This super-tasty Blackened Chicken couldn’t be easier to prepare! We combine a robust seasoning blend with some oil and vinegar and then rub it all over the chicken. Throw it in the oven, in a skillet, or on the grill — we’re sharing how to make it whichever way is easiest for you.
What Is Blackened Chicken?
Contrary to how it may sound, food that is blackened isn’t burnt. Rather, “blackening” refers to coating the protein (or food) in a special spice blend that takes on a very dark brown/blackish color when cooked in a skillet, grill, or oven.
For this particular recipe, we’re working with boneless skinless chicken thighs, but we’ll also share how to blacken chicken breasts.
Blackened Chicken is part of our Back-To-School Lifesavers — a series of recipes that are intended to have little (or no) veggie chopping, minimal prep time, around 10 ingredients or less (not including pantry staples), and use kid-friendly ingredients. Click here to see all the recipes in the series!
The Best Blackened Chicken Recipe
Why is this the best?! Well not only is it ridiculously easy to prepare but it is loaded with flavor and delivers succulent, perfectly tender chicken the whole family will go crazy over!
I’ve been really into meal prepping lately; preparing a bunch of proteins and sides to re-purpose into meals and snacks throughout the week (feeding three growing kids and their appetites is no joke!).
This blackened chicken recipe and this Italian chicken marinade have been lifesavers! At the beginning of each week, I’ve been making up a couple of batches of each and then dicing it all up to use in meals throughout the week. (More on re-purposing this chicken later.)
Is Blackened Chicken Spicy? It can be–but it doesn’t have to be! I’d say this recipe is mild (my kids inhale it!). Leave out the pinch of red pepper flakes if you want less heat and be sure to use a mild chili (not chilli) powder (such as McCormick®). On the flip side, increase the flames by increasing the amount of red pepper flakes or adding in a touch of cayenne pepper.
What Is Blackened Chicken Made Of?
This Blackened Chicken recipe is so easy to whip together and even easier if you’ve assembled the spice blend beforehand (see “quick tip” box below).
- Seasonings. We combine a winning blend of chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and of course, salt and pepper.
- Olive oil. We’ve also made this with avocado oil — either works well.
- Balsamic vinegar. This is the “secret” ingredient to this blackened chicken and while you likely won’t be able to detect it in the chicken, it adds the perfect complementary acidity.
When I make this recipe, I’ll typically make 5 or 6 more packets of the seasoning mix. Since all the spices are out and I’m measuring anyways, it takes just a few extra minutes. Measure out the spices, put them in labeled individual snack-size bags: “blackened chicken mix”, and store those packets with your spices. Next time you go to make this recipe, all you’ll need to do is throw in oil and vinegar!
How To Make Blackened Chicken
To prepare this recipe, we whisk together the spices, oil, and vinegar in a bowl. Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel and then generously coat each thigh with the mixture.
Follow one of the methods below for cooking:
- Blackened Chicken In the Oven: This is our year-round go-to method for preparing this chicken. All the details are found in the recipe card below.
- Grilled Blackened Chicken: Preheat grill to medium-high (450 degrees F.) Add seasoned chicken to a clean, well-greased grill placing it flat (not bunched up) on the grates. Close grill and cook for 4-5 minutes or until nicely caramelized. Flip the chicken to the other side and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Blackened Chicken Breast In a Cast-Iron Skillet: If you want to blacken chicken in the skillet, we recommend using boneless skinless breasts here instead of thighs. Cut two chicken breasts in half widthwise to make four pieces. Use a meat mallet/frying pan/your fist to give each piece a quick pound. (Don’t flatten chicken; we just want all the pieces fairly even in width.) Rub seasoning all over the pieces. Add a drizzle of oil to a large heavy-bottom skillet. Heat on high and once the skillet is hot, add the chicken pieces in one layer. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side or until cooked through; remove to a plate to rest.
What To Serve With Blackened Chicken?
