This creamy Cajun shrimp penne pasta is coated in a slightly spicy cajun alfredo sauce and topped with sauteed shrimp. It's a quick and easy weeknight meal with a little kick.
Why this recipe works
This was a really popular dish at a country club restaurant I worked at for several years and is similar to Chili's Cajun shrimp pasta. It's basically a simple alfredo sauce with the addition of Cajun seasoning. The additional seasoning gives it a little heat and cuts through the richness of your normal alfredo sauce.
- Heavy Cream
- Parmesan Cheese - Make sure to grate your own from a block of good Parmesan such as Reggiano. You won't get the right melt from a store bought pre-shredded cheese.
- Cajun Seasoning - I like to use Black Magic blend from Spiceology but you can usually find other brands in the grocery store too. This calls for 1 tablespoon which I would say is around a medium heat. If you like less heat try starting with 1 tsp and add more if desired. If you like a lot of heat add some additional cayenne pepper along with the Cajun seasoning
- Pasta - I prefer this dish with a ridged penne pasta. The ridges hold the sauce really well so each bite is coated. Fettucini is another good choice.
- Shrimp - I like the sweetness of the shrimp with the heat of the Cajun seasoning but you can go with chicken or totally meatless if you want.
How to make the Cajun alfredo sauce
- Start by cooking your pasta according to the directions on the box. Then drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking start the sauce by melting butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the foaming subsides then cook the garlic for around 30 to 45 seconds until it becomes fragrant.
- Then add your cream and Cajun seasoning and stir to combine. When the sauce comes to a low simmer begin adding the cheese in batches, around a half cup at a time. Stir until melted before adding the next batch. Once the sauce is thickened and coats the spoon add the cooked pasta and stir to coat and reduce the heat to low.
- In a separate pan add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and around 1 tsp of the Cajun seasoning. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook for around 2 minutes. Then flip and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until cooked through.
- Serve the pasta in a bowl or plate then top with the cooked shrimp and additional parmesan cheese.
Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe Variations
- Sauteed diced bell peppers and onions are great for a little color and to sneak a few veggies into this pasta.
- Peas work well in this cajun seafood pasta recipe for another vegetable addition. Much like the shrimp the sweetness goes great to offset the heat from the sauce.
- Chopped cooked bacon adds a great touch of smokiness to the dish.
Tips and FAQs
Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
To reheat add the pasta to a saucepan with a splash of cream to help loosen up the sauce. Cook over medium low heat until warmed through, stirring frequently to help keep the sauce from breaking.
You can also reheat in the microwave. I recommend heating in 1 minute intervals stirring between each one until warmed through.
I love the slight sweetness of shrimp in this dish but if you're not a fan chicken works well too. I recommend seasoning your chicken with a little of the Cajun seasoning and grilling the chicken, but sauteed, baked, or even rotisserie chicken will work to.
Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning plus 1 tsp, see notes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound large shrimp peeled and deveined
- Cook pasta according to directions on the box then drain and set aside.
- Heat butter over medium heat until melted.
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30-45 seconds.
- Add cream and 1 tbsp of cajun seasoning and stir to combine then bring to low simmer
- Add cheese in batches, stirring frequently, until each batch is melted.
- Continue stirring until sauce is thickened and coats spoon.
- Add salt and pepper to taste then add cooked pasta and stir or toss to combine until the pasta is well coated then reduce heat to low.
- Season shrimp with salt and pepper and 1 tsp of Cajun seasoning.
- In a separate pan set to medium heat and add 1 tbsp of olive oil.
- Add shrimp and cook for around 2 minutes then flip and cook for around 2-3 minutes until cooked through.
- Serve pasta in a bowl then top with cooked shrimp and additional parmesan cheese.
* All nutrition information we provide are estimates based on third party calculators. We encourage you to calculate these on your own for accurate results.