An Italian pasta classic is getting a dinnertime upgrade thanks to a little Cajun twist! Cajun Shrimp Pasta takes Fettucini Alfredo to the next level with juicy, pan-seared shrimp, sautéed bell peppers and onion, a creamy, Cajun-spiced Alfredo sauce, and a fresh garnish of chopped tomatoes and sliced green onions!
This Southern-inspired pasta dish is comfort food at it's finest and in just 30 minutes, you'll have a restaurant-quality dinner whipped up and ready to serve from your very own kitchen!
Quick and easy to make, you can serve this seafood pasta show-stopper for weeknight dinners or for entertaining! Love shrimp? Bookmark our Oven Baked Garlic Shrimp for next time.
HOW TO MAKE CAJUN SHRIMP PASTA
- Cook the Pasta
- Prep and Season the Shrimp
- Pan Sear the Shrimp
- Cook the Peppers and Onion
- Make the Cajun Alfredo Sauce
- Garnish and Eat
1. COOK THE PASTA
As we all know it takes for-ever for a pot of water to come to a boil so it's best if you get that water boiling right off the bat!
The first thing you'll do is generously salt the pasta water. Then, place it over high heat and bring it to a roaring boil. Add the pasta and cook to your liking according to package directions.
2. PREP AND SEASON THE SHRIMP
The next step in this Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe is to prep the shrimp! You can buy shrimp already peeled and deveined or do it yourself. Then you'll pat it dry with paper towels. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl, drizzle it with a bit of oil, and season it with Cajun or Blackened Seasoning.
Toss the shrimp until it is evenly coated with both the oil and the seasoning.
HOW TO PEEL AND DEVEIN SHRIMP
If you didn't purchase your shrimp already peeled and deveined, here's how you knock it out in just three easy steps:
- Hold the shrimp firmly in one hand, and with a paring knife (or shrimp knife) in the other, place the tip of the knife underneath the opening of the shrimp’s shell (on the upper abdomen/top part of the shrimp, opposite side of its legs).
- Carefully, begin cutting upward, splitting the shell and working your way to the back of the shrimp.
- Again, using the tip of your paring knife, remove the black vein running down the center of the shrimp and rinse under a trickle of cool running water for good measure.
TAIL ON OR OFF?
You can leave the tail on or off when it comes to Cajun Shrimp Pasta! It really is up to you. Tails-on makes for a nicer presentation, whereas tails-off makes it much easier to eat!
3. PAN SEAR THE SHRIMP
Add oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and bring it to temperature. Then, add the shrimp in a single layer. You may have to cook the shrimp in two to three batches, but this is better than overcrowding the pan. Leaving space in between each shrimp allows them to properly sear, rather than steam.
Cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on the first side, then, turn them and cook for about 2 minutes more. Remove the cooked shrimp from the pan and set aside on a plate.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN SHRIMP ARE DONE
Shrimp are done when they turn opaque, are somewhat pink in color, and semi-firm to the touch.
4. COOK THE PEPPERS AND ONIONS
For this Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe, you'll need red and green bell peppers, plus a yellow (or white) onion and fresh garlic.
To cook them, add a little more oil to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Then, add the diced bell pepper and onion and sauté until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Next, you'll add the chopped garlic and sauté a minute or so more.
5. MAKE THE CAJUN ALFREDO SAUCE
This sauce is almost identical to a traditional Alfredo sauce, only it is spiced up with Cajun seasoning! To make it, sprinkle the vegetable mixture with flour and stir until they are coated. Then, you can begin splashing in warmed half and half and cream.
PRO TIP | Add the half and half to a microwave-safe pitcher and heat it at 30-second increments until it is no longer cold. This keeps your sauce from seizing up and promotes a smooth and perfectly creamy texture!
Add the half-and-half to the pan one big splash at a time. Then, after each addition, whisk it well until it is nice and smooth. Keep going until you've used it all up. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary until it has slightly thickened up.
Last, but not least, to complete the Cajun Alfredo sauce for an absolutely irresistible Cajun Shrimp Pasta, you'll add in the Parmesan cheese, Cajun or Blackened Seasoning, and salt! Stir it all together and it's time to plate!
6. GARNISH AND EAT!
The only thing left to do is bring it all together and add your garnishes. You can either combine all of the ingredients or layer them starting with pasta, then ladle over the sauce, and top it all off with your pan-seared shrimp.
Garnish the dish with a pop of color and the fresh flavors of diced tomatoes and sliced green onions. If you'd like, you could also throw on some extra Parmesan cheese!
CAJUN SHRIMP PASTA INGREDIENTS
- Oil | Avocado or Canola Oil
- Cajun or Blackened Seasoning
- Veggies | Yellow Onion, Green Bell Pepper, Red Bell Pepper, and Garlic
- All-Purpose Flour
- Parmesan Cheese
- Garnish (Optional) | Diced Tomatoes and Sliced Green Onions
WHAT KIND OF SHRIMP SHOULD I BUY?
