Blackened chicken breasts are anything but boring! Bold, juicy and coated with a crispy, flavorful crust. Made with McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Cayenne Pepper, they can be slightly spicy or hot enough to make you breathe fire. Completely up to you! 

This post has been sponsored by McCormick Gourmet™. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Chicken is one of the best things to make when you are short on time. From an impressive roasted chicken to the best fried chicken you will ever make, my collection of chicken recipes will certainly have something to inspire you to cook tonight!

A platter of blackened chicken breasts over a bed of collard greens. You can see lime wedges and halves as a garnish, a bowl of dirty rice, a bowl of salt, a yellow napkin and a jar of cayenne pepper.

A flavorful and easy chicken recipe!

I’ve always had a certain obsession with charred food.

I would split stale French bread rolls in half, stick them with a fork and char them over the flames on the stove! My friends thought I was insane… Until they tasted it. So so good, especially with butter!

So, as you can imagine, blackened chicken and I were meant to be!

Living in different hemispheres, it took us a couple decades to finally meet each other. But when we did, it was love at first bite!

If you’ve never tried it, you’re in for a treat. They are bursting with flavors and incredibly tender and juicy!

If you have tried it but want to learn how to make it at home, then you’ll be surprised at how quick this comes together!

So easy that you will want to have it on rotation, especially for those weeknights when you need dinner to magically appear on the table in less than 20 minutes!

A close up shot of the blackened chicken, showing how juicy it is.

What is blackened chicken?

Blackened food is food that is coated with a mixture of herbs and spices (blackened seasoning) and then cooked in a very hot skillet (traditionally cast iron). The combination of the charred spices and the browned milk solids from the butter result in the characteristic browned color of the crust.

The blackening technique is associated with Cajun cuisine and was popularized by a chef called Paul Prudhomme and his Blackened Red Fish.

While the original recipe calls for fish, this method can be used to cook other types of protein, like chicken, pork and steak, or even vegetables!

What is the difference between blackening and charring?

Unlike the blackening method, charring doesn’t involve a spice and herb blend. The dark colored crust happens naturally by grilling, roasting, broiling or pan-frying.

A photo of the ingredients: blackening spices, butter, oil and chicken breasts.

Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make blackened chicken:

CHICKEN – I’m using chicken breasts, but boneless skinless chicken thighs would work as well. However, cooking times and temperature would change.

BLACKENED SEASONING – You will want to make your own! More on that down below.

BUTTER – For brushing the chicken before coating with the seasoning. The browning of the milk solids from the butter, combined with the charring of the seasoning, is what gives the chicken the “blackened” color.

OIL – For searing on the stove. I use a high quality olive oil – as the cheap stuff will smoke a lot when heated past a certain temperature – but you can use canola, vegetable or grapeseed oil instead!

A photo of the blackening spices.
A photo of a Stop & Shop bags and all the McCormick spices.

What is blackened seasoning made of?

Similar to Cajun and Creole seasonings, Blackened Seasoning (also called Blackening Seasoning) is made of a combination of spices and dried herbs.

Here’s what I use on mine:

  • McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Paprika (Sometimes I like to use smoked paprika for a bit of smokiness)
  • McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Cayenne Pepper (Either a dash for a gentle heat or a generous amount if you’re courageous and like things HOT!)
  • McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Garlic Powder 
  • Onion Powder 
  • McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Oregano
  • McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Basil
  • McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Thyme
  • Black Pepper 
  • Salt 

I am a big fan of McCormick Gourmet™ spices, so most of my spices are from them!

Their Gourmet Organic line is not only USDA-Organic certified and Non-GMO Project Verified, but committed to bringing global flavors to everyday cooking. Something I’m also passionate about, so McCormick has a special place in my heart!

I find them in the spice aisle at my local Stop & Shop, but you can also shop here :

A shot of a serving of the dish: sliced chicken breasts, collard greens and rice.

How to make Blackened Chicken Breasts

This blackened chicken recipe is so easy to make and will be on your table in less than 20 minutes!

I highly recommend using a cast iron skillet, as not only it can go in the oven, but it will help you achieve the best crispy crust.

If you don’t own one, you can use a nonstick skillet on the stove and then transfer the breasts to a baking sheet before they go in the oven.

You will want your skillet to be smoking hot so the crust forms immediately. Otherwise, you risk the chicken steaming and the amazing spices staying on the pan instead of clinging to the chicken.

Recommended equipment and tools: cast iron skillet, thermometer.

A collage of step by step instruction photos.

Here’s how I make this blackened chicken breasts recipe. As always, you will find the printable (and more complete) version of the recipe at the end of this post!

Step 1: Make the Blackening Seasoning

  • Combine all the spices, herbs and salt in a bowl or in a large resealable bag. (Photo 1)

Step 2: Prep the chicken

  • Remove the chicken breasts from the fridge 20 to 30 minutes before cooking, to avoid overcooking them.
  • Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel and brush with the melted butter.
  • Sprinkle both sides of the breasts with the spices, using your hands to make sure that they are thoroughly coated. (Photo 2) If using a resealable bag, just add the chicken breasts to the bag and massage from the outside to coat them.

