Creamy Cajun chicken pasta is a favorite that I've been making for years! Chunks of smoky Andouille sausage, bright bell peppers, and Cajun-spiced chicken are tossed with cream, tomatoes, and fettuccine and topped with green onion. Perfect for Mardi Gras celebrations, but too good to not make all year round!
Editor’s Note: Originally Published on May 14, 2018. Updated with full process shots and expanded info.
Every now and then I like to put a non-Italian twist on pasta. Especially when it involves spice!
The rich culture and flavors that abound in New Orleans cuisine have always intrigued me.
I've only been to Mardi Gras once but the food, music, and energy still resonate with me - there really is no place like it!
By combining brightly colored bell peppers, Cajun seasoning, and Andouille sausage, I've attempted to capture some of the essence of New Orleans in an easy pasta recipe.
I've been making this dish for years and it's always a huge hit with my family.
They love the smokiness of the Andouille and you really can't go wrong with a tomato-cream sauce.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Slice 1 large onion and 2 bell peppers (use any color you like). Slice green onions on a bias into 1-inch long pieces. Also, slice ¾ pounds of Andouille sausage on a bias into ¼-inch thick pieces. Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt) to boil.
- Pat dry and season 1 ½ pounds of chicken thighs on both sides with a total of 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning.
- Heat a large pan to medium heat and sear the chicken in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until cooked through (about 5-6 minutes per side).
- Place the chicken on a plate or cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Slice the chicken into bite-size pieces before adding to the sauce in step 10 below.
- Add the Andouille sausage to the same pan and cook for a couple of minutes per side or until some color develops. Remove the sausage and set aside tented as well. Note: Packaged Andouille sausage is already cooked so you only need to sear it for a few minutes.
- Add the peppers and onions to the pan and saute for about 7 minutes or until they take on some color and soften. If needed, add a touch more olive oil for the saute process. At this time begin boiling the fettuccine pasta to 1 minute less than al dente.
- Once the peppers are soft add the chicken stock to the pan.
- Also, add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. With a wooden spoon scrape up all of the brown bits from the pan.
- Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Note: It's best to add the cream first and let the sauce come to a simmer and thicken (about 5 minutes) before adding the sausage and sliced chicken to the pan, but it's not critical. As you can see I did just that in pic 9 below.
- Add the sliced chicken and sausage to the pan. Add the remaining Cajun spice (4 teaspoons) to the sauce and bring to a simmer to let it thicken.
- Add the pasta to the pan and mix well. Cook for 1 minute or to just al dente then remove the pan from the heat. Add a ½ cup of parmesan cheese and mix well. Taste test and adjust salt, pepper, and Cajun spice if required.
- Finally, add the green onions and mix once more, then serve immediately. If the pasta is at all dry use some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. Enjoy!
Top tips for creamy Cajun chicken and Andouille pasta
- The sausage. Part of what gives this dish its Louisiana flavor is the Andouille sausage. Andouille is also used in other Cajun classics, like gumbo. If you can't get your hands on Andouille, you can substitute with other types of sausage. A good alternative would be chorizo - it's also smoky, just like Andouille. You can also use Italian sausage without fennel in a pinch.
- The seasoning. Cajun seasoning is a blend of paprika, cayenne, onion and garlic powders, pepper, oregano, and thyme. Most premade Cajun seasonings will also include salt but if you make it yourself you can control the sodium level. I use McCormick's Cajun seasoning because it's not bad on the sodium level and it's all there ready to go. Cajun seasoning can be spicy - start with my recipe as a base and for those who like extra heat, serve more on the side so others can add if desired.
- Taste test. Before serving, be sure to taste test. Depending on the type of Cajun seasoning and cheese used, you may need to adjust the salt level.
- Save your pasta water. Any time you're making a creamy sauce it's important to reserve pasta water. Creamy sauces can dry out quickly and may need some pasta water to bring them back to a creamy consistency.
- The peppers. I used red and yellow bell peppers but this Cajun chicken pasta with andouille would be great with other types of peppers. Feel free to experiment! Possibilities include adding a Long Hot or two to kick up the spice factor. I use these in my spicy pepper bucatini and they're fantastic! If you can find purple bell peppers, consider using a combo of green, purple, and yellow bell peppers as a nod to the colors of Mardi Gras!
- More New Orleans inspo. If you can find crawfish tails they would be a great addition to this pasta, especially if looking to up the New Orleans authenticity. Shrimp can also be added. I've made this with shrimp many times and I simply season the shrimp with the Cajun spice and saute them in butter before tossing with the pasta, Andouille, and chicken.
More creamy pasta recipes
If you love luxuriously creamy pasta dishes as much as I do, you've come to the right place.
Here are some of my favorites. Which one is yours?
- Pasta alla Norcina - Perhaps the most underrated pasta ever, this dish combines ground sausage in a white wine cream sauce.
- Chicken Riggies - Rigatoni tossed with chicken, bell peppers, cherry peppers, and fresh basil in a creamy pink sauce.
- Fettuccine Alfredo - Ribbons of pasta are tossed in a Parmagiano Reggiano and butter sauce.
- Linguine al limone - Lemon juice, lemon zest, butter and Parmigiano Reggiano are tossed with linguine.
- Garlic mushroom pasta - Pappardelle is tossed in a creamy garlic mushroom sauce and topped with fresh parsley.
- Cacio e pepe - Creamy, but without cream! This 4 ingredient dish combines Pecorino Romano, black pepper, pasta, and pasta water.
- Rigatoni alla vodka - Onions, white wine, vodka, cream, and tomato combine to make a silky pink sauce that is tossed with rigatoni.
- Chicken marsala pasta - Mushrooms, prosciutto, and sliced chicken tossed with pasta in a buttery marsala sauce.
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- 1 pound fettuccine or linguine, spaghetti, etc
- 2 tablespoons Cajun spice seasoning divided
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 12 ounces Andouille sausage sliced into 1" pieces
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large bell peppers sliced
- 1 large onion sliced
- 14 ounces canned plum tomatoes
- 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 5 large green onions sliced
- 1 cup reserve pasta water will not need it all
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt) to boil. Season chicken with 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning on both sides. Heat a large pan to medium heat and sear the chicken in olive oil until cooked through (about 5 minutes per side). Place the chicken on a plate and tent with foil.
- Add the Andouille sausage to the same pan and cook for a couple of minutes per side or until some color develops. Remove the sausage and set aside tented as well.
- Add the onions and peppers to the pan and saute for about 7 minutes or until they take on some color and soften. If needed, add a touch more olive oil for the saute process. At this time begin boiling the pasta to 1 minute less than al dente.
- Once the peppers are soft add in the chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. With a wooden spoon scrape up all of the brown bits from the pan.
- Add the cream and bring to a simmer.
- Slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Once the sauce starts to thicken add the chicken and sausage and continue to simmer. Season the sauce with the remaining Cajun seasoning. Taste test and add extra salt and/or Cajun seasoning to taste.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and mix to coat. Cook until the pasta is al dente (about 1 minute more) then turn off the heat. Add the parmesan cheese and green onions. Mix together and serve immediately. If the pasta is at all dry add a bit of reserved pasta water. Enjoy!
- Commercial Cajun seasoning will have varying sodium levels. For this reason, no extra salt was included in the recipe, but adjust to taste before serving.
- Any sausage (Italian, chorizo, etc) can be substituted for Andouille.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.
This recipe was originally published on May 14, 2018. It was completely updated on January 31, 2022.