The size of the shrimp affects their cook time, so if you aren't a fan of overcooked shrimp, now is the time to read!
This recipe calls for jumbo shrimp, but you may find it more effective when shopping to go by the shrimp count rather than the descriptive name. The count you want is 16/25, which means there are 16-25 shrimp per pound.
FROZEN SHRIMP | IS IT BETTER?
If you aren’t making Cajun Shrimp Pasta the same day you're purchasing your seafood, consider purchasing it frozen. Then, allow the package to thaw in the refrigerator the night before you intend to make the dish.
Unless you live on the coast or in very close proximity to it, the frozen shrimp in the bag is more than likely more fresh than the thawed ones behind the seafood counter!
My favorite shrimp to work with are frozen, wild-caught EZ peel shrimp, and after one round of prepping it, it’ll probably be your favorite too. The shell is already split in half and the deveining has already been taken care of as well.
You can use almost any hearty pasta you like for Cajun Shrimp Pasta. Rigatoni, Penne, or Paparadelle would all be excellent substitutions.
Cajun seasoning is what puts the Cajun flavor in this pasta dish! This signature Louisiana seasoning is also known as Blackened Seasoning.
Blackened Seasoning is a mix of chili powders, dried herbs, and spices. Within the mix, some of the flavors are smoky, some herbaceous, and some even a bit spicy, but in combination with one another, abundantly flavorful!
You can make your own, or have your favorite store-bought Cajun spice blend handy. Just know, some brands will have more cayenne than others, so if you are sensitive to heat, you may want to consider cutting down on the quantity called for in this recipe. Their sodium levels will also vary.
This Homemade Blackened Seasoning Recipe is not overly spicy and might be a good option for those sensitive to heat!
CAJUN CHICKEN AND SHRIMP PASTA
If you'd like to add a little more lean protein to your Cajun Shrimp Pasta, Blackened Chicken makes for an excellent choice. Just cook, slice it into bite-sized pieces and toss it in with the other ingredients when wrapping up the recipe.
CAJUN SHRIMP AND SAUSAGE PASTA
If you want to add a little extra comfort to the dish, sausage is where it's at! You'll want about 6 ounces of Andouille sausage, and you'll need to slice it thin before adding it to the pan.
Once the shrimp have finished cooking, add the sliced sausage to the pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes, turning it about halfway through. Transfer it to a plate and continue on with the recipe!
CAN I THIN OUT THE CAJUN ALFREDO SAUCE?
As the sauce for this Cajun Shrimp Pasta sits, it will thicken up. If it becomes too thick for your liking, just add a tablespoon-sized splash of half and half or milk to the sauce and stir after each addition, until you've reached the consistency of your liking.
Note, the more liquid you add, the less seasoned the sauce becomes and you might want to add a pinch more Cajun seasoning and/or salt!
HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?
Leftover shrimp dishes should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consumed within 2 days.
CAN I FREEZE IT?
No. Because this sauce consists mostly of dairy, it will not reheat well after being frozen.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH CAJUN SHRIMP PASTA
This dish is equipped with protein, carbs, and veggies, but if you'd like to serve a little something on the side, a small salad, green vegetables like steamed broccoli or fresh green beans would work great. And, of course, Homemade Garlic Bread is always a win on pasta night!
3 MORE LOUISIANA RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
A quick and easy Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe with juicy, pan-seared shrimp, sautéed bell peppers and onion, and a creamy, Cajun Alfredo sauce.
- 3 tablespoons avocado or canola oil, separated
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon + ¾ teaspoon Cajun seasoning, separated
- ½ green bell pepper seeded and diced
- ½ red bell pepper seeded and diced
- ½ yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 ⅓ cups half and half
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¾ package (about 9 ounces) Fettuccini, Penne, or Rigatoni pasta cooked according to package directions
- 2 Roma tomatoes seeded and chopped
- 4 green onion sliced
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towel and transfer to a mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of Cajun or Blackened seasoning.
Add the oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and bring to temperature. Add the shrimp in a single layer (working in batches as necessary) and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Then, turn and cook for about 2 minutes more. Remove the shrimp and set aside on a plate until ready to use.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Add the diced peppers and onions and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more.
Sprinkle the flour over the softened vegetables and stir to coat. Add the half and half one big splash at a time, stirring until smooth after each addition.
Reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a simmer, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, as well as ¾ teaspoon Cajun seasoning and the salt. Remove from the heat.
Stir the shrimp into the sauce and serve over pasta. Garnish with fresh diced tomatoes and sliced green onions, if desired.