Cajun Blackened Chicken Recipe

When you're looking to spice up your rotation of go-to chicken dinners (both literally and figuratively), it's hard to go wrong with this simple and delicious recipe for Cajun blackened chicken. It's a nod to New Orlean's-style cooking with strong, distinctive flavors. That said, recipe develop Michelle McGlinn points out that there's a big difference between blackening chicken and charring or burning it. "The point of blackened meats is to recreate the flavor of grilled or smoked meats indoors on the stove," she says. "If you love barbecue chicken, you'll love blackened chicken, it's very similar!" 

Plus, there's a lot to be said for the ease of making this dish. It requires just 10 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes in the oven — time you can spend making sides (like red beans and rice) to pair with your main course. If you're tired to eating plain, bland chicken, then this recipe will definitely spice things up in the best way possible.

Gather the ingredients for Cajun blackened chicken

Go ahead and gather the ingredients to get started. All you'll need are whole chicken leg quarters, softened butter, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, oregano, and salt. As you can see, you don't need fresh herbs or spices to make the dish — dried spices work great! That said, if you'd like to offer a fresh kick to your spice mix, McGlinn offers two options. First, "You can simply use fresh thyme and fresh oregano, chopped finely. Mix them in with the other dried spices," she says. 

Or, if you want to go all-out, you can make more of a spice marinade by mincing the garlic, slicing an onion, and combining them with fresh thyme and oregano, as well as the paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper. Mix it all with the softened butter and use it to marinate the chicken for up to 30 minutes before roasting. "This gets away from blackening, a little, but technically does the same thing and will look similar," McGlinn explains. 

And while the recipe calls for chicken leg quarters, McGlinn notes that's another choice that's up to you. "This will work with any kind of chicken, but is designed for bone-in, skin-on types," she says. 

Rub the chicken with butter

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 425 F and line a baking sheet with foil. Set these aside as you prep your chicken. 

Pat the chicken dry, then use the softened butter to rub the chicken completely. The butter will help the spice blend stick to the chicken. After rubbing the butter on the outside, lift the chicken skin slightly and rub butter below the skin, as well. 

"Butter caramelizes in the high heat and helps crisp the skin and keep the chicken moist. Of course, the butter caramelizing is part of what creates that 'blackened' look," McGlinn explains. 

Mix Cajun spices together

If you're sticking to using the called-for blend of dried spices, simply mix them together in a bowl until they're well-combined. In addition to the butter rub, it's the spices that give blackened chicken it's blackened appearance. "The spices turn black in high heat, so the whole crust has a nice, charred look," says McGlinn. That said, she reiterates that the result isn't a burnt flavor. "The goal isn't to char the meat! Blackened refers to the butter and spices changing color in the high heat," she says. 

Coat chicken in Cajun spices and roast

You're almost ready to pop those chicken quarters into the oven! Simply spread the spices over each piece of chicken, being sure to rub them evenly onto each side. Once well-coated, set the chicken aside to rest for 30 minutes before placing it on the baking sheet and popping them in the oven to roast for 30 minutes. Just remember, the cook time is based on the size of the chicken. McGlinn suggests paying attention to the blackening process and to use a meat thermometer if your chicken pieces are smaller. The spices should end up blackened, and the chicken is fully cooked when it has an internal temperature of 165 F. 

Remove the chicken from oven and serve

Once your chicken is nice and black, it's ready to take out of the oven and serve. McGlinn suggests pairing the chicken with red beans and rice, gumbo, sweet potato fries, cornbread or polenta. And if you're looking to make a full menu out of the entree, she offers drink selections, too. "I'd keep it New Orleans-esque and go with a sazerac or boulevardier," she says. "It also pairs just fine with semi-dry white wine." 

Cajun Blackened Chicken Recipe
5 from 29 ratings
Add some flair to your dinner with this Cajun-inspired blackened chicken recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
cajun blackened chicken rice beans
Total time: 40 minutes
  • 4 whole chicken leg quarters
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 ½ tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Pat the chicken completely dry. Rub softened butter over entire chicken, then gently lift the skin and rub butter underneath.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the spices. Sprinkle spices evenly over each chicken quarter, then rub spices into the chicken on all sides, generously coating the chicken skin. Optionally, let the chicken rest for up to 30 minutes.
  4. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until spices on top are blackened and the chicken has an internal temperature of 165 F.
  5. Remove the chicken and serve warm.
Calories per Serving 858
Total Fat 66.9 g
Saturated Fat 22.4 g
Trans Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 350.5 mg
Total Carbohydrates 4.9 g
Dietary Fiber 1.7 g
Total Sugars 0.5 g
Sodium 849.0 mg
Protein 57.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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