Fans of blackened fish, no longer must you be saddened by the relative demise in popularity of this once-trendy approach to cooking fish. Dry your tears. Pull out your spices. Pan sear some fish. And accept accolades. It boasts the perfect amount of heat that’s counterbalanced by sweetly tart salsa. We dare say it’s the only recipe you’ll ever need to satisfy your blackened fish craving—witnessed by the number of kids and fish-averse husbands who’ve asked that it be added to the regular dinner rotation.–Renee Schettler Rossi

A person sitting in front of a plate of blackened grouper with peach jalapeño salsa.

Blackened Grouper with Peach Jalapeño Salsa

5 / 2 votes
This blackened grouper (or your favorite firm white fish) is coated in chili powder, paprika, and cumin and then pan seared to create a smoky crust. A sweet and spicy peach jalapeño salsa on top is the perfect counterpoint to the tender, spiced fish.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories245 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


For the peach salsa

  • 2 medium (10 oz) yellow peaches, cut into small dice (or 2 cups seasonal fruit of your choice)
  • 1 small jalapeño, very thinly sliced or minced, seeded if desired*
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 large lime (about 3 tablespoons)
  • Pinch of kosher salt

For the fish

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 (6 ounce) firm white fish fillets, such as grouper, cod, or halibut, 1 inch (25 mm) thick, skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)


Make the peach salsa

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
  • In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the salsa. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the blackened grouper

  • In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, smoked paprika, black pepper,, cumin, garlic powder, and salt.
  • Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels. Brush the fillets all over with 2 teaspoons of the oil and season with the spice mixture.
  • Heat a large ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat. When the skillet is piping hot, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Place the fillets in the skillet, skinned side up, and cook until deep reddish-brown on their undersides, 60 to 90 seconds.

    ☞ TESTER TIP: The spices and oil will smoke! That’s part of the “blackening” process— crack open a window or turn on the vent fan, don’t panic, and don’t inhale too deeply.

  • Carefully flip the fillets and cook until equally blackened on the other side, about 1 minute more.
  • Drizzle the lime juice over the fish and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the fish is just opaque in the center and flakes easily with a fork, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Serve your blackened fish topped with peach salsa aplenty.
The Dude Diet Dinnertime Cookbook

Adapted From

The Dude Diet Dinnertime

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 245 kcalCarbohydrates: 13 gProtein: 32 gFat: 8 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gCholesterol: 73 mgSodium: 438 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 7 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2019 Serena Wolf. Photo © 2019 Matt Armendariz. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

There were a few elements of this recipe that I was nervous about—the peach salsa and the extensive spice list as I still wanted to taste the fish and not have it be overwhelmed with smoked paprika and cumin! Despite my reservations, I carried on and I am THRILLED that I did! I would say I have a new fish recipe in the rotation.

I halved the recipe since it’s just my hubs and me. I minced my jalapeño to better disperse the heat versus getting hits with slices and I used the entire pepper despite cutting the recipe in half. I swapped grouper for mahi mahi as my local fishmonger didn’t have grouper and didn’t anticipate getting any in. I didn’t use anywhere near the full amount of seasoning—about 2 teaspoons gave me plenty to generously coat my fish.

It needs something alongside it or you may leave hungry. We did a big green salad and roast potatoes. (The roast potatoes might seem a little odd with this. My hubs LOVES roast potatoes so it was my backup in case he didn’t like the fish—he typically isn’t into sweet and savory! Don’t worry, he loved it!)

This whole thing came together so fast. In 20 minutes, we were at the table.

I lived in Louisiana back in the 80s, where I first experienced the wonderful taste of blackened fish. It’s gone out of style and I was happy to see it come back.

I have a season subscription to Sitka Salmon Shares, from Sitka Alaska, and as I just received my May shipment, which included Alaskan black bass (a grouper fish), I decided to give this recipe a tryout. It didn’t hurt that blackened redfish is one of my wife’s favorite dishes, so I had to make this one for her.

Peaches are just coming into season so it’s a great time to try this recipe. I got a pair of fresh, not-too-ripe ones to use for the recipe. If the peach is too ripe, its mushy so you lose some texture. But if one cannot get peaches, I bet this would also work quite well with mangos, strawberries (any berry really), or apples.

It’s best to use a very sharp knife when cutting the fruit, onion, and pepper into the small dice. Plus, take care when dicing the jalapeno. Make sure you remove all the seeds and pith if you don’t like it too hot. Oh, and be sure to wash your hands well after dicing, as it can burn any cuts you may have, or your eyes should you touch your face, so please be careful!

I made the salsa a few hours beforehand to allow time for the lime to break down the pepper and onion a bit for a better meld of flavor and tenderize it a bit. I used the measures as shown in the recipe and it’s not too spicy. If you want a bit more spice, I would add 1/4 to 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the spice blend.

I used a mix of EVOO and ghee for the fish frying as olive can burn on heat that’s too high. The fish crisped up quickly in the pan and then a final roast for about 5 minutes in the oven was a breeze. I roasted some vegetables, and tossed them in the same pan once the fish were removed to get some of the spice mixture on them as well.

The end result? My wife loved it. We both thought the peach salsa was a fantastic accompaniment to the spice blend on the fish. In fact, as there are just two of us, I only used half of the spice mix, salsa, etc. Tomorrow night I’m going to give it a try on some chicken, and I’ll be kicking up the heat a bit! Enjoy!

A piece of blackened grouper with peach jalapeño salsa on top.

Winner, winner, fish for dinner! This was remarkably easy to prepare. For an even more effortless dish, prepare the seasonings and salsa ahead of time, making this even more effortless. Blackening fish is an easy technique to master and a great addition to your culinary repertoire. I’ve ordered this countless times at restaurants, only to be disappointed because all I could taste was an overpowering, too hot, too spicy, burning and numbing the tastebuds so all you can taste is the spice and nothing else. For about a week! But not this. This is the perfect combination of spicy crunchiness that enhances and complements the fish without an overpowering heat from the spices while preserving the soft, delicate flakey texture of your fish of choice.

I preferred grouper as it lends itself easily to the spice mixture perfectly juxtaposed against the sweetness of the salsa. But this is not a one-size-fits-all affair as with the level of spiciness it is customizable to work equally well with your fruit of choice. I used 4 very ripe, small peaches (about 1 cup) and added some chopped mango that wasn’t as ripe to equal 2 cups. I wound up with 4 servings. And used half and the other half became fish tacos.

I would definitely heed the warning to open a window and set your fan on high because things are going to get hot…and smokey in here! Whew! Sooooo worth it.

This recipe brought us happily back to our time living in the Caribbean! A very simple and flavor-packed dish—we loved it!

The peach salsa was excellent and a very nice change from the familiar mango or pineapple salsas I made on the islands as peaches weren’t accessible there. Two peaches for me turned out to be about 1 cup diced since my peaches were on the small side. I didn’t add the third peach since I was only cooking 2 fish fillets and didn’t want a ton leftover. I would also add finely chopped red pepper for the added color and crunch.

Personally, I think that fruit tastes best at room temperature. However, the recipe states to make the salsa and refrigerate it until ready to use. I made it a couple of hours ahead and popped it in the fridge. I pulled the salsa out before starting to cook the fish so the salsa was still cold when served, and it cooled down the lovely warm fish. I should have known better! I usually make my salsas just before dinner and let them sit on the counter until serving, which is what I should have done, and will continue to do in the future. The lime juice will keep the fruit from turning color, so no worries there.

For the fish, I substituted halibut for the grouper, since that was what was available at the grocery this week, and it was a really good choice! For just the two of us, I only purchased 2 fillets and halved the spice ingredients. The halved amount of spices were perfect for the 2 fillets. The spices flavored the fish perfectly without being too spicy. The peach salsa was a great complement, just wished it wasn’t still cold! The timings were all correct for blackening and roasting the fish, and my fillets were perfectly cooked at 6 minutes in the oven.

We’ll definitely be making this dish again, and will also try this peach salsa with other proteins, while the peaches are in season. This is a great summer dish!

The combination of the sweet and spicy salsa with the smoky, spicy blackened fish made this a great dish. It is easy to put together. You make the salsa and let it sit in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld while you make the fish.

My market was out of cod and grouper, so we went with pricier halibut, and it was so worth it! Baking time will vary based on the thickness of your fish filets—best to check with a thermometer after 5 minutes or so in the oven. This is a recipe you can have fun with by varying the kind of fish and seasonal fruits for the salsa.

Great solid recipe. My children (one loves fish and one doesn’t really like it) really enjoyed it. They made comments on how good it looked as well as how it tasted. It was husband approved, too!

The spices were easy and I had all of them on hand (hopefully most cooks will) and it was a simple recipe to put together. I was surprised how awesome the flavor was based on the amount of work I put in—which was not much! I haven’t ever blackened anything and was surprised at how easy it was. I will definitely use this recipe again.

