Lightened Up Cajun Chicken Pasta

Do you have your “regulars” – those dishes you seem to always gravitate to on a restaurant menu? I kind of pride myself on being adventurous and daring and wanting to try something new and different when I eat out (which admittedly is not very often, not very often at all) but that’s only achieved when I stay far, far away from the cajun chicken pasta on any menu. I don’t know why but it always calls my name. Shouts to me. Right along with Caesar salad. Brian about falls off his chair in frustration when I order either of those (because I always regret doing so and proceed to eat his entire entree instead of my own).

Well, I’m happy to report that now I’m good because I’ve finally prefected my own version of cajun chicken pasta and it doesn’t call for a quart of heavy cream (love the stuff but trying to not down cups of it at dinner) like most of the restaurant versions do. I’m not saying this is health food, exactly, but it’s definitely a lightened up version of my true love.

Lightened Up Cajun Chicken Pasta

Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list. It’s actually really quick and easy (and I’m not just saying that). Once the flavorful, lightly spicy seasoning mixture is tossed together, it’s simply a matter of cooking that chicken until golden and juicy, adding the peppers and onions and then whipping up the light and creamy sauce which takes mere minutes (and if you’ve made the quick Garlic Alfredo Sauce on my site, you’ll be an old pro; just keep your eye on a few little changes). All those fabulous ingredients are combined with the tender pasta and then armed with a warning (warning: prepare to be in creamy cajun chicken pasta heaven), you are ready to dig in.

Now that we’ve moved to the land of real, live restaurants (our premove location was remote, to say the least), I can now go forth prepared to order something unique and out of the box on date night* since I can get my cajun pasta fix at home.

*Official date nights being once a quarter, just to clarify. Getting a babysitter for five precious kiddos isn’t exactly economical so usually we do the date night at home thing which consist of Netflix and lots and lots of ice cream (dark chocolate fudge crunch for me, marionberry pie for Brian) after the kids are snug in their beds.

Lightened Up Cajun Chicken Pasta

What To ServeGreen Salad (this recipe is fabulous if you are looking for something more than just your average green salad)
Make-Ahead Crispy, Buttery Garlic Bread

One Year Ago: Orzo Salad with Tomatoes, Basil and Feta
Two Years Ago: Homemade Pita Bread
Three Years Ago: Zucchini Bread

Lightened Up Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

Yield: Serves 4-6

Lightened Up Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

The ingredient list looks a bit long for this recipe but don't be intimidated - most of the ingredients are for the seasoning mixture which takes seconds to mix together.

This pasta is best served right away since it loses a bit of it's creaminess if left to sit for a while. Also, you could use a full pound of fettuccine noodles if you want it to serve a few more people but it won't be quite as saucy/creamy.


    Seasoning Mixture:
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you want to up the heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Chicken and Pasta:
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 bell peppers, any color (I prefer red and orange), sliced into thin strips
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into thin half moon slices
  • 12 ounces fettuccine noodles
  • Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Mix together all the seasoning spices in a small bowl and toss all but 1 teaspoon of the mixture with the chicken pieces, reserving the 1 teaspoon for later..
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the noodles according to package directions.
  3. While the noodles are boiling, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Add the seasoned chicken pieces in a single layer and cook until golden on each side and cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside, leaving as much liquid in the pan as possible.
  4. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the peppers and onions. Sprinkle the reserved spice mixture over the top and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are softened. Scrape the veggies on top of the chicken.
  5. Return the skillet to the heat and make the sauce by adding the butter and garlic. Stir constantly for 30 seconds or so until the garlic is fragrant. Add the cream cheese in large pieces and whisk or stir until smooth and thick.
  6. In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk, broth and cornstarch until well combined.
  7. Gradually pour this mixture into the skillet, whisking vigorously to avoid lumps. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste (I'd suggest about 1/4 teaspoon each and work up from there as needed).
  8. Add the chicken, peppers and onions and stir to coat with sauce. Remove from the heat.
  9. Once the noodles are finished cooking, drain and return to the pot. Pour the sauce mixture over the top and toss to coat the noodles with sauce. Serve immediately, garnishing with green onions, if desired.
Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (inspired by this creamy fettuccine recipe; changed to a cajun version)

52 Responses to Lightened Up Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

  1. Bri says:

    I tried your lime tacos tonight…YUM! I plan on trying this soon! Mel, you’re the best!

  2. Anna S. says:

    I just made this tonight! I didn’t have enough chicken, so I used a bag of thawed frozen shrimp instead; also just some Tony Chacheres seasoning; sautéed mushrooms with the peppers/onions; and added halved grape tomatoes and scallions at the end. DELICIOUS. I loved the Pioneer Woman’s cajun pasta, but it is just too caloric and fatty for regular eating. Your recipe was JUST AS GOOD and left our family completely stuffed and satisfied.

  3. Leah says:

    Will light milk work?

  4. Rani says:

    Great recipe…I subbed out cream cheese (none in house) with light cream and used a roux in lieu of cornstarch. I think nothing was lost with these modifications. And a total win since the kids gobbled it up! Thank you!