Step 3: Cook the blackened chicken

  • Heat a large cast iron skillet until smoking, with a little bit of oil, and cook the chicken breasts until golden brown and charred. (Photo 3)
  • Transfer the skillet to the oven (350 degrees F) and cook until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breasts reads 155 to 160 degrees F. (Photo 4)
Olivia’s Tip: Let the chicken breasts rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into them. If you slice them as soon as they come off the oven, they won’t be as juicy as they can be!

Can you grill blackened chicken?

Yes, you can make blackened chicken in a gas or charcoal grill.

However, since I find that you can only get the signature crispy crust using a cast iron skillet, I prefer to set my skillet on the grates over grilling the chicken directly on the grill.

Make sure you preheat the skillet before cooking the chicken, so it’s smoking hot!

A photo of a spoon pouring the pan juices over the chicken breasts.

What is the recommended internal temperature for juicy chicken breasts?

The USDA recommends that chicken breasts be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF for at least 30 seconds.

That being said, chicken breast meat turns dry and stringy when cooked to that high of a temperature.

Thankfully, there are two dimensions to the USDA’s recommendation: temperature (165ºF) and time (30 seconds). So if you cook the chicken to 150ºF but extend the time to 2.7 minutes, you still maintain food safety.

Since I tend to be overly cautious, I cook mine to a temperature between 155 to 160ºF. By the time they have rested, the internal temperature will be closer to the recommended 165ºF.

An overhead shot of two individual servings.

Serving suggestions

There are so many things you can make with blackened chicken. 

You can use it in tacos, burritos, fajitas and salads. You can serve it over Alfredo pasta. Or, you can do like me and serve a Louisiana-inspired feast!

I place the chicken breasts on a bed of collard greens (which I cook Brazilian-style, sorry Southern friends) and serve with a side of dirty rice. 

I also like to deglaze the pan with chicken broth, once the chicken is cooked, and drizzle the resulting liquid on the chicken breasts! There are so many flavors on that pan. I’d be crazy to leave that behind!

Lime wedges are optional, but I find that a squeeze of lime adds freshness and helps balance out some of the heat.

An overhead shot of one individual serving of the blackened chicken, dirty rice and collard greens.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make it ahead?

Chicken breasts are never as juicy as when they were freshly cooked. The crust will also not be as crispy.

If that doesn’t bother you, then yes, you can make them ahead of time! In fact, they are perfect for meal prepping.

How long will it keep in the fridge?

Properly stored in an airtight container, cooked chicken breasts will keep well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Can I freeze blackened chicken?

Yes, you can freeze the cooked chicken breasts for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge when ready to serve.

Can I customize the spices?

Absolutely! Add or omit whatever you want. Again, I highly recommend McCormick Gourmet™. Their selection is fantastic and you can find it at Stop & Shop and/or other Ahold stores!

Did you make this recipe? I love hearing from you! Please comment and leave a 5-star rating below. You can also take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #oliviascuisine.

Blackened Chicken Breasts

Blackened Chicken Breasts

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 19 minutes

Blackened chicken breasts are anything but boring! Bold, juicy and coated with a crispy, flavorful crust. Made with McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Cayenne Pepper, they can be slightly spicy or hot enough to make you breathe fire. Completely up to you!

Ingredients

Blackening Seasoning:

  • 1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Oregano Leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Thyme Leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Basil Leaves
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Cayenne Red Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Onion Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet™ Organic Coarse Grind Black Pepper

Chicken Breasts:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat

Instructions

    1. Remove the chicken from the fridge 20-30 minutes before cooking.
    2. Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle.
    3. Combine all the blackening seasoning ingredients in a bowl. Reserve.
    4. Pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel and brush them with the melted butter on both sides. Coat the chicken breasts with the reserved blackening seasoning, pressing to adhere.
    5. Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, until smoking hot. Add the oil and place the chicken breasts in the skillet.
    6. Cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown and blackened, then flip and cook the second side.
    7. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and cook until the juices run clear or a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breasts reads 160 degrees F.
    8. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let the chicken breasts rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

Notes

Size of the breasts

If your chicken breasts are huge, you might want to slice them lengthwise to produce two smaller pieces. Make sure all your breasts are uniform in size, so they cook at the same rate!

Internal Temperature


The USDA recommends that chicken breasts be cooked to an internal temperature of 165ºF and that they stay at that temperature for at least 30 seconds.

However, I find that they get dry and stringy when cooked to that high of a temperature. Since time is another dimension of their recommendation, I cook mine to 155-160ºF and let them rest 5 to 10 minutes. That way I still maintain food safety without compromising juiciness.

Make ahead and leftovers

While chicken breasts are the juiciest when freshly cooked, they can be made ahead and used in several dishes. Keep your blackened chicken breasts in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.

Freezing

You can freeze cooked blackened chicken for up to 3 months.

Recommended Products

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