This Cajun Chicken Pasta is ridiculously creamy, packed with warm spicy flavor, and, to top it all off, it’s cheesy too! This easy pasta dinner, filled with juicy bites of chicken, is one of our favorite restaurant style dishes to make at home. Bonus: It only takes 30 minutes to make!
Easy Cajun Chicken Pasta
Cajun Chicken Pasta is one of my husband’s favorite dishes to order when we go out to eat. We used to laugh about it because while my family is from Louisiana, I had never tried Cajun Chicken Pasta until I met him! Over the years we have tried so many restaurant versions, I was ready to recreate it at home!
This easy chicken and pasta recipe is made with tender chicken breast (use up those leftovers if you’ve got them!), penne pasta, and the creamiest cheese sauce. It’s also filled with herbs, diced bell pepper, and a spicy Cajun blend that you will absolutely fall in love with. It’s the perfect combination of spicy and creamy.
Start to finish, this pasta dish only takes 30 minutes to whip together! It’s fast, easy and full of flavor. Serve it with some warm garlic bread and dive right in!
What Does Cajun Mean?
In the context of food, ‘Cajun’ is a reference to a blend of spices that originated in Acadian communities in Louisiana. The blend contains paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and more. It’s one of my go-to seasonings when I want to add a little heat to whatever I’m cooking!
My family is from Louisiana and many of my dishes are inspired by all those classic cajun flavors. We never grew up eating Cajun Chicken Pasta and it is not a traditional dish. However, it’s a great hybrid recipe featuring cajun flavors wrapped up in a creamy pasta dish.
Time to get this pasta cooking! There is a fair amount of ingredients that you’ll need to round up to make this pasta dish, so let’s go through them:
- Pasta: I used penne pasta, but you can use whatever kind you like. (Bow-tie, spaghetti, etc.)
- Butter: Salted or unsalted, whichever kind you prefer.
- Olive Oil: You can use another cooking oil instead if you want.
- Onion: Dice up a white onion before starting.
- Bell Pepper: Seed and dice 1 red bell pepper.
- Garlic: Minced.
- Seasoning: Use Cajun seasoning, dried basil, paprika powder, ground black pepper, and salt.
- Cayenne Pepper: Use more or less depending on your taste.
- Chicken Breast Tenders: Cut them into bite size pieces, or use any leftover chicken breast you have sitting in the fridge.
- Cheese: I like to use parmesan cheese for this recipe (freshly shredded).
- Heavy Cream: Half-and-half can also work.
- Cream Cheese: Let it come to room temperature before starting.
- Chicken Broth: You can use regular or reduced sodium, whichever you prefer.
How to Make Cajun Chicken Pasta
Another bonus to making this Cajun chicken pasta is that it will have your kitchen smelling AMAZING. I guarantee this meal will attract people to the kitchen before you can think to call them for dinner. Let’s get started so you can test that theory:
Cook the Pasta: Boil 6 cups of water in a large pot over high heat and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water (so it doesn’t clump, can also toss a little olive oil on it to prevent clumping) and set aside.
Cook the Onion: While the pasta is cooking, add the butter, olive oil and onion to a large pot over medium-high heat and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion becomes translucent.
Cook & Season the Pepper: Add the red bell pepper, garlic, Cajun seasoning, basil, paprika, ground black pepper, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 3 more minutes or until the bell pepper starts to become soft.
Mix in the Chicken: Add the chicken and stir and cook for another 6-8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Make the Sauce: Add the parmesan, heavy cream, cream cheese and chicken broth and stir and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken and the cream cheese has fully melted.
Combine All Components: Add the cooked and drained pasta and stir to coat pasta with sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then serve with freshly chopped parsley on top, if desired.
Tips for Success
A pretty simple pasta-making process, no? It will only take you about 30 minutes to prepare this meal, but it definitely tastes like it took way longer.
Take a look at these tips to get the best results with your Cajun pasta:
- A Note on Cayenne Pepper: If you like heat, start by adding 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper and taste the sauce. Remember you can always add more cayenne pepper, but you can’t take it out!
- Rinse the Pasta: Rinse the penne with cold water so it doesn’t clump. You can also toss a little olive oil on it to prevent clumping as well.
- I Want To Add Shrimp: You can add some peeled and deveined raw shrimp to the sauce while you are cooking the sauce to thicken. The shrimp will cook in that same amount of time, about 8 to 10 minutes. Continue on with the rest of the recipe as listed and you will have Chicken and Shrimp Cajun Pasta!
Wondering what to serve with your creamy pasta bowls? You’re in the right place! Here are a few of my favorite options:
- Bread: Slices of warm crusty bread are a must with this pasta recipe – you don’t want to let any of that cheesy sauce go to waste! We prefer garlic bread the best, but any warm crusty bread will do!
- Add-Ins: You don’t have to stick to chicken if you would rather add in shrimp, sausage, or some other kind of protein, to this pasta dish. Vegetables can also be added in. You could try mushrooms, broccoli, etc.
- Salad: If you want to keep your side dish option light, make a green salad with a light vinaigrette for an easy side.
- Vegetables: Roasted broccoli or steamed broccoli florets are a great green side dish pairing with this creamy pasta. However, you can roast any vegetables to go on the side that you like!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
This Cajun chicken pasta is best served fresh, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat leftovers with a little added cream on the stovetop to prevent it from becoming too dry, and don’t forget to grab some more bread to serve alongside it!
Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced white onion
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper**, more or less depending on taste
- 1 ½ pounds chicken breast tenders, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly shredded
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- Boil 6 cups of water in a large pot over high heat and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water (so it doesn’t clump, can also toss a little olive oil on it to prevent clumping) and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, add the butter, olive oil and onion to a large pot over medium-high heat and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion becomes translucent.
- Add the red bell pepper, garlic, Cajun seasoning, basil, paprika, ground black pepper, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 3 more minutes or until the bell pepper starts to become soft.
- Add the chicken and stir and cook for another 6-8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Add the parmesan, heavy cream, cream cheese and chicken broth and stir and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken and the cream cheese has fully melted.
- Add the cooked and drained pasta and stir to coat pasta with sauce. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then serve with freshly chopped parsley on top, if desired.
More Pasta Dinner Ideas
Are you a fellow pasta lover? If so, check out some more easy pasta dinner recipes:
- Homemade Hamburger Helper
- 15-Minute Homemade Mac and Cheese
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
- Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
- Easy Chili Mac
- Creamy Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
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