Cajun Shrimp Pasta is creamy, spicy, and loaded with flavor! Ready in about 30 minutes, this pasta dish is sure to become a family favorite. Use fresh or frozen shrimp.
Spicy Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe
It’s day 4 of our Christmas in July celebration! And today, we’re getting savory with this family loved creamy cajun shrimp pasta recipe. I have to admit, of all the great recipes I’m sharing with you this month… this easy pasta dish is one of my favorites!
We make it every Christmas Eve (part of our seven fishes feast) and it’s always one of the first dishes to go! But it’s equally wonderful as a weeknight pasta dinner. I usually find myself making it on rainy summer nights! So good with a big glass of white wine and some crusty bread on the side (gotta have something to sop up all that delicious sauce).
What you’ll Need…
- Pasta: I used linguini here, but almost any pasta would work great. Farfalle (aka bow ties), penne, and spaghetti are a few of my favorites. And there are even some great gluten free pastas out there now. No matter what variety you use, be sure to cook the pasta al dente so it doesn’t get too soggy!
- Olive Oil: You’ll use this ingredient to cook the seasoned shrimp and to cook the pasta sauce.
- Shrimp: Peeled and deveined, with their tails on! Large fresh shrimp work best, but frozen will work in a pinch. Be sure to thaw and press as much excess moisture out of the frozen shrimp as possible. And if you’re using smaller shrimp, you may want to cook the shrimp a minute less.
- Cajun Seasoning: You’ll need garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, black pepper, onion powder, and dried oregano to make our homemade cajun spice! You may need additional salt and pepper to season the dish later, but this is a great starting point!
- Butter: I prefer unsalted, but salted will work in a pinch! Just reduce the salt called for in the recipe by 1/4 teaspoon.
- Onion: Diced red onion adds flavor and color to this pasta dish!
- Peppers: Red and green bell peppers add crunch, flavor, and a gorgeous pop of color!
- Garlic: Like almost any good pasta recipe, this cajun shrimp pasta calls for a ton of garlic! Do not sub this with garlic powder or cut back on the amount!
- Crushed red pepper flakes: Adds spice! If you’re looking to cut back on the spiciness level, you could omit this ingredient.
- Tomato Paste: Adds just the right amount of tomato flavor! In a pinch, a 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes can be used instead. This will change the texture and flavor, but will still be delicious.
- White Wine: Use a dry variety, like Sauvignon Blanc. I always suggest using something you’d drink. But it shouldn’t be something super fancy or expensive! If you don’t consume alcohol, feel free to sub this with an equal amount of chicken broth.
- Chicken Broth: I like using chicken bone broth, which adds incredible flavor. But regular chicken broth will work fine.
- Heavy Cream: Aka whipping cream. This ingredient should not be replaced with milk!
- Parmesan Cheese: Skip the pre-grated variety, because it’s treated with preservatives that will prevent it from evenly incorporating into the sauce. Instead, buy a chunk of parmesan and use a cheese grater to freshly grate the cheese. You won’t regret it!
- Basil: Be sure to use fresh basil here! Dry basil should NOT be used.
- Parsley: Again, fresh is best. Actually, fresh is a must. Do not sub dried parsley here.
Let’s Make Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Cook the pasta! You can place the drained pasta into a large bowl and cover it with foil or a large plate until needed. You can save a little pasta water for later. If your pasta looks too dry, add a little bit of the reserved pasta water until your desired texture is achieved.
- Next you’ll add the shrimp in a very deep skillet or dutch oven and cook just until pink. Be sure not to over cook here! Better to undercook (the seasoned shrimp will go back into the pan at the end) than over cook.
- Next we’ll cook the onions and peppers, then toss in the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook. Mmm… your kitchen should smell amazing right now!
- Now the tomato paste and white wine get mixed in to form an almost paste like mixture. Then the chicken broth will go in and thin things out.
- When it’s time to stir in the heavy cream, parmesan cheese, basil, and parsley, be SURE to reduce the heat to low. Otherwise your sauce could curdle.
- Once your sauce looks perfect, you’ll want to toss the shrimp and pasta back into the skillet and cook for just a minute or two. You want to warm the shrimp and noodles, without overcooking them, so timing is everything here.
- Taste before serving! Depending on your tastebuds, you may need to add additional salt, pepper, and/or other spices to make it perfect. And if the sauce is too spicy, you can always add a teaspoon of sugar. Just be sure to mix very well after adding any extra spices or seasonings.
More Pasta Recipes:
- Fresh Tomato Pasta Puttanesca
- 16 Cozy Pasta Recipes for National Pasta Day
- Special Occasion Spicy Lobster Pasta
- Easy Tomato and Spinach Pasta
- Pasta Puttanesca
- Easy Pasta with Broccoli
Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- 1 pound (454 g) pasta
- 3 Tablespoons (42 ml) olive oil
- 2 pounds (907 g) large fresh shrimp peeled, deveined, tails on
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 Tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter
- 1 small red onion diced
- 1 large red bell pepper diced
- 1 large green bell pepper diced
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup (57 g) tomato paste
- 3/4 cup (170 ml) dry white wine
- 1/2 cup (113 ml) chicken broth
- 2 cups (454 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup (113 g) finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup (25 g) fresh basil finely chopped
- 3 Tablespoons (20 g) fresh parsley finely chopped
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a dash of salt, then add the pasta. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, or until al dente (this time will vary depending on the pasta variety you use, so consult the box). Drain the pasta and pour into a bowl. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
- In a large deep skillet or dutch oven, warm 1 and ½ Tablespoons (21 ml) of the olive oil over medium-high heat. While the pan heats up, place the shrimp in a large bowl and toss with the garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, paprika, onion powder, and dried oregano.
- Add the seasoned shrimp (and scrape in any excess spices) to the pan and cook until the shrimp are light pink on both sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Shrimp cooks very quickly, so don’t walk away here. Using a large fish spatula, transfer the shrimp to a clean plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining olive oil and butter to the same skillet, then add the onions, red peppers, and green peppers, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Do not let the garlic brown.
- Add in the tomato paste and white wine and, using a wooden spoon, mix thoroughly, breaking up the tomato paste until a smooth sauce has formed.
- Add in the chicken broth and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce heat to low and stir in the heavy cream, parmesan cheese, basil, and parsley and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 more minutes.
- Add the shrimp and pasta back to the skillet and stir well to coat. Cook for another minute or two, or until the noodles are nicely coated in the sauce and the shrimp have had a chance to heat up.
- Remove from heat. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, and/or cayenne as needed. Scoop into bowls and serve at once!