This Cajun chicken pasta is an easy 30-minute recipe that only uses a handful of ingredients. A simple one-pot pasta recipe that is creamy, smoky, and mildly spicy and always goes down well on a busy weeknight.
This chicken pasta is very customizable if you want to really turn up the spice or if you just want to add in extra vegetables. Either way, this recipe serves four but only uses 2 chicken breasts to really stretch your budget and keep dinners cheap and easy. This aubergine pasta alla norma is also a great easy pasta recipe and this lemon chicken pasta is also a must-try!
You'll also want to check out our collection of 30 chicken pasta recipes.
⭐️ Why You'll Love This Recipe
- You only need 9 simple ingredients.
- Ready in 30 minutes.
- It can be as spicy or as mild as you like.
- Add in extra veggies to stretch your budget even further.
- boneless skinless chicken breast- you can use chicken thighs in this recipe too, just be sure that they're boneless and skinless.
- penne- I prefer a short pasta with ridges so that the sauce really sticks, but you can use a longer pasta like spaghetti if that's what you have on hand.
- chopped tomatoes- using passata (sieved tomatoes) also works and results in a smoother sauce, but tinned diced or chopped tomatoes give great texture to the dish.
See recipe card for quantities.
📖 Substitutions & Variations
- Extra veggies - you can really stretch this chicken pasta recipe by adding in extra vegetables like sliced bell peppers and sweetcorn. Spinach is also a great addition to this Cajun sauce.
- Turkey - lean turkey breast is a great substitution for the chicken in this pasta dish. Pork loin also works too.
- Vegetarian - if you love the idea of a spicy pasta recipe but are vegetarian then use something like tofu or Quorn in place of the chicken.
For a gluten-free diet just use gluten-free pasta.
Seasoning a recipe
A note on seasoning- Every recipe will require salt. I do not specify the amount because the seasoning is very subjective to taste, tolerance, and diet. The best way to use salt is to start early in the cooking process and taste and layer as you cook and as the dish develops.
👩🏻🍳 Step By Step
1 & 2
- Chop the chicken into large cubes. I usually go for 2 bite-size chunks. Sprinkle the Cajun seasoning on the chicken and toss well to coat. Now, heat some oil in a large heavy skillet. It doesn't matter if you have a cast-iron pan or a stainless steel one. Both will work perfectly fine.
- Once the oil shimmers and is hot, add the chicken to the pan and brown on all sides. This should take about 5-6 minutes. It doesn't matter if the chicken is fully cooked yet because we'll finish cooking it on the sauce.
- Once the chicken is browned on all sides, remove to a plate or small bowl and set aside while you make the sauce.
3 & 4
- There will be brown bits clinging to the bottom of the pan from the chicken. Leave these in and add the onions and garlic to the pan with a small amount of water. *You can use the water from cooking the pasta. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits up and continue to soften the garlic and onions. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, this should take about 10 minutes.
- Add in the tinned tomatoes and the cream and stir in the remaining tablespoon of Cajun spice. Bring to a simmer and add the chicken back to the pan. Continue to simmer gently for another 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Juice the lemon and add some of the juice to taste. *This is important. You may not see the point, but it really does elevate the sauce.
5 & 6
- Toss the cooked pasta noodles into the sauce and toss with some chopped coriander (cilantro).
- If you're using dried pasta, you should cook it in boiling water according to the package instructions. If using fresh pasta, it can be added directly to the sauce and simmered for about 4 minutes until it's cooked through.
💡 Mildly spicy- If you're wanting to make this spicy pasta less spicy, then skip adding the last tablespoon of Cajun spice to the sauce.
- Keep this pasta in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat in the microwave for about 2 minutes stirring every 30 seconds.
- This pasta is definitely not great for freezing.
💡 Top tip
For a more luxurious sauce use cream cheese instead of single cream. Use about 100g of cream cheese and melt it into the tomato sauce. Add a splash of milk or water to thin out the sauce until you have your desired consistency.
You can definitely make this without cream, however, the cream really helps to balance out the spice and the acidity from the tomatoes. If making this Cajun sauce without cream, you'll probably need some extra salt. If you have a dairy intolerance you can use a non-dairy cream substitute.
Absolutely! This pasta recipe keeps really well in the fridge for up to 3 days. It's not suitable for freezing, though, so make sure you make it within the 3 day time span.
Easy Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta (30 Minutes)
- 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) olive oil
- 3 tablespoons (3 tablespoons) Cajun spice, divided
- 300 g (⅔ lb) chicken breast or thighs, boneless, skinless
- 3 cloves (3 cloves) garlic, minced
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 400 g (13 ½ floz) tin chopped tomatoes
- 150-200 ml (5 floz) single cream
- juice of 1 lemon
- 300 g (⅔ lb) penne, or any pasta
- ½ (½) bunch of coriander, chopped
- 25 g (⅞ oz) parmesan cheese, grated
- Chop the chicken into 1-inch cubes and toss with 2 tablespoons of the Cajun spice. Heat the oil in a high-sided skillet. Once the oil is hot it will shimmer. Add the chicken to the oil and cook until the pieces are golden and cooked through. Remove to a plate while you make everything else.
- Add the garlic and onion to the pan and sauté gently until the garlic is fragrant and the onion is translucent. If needed add a splash of water to help scrape up any brown bits of chicken. Pour in the chopped tomatoes, and the remaining tablespoon of Cajun spice and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
- Pour in the cream and stir well. Add in half the lemon juice and taste. If you’d like a bit more brightness to the sauce add the remaining lemon juice.
- Add the chicken back to the pan and cook until the chicken is cooked through. Toss in the pasta and stir well to coat all the noodles. Mix in the coriander and serve with grated parmesan cheese.
- To make a more luxurious sauce you can substitute cream cheese for single cream. Use 100g low-fat or regular cream cheese and let it melt into the tomato sauce.
- If using fresh pasta cook the noodles in the sauce for 4 minutes. For dried pasta cook separately according to the package instructions.