I mentioned earlier that we love making a batch of this chicken and using it in meals throughout the week. Here are some ideas:
- Serve as is right out of the oven with a side dish like one of the following:
- Make tacos! We love charring some extra-thin corn tortillas on the stovetop and then filling the inside with guacamole and adding diced blackened chicken on top. A scoop of sour cream or this Cilantro-Lime Sauce plus a squeeze of lime is the perfect finish!
- Add to a salad. Pretty much any salad recipe you enjoy will benefit from an addition of diced blackened chicken. We’ve recently enjoyed it in this Jennifer Aniston Salad and Quinoa Salad Recipe.
- Make a burrito bowl. Whip up some cilantro-lime rice and add this chicken, some roasted corn, and your favorite burrito bowl toppings (like a ripe avocado, scoop of sour cream, or this pico de gallo).
- Don’t forget to line the pan with foil. The clean-up without foil is brutal!
- Space chicken thighs out on the pan with plenty of room (they shouldn’t be bunched or folded).
- Adjust seasoning with larger batches. If you want to double (or triple) the recipe, don’t forget to increase the salt and pepper too! Bake time will also increase with more meat on the pan.
Use This Chicken In One Of These Recipes:
Each of these recipes calls for rotisserie chicken. Swap out the rotisserie chicken for equal amounts of Blackened Chicken :
PREP: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. To grill chicken, read note 3 for preheating grill. Line a large sheet pan with foil (don’t skip this or clean-up is rough!)
SEASONING MIX: In a small bowl add all of the “seasoning blend” ingredients. Season to taste with salt & pepper (I add 1-1/4 tsp salt & 3/4 tsp pepper). Whisk to combine.
RUB MIX ON THIGHS: Pat thighs dry with paper towel then, using your hands, rub the mixture all over each thigh to evenly cover all of the meat. You should use every bit of seasoning mix.
BAKE: Place thighs (laid out flat; not bunched together) on the prepared sheet pan, spacing out thighs so they have plenty of room. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the pan from the oven.
BROIL: Move the oven rack to about 8 inches from the heat source and switch heat to broil. No need to wait; immediately place the tray back in the oven and broil for 7-10 minutes or until you’ve got a nice blackening and caramelization. (Interior should be 160 degrees F; carryover heat will take it to 165.) Eight minutes for 5.5 oz thighs is perfect in my oven.
ENJOY: Remove pan and let stand for 5 minutes (uncovered) to rest. Transfer to a cutting board and dice or thinly slice. Enjoy!
If you want to use chicken breasts, you’ll need about 2 large boneless, skinless breasts (1 pound total). Here’s how to prepare blackened chicken breasts (don’t follow the baking instructions above; it will result in dry chicken breasts)
- How To Cook Breasts In A Skillet: Cut chicken breasts in half widthwise to make four pieces. Use a meat mallet/frying pan/your fist to give each piece a quick pound. (Don’t flatten chicken; we just want all the pieces fairly even in width.) Rub seasoning all over the pieces making sure to use all the seasoning mix. Add a drizzle of oil to a large heavy bottom skillet. Heat on high heat and once the skillet is heated, add the chicken pieces in one layer. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side or until cooked through (thermometer registers 160 degrees/juices run clear); remove to a plate. Tent with foil and set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
Note 2: Chili powder: Be sure to use chili powder — not to be confused with chilli powder which is very hot. We’re using American chili powder (I use McCormick® which is very mild).
Note 3: Grilling: Follow the preparation instructions above, and here’s how to grill the meat (thighs or breasts will work great on the grill):
- How To Grill Breasts Or Thighs: Preheat the grill to medium-high (450 degrees F.) Add seasoned chicken to a clean, well-greased grill placing it flat (not bunched up) on the grates. Close the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes or until nicely caramelized. Use a sharp metal turner to scrape up and flip the chicken to the other side. Close the grill and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until the chicken registers 160 degrees F. (Timing will vary based on the size of the chicken and the actual heat of the grill.) Remove to a plate and cover loosely with foil to rest for 5 minutes.
Serving: 1serving | Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.8g | Protein: 22.4g | Fat: 8.3g | Cholesterol: 106.5mg | Sodium: 127.6mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.4g
We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.