Cajun Chicken Pasta is ziti noodles cooked al dente and tossed with Cajun-seasoned chicken breasts and a creamy, Cajun-seasoned sauce. If shrimp is more your thing, try my Cajun Shrimp Pasta!
Cajun Chicken Pasta
Cajun seasoning is definitely the star of this dish. It is used to season the chicken breasts as well as added to the sauce for a little kick in every bite. And, you can even add more to the creamy sauce if you want even more heat. It’s an easy, but flavorful dinner to put together and pairs well with a side of breadsticks and roasted asparagus.
Pasta: I liked using tubular pasta like ziti for this recipe. However, you could use any pasta noodles you have on hand or make your own homemade pasta! Be sure to reserve about a cup of pasta water before you drain the noodles. I will explain more about that below.
Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the recommended choice. Pound them out to an even thickness for the best results when cooking.
Cajun Seasoning: I added Cajun seasoning to both the chicken and the sauce. If you don’t have any on hand, make your own Cajun seasoning. Then, you will have plenty to use for this recipe and my other Cajun recipes like Garlic Cajun Smashed Potatoes, Cajun Shrimp Sausage Kebabs, Cajun Chicken Macaroni and Cheese, and Cajun Chicken with Roasted Garlic Alfredo. It is a super versatile seasoning!
Heavy Cream: Heavy cream adds creaminess to the sauce. We tried substituting whole milk and were not happy with the results. However, if you don’t want the sauce quite as thick and rich, you could use a little less cream.
Boiling the Noodles
The first thing to do in this recipe is to cook the noodles al dente. (Check the package instructions for the cooking time.) Once the salted water has come to a boil, cook the noodles. After they are cooked, but before draining the noodles, reserve a cup of pasta water and set it aside. Drain the rest of the water, rinse the noodles, coat them in olive oil, and set them aside.
Cooking the Chicken
The next step in the recipe is to cook the chicken. First, pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness. This helps the chicken cook evenly and also tenderizes the chicken. Then, season each chicken breast with Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Heat up oil in a large skillet and when hot, add the chicken to the skillet. Cook for about 5-6 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F. Cooking times may vary, depending on the size of each chicken breast. Once cooked, remove it from the skillet and slice each chicken breast into thin strips or cubes. Tent to keep it warm as you prepare the sauce.
How to Make Cajun Chicken Pasta
With the noodles and chicken both cooked, it’s time to make the sauce and mix all the ingredients together. To the same skillet as you cooked the chicken, melt butter over medium heat and cook the onions. Next, add garlic and cook for a minute.
Then, add heavy cream, 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, parmesan cheese, and Cajun seasoning. Stir to combine. This is the perfect time to taste the sauce; is there enough Cajun seasoning added? If not, add a little (or a lot) more at this point.
When you have the sauce to your taste, reduce the heat to low and add the cooked noodles to the skillet. If you think the sauce is too thick at this point, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water until it reaches your desired consistency. Finally, add the chicken, tossing to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve garnished with parsley and parmesan cheese.
Why Reserve Pasta Water?
There are a few pasta recipes I have that recommend reserving pasta water for the sauce (Vodka Sauce and Spicy Gnocchi Bread Bowl). But, is it important? Yes! The pasta water is added to the sauce and cooked noodles. The starch from the pasta water also helps bind the sauce and pasta together rather than simply coating the noodles. This gives you a full-flavored taste in every bite!
Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 8 ounces ziti noodles
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- salt and pepper, to taste
- fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
- In a large pot filled with water, add salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Add noodles and cook al dente, according to package directions.
- Reserve 1 cup of pasta water; drain the rest.
- Rinse the noodles, add oil, and toss to coat evenly. Set aside.
- Pound the chicken breasts so that they are even in thickness. Season on all sides with Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- To a large skillet over medium heat, add oil, and heat until oil is sizzling.
- When the oil is hot, add chicken and cook 5-6 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink and fully cooked. (Chicken is fully cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165°F.)
- Remove chicken from the skillet and transfer to a cutting board. Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips. Tent to keep warm as you make the sauce.
- To the same skillet over medium heat, add butter. Once the butter has melted, add onions and cook until softened (8-10 minutes).
- Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add heavy cream, ½ cup pasta water, parmesan cheese, and Cajun seasoning. Stir to combine. (At this point, taste the sauce for flavor. Add more Cajun seasoning if needed.)
- Reduce heat to low and add cooked noodles to the skillet. (If you want a thinner sauce, add more reserved pasta water until desired consistency is reached.)
- Add chicken. Toss to combine.
- Serve immediately. Salt and pepper to taste.
Did you make this recipe?
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