This Cajun Chicken Pasta is a quick and easy one-pan meal. Tender penne pasta is tossed in a spicy, creamy sauce and topped with juicy slices of chicken.
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Today we’ve got another easy pasta recipe to add to the books!
This Cajun Chicken Pasta takes 10 minutes to prep and is ready in just over 30 minutes. It’s a complete meal the whole family will love. Bonus: it’s made in just one pot!
This pasta is made with penne coated in a rich and flavorful cream sauce spiced perfectly with a sweet and spicy seasoning blend, then topped off with juicy and tender chicken.
Some fresh homemade Blueberry Lemonade to wash it all down doesn’t hurt either 😉
- Oil: used to brown the chicken and to sauté the aromatics. I use canola oil because it has a neutral flavor and high smoke point. You can use an oil of your choice.
- Chicken Breasts: you’ll need 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs also work great in here!
- Seasonings: we’re using salt, brown sugar, and Cajun seasonings to spice up the chicken, then seasoning the cream sauce with a sprinkle of salt and Italian seasoning. If you can’t find Cajun seasoning, feel free to create your own blend.
- Aromatics: sautéed onion and garlic creates a delicious flavor base for the sauce. Fresh is best but you can substitute for ½ teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder if need be.
- Chicken Broth: I use low sodium chicken broth so I can control the saltiness of the pasta. If you only have regular broth, be sure to taste the finished product before salting.
- Canned Tomatoes: use canned diced tomatoes to add to the sauce for more flavor and texture. No need to drain!
- Heavy Whipping Cream: creates a rich and creamy texture, and won’t curdle with the heat!
- Pasta: I use penne pasta, but other pasta shapes would work too. No need to cook it first. It cooks right in the sauce! If using another shape of pasta, be sure that you stick to the same weight and not the volume.
How to Make Cajun Chicken Pasta
This one-pan pasta dinner is ready in a total of 35 minutes!
- Slice and season the chicken: Slice the chicken breasts. Mix together Cajun seasoning, salt, and brown sugar, then rub all over the chicken.
- Brown the chicken: Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken to the hot pan and cook until browned. Remove and set aside.
- Onion and seasonings: In the same skillet, add onion and sauté until browned. Add garlic, Italian seasoning, and more salt and cook for 1 minute. Cooking the onion and spices in a dry pan adds so much more flavor!
- Make the sauce: Mix in broth, tomatoes, and cream, then bring to a simmer.
- Add the pasta: To the sauce, add dry pasta and browned chicken. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat. Simmer until the pasta is cooked.
- Finish and serve: Adjust the seasonings as needed, then serve and enjoy!
Nope! There’s no need. The pasta cooks right in the sauce, which is super convenient AND gives the noodles delicious flavor.
Absolutely! If you have leftover Baked Chicken Breast or Shredded Chicken, you can simply toss it in in step 7 when the chicken is added back in. Add the Cajun seasoning in in step 5 with the other seasonings.
Yes. However, using milk in place of the cream will create a thinner, less rich sauce and there is a possibility that the milk will curdle as it cooks. High fat cream holds up better to the heat.
Leftover Cajun Chicken Pasta will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, add a splash of water or broth and warm in a skillet on the stove until heated through.
You can, but the pasta will be quite a bit softer after freezing. This is something to keep in mind if you prefer your pasta al dente.
To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a skillet with a splash of water or broth.
Tips and Notes
- It’s okay if the chicken isn’t cooked through when you remove it from the pan — it will finish cooking in the sauce.
- Check the temp. You’ll know that the chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF. Keep a meat thermometer on hand to double check it!
- If the pasta is cooked but there is still a lot of liquid left, you can remove the lid and simmer longer to let excess moisture evaporate.
- The sauce may look thin at first, but will thicken significantly as it begins to cool. If needed, combine 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of water. Mix that into the sauce to thicken.
- Use leftover chicken. If you have leftover chicken to use up in the fridge (like this Instant Pot Shredded Chicken or Crockpot Shredded Chicken), that works great too! Simply add the cajun seasoning to the pasta (omit the brown sugar and salt unless needed), and add in the cooked chicken before serving.
Cajun Chicken Pasta Variations
- Add more veggies. Feel free to sauté any veggies you like along with the onion and garlic. Try spinach, broccoli, peas, diced bell pepper, asparagus, mushrooms, you name it.
- Make it spicier. This pasta recipe isn’t as spicy as you might think. If you like a lot of heat, add extra Cajun seasoning or cayenne pepper to the sauce.
- Use another pasta shape. Any pasta will work for this recipe. Try linguine, macaroni, spaghetti, bow tie pasta, etc. — just be sure you have about 300 grams.
- Make it cheesy. A sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top would be delicious!
- Make it vegetarian. Just leave out the chicken or sub in more veggies or a meatless variety — try sauteeing them with onions and adding the Cajun seasoning here.
- Use another meat. I love the chicken in this Cajun pasta, but you could also use sausage or shrimp!
This Cajun Chicken Pasta is a complete meal all on its own, but you can totally serve it with any of your favorite side dishes.
More Chicken Pasta Recipes You’ll Love
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Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon + ½ teaspoon salt (divided)
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 medium onion (finely diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (finely minced)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2½ cups low sodium chicken broth
- 398 ml diced tomatoes (14 oz)
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 cups penne pasta (uncooked – about 300 grams)
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Meanwhile, slice the chicken breasts.
- Combine Cajun seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, and brown sugar. Season chicken well and add to the hot pan. Cook until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
- Remove chicken from pan and keep warm. Add onion (adding more oil if necessary) and saute until softened and starting to brown.
- Add garlic, Italian seasoning and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and cook 1 minute.
- Add broth, tomatoes and cream and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Add dry pasta and browned chicken and bring to a boil (if your chicken is cooked through, you can also add it at the end). Cover and reduce heat so that the liquid is simmering, about medium-low. Stir often to prevent pasta from sticking.
- If pasta is nearly ready but there is still lots of liquid left, simply remove the lid and finish cooking. This will help the sauce to thicken. When the pasta is cooked to desired tenderness, it's ready to serve.
- Taste and adjust seasonings to taste, adding more Cajun seasoning if desired.
- Leftover chicken works great in this recipe! Simply add the Cajun seasoning to the pasta (omit the brown sugar and salt unless needed) and stir in the cooked chicken before serving.
- This pasta recipe is not as spicy as you might think (but it has great flavor!). If you’re one who likes lots of spice, you may want to add 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning or ¼ teaspoon cayenne to the seasonings in the pasta.
- The sauce might look thin at first but it does thicken as it sits. If needed, you can combine 1 teaspoon corn starch and 1 teaspoon water and stir in near the end of the cook time.
- You can swap the penne for any short cut of pasta.
- You can skip the chicken altogether for a vegetarian version (using vegetable broth), or swap it out for sliced Italian sausage, smoked sausages, or boneless skinless chicken thighs.
- I don’t recommend using any other cream in this recipe because it does not thicken and reduce the same way.
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