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Blackened salmon with cilantro lime butter may be the easiest and most delicious salmon recipe you’ll EVER make. I love this recipe because it’s citrusy, salty, and a little spicy. Thanks to the spices and pan searing, the salmon’s exterior develops a nicely charred crust while leaving a juicy tender inside.
Cilantro lime butter adds a lot of fresh flavors and a creamy buttery finish to help balance the charred crust. It’s the refreshing final touch blackened salmon really needs. This recipe is the ideal candidate for a cast iron skillet, but your favorite searing pan will do just fine.
Tips for Blackening Salmon
Blackening is a Cajun-style technique involving generously seasoning meat with a blend of spicy, smokey spices and pan-searing or grilling on high heat. It renders the salmon (or anything) with a dark caramelized crust due to the rub of spices.
There are a handful of pre-made blackening spices out there, Old Bay being one of my favorites and most accessible. You can also make your own blackening seasoning (recipe below) with a combo of paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, dried thyme, oregano, and cayenne pepper. This is a great combo that never fails!
I like to generously coat all four sides of a salmon filet in blackening seasoning for ultimate flavor and punch. Be sure to get skinless filets so you can season all sides. Some premade blackening seasoning can be a little spicy and or salty, so be sure to taste a little before using. Most of the time, you won’t need to add any additional salt to the dish.
Cilantro Lime Compound Butter
Cilantro lime butter is the ultimate finishing touch on blackened salmon. Compound butter is the process of mixing minced fresh herbs and spices into butter and serving as a condiment or topping. Just imagine garlic, lime juice, butter, and fresh cilantro drizzled over every bite of salmon. The lime and cilantro perfectly complement the smokey, spicy salmon. It literally makes this entire recipe worth it.
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- Grilled salmon with basil butter
- Sesame ginger salmon in foil
- Cilantro lime salmon in foil
Blackened Salmon with Cilantro Lime Butter Recipe
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 8 mins
- Total Time: 18 mins
- Yield: 2 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Cuisine: Cajun
Simple blackened salmon topped with garlicky cilantro-lime compound butter.
- 2 6-8 ounce salmon filets, skin removed
- 2–3 tablespoons blackening seasoning (such as Old Bay)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 lime wedges for garnish
Cilantro lime butter
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 lime, juice squeezed
- 3 tablespoons cilantro, minced
Homemade blackening seasoning (makes 6 tablespoons)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon ground dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the cilantro lime butter
- Leave butter on the counter to soften. Alternatively, place butter in a small bowl or ramekin and microwave in 5-10 second intervals to soften. Do not melt. Add garlic, cilantro, and lime juice.
- Use a fork to mix the butter together until combined. Form the butter into an imperfect ball and keep in the fridge until ready to serve
For the salmon
- Generously season each salmon filet with blackening seasoning until fully coated on all sides. Note, store-bought blackening seasoning tends to be salty. If you’re salt sensitive, I’d recommend using a thin dusting. Squeeze a little lime juice over each side of each filet and rub it in.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Once hot, sear salmon for 3-4 minutes per side, flipping once, for medium. Sear for 4-5 minutes per side if you prefer your salmon more flakey and well done. Do not move, prod, or poke salmon while cooking. Leave it alone to let a crust form.
- Plate and top each salmon filet with a spoonful of cilantro lime butter and serve with a lime wedge and additional chopped cilantro.
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or container and mix to incorporate. This recipe makes 6 tablespoons so you will have plenty extra.
This recipe works best in a cast iron skillet. You can alternatively grill the salmon for 3-4 minutes per side on medium-high heat. Just be sure to grease the grates well to ensure it doesn’t stick.
- Serving Size: 1 piece
- Calories: 537
- Sugar: 2g
- Sodium: 241mg
- Fat: 34.1g
- Saturated Fat: 13.4g
- Carbohydrates: 10.6g
- Fiber: 4.1g
- Protein: 51.8g
- Cholesterol: 158mg
Keywords: blackened salmon, how to blacken fish, cilantro lime butter
I am one of those people who don’t like cilantro. Any substitute suggestions? Thank you.
Hard to substitute but you could try basil! It’s a totally different flavor but equally as good on salmon.
I made his tonight and holy Mack. It’s so good! We made grilled corn on the cob and put some of the cilantro lime butter on it. AMAZING!
Thanks Kate – the cilantro lime butter is like nothing else! Awesome idea with the corn – will have to give that a try.
Shawn! After I tried your bewitching pan seared filets, I invested in a cast iron skillet. Used it for the blackened salmon…heavenly! I used Old Bay, but only a scant teaspoon per filet. Here’s my conundrum. I’d like to make both, the filets and the salmon for guests tomorrow night. I have one cast iron skillet. Any advice on preparation and timing?
This sounds like a cooking show challenge. Great question. I have never tried this but here is what I’m thinking/some thoughts to consider. You could probably cook the salmon and steaks in the same skillet and follow the 2-2-6 filet method. The salmon will most likely cook at the same rate, maybe a little faster depending on how you like your salmon. I would cook your steaks as you would and pretend the salmon isn’t even there. My biggest worry is not the cook times conflicting, but the juices mixing in the skillet. The butter and steak run off could interfere with the salmon flavors and vise versa. Not sure if this will be issue or not for your guests. Alternatively you could use a regular non-stick pan for the salmon and leave the skillet for the steak. The cast iron skillet is my favorite, but you can blacken fish using a regular pan with very similar results. You could grill the salmon as a third option. And fourth… buy a second cast iron skillet 😉 I have 3! I hope this helps and good luck, Michele!
Thank you will go shopping today for ingredients
Thank you this looks very appealing and will certainly be cooking this, I have checked with a few retail shops but cannot find Old bay seasoning any suggestions.