Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta
Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta is one of our favorite dinners! Easy to make with cajun seasoned shrimp, veggies, your favorite pasta and a creamy sauce. It’s pretty much the perfect family dinner recipe. As an added plus, this cajun pasta uses only 8 ingredients! It’s a super quick meal to throw together, which makes it great for busy weeknights.
Bringing you a delicious, creamy, slightly spicy (but still fine for the kids) pasta dish that you’re definitely going to love!
I’m getting hungry just looking at these photos and remembering how epic this easy meal turned out when I made it recently. So tasty!
This meal came about because I had no idea what to cook for Sunday night dinner. I remembered the frozen shrimp I had bought and we always have spaghetti in the pantry because kids.
I wanted this recipe to be tame on the spice front, but still have tons of wonderful cajun flavor. It was a huge hit with the whole family and I plan to make it again very soon!
I love simple pasta dinners like this. Throw everything in the skillet, gather the kiddos to the table, pour some wine and slurp a little cream sauce.
Let me know what you think when you make this! Scallops would be a nice substitution for the shrimp if you feel like changing it up. Or, if you’re vegetarian (or allergic to shellfish), just leave out the protein entirely. It will still be delicious!
ingredients for cajun shrimp pasta
This dish is simple and straightforward. Here’s what you’ll be needing:
- Pasta. We love to use regular spaghetti as our pasta of choice for this meal, but any type of pasta will work.
- Olive oil. You’ll need olive (or avocado) oil to cook the shrimp and the bell pepper.
- Shrimp. Shrimp cooks so fast, making this dish a great under 30 minute dinner. I recommend buying shrimp that’s already been peeled and deveined to make prepping this dish a breeze. Fresh or frozen shrimp will work, if you are going to use frozen shrimp, thaw it by placing it in a bowl of cool water for a few minutes.
- Red bell pepper. Any color pepper would work, but I really like using red for presentation and sweet flavor.
- Shallot. Much like an onion, but with a more delicate, sweet flavor.
- Canned diced tomatoes. For a smoky flavor, try using fire-roasted diced tomatoes. I love Muir Glen® brand! (not sponsored)
- Cajun seasoning. This bold spice is typically a blend of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, cayenne and salt & pepper. It really gives this cajun pasta so much flavor.
- Heavy whipping cream. For all that delicious creaminess! Half and half or whole milk can be used instead.
how to make cajun shrimp pasta
Making this cajun pasta dish couldn’t be easier! Here’s a quick rundown of the process, but for full instructions, reference the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Boil pasta. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package instructions.
- Cook shrimp. Add shrimp to a hot pan with a little olive oil. Season with cajun seasoning and cook for just a few minutes and until just pink. Remove shrimp to a plate. See below for more shrimp-cooking tips.
- Sauté vegetables and add cream. Add shallot and red bell pepper to skillet and cook until soft. Then, add cream and diced tomatoes and reduce heat to simmer.
- Combine ingredients and enjoy. Once sauce has thickened, add shrimp and pasta into sauce and stir to combine. Taste and season as needed. Serve warm and dig in!
tips for cooking the perfect shrimp
- Raw shrimp will be a grayish color. As it cooks, it will turn to an opaque whitish pink color. Shrimp cooks super quick – about 2-3 minutes per side! Be sure to watch it closely.
- When fully cooked, shrimp will curl into a loose “C” shape. If they have curled up into a tight “O” shape, then the shrimp is most likely overcooked. (An undercooked shrimp will still have some grayish spots on them and form more of a flexible “U” shape.)
tips for the best cajun pasta
- Feel free to remove the tails from the shrimp before cooking it. We left them on for the photos because it is more visually appealing with the tails on, but it can be a bit messy to eat. Totally your call!
- For just an extra kick of heat, add about 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to the recipe.
- Personally, I think this pasta dish is best enjoyed immediately, especially the shrimp. If you do have leftovers, store them in the fridge in an airtight container for about 2-3 days. To reheat the pasta, add it to the stove with a splash of olive oil or broth and heat until warm.
cajun pasta variations
This pasta meal is delicious as-is, but feel free to change things up to customize it to your family’s preferences and what you have available.
- Pasta. My kids love regular, long spaghetti, so that’s what we went with. However, you can use any pasta variety you like. Rigatoni, rotini or penne pasta would all be great choices.
- Protein. Instead of using shrimp, try this with chicken, scallops or Italian sausage.
- Vegetables. Instead of, or in addition to an added protein, add sautéed veggies such as mushrooms, zucchini, artichokes or eggplant.
This pasta dish is great on it’s on, but you can also serve it with a variety of side dishes! We love it served with my favorite Italian salad and crusty garlic bread! You could also whip up a simple green salad. Just toss mixed greens with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Feel free to add toppings to your salad such as red onion, cherry tomatoes, avocado or croutons.
If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know I’m ALL about the easy dinner ideas. It doesn’t get much simpler than this creamy cajun shrimp pasta! The whole thing is ready in about 30 minutes and tastes incredible, you can’t beat that!
more favorite shrimp recipes
If you try this creamy cajun shrimp pasta recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves this recipe as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta is one of our favorite dinners! Easy to make with cajun seasoned shrimp, veggies, your favorite pasta and a creamy sauce. It’s pretty much the perfect family dinner recipe. As an added plus, this cajun pasta uses only 8 ingredients! It’s a super easy meal to throw together, which makes it great for busy weeknights.
- 1 pound pasta (rigatoni, spaghetti, penne or any other favorite)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound raw shrimp, deveined and tails removed
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2/3 cup canned diced tomatoes
- 2 1/2 teaspoons cajun seasoning, divided*
- 3/4 cup heavy cream**
- reserved pasta cooking water, as needed
Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water. Drain, reserving about 1/3 cup of the cooking water. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once hot, add the shrimp. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning and sauté briefly until just cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan as well as the shallot and red pepper. Sauté until soft then reduce heat to medium and add the diced tomatoes and cream. Stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any food that is stuck to the bottom.
Once cream starts to bubble, reduce heat to low. Let sauce simmer for a couple of minutes to thicken and then add your pasta and shrimp back in and stir to coat. Taste and season as needed. If sauce needs to be thinned, add a splash of the pasta cooking water.
Serve immediately and enjoy!
*If you are sensitive to salty foods, you may want to use less than 2 1/2 teaspoons of cajun seasoning. It can be quite salty, depending on the brand you are using.
**Sub with half and half or whole milk, if preferred
Photos by Molly at Yes to Yolks.