  5. Julie says:

    I usually follow a recipe to a “t” the first time I try it, but I was out of several seasoning ingredients (and truthfully, I just couldn’t haul all those kids to the store at 4:45), so I subbed Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning for the homemade seasoning. I also increased the sauce by 1 1/2 and used 16 oz pasta. These modifications worked great! “Tony’s” is saltier than Mel’s seasoning, so I just seasoned to taste instead of going by measurements. This was a HOMERUN! It will definitely become a “go to”. Thanks, Mel! I’ll try with homemade seasoning next time, but Tony’s worked in a pinch.

  6. Stacey says:

    I was wondering if anyone has tried using red pepper flakes instead of cayenne in the recipe? I don’t have any and we are snowed in here in MI but I would love to make this for dinner. I like only a tiny bit of heat so I don’t normally cook with hot spices so any help for substitutions would be appreciated!

  7. Marissa says:

    We loved this! I wanted this to be a little more veggie heavy so I did less than a pound of chicken but added a tomato and 8oz mushrooms (ingredients mother Cajun pasta recipes I have made included). We will be making this again and again! I might have to decrease the cayenne pepper though, as it was a little too spicy for my toddler. Thanks for another fabulous recipe!!

  8. Michelle says:

    I’m eating this for dinner (as we speak) and I love it!! It seems like a dish you could get at Olive Garden (but healthier and a ton cheaper!) As I was writing this, my husband just asked me “Is this one of the Mel’s Kitchen things?” 🙂 He knows where my best recipes come from! Thanks Mel!

  9. Rachel w says:

    Would this work with boneless skinless chicken thighs?

  10. Amanda says:

    Wow, this was so delicious!! We all loved it and were so happy that we gave it a try. We doubled the cayenne (we love spice) – and it was divine! Thank you for sharing, this will definitely be showing up again and again!

  11. Linda Pilkington says:

    I tried this for the first time tonight. My husband went back for seconds and looked at me with a big grin and said this recipe is defiantly a keeper.

  12. Allie says:

    Tried this last night and we LOVED it! I think it’ll be making a regular appearance in our house. Thanks for sharing it!

  13. Jana says:

    I made this last night. I was surprised at how quickly it came together. About once a year (on my anniversary or birthday) I will request my favorite restaurant for Cajun pasta… it is delicious. I must say, this was even better. I subbed out my pasta with zucchini noodles (not my own idea… the doc), and it was still amazing. I loved the flavors, the texture, the creaminess… the whole deal. Thank you for another wonderful recipe.

  14. Jen M says:

    This was a hit for dinner at our house tonight! Thanks!

  15. Allie says:

    Ok! I sent it to you on the little contact form here on your website! I’ve changed emails since last time I sent you that recipe, so I couldn’t find the old email to resend to your inbox! I hope this way was ok! Let me know if there’s a better way! Hope you are great!! We loved this pasta tonight!!! You always make me look good!

  16. Allie says:

    I can’t wait to try this out tonight Mel! I know it will be amazing. So since you mentioned loving Caesar and one of your commenters asked for it too…did you ever try the Caesar recipe I sent you?? It does not have anchovies and is a real crowd pleaser! My kids LOVE it! Let me know if you want me to resend!

    • Mel says:

      Allie! Yes! Please resend. I vaguely remember you sending that to me but looked in my email folders and can’t find it anywhere. Thank you!

  17. Lisa says:

    My family–especially my husband–loved this! Thanks, Mel!

  18. Keri says:

    Another great meal from your site! You never disappoint.

  19. Carrie says:

    Everyone in my family loved this! Thanks for another great recipe!

  20. Ashley V says:

    I surprised both my husband and myself when I made this… since neither of us like spicy foods. I’m so glad I did… It was delicious! I would add a little less cayenne next time, but other than that, it was perfect!

  21. Rayna V says:

    Another success from Mel! Thank you! My husband was incredibly skeptical about this dish because (gasp) he doesn’t care for pasta dishes, most alfredo sauce, or bell peppers (which are my fav) for that matter. However, he scarfed down seconds and went on and on about how much he loved it. The only change I made was subbing chipotle chili pepper instead of the cayenne because I had it and never used it before. It was awesome and a good idea if you don’t really want as much heat as the red pepper.

  22. Rachel says:

    We had this last night for dinner and it was great! I used a little less cayenne pepper and put red pepper flakes on the table for my husband to use. Perfect, creamy, and my husband didn’t think it was on the lighter side. You fooled him!

  23. Macy says:

    Made this tonigh for my dad’s birthday dinner and her loved it so much he asked to take the leftovers home! (Also made your Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake, which was a big hit as well!)

  24. Tanya M. says:

    This was delicious! I cooked more noodles for my family of 7 and doubled the sauce –so much for the “lightened version”! 🙂
    It was creamy and yummy– a tad spicy for my 3yo but everyone else like it. I’ve made the alfredo sister-recipe to this one and I think I like this sauce even more!
    Thanks for a great recipe! Hope you’re getting settled in your new area!

