Creamy Cajun chicken pasta is great for busy weeknight dinners with juicy chicken and pasta tossed in a delicious creamy Cajun garlic sauce. This 30-minute meal comes together quickly with simple ingredients and pairs well with cornbread or toasted bread to soak up all that cream sauce.
This Southern-inspired recipe is a great way to get a warm and comforting bowl of creamy pasta on the diner table in under 30 minutes without sacrificing flavor. The chicken breasts are seasoned generously with Cajun seasoning and smoked paprika and seared in butter until golden brown.
Pick your favorite pasta and smother it in a rich and spicy tomato cream sauce made from an Alfredo sauce base. Add some lemon juice to brighten up the flavor and parsley for a lovely pop of color then serve your creamy pasta topped with thick-sliced juicy chicken.
Ingredients in Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Pasta – I used fettuccine pasta in the recipe but feel free to use your favorite kind of pasta. This recipe will work with all pasta shapes like spaghetti, linguine, or tube-type pasta like penne, ziti, or rigatoni.
- Chicken – Pound the chicken until evenly thick or slice two large chicken breasts lengthwise to get 4 evenly sized chicken cutlets. The cook time in this recipe are for chicken breasts pounded to about 1″ thick so you might need to add more cooking time if your breasts are particularly large. Cook until the chicken’s internal temperature reads 165°F on an instant-read thermometer or until the chicken is no longer pink.
Take the guesswork out and make things easier by cutting the chicken into bite-sized pieces and pan-searing them instead.
- Chicken substitutes – Substitute chicken breasts with boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken tenders – just adjust the cooking time accordingly. You can also try this recipe with other proteins like Andouille sausage or seafood like shrimp and scallops.
The chicken will have some plate juices once it’s cooked, set aside and allowed to rest. Keep the plate juices and add them to the sauce later for more flavor.
- Cajun seasoning – I used McCormick Cajuns seasoning blend but there are more famous brands out there like Slap Yo Mamma or Tony Chachere Seasoning. The amount of Cajun seasoning used is based on a Cajun seasoning mix that has salt. If your Cajun seasoning mix does not include any salt, season accordingly with salt as you go along. Feel free to also liberally season the cream sauce until it’s spiced the way you like it.
What is Cajun Seasoning?
Cajun seasoning tastes mildly spicy and earthy with smoky undertones. The blend is usually made from a mix of paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Some blends add oregano and thyme as well. If you have your own Cajun mix or recipe, feel free to use it!
- Smoked paprika – Even though paprika is already included in a Cajun seasoning blend, I added more smoked paprika on top of that for an intense smoky flavor.
- Butter – I like using Land O Lakes half butter sticks which measure out the tablespoons for you. Simply slice out each tablespoon from the stick and skip washing a measuring spoon!
- Garlic – I used fresh minced garlic but you can substitute it with garlic powder if needed. I highly recommend fresh garlic though for better flavor. We used a lot of garlic to match the bold flavors in this recipe.
- Tomato paste – This enhances the flavor of the pasta sauce and adds a little color. A little tomato paste goes a long way and it works much better than tomato sauce. I like using the Cento brand of tomato paste that comes in a tube. It keeps well in the fridge and is less wasteful since tomato paste is often used sparingly in recipes.
- Chicken broth – Since only half a cup of broth is needed, it feels like a waste to buy canned broth or broth in a carton unless you plan to use it up soon. I like to use Better than Bouillon chicken and mixing the paste with water to make some chicken broth. One teaspoon is about one bouillon cube which is about one cup of broth.
- Heavy cream – Heavy cream and Parmesan cheese is what makes the sauce creamy and thick. Paired with butter, this is also the Alfredo base on which the Cajun cream sauce is built on.
- Parmesan cheese – Freshly grated Parmesan works best because it melts better resulting in a smoother sauce. When making cream sauces, I usually buy a block of Parmesan and grate it with a box grater. You can use pre-grated Parmesan cheese from the store if you’re short on time – it just won’t melt as smoothly and will give you a grainier, lumpier cream sauce. My go-to brand for saving time is BelGioioso.
- Lemon juice – Lemon juice pairs really well with Cajun seasoning to brighten up the flavor.
- Leftovers and reheating – Cajun chicken pasta will keep in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. To reheat, reheat in the microwave or stovetop. You may need to add more heavy cream or milk to loosen up the cream sauce after it has set in the fridge.
- Substitute protein – Try andouille sausage or a seafood version with some shrimp or scallops.
- Add some spice – Crank up the heat a little more with some cayenne pepper.
- Add some veggies – Add some diced bell peppers to bulk up the sauce.
- Switch up parsley – Substitute parsley with fresh green onions for more bite and a bolder flavor.
And that’s about it. Let me know how you liked it, what substitutions you made, or what you paired it with in the comments below.
This post was originally published on August 11, 2013 and updated on August 13, 2023.
MORE CREAMY PASTA RECIPES TO TRY
- Creamy Salmon Pasta
- Chicken Lazone
- Creamy Tuscan Sausage Pasta
- Homemade Alfredo Sauce
- Creamy Sausage Pasta