From the outside, this creamy cajun chicken pasta with smoked sausage recipe can seem a little intimidating, especially for those who have little to no culinary skills.
However, it really is super simple to make a flavorsome dish like this in just under 30 minutes.
It’s perfect for a weeknight and will feed the whole family and you may even have some leftovers depending on your portion sizes.
The contrast of the saltiness of the sausage with the creamy sauce and also the kick of the seasoning really ties this dish together. I’ve used mushrooms and onions for my choice of vegetables in this dish, but you can add whatever you desire to make it how you like it.
There should be no boundaries on cooking, and experimenting is what makes cooking fun. You can also substitute any of the meats or dairy for vegan or vegetarian alternatives if you need to.
What type of pasta is best to use?
I used penna in this dish, but that’s down to personal preference. You can use whatever pasta you want or have in your house to recreate this recipe.
Bigger types of pasta like rigatoni or fusilli tend to be better to fit well with the bigger ingredients, however, you can still use linguine or spaghetti and it’ll work exactly the same.
If you are vegan, make sure that the pasta you are using is not fresh pasta as that will contain egg.
Alternatively, if you are gluten-free you could always try chickpea pasta or rice pasta instead, the cooking times on these may differ from this recipe so you’ll need to double-check the cooking instructions on the label.
Should I just stick to sausage?
Whilst we used smoked sausage in our recipe, you could try chorizo or even pepperoni in your own recreations. Any sort of smoked meat adds a tangy flavor to the recipe and diversifies the taste.
If you’re using meat substitutes, you could achieve this smoky flavor by using lots of cajun seasoning, paprika and even some onion, and garlic powder.
What other herbs and spices can I use?
You can use whatever your taste buds desire. We’ve only recommended cajun, Italian herbs, and garlic powder as we felt it compliments the vegetables and the meat together.
If you’re someone who loves spice, then you are more than welcome to add chili flakes to add more heat to the dish.
If you don’t have any cajun seasoning lying around your house then you can always use creole as a substitute.
Cajun seasoning is mostly made up of paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder, so gather what you can in your house and make whatever work for you.
What to pair with this creamy cajun chicken pasta?
By all means, you could enjoy a giant bowl of this stuff on its own but if you’re watching your portion sizes or looking to keep your calories down, you could pair it with a salad.
You could keep it simple with arugula, spinach, and lettuce side salad with some honey mustard or vinegar dressing. If you want something with a bit more of a crunch you could try adding some diced bell peppers, cucumber, and tomatoes to your greens.
Salad can be a bit too light, so you could always steam some broccoli or green beans and add them to accompany your creamy pasta.
How to store your creamy cajun chicken pasta with smoked sauce
If you’ve made your dish in advance, or you’ve doubled up on the ingredients to make a bigger serving to last the week, then you can keep it in an airtight container in the fridge and portion into a bowl to reheat when needed.
You can also put it into freezer containers and keep it for longer, which is perfect for those nights when you have no time left to cook a full meal. Before putting your pasta in the refrigerator or freezer, you’ll want to make sure it has fully cooled down after cooking.
How healthy is this dish?
Once you notice the creamy pasta in the title of the recipe, you know this dish isn’t for those who are following a strict healthy diet. We say everything in moderation, so if you are trying to cut down just lower the serving size of this dish and bulk out your plate with greens to fill you up.
There is quite a lot of sodium in this dish, which is why we opted for a low sodium chicken broth. We estimate that this dish would vary from 500-1000 calories per serving depending on your portion size.
It’s definitely not a meal for every night of the week but is perfect for a midweek or weekend treat.
The dish is high in fat due to the heavy cream, butter, and parmesan cheese
Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta with Smoked Sausage
- Sharp knife
- Pasta drainer
- Large Pan
- A skillet
- Wooden spoon
- Chopping board
- Whisk or a fork
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 lb diced chicken breast
- 6 oz sliced smoked sausage
- 8 oz diced baby mushrooms
- 1 diced red onion
- Sprinkle of cajun seasoning all over
- Sprinkle of Italian herbs all over
- Sprinkle of paprika (if you like spice)
- Salt and pepper to preferred taste
- 8 oz penne pasta
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tsp cajun seasoning
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to your preferred taste
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and then add the penne pasta. Bring back to the boil and simmer gently. Cook for around 10 minutes if you like your pasta more al dente (hard) or longer if you want it softer. Once ready, drain and put to the side. You can cook and set your pasta aside before starting the rest of your cooking or if you feel comfortable enough to multitask then you can boil your pasta whilst you start with the rest of your prep and cooking. You can keep 1-2 ounces of pasta water to the side to add back into your sauce later on.
Chicken, sausage, mushroom, and onion:
- Chop your meats and vegetables accordingly with a sharp knife on a chopping board. If you are cutting your raw chicken first, make sure to thoroughly wash and dry the knife and board before cutting anything else on it. Don’t worry if you are bad at chopping, it doesn’t need to be perfect as it’ll all taste the same.
- There are two ways you could approach cooking your chicken. The first way is you could dice your chicken breast into smaller pieces whilst it is raw or you could cook it off in the pan and then dice it. If you want you can put your raw chicken (diced or whole) into a bowl and add all your seasoning and rub it into the meat, making sure it is all covered. You can then leave it in the fridge overnight to intensify the flavors. However, if you’re short on time you can cook off your meat in the pan and sprinkle your cajun and Italian seasoning over it whilst it cooks.
- In your skillet, add 1 tbsp of unsalted butter (or olive oil if necessary) and melt on medium to high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add your chicken breast and cook for ten minutes, making sure to flip it around the pan so it’s cooked evenly and doesn’t burn. Once it is cooked, remove it from the pan and place it on a plate.
- Add your sliced smoked sausage to the same skillet you cooked your chicken in and brown for 3 minutes on medium heat. They should look slightly smaller in size once they are cooked. When done, remove from the pan and add to a plate on the side.
Mushrooms and onions:
- Give your skillet a quick rinse with water to get rid of any meat residue left over from the chicken and sausage. Add 1 tbsp of butter to your skillet on low heat and wait till it melts, add more butter if necessary. Once all the butter has melted, add your diced mushroom and red onion to the skillet and saute until soft and moist. Once cooked, remove from the skillet and place on another plate to use later on.
- You’ll now be moving on to make the sauce of your dish. Using the same skillet that you used to cook everything above, add another tbsp of butter, wait for it to melt, and add your diced garlic for a couple of minutes, be careful you don’t burn it as burnt garlic can completely ruin the taste of your dish.
- Add your 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth, 1 cup of Worcestershire sauce and also your 1 cup of heavy cream to your skillet and bring it to a light simmer, stirring constantly to make sure everything is blended. Now add your cajun seasoning, paprika, garlic powder and also season with salt and pepper to your preferred taste and mix thoroughly into the sauce.
- Now add your parmesan cheese to the sauce and whisk for 3 minutes to thicken the sauce and blend all the ingredients together. You can use a proper whisk or just a fork to do so. Taste the sauce and add any seasoning that you think it needs or to your preferred liking. If you want your sauce to be a bit thicker then you could always keep adding a little bit more parmesan as you go. Keep simmering on low heat, you do not want it too high or it’ll burn the sauce.
- Next, you’ll want to add your drained pasta to the mixture and if you kept some of the pasta water from earlier, you can add this as well, to moisten the pasta again and stir thoroughly. Then add your chicken, sausage, mushrooms, and red onion back into the skillet with the sauce and continue to stir thoroughly. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then serve straight away.
- Voila, you are done! You can serve this pasta dish on its own or you can accompany it with a light side salad to keep it a bit lighter.