Packed with flavour, a bit spicy and super easy to prepare, this Blackened Snapper is a great weeknight protein option and pairs very well with a variety of side dishes. I served it with some steamed green and yellow beans, and boiled potatoes, but the options are endless.
Try the Blackened Snapper over a bed of arugula with some crispy Tostones on the side, or with some grilled mixed veggies and Mexican Red Rice if you’re living your Food Freedom. Yet another option is to make some killer Fish Tacos with some shredded cabbage and Avocado Crema. *Drooling!*
The Blackened Snapper is delicious enough as is, but if you want to take things to the next level, I strongly recommend slathering it with some homemade Lemon, Garlic and Herb Butter. Oh, my heavens!
As the gahhhlicky, lemony and herbaceous compound butter melts over the hot fish, it imparts a irresistible aroma and flavour.
To keep things Whole30 and Paleo, I actually used ghee instead of butter. It has a nuttier and stronger flavour than butter, but it’s still very delicious. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you want to use butter or ghee. You’re the boss, applesauce.
How to Make Blackened Snapper
Contrary to what some might have you believe, the goal here is not to actually blacken and burn the fish. It can definitely happen if you’re not careful and don’t closely monitor it while it’s cooking, but burning the spices will only make them taste bitter and unpleasant.
Instead, your goal should be to develop a deep, dark brown colour with a slightly crispy crust. To achieve this, I recommend cooking the fish over medium heat in a good, non-stick pan with enough oil to coat the bottom of it.
My top non-stick skillet recommendations are these Ballarani Granitium-Coated Pans and this DeBuyer Non-Stick Frying Pan. For fully non-toxic options, you can purchase a GreenPan Frying Pan, but these have notoriously short lifespans.
The first thing you’ll need to do is prepare the spice mixture by combining all of the ingredients together. You can do this in a bowl, but I find it easier in a mason jar because if you have any leftover rub, you can simply store it in the sealed jar in your pantry without having to dirty an extra dish.
Once your spice mixture is ready, generously season both sides of each fish filet and pan-fry them in some extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil over medium heat for around 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your filets.
What You Need for the Blackening Spice
There are a million and one ways to make homemade blackening spice and I encourage you to use what you like or have on hand. In addition to salt and black pepper, the usual suspects are some type of paprika for colour, cayenne pepper for heat, onion and/or garlic powder and dried herbs, such as oregano and/or thyme, for some earthy flavour.
Beyond these, the choice is yours. You can follow my recipe here, or play around with substitutes and additions. For example, If you want some added sweetness, you can use coconut sugar (or brown sugar if not considered about keeping it Paleo). For less of an herby punch, try using dried basil or parsley.
Other Uses For Blackening Spice
In addition to red snapper, you can use this Blackening Spice on a wide variety of fish, including cod, halibut, salmon, haddock, orange roughy, mahi mahi, and trout, to name a few.
It’s also excellent on chicken and other types of seafood, like shrimp and scallops.
What You Need for the Lemon, Garlic and Herb Butter
Essentially, you’re making a compound butter by combining the ingredients into a bowl and mixing until smooth. Using room temperature grass-fed butter or ghee will make your life much easier!
When it comes to herbs, you can one use just one or a combination. For the Blackened Snapper, I kept it simple by using fresh parsley so as not to overpower the flavour of the fish. But fresh dill, cilantro, basil or oregano would also be delicious.
This type of compound butter is also excellent over other things, such as my Cajun Roast Chicken, grilled steaks, lamb chops, chicken, seafood and veggies.
Any leftover compound butter can be shaped into a log using some plastic wrap and stored in the fridge for up to 1 weeks.
Blackened Snapper with Lemon, Garlic and Herb Butter (Whole30, Paleo)
For the Lemon, Garlic and Herb Butter:
- 1/4 cup room temperature ghee or grass-fed butter
- Zest of 1 lemon approximately 1 packed teaspoon
- Juice of half a lemon approximately 1 tablespoon
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
For the Blackened Snapper:
- 1 pound red snapper filets - thawed if previously frozen
- 1.25 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or up to 1 teaspoon if you prefer it spicier
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus extra, as needed
For the Lemon Garlic and Herb Butter:
- In a small bowl, combine the ghee or butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley and garlic and stir to incorporate. Cover and set aside at room temperature. Leftovers can be stored in a covered bowl or shaped into a log in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to one week.
For the Blackened Snapper:
- In a bowl or mason jar, combine the salt, garlic powder, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, thyme, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Stir or shake to incorporate and set aside. Any leftover spice mix can be stored in the sealed jar for up to one month.
- Rinse and pat fish very dry with paper towel. If necessary, slice each filet in half so it can fit in the pan. Liberally season both sides of each filet with the spice mix.
- Preheat oven to 200F. Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering.
- Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, fry the fish, undisturbed, until a dark brown crust forms, around 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until a dark brown crust forms and the centre is opaque and flaky, around 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the cooked fish to a platter and, while it's still hot, brush the top of each filet with one teaspoon of the compound butter. Keep the platter warm in the preheated oven while you repeat this process and cook the rest of the fish. Serve immediately.