It’s been a while since I’ve made a one-pot pasta! But this weekend I got a craving for a creamy, smoky, spicy, easy one pot dish, so I set to work! This One Pot Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta is incredibly easy to make, so it’s perfect for weeknight dinners. I have a few variations for you below (spicy, non-spicy, creamy, non-creamy) so be sure to read on! :)
Check out my One Pot Recipe archives for more one pot goodness!
Customizing the Pasta
There are several ways you can customize this super simple and delicious one pot pasta. Check out these ideas for substitutions, add-ins, or omissions:
Adjust the Heat
This pasta is spicy. BUT you can adjust the heat by adjusting the amount of cayenne pepper in the Cajun seasoning. You can cut it in half for just a little heat, or if you are completely spicy intolerant, leave the cayenne out all together. That makes me kind of sad, but I completely understand. Sometimes your body and brain don’t want the same thing. :)
Make it Creamy (or not)
If you can’t do cream cheese, feel free to replace it with a splash of heavy cream or half-and-half. I’d probably use about 1/4 cup heavy cream, or 1/2 cup of half-and-half. OR, if you don’t want it creamy at all, that works too. This pasta was quite delicious even before I added the cream cheese, but the creaminess does balance the heat and acidity very well.
Make it “Extra”
If you want this pasta to be super over the top, try adding some cooked bacon, or a final dusting of Parmesan cheese. That little bit of extra umami flavor will really take this Cajun Chicken Pasta over the top! Or, in place of or in addition to, you could add shrimp.
One Pot Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.20)
- 1 tsp oregano ($0.10)
- 1 tsp thyme ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp onion powder ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.03)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
- 1 Tbsp butter ($0.13)
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast ($5.47)
- 1 yellow onion, diced ($0.32)
- 1/2 lb. penne pasta (uncooked) ($0.75)
- 15 oz. fire roasted diced tomatoes ($1.00)
- 2 cups chicken broth ($0.26)
- 2 oz. cream cheese ($0.50)
- 3 green onions, sliced ($0.25)
- Combine the ingredients for the Cajun seasoning in a small bowl. Cut the chicken into 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes. Place the cubed chicken in a bowl, pour the Cajun seasoning over top, and stir to coat the chicken in spices.
- Add the olive oil and butter to a large deep skillet. Heat the oil and butter over medium-high until the skillet is very hot and the butter is melted and foamy. Add the seasoned chicken to the skillet and cook for a couple minutes on each side, or just until the outside gets some color. The chicken does not need to be cooked through at this point.
- Add the diced yellow onion to the skillet and continue to sauté for about 2 minutes more, or just until the onion begins to soften. Allow the moisture from the onion to dissolve any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.
- Next, add the pasta, fire roasted diced tomatoes (with the juices), and chicken broth to the skillet. Stir just until everything is evenly combined, then place a lid on top and allow the broth to come up to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the pasta simmer for about ten minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the pasta is tender and the liquid is thick and saucy.
- Add the cream cheese to the skillet in chunks, then stir until it has melted into the sauce. Top the pasta with sliced green onions and serve.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
- The deep skillet I use is a 4-quart capacity.
- Depending on your cookware, you may need to adjust the heat up or down to maintain a simmer in the broth. Be sure to stir often to prevent the pasta from sticking.
Other Chicken Pasta Recipes You Might Like:
- One Pot Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta
- White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli
- Chicken Broccoli Pasta with Lemon Cream Sauce
- Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
- Monterey Chicken Skillet
How to Make Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta – Step by Step Photos
Stir together the ingredients for the Cajun seasoning in a small bowl (2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp salt). Cut one pound boneless, skinless chicken breast into 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes. Place the chicken cubes in a bowl, pour the Cajun seasoning over top, then stir to coat the chicken in the spices.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is very hot and the butter is melted and foamy, add the seasoned chicken pieces. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or just until they get some color. The chicken does not need to be cooked through at this point.
Add one diced yellow onion and continue to sauté for just a couple minutes more, or until the onion just begins to soften. The moisture from the onion should help dissolve any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.
Add 1/2 lb. penne to the skillet along with one 15oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes (with the juices) and 2 cups chicken broth.
Give everything a brief stir to make sure it’s all combined, then place a lid on top and allow the broth to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn it down to medium-low, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes.
Simmer until the pasta is tender and the broth has become thicker and more saucy in texture.
Add 2 oz. cream cheese to the skillet in small chunks. Stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce.
