If you want a delicious and filling dinner that you can have ready in 30 minutes, this creamy cajun pasta is exactly what you need.
This dish is packed with a ton of protein thanks to generous amounts of shrimp and lean chicken breast, and the creamy cajun alfredo sauce really takes the flavor over the top.
As is the case with all of the recipes on my blog, this cajun chicken and shrimp pasta, I gave this one my own healthy spin to lighten the dish up a bit.
This isn’t the lowest calorie recipe I’ve ever made, but with 490 calories per plate, it is significantly lower than most alfredo pasta options out there.
For some perspective, if you order cajun shrimp pasta from Chili’s, it comes to a whopping 1,090 calories. Likewise, the Chili’s Cajun Chicken Pasta weighs in at 1,200 calories total. Needless to say, this recipe is definitely a lightened-up version!
Ingredients needed to make cajun chicken and shrimp pasta
There is definitely room for substitutions in this dish, but let me break down all the ingredients I went with and what some ideal substitutions might be.
First and foremost, I went with fettuccine pasta for this pasta recipe. Fettuccine alfredo is a classic dish, and in my opinion, this type of noodle works best with a creamy alfredo sauce.
If you’re gluten-free or just want to bump up the protein even more, you can swap the fettuccine noodles out for Banza chickpea pasta instead. This is my go-to pasta for Mac & Cheese because I love how filling it is due to the extra protein and fiber.
That being said, if you prefer penne pasta, spaghetti, ziti, or any type of pasta noodle, they’ll all work here.
For the protein, we’re going to use boneless skinless chicken breast and raw frozen shrimp. If you want some additional cajun flavor and protein, you can certainly through some andouille sausage into this dish, too.
There are many different types of shrimp you can buy, but I highly recommend going with peeled and deveined frozen shrimp. That way, all you have to do is quickly thaw the shrimp in cold water (which only takes about 5 minutes) and throw them directly into the pan without any additional preparation.
If you want to keep this as a simple seafood dish, you can leave the chicken out and just make yourself some creamy cajun shrimp pasta instead. Follow the recipe exactly as-is, but double the amount of shrimp used to turn this recipe into cajun shrimp alfredo instead!
Lastly, we have the ingredients for our lightened-up alfredo sauce. We’re going to be using unsweetened cashew milk (almond milk works just the same), Laughing Cow cheese wedges (I used garlic & herb flavor), shredded parmesan cheese, and some light butter/margarine.
If you follow the recipe exactly as written, you’ll end up with a deliciously creamy alfredo sauce, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make substitutions. Feel free to swap out ingredients (for example, you can use a different type of milk or cream cheese instead of Laughing Cow cheese) but try to keep the overall measurements consistent.
The only ingredient you shouldn’t swap out is the fresh parmesan cheese. I used the same fresh grated parmesan cheese that I used in my Parmesan Truffle Fries recipe, and I highly recommend going the same! I definitely don’t recommend using Kraft grated parmesan cheese (you know, the stuff in the green bottle) because the flavor won’t be nearly as good.
And of course, you’re going to need some cajun spice in this pasta. Most grocery stores should sell cajun seasoning, which is what I went with to save myself the trouble.
If you prefer to make your own homemade cajun seasoning, I found a great recipe here that you can follow. Cajun spice is mainly a mixture of cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, salt, and onion powder, so you very well may have all the ingredients you need already.
How to make creamy cajun chicken and shrimp pasta
With a little bit of multitasking, you can have this entire recipe ready to go in under 30 minutes!
Bring water to a boil and cook your pasta, then get started on the rest of the recipe while the pasta cooks. No reason sitting there watching water boil; just set a timer and make the most of your kitchen time!
Just be sure to cook the pasta al dente, so if the box of pasta says to boil for 5-7 minutes, go with 5 minutes. We’re going to combine everything in a hot pan at the very end, so the pasta will cook a little bit longer at the very end.
Get the shrimp and chicken ready by first thawing the shrimp. If you didn’t plan ahead by thawing the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator, don’t worry! Simply add the shrimp to a large bowl and let it sit under cold running water for 5 minutes and they will completely thaw.
While the shrimp thaws, dice up your chicken. The exact size is up to you, but 1″ cubes are a good size to aim for.
