve This Dish?

This protein can easily be paired with your favorite simple side dishes like green beans and mashed potatoes. However, the magic of this recipe doesn’t end here.

Horizontal image of a white plate with blackened tenders next to green beans and mashed potatoes.

You can serve this poultry on top of a green salad, or even on top of pasta. It works wonderfully with quinoa, or you can throw the leftovers in a quick jambalaya. The options are endless.

Do you need more easy chicken recipes for your weeknight dinner rotation? Check out a few of our favorites:

What will you serve this dish alongside? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to come back to rate the recipe after you’ve tried it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on February 24, 2013. Last updated: August 23, 2019 at 17:41 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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