angler, fish, north sea

How to Cook Fish: Blackened or Grilled?

Have you gone to a seafood restaurant and seen both grilled and blackened fish on the menu? What are they and what is the best between the two? This has been a highly debatable topic.

Both techniques are sort of similar. They both use dry heat to enhance the juiciness and flavors of your food. The result of both is an outer crispy burn of the food you’re cooking. However, their taste is different from each other (assuming you have a clean grill)

Differences between blackened and grilled food

Now you may ask if there’s a difference between them. The answer is yes, they have their difference. The difference is found in the spicing.

Blackening mainly focuses on the seasoning while grilling focuses on the smoking/ heating to bring out the flavor.  In grilling, any spice of your choosing can be used or you can just decide not to use any spices. While in blackening, a specific mix of herbs and spices are used to bring out the flavor of the burned meal.

Another difference is that grilling can be coon using direct or indirect method while blackened is a direct cooking method.

Grilling may or may not involve marinating but blackened uses butter and dry seasonings to cook over high heat.


Originally, blackening was only used for fish but nowadays, it’s started being used for all kinds of food. It’s known for its ability to make food delicious and spicy while adding that irresistible smoky element to the food.

The blackened look in your fish is as a result of charring of butter mixture on a hot pan or even the cast iron skillet. The butter crust prevents your fish from drying up.

You can make your own homemade seasoning mix for the process or just use a pre-blended one ideal for blackening. Be sure to look for the one with Chef Prudhomme’s ingredients: Paprika, onion, cayenne, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic.

This delicious method of cooking fish was invented by a man called Chef Paul Prudhoe’s in the 1980s at K-Paul’s in New Orleans. He was aiming to replicate the taste of charred meat. He drenched the fish he was cooking in a spice blend and cooked it over a hot cast iron skillet.

He managed to add the distinct spicy flavor without overwhelming the fish and prevent losing the fish’s natural taste along with it.

With time, the method of preparing blackened food has evolved creating one of the best meals in our hotels. Now it’s enjoyed all over the world.

The blackening of red fish was so popular that the state of Louisiana banned commercial fishing for it to prevent it from extinction (I was once known for this, long before Guilty Carnivore came around)

Simple steps to cook blackened fish

  1. Have your cast iron skillet, melted butter, oil, mix of the blackening seasoning and the fish you want to cook ready.
  2. Add a tablespoon to your skillet and heat over medium high flame until it starts smoking.
  3. Dip the fish in the melted and coat it generously with the seasoning mix. Make sure not to use a lot of the seasoning so as not to overwhelm the fish.
  4. Put the fish on the skillet and cook it moving as little as possible. Flip the fish halfway through cooking.

The end result should be an attractive crispy dark crust with a tender and juicy tender.

How to make your homemade blackening seasoning mix

If you’re among the people who like to make their own homemade mix and not use the pre-bended ones, don’t worry, we got you covered.

You can add some of your favorite spice to personalize it but for the best result, your mix should revolve around chili, herbs and spices for capturing and giving the best flavors with huge blast of heat.

Follow the simple steps:

  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, cayenne powder, onion powder, garlic powder, ground ball pepper and sea salt.
  2. Add a half teaspoon of dried basil, Oregano and dried thyme to the mixture above and mix them very well.
  3. Place your mix in an airtight container and place it in a cool and dry place.
Now, a big debate is whether to use butter or olive oil as the main liquid. Well, look no further!