Toss the chicken and shrimp in the cajun seasoning, then add the shrimp to a pan over medium heat. Shrimp cook very quickly, so they’ll only need 3 minutes total. Sear one side for 1.5 minutes, then flip.
Remove the cooked shrimp from the pan, then add the diced chicken to the same pan. Since the chicken is diced up, it will also cook rather quickly. 5-6 minutes (flipping halfway through) should be all you need to fully cook the chicken. Cut into one piece to make sure your chicken is fully cooked, but you should be good to go!
Note that I just use cooking spray in the pan, but you can use a little bit of olive oil if you want to get a really good sear on the meat.
Now we’re going to get our creamy alfredo sauce going in the same hot pan.
Add some minced garlic and butter to the pan and allow the garlic to cook for a minute before adding the milk.
Let the milk simmer for a few minutes to slightly reduce, then add the rest of your cajun sauce ingredients. Let the sauce heat for about 5 minutes while occasionally stirring to make sure all of the cheese melts down and the sauce cooks evenly.
Once the cheese sauce has fully heated a reduced a bit, add the chicken and shrimp back into the pan. Mix everything up to fully coat the chicken and shrimp, and let everything sit for a couple of minutes to heat up.
Lastly, add the pasta to the pan. If your noodles have been sitting for a bit, they may be sticking together. If you toss the cooked pasta in a little bit of pasta water, it should loosen up. Add the fettuccine into the pan and mix everything together.
Let everything sit for a couple of quick minutes, and then you are ready to serve!
Plate the pasta and top with a little bit of extra parmesan cheese (green onion would also be a nice touch, but I ran out when I made this recipe), then you are good to go.
If you want to save this pasta dish for lunch or dinner throughout the week, you can portion it out and store it in the fridge for up to one week. When I reheated my leftovers, I was worried that the pasta would be very dry, but the sauce loosens up very well when heated and is good as new.
Other dishes you’re sure to love
If you love the sound of this pasta dish, I’ve got a few recipes that I’d be willing to bet you’re going to love.
- Easy Parmesan Truffle Fries
- Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Bell Pepper
- Simple Bacon Mac & Cheese
- Healthier Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Chicken Parm Sandwiches
- 8oz (measure dry pasta) Fettuccine Pasta - or use Banza for a slightly higher protein and lower carb option
- 8oz Peeled Raw Frozen Shrimp
- 12oz Chicken Breast (1 large chicken breast or 2 small)
- 4 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning (you can make your own, but most stores should sell a blend)
- 2 Cloves Minced Garlic
- 1 Tablespoon Light Butter or Regular Butter
- 1 1/2 Cup Milk of Choice (I used unsweetened cashew milk)
- 4 Garlic & Herb Laughing Cow Cheese Wedges (this can be replaced with cream cheese as it's very similar, but Laughing Cow has great flavor built in)
- 3/4 Cup Fresh Grated or Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- Cook the pasta al dente and set aside. Continue with the rest of the recipe while the pasta cooks to make everything move along quickly.
- Thaw the shrimp by running them under cold water for 5 minutes, and while that thaws, dice up your chicken into cubes.
- Once thawed, toss the shrimp in 1 teaspoon of cajun seasoning and do the same for the chicken.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and once it's hot, add the shrimp.
- Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, flipping the shrimp halfway through, then remove the shrimp onto a plate.
- Add the chicken to the same pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, flipping them halfway through as well, then add the cooked chicken to the same plate with the shrimp. The chicken cooks very quickly when it is diced up, but you can cut into a piece to make sure it is fully cooked through.
- Add butter and minced garlic to the pan and let the garlic cook in the butter for about 1 minute.
- Pour the milk into the pan, give it a quick stir, and let the milk simmer for about 2 minutes to heat through and slightly reduce.
- Add the cheese wedges, 2 teaspoons of cajun seasoning, and parmesan cheese and mix. Cook and continue to mix periodically until the cheese melts and the entire sauce reduces (about 5 minutes).
- Add the chicken and shrimp back into the pan, mix to fully coat, and let it heat for about 2 minutes.
- Add the al dente pasta into the pan and mix everything up. Let it all heat for a couple of minutes, then you're ready to plate!
- Plate the pasta, top with some additional parmesan cheese (and some cayenne if you want some extra heat), and enjoy!
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1/4 of Recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 490Total Fat 11gCarbohydrates 44gProtein 51g