Top with sliced green onions and SERVE! This One Pot Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta is going to be on regular rotation in my house. :)
I think this bowl of pasta is begging for some Freezer Garlic Bread, what about you?
Is this similar to premade Cajun seasoning. I’d like to use that instead of buying what I don’t have? And if it is how much would I use? Thanks
Hi Nancy, yes you could substitute a store-bought Cajun seasoning, just be careful about the salt content. You would want to use about 2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning, but if your blend has a high salt content that might end up being too much salt-wise.
Made this today too (and the Ricotta lemon cookies). This pasta dish is so delicious! Super easy to make, step by step, awesome. Thank you.
Question: I need to use gluten-free pasta and would cook it separately. How much chicken broth would you recommend for the chicken part with pasta being added afterwards?
Ooh, that’s really tough to say without testing it, unfortunately. The moisture from the canned tomatoes might be plenty, but then you’ll be missing a LOT of flavor from that broth. It will definitely turn out differently.
I will put some broth concentrate in it for flavor. :)
Thanks for that! I probably would’ve left it out.
So excited to try this! If I do it with shrimp instead, should I adjust the cooking time so as not to overcook the shrimp?
Yep, you can totally do this with shrimp with one simple modification. After cooking the shrimp in the skillet (just like the chicken) take the shrimp out and set it aside while you add all the other ingredients and simmer as usual. Then, after you’ve finished the pasta and creamy sauce, add the cooked shrimp back in at the end so it doesn’t overcook. :)
Hi. Great recipe. I have a comment, and it is not a criticism. More of a reflection on how times have changed. Not sure when the recipe was calculated, but I have just made it in March of 2023. Total cost for the recipe was not $9.41 as listed, but $26.00! Examples: a 15 oz tin of fire roasted diced tomatoes as not $1.00, I had to pay $4.99. 1 pound of chicken breast was $10.60 and even the 3 green onions, listed at $0.25 turned out to be half of a bunch of 6 that cost $2.89. I’m a crafty shopper and I surf a number of stores for good deals. Groceries are just through the roof here in Canada. I don’t regret making the dish, it was delicious, but what times we live in!!!
Yes, it is totally a sign of the times! We manually calculate the recipe costs based on what we spend at our local stores (in Nashville, Tenn.) at the time of publishing. Since this recipe was published back in 2018, the costs are likely much lower than what you would find in stores today. Since we have 1200+ recipes on the site, it’s impossible for our small team to keep them all updated to reflect current prices or account for fluctuations in prices for certain ingredients from region to region. Because of that, we created a super handy step-by-step tutorial to help people recalculate recipe costs on their own. We also have an article, “THE KEY BUDGET BYTING PRINCIPLES,” which gives some great tips on how to boost your buying potential at the grocery store. I hope you’ll check them out! ~ Marion :)
GIRRRRLLLLL!!!!!! My family absolutely L-O-V-E-D this!!!! I added a little more garlic and some cumin just because we love those spices !! And girl , my kids said I HAVE to make this at least 1 a week!! It’s delicious , creamy a little spicy which we love. Good job boo!! 😉 thank you for such an easy meal 💕
I LOVE making this recipe. I follow the directions exactly and I’ve never had a problem (and I make it a lot) My only wish is that it was easier to double. I would prefer to use the whole box of penne to have some leftovers—but my pan isn’t big enough. Beth, would I get the same results if I used a soup pot and just doubled it? I worry that the single pot recipes need to be followed exactly or else it won’t cook right.
You’re right to be cautious, but you should be able to double it just fine. I’d use a soup pot or a dutch oven instead. The only major difference is that it will take a bit longer for the mixture to come up to a boil. Otherwise, everything should take roughly the same amount of time. ~ Marion :)
We loved this! The only thing I did differently was I cooked the onions and chicken together with minced garlic and added some cumin to the spice mix. I didn’t remove the chicken mixture, I just added the rest of the ingredients and then brought to a boil. Delicious and very flavorful.
We loved the flavor but the pasta sauce didn’t thicken up…did I do something wrong?
It’s hard to say…but I’d guess the heat was a little too low once you turned it down, which means the sauce wasn’t able to reduce properly. ~ Marion :)
Amazing! I love a one pot meal on a weeknight. It tasted like a restaurant pasta, so good!
I made this recipe and I ended up on the toilet for 4 days with explosive diarrhea. I don’t recommend this recipe to anyone. It is so– wait, no, please NOOO, I think I have to poop again!!
That’s your own doing, not the recipe