Cajun Chicken Pasta
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
This Cajun Chicken Pasta is creamy, spicy, and all around delicious! It’s an easy one pot meal that’s perfect for a weeknight.
As I was dreaming up ways to put a batch of Cajun seasoning to good use, this Cajun chicken pasta recipe was born. This one pot wonder is one of the best meals we’ve made recently! I had to test this recipe a few times to get it just right, and neither Brad nor I minded one bit that it found its way onto our dinner menu week after week.
In this easy chicken pasta recipe, colorful veggies, chicken and pasta all cook together in one pot for a meal that’s both easy and incredibly flavorful. Cream cheese and Parmesan make this pasta dish creamy, without being too rich or heavy. And if you’ve never tried Cajun pasta before, well, you are missing out! The Cajun seasoning adds a perfect amount of spice and makes the pasta so flavorful.
This Cajun chicken pasta is a meal that you’ll want to add to your regular recipe rotation. It’s a perfect dinner idea for a weeknight!
Cajun Chicken Pasta Recipe Ingredients
The ingredients in this recipe come together to create a dish with a delicious balance of flavors. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Olive Oil & Butter: For browning the chicken. Using butter in addition to olive oil adds richness to the dish.
- Chicken Breasts: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are cut into bite-size pieces so that they cook quickly.
- Salt & Pepper: To season the chicken.
- Onion & Bell Peppers: These veggies add flavor and color!
- Garlic: For flavor.
- Cajun Seasoning: I use my homemade Cajun Seasoning, which is quick to mix up and easy to keep on hand in your spice cabinet. In the recipe notes, I’ve included the individual spice amounts that you could use instead of the Cajun seasoning. I haven’t tested this recipe with store-bought Cajun seasoning but you could give that a try as well.
- Chicken Broth & Water: These are soaked up by the pasta as it cooks and also create the Cajun sauce. I opted to use the equivalent of one 14.5 ounce can of broth plus some water to make up the additional liquid needed to cook the pasta and make the sauce. You can substitute the water with more chicken broth if you prefer. I wouldn’t recommend using only water, as the chicken broth adds flavor.
- Pasta: I used penne pasta but any short pasta shape should work.
- Parmesan Cheese: Grated Parmesan cheese adds salty, cheesy flavor.
- Cream Cheese: The cream cheese makes the sauce deliciously creamy.
- Spinach: Chopped fresh spinach is an easy way to sneak in an extra veggie. You can hardly taste it, and it adds a beautiful pop of color.
How to Make Cajun Pasta
To make this chicken pasta recipe, you will need a large skillet or pot with a lid. Here is an overview of the recipe steps:
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet or pot. A Dutch oven-style pot works well.
- Add the chicken to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan. Cook until the chicken is browned and the veggies soften.
- Stir in the garlic and Cajun seasoning and cook for 1 minute while stirring.
- Pour in the chicken broth and water. Stir and scrape up any flavorful bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in the pasta and bring the pot to a simmer. Reduce the heat so that it is at a low simmer and cover the pot.
- Cook for 15-18 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the pasta. Stir the pasta occasionally as it cooks to help it cook evenly and prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Uncover the pan and turn the heat down to low. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and cream cheese.
- Stir in the spinach. Keep stirring until the cream cheese melts. Then serve and enjoy!
Find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Add Shrimp or Sausage: You can add shrimp or sausage in place of or in addition to the chicken. If using shrimp, cook it in olive oil and butter at the beginning of the recipe and then remove to a clean plate before adding the vegetables and proceeding with the recipe. This will keep the shrimp from overcooking, since it cooks quickly.
- More Vegetables: Try adding more healthy veggies to this dish. Broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, peas and corn are all good options. Mushrooms can be added along with the peppers and onions. Broccoli could be added along with the pasta. Quick-cooking vegetables such as asparagus, peas and corn could be added in the last few minutes of the cook time.
- Whole Wheat Pasta: I tested this recipe with whole wheat pasta and it turned out ok, but we prefer this dish made with white pasta. In our recipe testing, whole wheat penne took 21 minutes to cook and it didn’t absorb as much of the cooking liquid, so the finished dish was a bit saucier.
- Make it Creamier: Stir in a little heavy cream or half and half along with the cream cheese and Parmesan for a more indulgent, richer dish.
- Store-Bought Cajun Seasoning: If you are using store-bought Cajun seasoning and it doesn’t contain salt, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt along with the seasoning.
I like to serve this one pot pasta with bread and a salad. It’s perfect with sliced French bread or Garlic Bread. If you’d like to add another vegetable to the meal, try Roasted Cauliflower or Air Fryer Broccoli.
Leftovers of this Cajun chicken pasta are delicious for lunch or dinner the next day. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
More Pasta Recipes
- One Pot Sausage Pasta
- One Pot Baked Ziti
- One Pot Asparagus Chicken Pasta
- Slow Cooker Taco Pasta
- Chicken Florentine Pasta Bake
- Vegetarian Chili Mac
- Instant Pot Pasta with Sausage
Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into 1½-inch long pieces
- 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced into 1½-inch long pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 ½ tablespoons Cajun seasoning, or see note below for individual spice amounts
- 1 ¾ cups low sodium chicken broth
- ¾ cup water
- 8 ounces penne pasta
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 ounces (brick-style) cream cheese
- 2 cups loosely packed chopped fresh spinach
- In a large skillet or Dutch oven pot (you will need a lid to cover the pot later), heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.
- Once the butter is melted, add the chicken to the pan. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken, then add the onion and bell peppers to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until the chicken is lightly browned and the veggies start to soften, about 6 minutes.
- Add the garlic and Cajun seasoning and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Pour in the chicken broth and water. Stir, and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in the pasta and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to a medium simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked to al dente, about 15-18 minutes. Almost all of the liquid should be absorbed by the pasta.
- Once the pasta is cooked, uncover the pan and turn the heat down to low. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, cream cheese and chopped spinach. Stir until the cream cheese melts and then remove from the heat. Serve.
- Instead of the 1 1/2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning, you can use: 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- If you are using store-bought Cajun seasoning and it doesn't contain salt, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt along with the seasoning.
- I tested this recipe with whole wheat penne and it took 21 minutes for the pasta to cook. The pasta didn’t absorb as much of the cooking liquid, so the finished dish was a bit saucier.
Can your Cajun a chicken be made in a slow cooker Instant Pot?
Yes, it probably could but I haven’t tested the recipe that way so I can’t advise on cook times or if you might need to adjust the amount of liquid. If you decide to do some experimenting, let me know how it turns out.
This dish looks fabulous and I can’t wait to try it!! I have only boneless, skinless thighs available. Do you think that would make a difference? I’ll send you a follow-up review after I actually make this recipe. I appreciate your easy instructions and recipes that aren’t a killer to the wallet.
Hi Nancy, Boneless, skinless thighs will work fine. I hope you enjoy the recipe!
Fave go-to chicken dinner.. super easy & tasty!
Hi. Have you tried Cajun Chicken in a slow cooker yet? I see someone asked this question in the past and you had not tried it that way at the time.
No, I haven’t tried it in the slow cooker.
Ok can you substitute broccoli for the spinach?
I haven’t tried this with broccoli, but I think it would work. Chop the broccoli into bite-size pieces and add it along with the pasta. It should cook to tender while the pasta cooks.