Restaurant-quality Cajun Shrimp Pasta is easy to make in the comfort of your own home! The flavors of freshly grated parmesan, fresh tomatoes, heavy cream, and butter are beautiful, rich, and satisfying.
Perfect Creamy Cajun Pasta with Succulent Shrimp
If you like pasta, shrimp, or Cajun seasoning, this recipe is for you – it combines all three into an unforgettable meal that comes together in a snap. Tender, juicy shrimp are coated in plenty of Cajun spices, and then pan-fried before being drenched in a creamy, garlicky sauce. With some hot pasta stirred in, it’s a meal you’ll crave.
On top of all that goodness, this recipe is incredibly quick! Shrimp are fast and easy to work with, and so is pasta, making this a true 30-minute (or less) dinner. Make it on a weeknight for a surprisingly sophisticated family meal, or serve it for an at-home date night with minimal effort and maximum flavor!
This ingredient list is short, sweet, and to the point. It uses fresh, simple ingredients for a quality result that truly stands out!
- Pasta: You can use a short pasta like penne, or a long pasta like fettuccine – whichever you like.
- Olive Oil: For coating the shrimp.
- Cajun Seasoning: Reach for your favorite brand, or make your own Homemade Cajun Seasoning.
- Shrimp: I use raw, medium-sized shrimp here. They should be peeled and deveined before cooking. Tails on or off is up to you!
- Butter: Unsalted butter, divided, for cooking the shrimp and other ingredients.
- Aromatics: Simple and flavorful here – just some diced yellow onion and a bit of minced garlic. You could also press the garlic through a garlic press to save time, or use minced garlic from a jar in a pinch.
- Cream: Heavy cream makes the sauce velvety, rich, and thick – don’t skip it!
- Tomato: A small diced tomato (I used a Roma tomato) gives just the right note of acidity, and some pretty color as well.
- Parmesan: Freshly grated.
- Parsley: Fresh, chopped parsley is the perfect optional garnish.
What Kind of Shrimp Can I Use?
I use medium shrimp, but large or even jumbo shrimp are fine if you would rather use those. The main issue with shrimp is peeling and deveining them – that can be time-consuming, so you may want to look for shrimp that have already been peeled and deveined. Frozen shrimp are fine too; just thaw them before using.
How to Make Cajun Shrimp Pasta
You’ll notice that I recommend cooking the pasta according to the package directions, but with salt in the water. Salting your pasta water really brings out the flavor. Once you try cooking pasta in salted water, you’ll be surprised at how much tastier the noodles turn out.
- Cook the Pasta. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta following the package directions. Once the noodles are al dente, drain the cooking water, saving ½ cup if it for the sauce.
- Season and Cook the Shrimp. While the pasta is cooking, mix the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the Cajun seasoning together, and toss the shrimp in this mixture to season them. Next, melt some butter in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the shrimp in a single layer. They should cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until opaque, firm, and curling slightly. Once the shrimp are cooked, set them aside on a clean plate.
- Cook the Aromatics. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the same pan you used for the shrimp. Add the onion, garlic, tomato, and remaining Cajun seasoning to the pan, and. saute until the onions are translucent.
- Finish the Sauce. Lower the heat to medium, and pour the heavy cream into the pan. Stir the sauce and let it simmer for a couple of minutes to thicken. At that point, turn off the heat completely, and add the grated Parmesan. Stir until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
- Finish the Dish. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, and toss to coat. (If the sauce seems too thick, stir in a spoonful of the reserved pasta water at a time, to thin it out a little.) Add the shrimp to the pasta, and toss again.
- Enjoy! Serve your Cajun shrimp pasta hot, with a sprinkle of parsley and a little extra grated parmesan if desired.
Tips for Success
This recipe is so flavorful and easy to make, it’s guaranteed to become a favorite. But before you start cooking, make sure to read through these helpful recipe notes and tips:
- Heat Things Up: If you like your food spicier, you can add more Cajun seasoning. However, adding Cajun seasoning will also add more salt. I recommend using crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste, for extra heat without the added salt.
- Cooking the Shrimp: Make sure not to overcook the shrimp – cook them only until they curl and turn firm.If they cook any longer, they will become rubbery. Once they’re done, it’s crucial to move them out of the pan onto a plate, so they won’t continue to cook.
- Timing Notes: For the best result, plan to start cooking the shrimp and making the sauce while the pasta is cooking. Otherwise, the pasta will cool too much after being drained, and the final dish won’t be quite as good.
Side Dish Ideas
You could honestly get away with serving just the shrimp pasta and maybe a glass of wine, for a simple and delicious meal. But if you’d like to round out the menu with some sides, try one or more of these easy recipes:
- Salad: Any green salad will go beautifully here – try a crisp, fresh Greek Salad or do something a little different with this Caprese Stuffed Avocado. Yum!
- Garlic Bread: Garlic bread might just be the most tempting of side dishes, especially this Goat Cheese Garlic Bread made with Italian bread, mozzarella, and tangy goat cheese crumbles.
- Extra Veggies: Add a little green to the table with Air Fryer Green Beans! These lightly roasted veggies are perfect with any main course.
How to Store and Reheat the Leftovers
Storing this pasta is simple and quick: just move the cooled leftovers to an airtight container and keep it in your fridge. The dish will be good for about 5 days.
Does Cajun Shrimp Pasta Freeze Well?
Unfortunately, I can’t recommend freezing Cajun shrimp pasta. The from-scratch sauce may separate and become grainy after freezing and thawing. Instead, if you feel this recipe will make too much, try halving it so that you don’t have as many leftovers.
Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- 8 ounces penne pasta or fettuccine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, divided
- 1 pound raw, medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- ¼ cup diced yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 roma tomato, diced
- ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon parsley, optional, for garnish
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions, in salted water. Once the noodles are al dente, drain them, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Set the noodles aside to keep warm.
- While the pasta cooks, combine the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the Cajun seasoning. Coat the shrimp with this mixture.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer across the bottom of the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, until the shrimp are opaque, firm, and curl slightly. Only turn the shrimp over once while cooking. Do not overcook the shrimp or it will turn rubbery and chewy. Remove the shrimp from the pan, and set aside on a clean plate.
- In the same pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add the onion, garlic, tomato, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning. Saute until the onions are translucent, about 4 – 5 minutes.
- Lower the heat to medium, and add the heavy cream. Stir to combine. Allow the sauce to come to a low simmer and cook for 2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat. Add the cheese and stir until well-combined, smooth, and creamy. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, and toss to coat.
- If the sauce seems too thick, add one spoonful of the reserved pasta water at a time, stirring, until the sauce is thin enough.
- Add the shrimp to the pan, and toss to combine one more time.
- Serve immediately with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley, and a little extra grated parmesan cheese on top.
More Easy Pasta Dinners
- Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
- Pasta Primavera
- Chicken Bacon Spaghetti
- Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Best Homemade Alfredo Sauce
- Homemade Hamburger Helper
- Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
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