Spicy and Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
This spicy and creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta features bell peppers, perfectly seasoned flavorful chicken breasts, and luscious cream sauce. It’s a simple and quick dinner recipe packed with vegetables and loaded with flavor!
If you’re looking for a family-friendly weeknight meal or an easy-to-make romantic dinner for two, look no further. This cajun chicken pasta is pure comfort food that can be customized to be as spicy (or not spicy at all) and as creamy (or not creamy) as you want while still retaining its distinctive Cajun flavor. Read on to review all the ways you can change and customize this recipe to fit your taste.
Of course, rich pasta dishes like this are best accompanied by a simple and healthy salad. I recommend Arugula Salad with Pine Nuts or simple Spinach Salad with Parmesan.
- Protein. This is a great recipe to use skinless and boneless chicken breasts. I recommend using thinly sliced chicken breasts. If you bought large ones be sure to slice each one in half horizontally. This will simplify the cooking process and make it much quicker. You can also use skinless and boneless chicken thighs, as well as chicken tenderloins. You can even add some shrimp or sausage.
- Carbs. I prefer a short type of pasta for this cajun chicken pasta. Use penne, rigatoni, farfalle (bow-tie pasta), fusilli (spiral pasta), pasta shells, or any other type of short pasta you have available.
- Vegetables. In addition to bell pepper, you can add chopped asparagus, sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, or sliced zucchini.
- Extra toppings. Add chopped cooked bacon or bacon bits. Sprinkle the pasta with chopped green onions if you like.
- Substitution for cream. If you don’t have heavy cream, use half-and-half. You can also use coconut milk.
How to reduce fat and make this recipe healthier
- Omit heavy cream, Parmesan Cheese, and add EVOO. While I absolutely love this cajun chicken pasta with cream and Parmesan cheese, you can omit both to make it healthier. Instead, add a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil to combine all cooked ingredients together.
- Add more veggies. This recipe features bell peppers, but you can load up this cajun chicken pasta with all sorts of vegetables: zucchini, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
How to make Cajun seasoning
- 2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Thyme (dried)
- 1 teaspoon Marjoram (dried)
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Stir together the above ingredients in a small bowl. Your homemade Cajun seasoning is ready to use in accordance with the recipe. In this recipe, you apply some of it over the chicken breasts, and then use the remaining amount to season the pasta.
How to adjust the spiciness
- Homemade Cajun seasoning. If you use my homemade recipe for the Cajun seasoning mix, you can easily adjust the spiciness of the mix by reducing the amount of Cayenne pepper in half or removing it from the mix altogether.
- Store-bought Cajun spice. I find that a lot of the store-bought Cajun seasonings are pretty mellow as far as the spiciness, but it’s always best to taste it and judge for yourself. My absolute favorite is Frontier Cajun Seasoning. They sell it in my local store, and you can also find it on Amazon.
Equipment to use
I prefer to make this type of pasta in an 11-inch deep skillet. I used stainless steel skillet, a cast-iron skillet works, too.
What to serve with cajun chicken pasta
- Garlic bread or olive bread.
- Side salad, such as arugula tomato salad or simple spinach salad with pine nuts and parmesan.
- This creamy cajun chicken pasta recipe can easily feed 4 people, especially if served with a side salad or a slice of garlic bread.
- Grate your own Parmesan cheese. I buy wedges of Parmesan cheese and grate it myself right before using it. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese melts and blends better in the sauce.
- Before serving, sprinkle the pasta with extra grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley (or chopped green onions).
- Adjust the spiciness of the dish by reducing or eliminating the amount of Cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes.
How to store, freeze, and reheat cajun chicken pasta
- Refrigerate. Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freeze. Freeze the pasta in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Allow the pasta to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- Reheat. Reheat cajun chicken pasta gently on the stovetop in the skillet over low heat, stirring halfway through. Be sure to reheat on low heat otherwise the cream sauce can separate and drastically change texture if reheated on higher heat. Add a small amount of chicken stock, extra milk, or heavy cream to thin out the sauce and to keep the pasta from drying out.
Spicy and Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
Spicy and creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta is packed with vegetables and loaded with flavor! This simple and quick dinner recipe features bell peppers, perfectly seasoned flavorful chicken breasts, and luscious cream sauce.
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts , thinly sliced
- 10 ounces pasta
- 1 red bell pepper , diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper , diced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese freshly shredded
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- salt to taste
Combine ingredients for Cajun seasoning in a small bowl. Or, alternatively, use 2 tablespoons of your favorite Cajun seasoning. My recommendation is Frontier Cajun seasoning.
Place 2 chicken breasts in a shallow bowl and coat on both sides with ½ of the Cajun seasoning. Save the remaining ½ of the seasoning for pasta. Note: be sure to use thinly sliced chicken breasts. That means if you bought large chicken breasts, slice each one in half horizontally.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts seasoned with Cajun spice and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Turn off the heat, cover the skillet with the lid, and let the chicken sit, covered, off heat for about 10 minutes until it's completely cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate and slice chicken thinly.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to the package instructions (that usually means somewhere between 10 or 15 minutes). Drain pasta.
Add diced bell peppers to the same, now empty, skillet that you just used to cook chicken. Cook on medium heat for about 4 minutes until bell peppers are slightly softened. Remove ½ of the cooked bell peppers to a plate, leaving the remaing ½ in the skillet.
To the same skillet with ½ of the cooked bell peppers, add the cream, the remaining ½ of the Cajun seasoning, and freshly shredded Parmesan cheese. Bring to a brief boil, reduce to simmer, and cook, constantly stirring, until the cheese starts to melt, for several minutes.
Add drained cooked pasta to the skillet with the cream sauce and heat through on low heat. Season with red pepper flakes, more salt and extra cayenne pepper, if desired. Top with sliced cooked chicken and the remaining ½ of cooked bell peppers.
- Adjust the amount of Cajun spice. This recipe uses a rich amount of Cajun seasoning. You can adjust this amount to your liking reducing it in half, for example. I use half of the amount to season the chicken, and then the remaining half to add to the sauce. Use your best judgment and taste to adjust the amount of seasoning at either step.
- Red Pepper Flakes. I also use red pepper flakes to spice up the pasta even more at the end. You can omit them or reduce the amount if you don’t like your pasta to be too spicy.
- Salt. In the last step, make sure to taste the pasta and add more salt if it tastes too bland.
- Final touches. Sprinkle the pasta with finely chopped fresh parsley or chopped green onions, and with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.