Homemade with jalapeños and parmesan cheese, Rattlesnake Pasta Recipe is made in a light Alfredo sauce and is full of flavor. It's incredibly easy and simple to make. The Alfredo sauce is made from a roux, allowing it to be lighter, yet still creamy and silky smooth.
Whether you've tried it at 54th street grill, J. Alexander's or somewhere else, Rattlesnake Pasta is a tried and true favorite. This copycat recipe will bring you right back to those flavors your fell in love with.
Rattlesnake Pasta is a delectable dish that originated in the vibrant culinary scene of the American Southwest. This zesty pasta creation owes its name to the bold and spicy flavors that mimic the intensity and mystique of a rattlesnake's bite. Made with a perfect blend of al dente pasta, succulent grilled chicken, sautéed peppers, onions, and a generous helping of creamy, tangy sauce, Rattlesnake Pasta is a harmonious combination of textures and flavors.
This dish's popularity stems from its ability to strike a delightful balance between heat and creaminess, resulting in a mouthwatering experience that leaves diners craving for more. Whether you're an adventurous foodie seeking a taste of the Southwest or simply a lover of bold flavors, Rattlesnake Pasta is sure to satisfy your cravings and leave you wanting another bite.
This was inspired by our other spicy pastas: Cajun Shrimp Pasta and Jerk Chicken Rasta Pasta. For other fun pasta ideas try our Creamy Kale Pesto Pasta, Greek Spaghetti, and our Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta.
Why I Love This Recipe
I love creamy and spicy together. It is absolutely delicious to me. Using a roux, it's able to be much lighter, yet still so smooth and creamy. I enjoy the bell peppers and different textures going on with the chicken, pasta and peppers. I love that my kids like eating this and that it is made easily in one pot, for easy cleanup. It's also great for entertaining as it is a more unique and fun recipe.
- boneless skinless chicken breasts - you could also use chicken thighs in this recipe
- olive oil - we like olive oil for this recipe, but any oil such as vegetable or avocado will work great also
- pasta of choice- I used penne
- butter - we have not tried this with plant based butter and can't recommend it
- yellow onion
- minced garlic- you could also use raw, finely minced
- all-purpose flour
- whole milk - this recipe does NOT work with a lower fat milk than whole milk. Generally a sauce like this would be made with cream or half and half and it's already been lightened up as far as it can go and still have a good texture.
- cajun seasoning - feel free to use more or less as desired
- red chili pepper flakes *optional and will add quite a bit of heat
- red bell pepper - any colored bell pepper will work, red, orange or yellow.
- green bell pepper
- jalapeños- fresh is recommended, but canned will work.
- parmesan cheese- real cheese, not the powder
See recipe card for quantities.
- While following the steps below, cook pasta according to package directions.
1. Heat oil on medium heat in a fry pan. Add cubed chicken breast and cook until done (165* F), stirring occasionally. While it cooks, mince (finely chop) the onion. Place in a bowl and set aside.
2. Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. While it cooks, chop the bell peppers and slice the jalapenos.
3. Add flour and stir until combined. It WILL look weird, it will clump. The first time I made this I thought I was doing it wrong. Just trust the process.
4. Add 1 cup of the milk. Again it will look quite weird, and maybe a little gross. It will be separated.
5. Stir the milk in until it's combined. Repeat one cup at a time until all the milk is added and combined.
6. The mixture should be smooth (other than the onions). Add the cajun seasoning and chili pepper flakes if using, and stir to combine.
7. Add the bell peppers and jalapeños. Stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer.
8. Simmer 5 minutes until sauce thickens. Stir enough to keep the sauce from scorching to the bottom. Not constantly, but often.
9. Stir in parmesan cheese until melted, then stir in chicken and pasta and combine. Enjoy your Rattlesnake Pasta!
Hint: Making the Alfredo a roux like this makes this smooth and silky and creamy, even though it's a much lighter Alfredo. You'll also find that it reheats so much better. No separation or gross little clumps!
Ways to Serve
- Garlic Bread: A classic choice, garlic bread complements the flavors of Rattlesnake Pasta perfectly. Bake or toast some crusty bread slices and spread them generously with garlic butter for a crispy and aromatic side.
- Mixed Green Salad: Balance out the richness of Rattlesnake Pasta with a refreshing mixed green salad. Toss together a variety of crisp lettuce leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, and your favorite salad dressing for a light and vibrant accompaniment.
- Grilled Vegetables: Fire up the grill and cook a medley of colorful vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, and mushrooms. Grilling imparts a smoky flavor and a delightful char to the veggies, offering a great contrast to the creamy pasta.
- Corn on the Cob: Embrace the Southwestern theme by serving some grilled or boiled corn on the cob. Brush the corn with melted butter and sprinkle with chili powder or a squeeze of lime for an extra kick.
- Roasted Asparagus: Roasted asparagus spears make an elegant side dish that pairs well with the flavors of Rattlesnake Pasta. Simply drizzle the asparagus with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven until tender and slightly caramelized.
- Southwest Cornbread: Add a southwestern twist to your meal with a side of cornbread. This slightly sweet and savory bread is a perfect match for Rattlesnake Pasta. Bake a batch of cornbread muffins or a whole cornbread loaf to serve alongside the pasta.
- Jalapeños- feel free to use canned jalapenos instead of fresh. Use ¼ cup.
- Gluten Free- use gluten free noodles and gluten free flour for a gluten free version.
- Vegetarian - simply omit the chicken. See below for veggies to add if desired.
- Cream- feel free to use heavy whipping cream for a richer Alfredo sauce. It will still work great, it will just thicken more quickly.
- Less Spicy- omitting the seeds from the jalapenos can make a big difference in how spicy it is. You can also scale back the cajun seasoning, but you may need to add some salt if you do.
- Extra Spicy - increase the chili pepper flakes, or make it with serrano peppers instead of jalapenos and put the seeds in.
- Veggie Lovers- skip the chicken (or keep it), add one whole zucchini, one summer squash and 2 large handfuls of spinach at the same time you add the peppers and jalapenos.
- