Cajun Chicken Pasta

4.93 from 13 votes
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This creamy Cajun chicken pasta recipe is a delicious one-pot meal packed with flavor! The seasoning adds bold spices to juicy pieces of meat, tender pasta, and rich tomato sauce.

If you enjoy this dish, be sure to check out my favorite gumbo and jambalaya recipes.

Cajun chicken pasta in a large pan.

Recipe Science

  • Coating the chicken in a dried spice blend creates a flavorful crust on the surface. The fat-soluble flavors intensify when cooked in fat.
  • Add fire-roasted diced tomatoes for extra smokiness. They break down when simmering, creating a flavorful sauce.
  • Cooking pasta with sauce gives a creamier dish. The pasta absorbs liquid, leaving behind wheat starches that thicken the sauce.

Why It Works

If you’re looking for a spicy weeknight meal that’s easy to prepare, try my Cajun-style chicken pasta. The protein, pasta, and sauce are cooked all in one pot in less than 30 minutes for a stress-free and satisfying meal. A blend of bold spices adds lingering heat to the creamy cajun sauce.

I use a homemade blend of cajun spices, which adds intense savory flavor to the chicken and sauce. It comes in handy to make a batch to toss into the dish, but alternatively, you can use storebought if you’re in a pinch for time. A variety of colorful sauteed vegetables perfectly enhances the peppery flavor and makes it a complete meal.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients needed to make this Cajun chicken pasta recipe.
  • Chicken: For quick cooking, lean protein, use boneless skinless chicken breasts.
  • Cajun Seasoning: I use my Cajun seasoning recipe. It’s a mixture of smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Premade bottles can also be used for convenience. Taste it first so that you can gauge how much to add to the sauce later.
  • Oil: Use fruit olive oil to sear the chicken and cook the vegetables.
  • Vegetables: To add dimension to the dish, use a variety of chopped vegetables, such as onions, minced garlic, and red and green bell peppers.
  • Tomatoes: I add a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes. The lightly charred surface adds extra smokiness to the dish.
  • Pasta: I use short-cut tubular penne pasta for the dish. The sauce coats the surface and inside of the noodles for extra flavor.
  • Stock: For a more flavorful taste, use unsalted chicken broth or stock, but water can be used instead.
  • Cream: Heavy whipping cream contains at least 36% milk fat, making the sauce very velvety.
  • Cheese: Use a dry-aged grating cheese like Parmesan. This boosts the savory taste of the sauce.
  • Garnish: Add a delicate and mild herb, like chopped parsley, to finish the dish.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

This Cajun chicken pasta is easy to customize! Try these tasty options:

  • Chicken Options: If you prefer dark meat, use chicken thighs. Leftover shredded chicken or diced meat also works well in the dish.
  • Using Fresh Tomatoes: Use 1 ½ cups of freshly diced tomatoes, like cherry or Roma tomatoes.
  • Pasta Swaps: Other types of pasta, such as rigatoni, cavatappi, rotini, or farfalle, can be used. If you prefer longer noodles, try bucatini or spaghetti.
  • Cream Substitute: A lighter whipping cream or half-and-half can be used. Alternatively, try ¼ cup cream cheese, plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, or cream fraiche.
  • Protein: Instead of chicken, try shrimp or spicy andouille sausage.

How to Make Cajun Chicken Pasta

Raw chicken breast cubes in a bowl tossed in spices.

Step 1: Prepare the Chicken

Cut the chicken breast into 1-inch pieces for hearty bites. They shrink down significantly in the pan. Toss with a portion of the Cajun seasoning and some olive oil. This will add a lot of bold flavor to the surface.

Searing cubes of chicken breast in a dutch oven.

Step 2: Cook the Chicken

Cook the dish in a large Dutch oven or enameled cast iron deep saute pan that can hold at least 4 ¼ quarts. Add the chicken and sear the pieces for about 3 minutes per side until a light-blackened crust forms. I use a similar stovetop method to cook Cajun chicken breasts, and it’s delicious!

Tips for Perfect Execution: The poultry should be fully cooked, as it will be added to the pasta right before serving. Transfer the pieces to a clean bowl, and cover to keep warm while cooking the other ingredients. Keep that pan!

Pieces of red and green bell peppers sauteing with pieces of onions.

Step 3: Saute the Vegetables

With the heat set to medium-low, add olive oil, onion, and minced garlic. Saute for 2 minutes, then add the bell peppers.

Fire roasted tomatoes added to a pan with bell peppers and diced onions.

Stir in the fire-roasted tomatoes. When the tomatoes simmer with the pasta, it creates a delicious sauce when the flesh breaks down.

Cooked penne tossed in a Cajun spiced mixture.

Step 4: Cook the Pasta

Add the pasta, stock, and remaining Cajun seasoning straight to the pot, then boil it. The key is to keep stirring the pot. This ensures that nothing sticks to the bottom and that the pasta evenly absorbs the liquid. In about 15 minutes, the pasta should be al dente.

Expert Tip: When making a one-pot pasta, the general rule is that you will need 4 cups of liquid for every 8 ounces of dried pasta. This is about 2 cups of penne pasta.

Pouring heavy cream into a pan of penne.

Step 5: Make the Sauce

As the pasta boils, the starches from the wheat will release and create a small amount of starchy liquid, yielding a creamy coating. To add richness, stir in heavy cream.

Grated parmesan cheese added to the pot of pasta and cream.

Grated parmesan cheese adds a nutty and savory flavor. At this point, you can add the cooked chicken and warm it before serving.

Cajun chicken pasta garnished with fresh parsley and served in a white bowl.

Step 6: Ready to Serve

I like to garnish with fresh parsley, chives, green onions, or basil. It adds a delightful freshness and pop of color.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you thicken Cajun pasta?

Heavy cream and parmesan cheese help to thicken the pasta sauce at the end of cooking. Cooking the pasta in the same pan releases wheat starches, which also thickens the sauce.

Can you adjust the spiciness of the chicken Cajun pasta?

Yes! Using a homemade Cajun seasoning blend, you can increase or decrease the amount of cayenne pepper. A small amount makes a noticeable heat impact. Also, add red pepper flakes that are not ground up if you want an even spicier taste that lingers.

Can I use store-bought Cajun seasoning?

Store-bought seasoning is a convenient option. However, each brand has a different spice blend and salt level. Taste it first before adding it to the chicken and pasta. Use about 2 tablespoons for the entire recipe.

What is the benefit of making one pasta?

Cooking the dried pasta in the same vessel as the sauce not only makes for fewer dishes to clean, but the dish will be creamier. The pasta is cooked by absorption of the liquid. Use just enough to tenderize the noodles, leaving a small amount of starchy stock in the pan. Those wheat starches thicken the sauce because it’s not being diluted in a large pot of water like traditional boiling methods. The pasta is also better seasoned because it’s simmered with the cajun spice blend.

More Chicken Pasta Recipes

If you tried this Chicken Cajun Pasta recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Savor the bold flavors of Cajun spices in every bite of this creamy and delicious Cajun chicken pasta recipe. Perfect for a hearty dinner!
4.93 from 13 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons cajun seasoning, divided
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion, ¼" dice
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper, ½" dice
  • ½ cup diced green pepper, ½" dice
  • 14.5 ounce fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces dried penne pasta, 2 cups
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock , or broth
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Chicken – Cut the chicken breast into about 1-inch cubes. In a medium bowl, combine the pieces with 1 tablespoon of the cajun seasoning and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Cook the Chicken – Heat a large high-sided skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chicken to a single layer and cook without moving until the surface is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Saute until fully cooked, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover to keep warm.
  • Saute the Vegetables – Reduce the heat to medium-low and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion and minced garlic, and saute for 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the fire-roasted tomatoes with the juice, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits.
  • Cook the Pasta – Add the pasta, stock, and remaining Cajun seasoning to the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook and stir frequently until the pasta is tender and the stock has mostly evaporated, keeping a small amount of liquid in the pan to create a light sauce, about 14 to 16 minutes.
  • Make the Sauce – Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Stir in the chicken, cooking until warm, about 2 minutes.
  • To Serve – Serve garnished with parsley.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: About 8 cups
  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Reheating: Cover and reheat in the microwave on the high setting in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until hot.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 341kcal (17%)Carbohydrates 30g (10%)Protein 20g (40%)Fat 16g (25%)Saturated Fat 5g (25%)Polyunsaturated Fat 2gMonounsaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0.01gCholesterol 56mg (19%)Sodium 859mg (36%)Potassium 475mg (14%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 4g (4%)Vitamin A 994IU (20%)Vitamin C 19mg (23%)Calcium 83mg (8%)Iron 2mg (11%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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4.93 from 13 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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10 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. CMS says

    I hate thinking about what to make for dinner every night after a long day at work, so this weekend I went in search of some new recipes that didn’t require an overwhelming amount of ingredients, didn’t take a lot of time, and fairly easy, as I am not a wiz in the kitchen. Well, I found it! This receipe was so simple to make and was absolutely delicious! I will certainly be trying more of your recipes. Thank you, thank you! šŸ™‚

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Whoo-hoo! So happy to hear that you are enjoying the cajun pasta recipe. Let me know what recipe you make next!

  2. Marie says

    Mine was too wet. I don’t like soggy pasta and so I didn’t cook it down to just a little bit of remaining liquid. Next time I’ll adjust the broth to compensate for juicy tomatoes.

    Tastes good. My lips are burning. Yummy.

  3. Carrie says

    Looking forward to trying this next week. I’ve tried several other Cajun chicken pasta recipes but the flavor has always been flat. I have a hunch that this one will be a winner based on the other recipes I’ve tried from this site.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I think you could make this in an instant pot. I would follow all of the saute directions, then cook the pasta for 5 minutes on high manual pressure. Turn it to the saute function and reduce the sauce as needed before adding in the cream. Let me know how it turns out!

  4. Ann Seipel says

    Will try this one for sure. All your recipes are great but the Instant Pot Beef Stew is the best! Tastes like it has simmered all day! Use tiny potatoes! This is a regular at our house!