This Cajun chicken pasta is creamy, flavorful and perfect for an easy, one-pan dinner that’s ready in about 30 minutes. No heavy cream needed!
We had a fun, full weekend here, with two birthday parties, some pool time, gardening and even some axe throwing.
Yup, I got my dad a gift card for a local axe throwing spot for Father's Day, so he and I had a dad-daughter date yesterday to go throw some axes. It was really fun and you get the hang of it as you go. But of course, the best part was getting to hang out with my dad. ❤️
OK, let’s move along to the food.
Today I’m so excited to be sharing this Cajun chicken pasta with you.
This is a classic dish with BIG flavor, but it’s also really easy to make.
Everything cooks together in a single pan — yay for easy clean-up! — and it’s ready in about 30 minutes.
Can’t beat that for a weeknight family dinner! (Or, as I always say, a weekend family dinner when I also don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen. 😉)
Cajun chicken pasta has chunks of flavorful chicken, onions, peppers and tomatoes, plus plenty of pasta scattered throughout.
And it has a creamy sauce that - surprise! - doesn’t need heavy cream! That’s right, no heavy cream happening here.
I personally rarely have the stuff on hand. (And if I do, it’s to make no churn ice cream.)
I almost never cook with it, but I have a favorite swap that gives you all the creaminess and flavor without the heavy cream.
I use cream cheese - plus the chicken broth that helps cook the pasta in this dish - to melt into a lovely, creamy sauce that coats all of the chicken, veggies and pasta.
So we’ve got a healthy Cajun chicken pasta that still tastes so rich and indulgent. And just a bit spicy, in a really good way.
And if you love Cajun flavors like I do — and like my husband, who went to school in New Orleans — then be sure to check out this easy Cajun sausage skillet, this Cajun chicken and okra dish as well as my classic chicken and sausage gumbo. (Gumbo is definitely a production and more for special occasions or company in our house, but it’s not difficult to make.)
And this easy shrimp creole has big flavor but takes just 25 minutes to make!
OK, let’s get cooking.
Now, I’ve got some notes and tips coming up on how to make Cajun chicken pasta. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
Notes on making Cajun chicken pasta:
- Chicken: Make sure to cut your chicken into evenly sized cubes. This helps it cook faster and more evenly.
- Also, in the first step, you just need to sear the chicken. It will finish cooking all the way through when it’s added back to the pan.
- Cajun seasoning: I use a homemade Cajun seasoning mix, but a store-bought kind is fine, too.
- Pasta: Penne - and whole wheat penne at that - is my go-to pasta for this dish, but you could certainly substitute another shape. Or even try a gluten-free or bean-based pasta if you like. Just check the cook time and adjust if needed.
- Tomatoes: Fire-roasted diced tomatoes give some extra oomph to the dish, but regular diced tomatoes would be fine, too.
- Cream cheese: It’s fine to use regular or reduced-fat cream cheese. I don’t recommend fat-free cream cheese, however.
For me, the broth is mostly absorbed by the time the pasta is tender. You shouldn’t have a soupy mixture at that point.
However, if your pan has dried out a bit, feel free to add some more broth — or even a few splashes of water — to help incorporate the cream cheese into a sauce that coats the whole dish.
Wondering if you can make this ahead?
Technically, yes. I did it one night when I needed to prep dinner then head out to my son’s flag football game.
I made the dish completely, and just left it, covered, on the stove after it was finished so it would retain some heat.
When we got back an hour later, I turned the burner back on and reheated it for a few minutes.
However, I will note that the chicken seemed a little dried out. We didn’t much mind because the creamy sauce sorta disguises it, but just a heads up.
So lesson learned is that it’ll keep on low or off the heat for a little while, but it’s probably best eaten when it’s finished.
And while I love toppings on all of my dishes, this really doesn’t need anything except maybe some chopped, fresh parsley for a bit of brightness.
It’s optional though, so no need to buy some just for this recipe.
Finally, let’s talk about what to do with any leftovers you might have.
Leftover Cajun chicken pasta:
- The leftovers can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through, adding a splash of water or broth if needed.
It makes a great lunch later in the week! (My husband usually steals the leftovers, but I get lucky on occasion.)
I hope you give this a try for another easy, delicious dinner any night of the week.
P.S. You might also want to check out fajita chicken pasta for another flavorful pasta dinner that's sure to be a hit with the whole family!
- 1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ lb. penne pasta (see notes)
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 oz. plain cream cheese
For serving (optional):
- Fresh chopped parsley
- Season the cubed chicken with the Cajun seasoning on all sides.
- Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the chicken and sear on both sides, 4-5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan to a bowl and keep warm. (The chicken does not need to be cooked through; it will continue cooking later.)
- Add the onion and peppers to the pan and sauté for 4-5 minuets until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Return the chicken to the pan and add the pasta, diced tomatoes and chicken broth.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes, until the pasta is tender and the chicken is cooked through.
- Stir in the cream cheese until melted and incorporated with the sauce.
- Serve the chicken with fresh chopped parsley, if desired, and enjoy.
Chicken: Make sure to cut your chicken into evenly sized cubes. This helps it cook faster and more evenly. Also, in the first step, you just need to sear the chicken. It will finish cooking all the way through when it’s added back to the pan.
Cajun seasoning: I use a homemade Cajun seasoning mix, but a store-bought kind is fine, too.
Pasta: Penne - and whole wheat penne at that - is my go-to pasta for this dish, but you could certainly substitute another shape. Or even try a gluten-free or bean-based pasta if you like. Just check the cook time and adjust if needed.
Tomatoes: Fire-roasted diced tomatoes give some extra oomph to the dish, but regular diced tomatoes would be fine, too.
Cream cheese: It’s fine to use regular or reduced-fat cream cheese. I don’t recommend fat-free cream cheese, however.
Leftovers: The leftovers can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stove until warmed through, adding a splash of water or broth if needed.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 536Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 167mgSodium: 1890mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 61g