  25. This looks really good. I’m going to have to try it soon! Thanks for sharing! Love the pictures!

  26. Kathy E. says:

    Oh my goodness, this was so good! I had plans to make this tonight and we had an unexpected guest, so it was perfect! I used a green and red pepper, minus the paprika (the bottle was all but empty) and it was still so yummy! I sent the leftovers home with my guest for her lunch tomorrow. Thanks for sharing this…we will enjoy it many times.

  27. Marie says:

    So yummy, Mel!!! I made this for my husband’s birthday dinner and we both loved it. It was was a fancy, but easy-to-prepare, mail. Can’t wait to make it again.

  28. Stacy says:

    I was excited to see you mention Caesar salad as one of yours favs. I had never really had it but recently tried it at a potluck and decided I loved it! I came to your blog when I got home and found you didn’t have a recipe for it. All the recipes I found online had anchovies or anchovies paste, which I guess must be the secret ingredient, but it still wigs me out a little. 😉 I hope to see a recipe for Caesar salad from you someday, and I promise to make it even if it has anchovies in it!

  29. Louise E. says:

    I made this recipe tonight and it was delicious. It had just the right amount of heat. I used half and half instead of milk for an extra creamy sauce, adding a bit more to keep the sauce from getting too thick. But other than that, I followed your recipe as written. I will definitely be making this again.

  30. Kim in MD says:

    I love Cajun Chicken Pasta! I can’t wait to try your healthier version!

  31. I’ve actually never tried it. But it looks creamy and delicious indeed.

  32. This looks fantastic Mel! I love a warm bowl of pasta on a chilly night!

  33. Jenny says:

    This was so yummy! I saw the email/post today and knew it was perfect for tonight’s dinner. I pretty much made as is, but substituted cajun season for the cayenne (Husband can’t handle the heat!), and reduced the salt to 1/2 tsp. I didn’t have onion powder on hand, but we didn’t miss it. I cooked the chicken and veggies together to save time…. Other than that, followed to a T and it was soooo good! Thanks for yet another amazing recipe, Mel!

  34. Charles Boyd says:

    Sounds great, trying this tomorrow!

  35. Amy W. says:

    I really couldn’t wait to try this out so I made it for dinner tonight! It was a huge hit!! I was very surprised and pleased with how the flavors blended into delicious creaminess! What can I say, Mel? You are the BEST!!

  36. This reminds me of your enchilada pasta, which is fabulous. So I know this is fabulous too!

    ps Thanks for the sweet comment today about my video. I love YOUR videos!! You inspire me 🙂

  37. Amy says:

    Speaking of serving sizes, I have to ask–when you make the meals on your blog, do you double them for your family? Or do you make them as they are on the blog? I have 3 boys, 8 1/2, almost 5, and 15 months, and some days they eat so much!! I do usually have enough leftovers for my lunch the next day, but sometimes I don’t. So knowing that you have 4 boys who are mostly older than my boys, I often wonder what you do when making these main entrees. Please share!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Amy – sorry it’s taken me a while to answer your question. Usually all the recipes you see on my blog I’ve made “as is” without doubling or what not for my family. If it’s a meal that says it serves 4-6, chances are I’ve served it with a dinner roll or something else with substance. My boys are pretty average eaters (my three youngest kids are on the small side of eating) so I rarely have to double a meal just for our family. However, we rarely have leftovers. Does that make sense? If I’ve increased the meal for just my family, I post it that way. Hope that helps!

  38. The Queen Vee says:

    I would love it if you would list how many servings in your recipes. I’m now cooking again for two and have to cut the size of all recipes. I’m sure there is a cooking blog for two I just haven’t looked for it. I really enjoy your blog.

  39. Sara H. says:

    I have been making a similar cajun chicken pasta for the last few months since a friend brought it to our family for dinner. I can’t get enough! The only difference between your recipe and what I make is that I add mushrooms to the veggies and parmesan cheese to the sauce. I squeeze some fresh lime over the finished product and it is heavenly. I want to make it now! Thanks. 🙂

  40. Amy says:

    Looks fantastic!! Can’t wait to try it! Definitely going into the rotation! Thanks, Mel! Hope you are living your new place! You continue to be an inspiration to me!!

  41. StephenC says:

    And here I thought that getting a visit for my dog was a challenge when I go out for the evening. How wrong could I be?

  42. Karly says:

    Oh my! This looks amazing! I think I need to add it to my menu for the week.

  43. Cajun Chicken Pasta is one of our favorites too! I haven’t made it in ages and now I am totally craving it! It will be going on the menu soon!

  44. Rachel says:

    I can’t wait to try this! I love Cajun Chicken Pasta, but I don’t make it too often because I feel a little bad about using tons of heavy cream and butter. (Consuming half a dozen cookies in one sitting, however, doesn’t bother me at all.) This looks delicious!

  45. Melanie says:

    Looks awesome, going on my menu for nectar week! We have very similar date nights around here!

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