This Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe is creamy, cheesy and lightened-up. It has just the right amount of spicy kick with the Best Cajun Seasoning. Made in just 30 minutes this tasty and easy dinner idea is a fabulous pescatarian meal that will have everyone asking for seconds.
Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe
This Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe is such an easy and TASTY dinner idea that has just the right amount of kick. It's bursting with Cajun flavor and the perfect creamy alfredo sauce that's made with cream cheese! This unexpected cream sauce comes together without a fussy flour roux or heavy cream. Since it's simple to make this is the perfect weeknight dinner.
I came up with this recipe idea when the Hubs ordered a bunch of crawfish from Louisiana for his Dad. After gorging ourselves for hours on the crawfish after cooking them, we still ended up with a bag of the leftover tails. I thought that they would go great in a spicy pasta dish and I was right. I ended up making a version of this Cajun Pasta with the crawfish and loved it. The Hub's raved about it so I knew I had to share the recipe with y'all.
Since I knew crawfish were hard to get ahold of, I decided to make this version with shrimp, and OHHH MY GOODNESS! It turned out so good. This would honestly be so good with any type of seafood or even chicken.
Bookmark or Pin this one my friends, it's a keeper!
Why You'll Love This Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe...
This Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe is easy to love because it's super easy to make. The creamy Cajun sauce comes together in a flash and without a lot of fuss thanks to cream cheese. To make mine extra flavorful I used jalapeno cream cheese so it really pops with spice! Of course, if you just want mild, you can use regular cream cheese but you'll love the flavor bomb you get from the jalapeno cream cheese.
This recipe is also great because it's easy to lighten up. You can make it more or less indulgent by the type of pasta, milk, and cream cheese you use. For a healthier version use a chickpea or protein pasta and reduced-fat cream cheese and milk. For a more indulgent version use regular white pasta and full-fat cream cheese and milk.
I love this pescatarian dinner because it's made without a lot of fuss or mess and all comes together in less than 30 minutes.
- Pasta: You can use your favorite type of pasta for this dish. Noodles or shapes both work. To make this dish a bit healthier use whole wheat or protein-based pasta. I used bowtie pasta here but another favorite of mine is penne pasta.
- Butter: I don't cook with a lot of butter but I think a little goes a long way into bringing out the flavors in this dish.
- Garlic: Use either fresh or pre-minced garlic to make this Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe.
- Shrimp: Large raw shrimp work best for this recipe. Make sure you either buy the ones that are peeled and deveined or do that yourself. You can have the tail off or leave it on.
- Cajun Seasoning: Make your own Cajun Seasoning with my recipe OR buy a pre-mix version. Slap Ya Mama and Louisiana Cajun Seasoning are two of my favorites. Cajun Seasoning originates from Louisiana and is a blend of spices like smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Jalapeno Cream Cheese: This is my secret ingredient! The jalapeno cream cheese really makes my creamy alfredo-like sauce POP! It does have a decent kick to it though, so if that's not your jam, just use regular cream cheese. Reduced fat or full fat will both work depending on your dietary preferences.
- Milk: A touch of milk loosens up the cream cheese to make a sauce.
- Parmesan: The rich parmesan adds lots of flavor to this Cajun Pasta dish.
- Salt & Pepper
- Garnish: Parsley and extra parmesan.
Can I use frozen shrimp?
YES! I actually love to keep frozen shrimp in my freezer just for recipes like this one. Look for shrimp that doesn't have any added chemicals. To make my life easier I also buy the ones that are already peeled and deveined.
To thaw out your shrimp to get them ready for this Cajun Shrimp Pasta recipe make sure to transfer them into the fridge 24 hours ahead of time. If you don't have enough time to do that place them in a colander in the sink and run cool water over them until they thaw.
How to Make Cajun Shrimp Pasta:
Cook your pasta according to package instructions. Make sure to slightly undercook it so it has an al dente finish. Drain the pasta but don't rinse it.
- While the pasta is cooking you will make the shrimp and the sauce.
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat melt the butter. Sauté the garlic in the butter for just 15-30 seconds. Once it's fragrant add the shrimp. Generously salt and pepper. Allow the shrimp to cook for about 3-5 minutes until they are just starting to turn pink. They will finish cooking when you toss the rest of the dish together. Set the shrimp aside on a plate.
- In the same pan add the milk and jalapeno cream cheese. Stir or whisk the mixture together until it's smooth. Add the cajun seasoning and salt and pepper. Cook the sauce for about 3-5 minutes until it starts to thicken.
- Add the cooked shrimp and pasta back into the sauce and mix together.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Check to see if you need any more salt, pepper, or cajun spice.
How to Cook Shrimp for Pasta:
Cooking shrimp for pasta is really easy! Using raw shrimp you just put them in a pan and cook them for 3-5 minutes - flipping once- depending o their size. The shrimp are done when they just start to curl and turn pink. It only takes minutes to cook shrimp and they are easy to overcook so watch them carefully.
Variations & FAQ
I love the simplicity of this recipe as is, but there are a few fun ways to mix it up.
- Adjust the Spice Level: I think this Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe is actually a great level of flavorful spice but if you'd like it less spicy use regular cream cheese instead of jalapeno cream cheese. You can also add less Cajun Seasoning. If you want it extra spicy add some additional cayenne pepper.
- Add More Veggies: It would be simple to add more vegetables to this Cajun Pasta. If you do that just sauté the veggies after cooking the shrimp and set them aside like you do the shrimp. Bell pepper, mushrooms, broccoli, or even chopped asparagus would be fabulous in this recipe.
- Make it Vegetarian: Leave out the shrimp and add more vegetables like mushrooms! You could also very easily sub the shrimp for tofu or tempeh. It would soak up the flavor of the cajun sauce so well.
- Change the Protein: You can easily make this Crawfish Cajun Pasta, Chicken Cajun Pasta, or even Sausage Cajun Pasta by just swapping out the protein.
- Make it Gluten Free: To make this gluten-free just use your favorite gluten-free pasta.
- Add Some Citrus: A squeeze of lemon at the end of cooking would also be delicious.
Can I make this Cajun Shrimp Pasta ahead of time?
Yes, although I think the texture is the best right after you make it. You can make this Cajun Shrimp Pasta ahead of time although the sauce is best and creamiest right when you make it. If you do reheat it, you can do that in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes. If you are trying to reheat it on the stove add a bit more milk to the sauce to loosen it back up.
How do I store it?
Store any leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Can I freeze this?
I don't think this recipe would freeze well. Cream-based pasta sauces are hard to freeze.
Serve it With:
This Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe makes a great meal on its own but if you wanted to add more veggies, here are a few ideas to balance the plate.
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
- Lemon Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Lemon Garlic Kale
- Rainbow Salad
Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe
- 8 ounces pasta
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
- ⅓ cup jalapeno cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup parmesan, grated
- salt & pepper to taste
- Garnish: Parsley
- Cook your pasta according to package instructions to reach an al dente finished product. Generously salt your water. Drain the pasta but don't rinse.
- While the pasta is cooking, cook the shrimp and sauce.
- In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat melt the butter. Add the garlic and saute for just 15 seconds until it's fragrant. Add the shrimp. Generously salt and pepper. Saute the shrimp for about 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Set the shrimp aside on a plate.
- In the same pan add the milk and cream cheese. Stir it together until the cream cheese melts into the milk. Add the cajun seasoning. Add salt and pepper. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Keep stiring to keep it creamy.
- Add the cooked shrimp and pasta back into the sauce and stir until well combined.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Check to see if you need any additional salt and pepper.
- Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
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