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When you need a big, easy dinner, One Pot Cajun Pasta is all that and more. This creamy Cajun sausage pasta recipe is something you’ll want to return to again and again, just like New Orleans itself.
Cajun pasta with chicken and sausage makes the perfect weeknight dinner when the world won’t stop its hectic pace. If you’ve never tried one-pot pasta before, I don’t blame you. At first, I had a hard time believing it would work, too, but it does!
The bold spice in this recipe is tempered by the cream and cheese you add later. And unlike other one-pan recipes, this one works every time.
How to make cajun pasta:
As you can tell, this dish is full of bright colors, bold flavors, and lots of fun stuff. It’s easy to make, once you gather your ingredients.
First, sauté onions and peppers in the pan you’re going to use. Add the Andouille sausage, cooking until browned, then add your fresh garlic.
Next, you can add the chicken to the pan. When the chicken begins to turn golden and is cooked through, it’s time to add the Cajun seasoning. After that, add the pasta, diced tomatoes, and broth. Give it all a nice, complete stir, and let everything simmer.
After the pasta is cooked, add the cream and cheese, stirring to combine, and you’re ready to dig in. You just made cajun pasta New Orleans style!
How to make cajun pasta with shrimp:
Instead of the chicken in this recipe (or in addition to the chicken, you adventurous cook, you!) substitute 10 to 12 ounces of raw, peeled, deveined shrimp. The shrimp will probably cook quicker than the chicken, so keep that in mind. Enjoy
What kind of pasta works best for one-pot pasta?
With this dish, I use penne. Penne has some bite and doesn’t turn sludgy, which is the biggest complaint of failed one-pot pasta recipes. If you opt for smaller shaped pasta, cut back the cooking liquid dramatically to avoid having excess water in the sauce and mushy, overcooked pasta.
If you choose spaghetti or linguini, you may want to break your dried pasta in half so it fits in the pan better.
What is cajun seasoning?
Hot, peppery Cajun seasoning is essential for Cajun-style blackened fish or chicken. It’s a spice blend of cayenne pepper, paprika, dried thyme, onion powder, and garlic powder.
How do you make Cajun seasoning?
The best cajun seasoning is always the one you make yourself. So many store bought blends have preservatives and flavor enhancers that I just don’t like using. Besides, if you make your own, you can tailor the spice to exactly the level you want it. Homemade Cajun seasoning is easy—you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry.
Is Cajun seasoning spicy?
Since cayenne pepper is the primary heat source for Cajun spices, cayenne ranks between 30,000 and 50,000 on the Scoville heat unit scale, so it’s a medium-hot chili. There’s normally less cayenne powder in Cajun seasoning than the other ingredients, so the mix isn’t usually very spicy.
Ghost peppers, on the other hand, register 855,000 Scoville heat units! Cayenne is mild by comparison.
Is Creole seasoning the same as Cajun?
They are very similar but not identical. Creole seasoning tends to be a little sweeter and mild. Cajun seasoning is a little more spicy. One difference is that Creole seasoning has a fair amount of paprika in it where Cajun does not.
The Secret to successful one-pot pasta:
The internet is a big, huge place where people all over the world are experimenting with one-pot pasta recipes. If you look at them, not all of them are, shall we say, successful.
I don’t want to leave you with a big, gummy, soupy mess on your hands. To make sure you have a great meal, here are some one-pot pasta tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way:
Use a wide, heavy pot like a Dutch oven. If you’re cooking flat pasta like spaghetti, you want your pasta to lay flat inside the pot. Cast iron lidded pots heat and cook very evenly, which is what you’re aiming for with one pot pasta cookery.
Use less water. Depending on your pasta, how moist your sauté mixture is, and how al dente you enjoy your pasta, you may want to start with less chicken stock or water. Penne takes a little longer than other pasta, but even different brands of the same shape of pasta vary wildly in terms of cooking times.
Start with a bit less liquid, and add more later if you need it.
Don’t be afraid to go big. Go ahead and add bold flavors to your one pot pasta. Believe it or not, not all pasta dishes could, or should, be cooked using the one-pot method.
Since you’re not draining off any pasta water, all the residual starch from the noodles stays in the dish, leaving a distinctly sweet taste with a gummy texture.
A little pasta cooking water is great for mixing into the cooked pasta, to hold the sauce together, but when you leave all the starch in, you need to use big, bold flavors to keep the starch from overpowering your recipe. That’s why Cajun seasoning, sausage, and cream and cheese work so well with one-pot recipes.
Don’t walk away. This one-pan pasta recipe may be easy, but it still needs some supervision. You’ll need to give things a good stir every few minutes, as well as monitor the moisture level of the pan.
One Pot Cajun Pasta
For the Cajun seasoning:
For the pasta:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 medium bell pepper finely chopped
- 2 celery ribs finely chopped
- 2 links Andouille sausages 8-10 ounces, cut crosswise into 1" thick pieces
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1" pieces
- 16 ounces penne pasta or any small pasta
- 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes undrained
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese grated, for garnish (optional)
- fresh parsley minced, for garnish (optional)
To make the Cajun seasoning:
- In a small bowl, whisk together garlic powder, Italian seasoning, paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder, dried thyme, and salt and pepper to taste (I like ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). Set aside.
To make the pasta:
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add onion, peppers, and celery and cook until softened. Add Andouille sausage and cook until browned.
- Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and Cajun seasoning and cook, stirring often, until chicken is browned and cooked through.
- Stir in pasta, diced tomatoes and juice, and chicken broth. Simmer uncovered until pasta is al dente and almost all of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in heavy cream and cheddar cheese until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley if desired.
Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.