The peach salsa was a nice addition. I have made a similar salsa with mango and I think that would work with this recipe as well. Watermelon and pineapple might be yummy, too. It would be great with snapper as well. It would also be a good recipe for fish tacos.

I served it with pineapple rice, if I made it again I would probably take the extra step to make fried pineapple or mango rice.

Peaches are in season and super sweet right now in Tennessee so I knew that this was the recipe for me! This is perfect summer eating!

The salsa came together in a snap. I made it about 5 hours ahead of eating. This worked well as it mellowed the onions and flavors melded by then.

The fish was equally easy to cook. I did put my fan on right at the start to prepare! To get that blackened color, my first side took more like 90 seconds, but 60 seconds was sufficient for the second side. Cod was a great choice and made for easy flipping. I only needed about 5 minutes in the oven. I thought the paprika and chili gave the fish a nice kick that was complimented well by the sweetness of the salsa. I enjoyed it with a Greek wine.

This blackened fish was so good! I literally picked my plate up when I finished eating my fish and licked the entire thing clean! Grouper is one of my favorite fish and I was lucky enough to have a stash of 4 frozen fillets in my freezer.

I finally found the key to using frozen fish: thawing it SLOWLY on a paper towel-lined plate over a period of 36 hours in the fridge and judiciously changing the layers of paper toweling every 6 hours or so. By the time I was ready to cook the fillets, they were perfectly dry and not at all waterlogged like I often find frozen fish to be.

This recipe as written packed so much bright, vibrant and summery flavor. It did need more salt than called for in the recipe, in both the blackening mix and the salsa. Both needed an extra 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt. I also think the salsa would have benefitted from a pepper with a little bit more heat than only a jalapeño, but I like things spicy. A Thai bird chili would be great added in with the jalapeño and be a pretty splash of color as well. The peaches in my supermarket looked mealy and disgusting and the frozen ones seemed bland and insipid, so I opted to use fresh pineapple. Next time I would chop the fruit even more finely. I think a finer chop (maybe even a quick pulse in the food processor) would help the salsa adhere to each bite of fish better instead of falling off. The pineapple with the cilantro, jalapeño, and lime was a delicious combination—I’m not even sure fresh peaches could top this combo! But when peaches are in season next month I’ll make this again and compare!

This was so good and so easy and so quick to make (as long as the fish is thawed) that it would be a great summer dinner party dish. If you had the salsa made ahead of time you would only be away from your guests for about 15 minutes max. You could get a nice sear on the fish just for color, then place all the blackened fillets on a 1/2 sheet pan to finish at the same time oven. I’m picturing the blackened fillets sort of haphazardly shingled upon each other, on a long white platter atop a bright green banana leaf, then topped with the salsa. Wouldn’t that be gorgeous?!

A piece of blackened grouper with peach jalapeño salsa on top.

Hello, summer! You won’t be disappointed with this dish, even if your peaches aren’t quite ripe. Mine weren’t and the tartness and firm texture of the early fruit actually made the salsa a wonderful accompaniment for grouper seasoned with a warm spice blend.

I let my skillet get pretty hot, but there wasn’t too much smoke while cooking the fish, certainly nothing the overhead fan couldn’t handle. The cooking time was spot on, and the blackened fish released from the pan beautifully for plating.

A piece of blackened grouper with peach jalapeño salsa on top.

The combination of spices was delicious. I would make this recipe again and again. It was super quick and easy and the salsa was delicious and would have been more so had my peaches been slightly riper.

This was a super easy recipe. I made the salsa first, using fresh peaches and 1/2 a large jalapeno (instead of a whole small one). Once I got done with that, I measured out the spices for the fish and got my fish going. I used halibut in this recipe and used 2 portions (instead of 4 like the recipe called for) for my husband’s and my dinner. I cooked the fish exactly like the recipe called for, getting my cast iron skillet very hot. I seared them and then popped them into the oven for 10 minutes more as we both like our fish well done in the center. There were enough spices to do 4 fillets, however, I just made the 2 fillets, so I had spice mixture left over.

Will try again when the peach truck comes around to my neighborhood.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I already had some homemade salsa in my fridge so I skipped that part (although it looks and sounds delicious). The grouper turned out fantastic. Excellent seasoning combo. I’ve never tried cooking fish blackened before and they aren’t joking about the smoke!! I’m glad I listed and prophylactically had my sliding door open for air.

    1. Yes, that smoke can be quite something, Lily! Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know how much you loved this recipe. Can’t wait to hear what you try next.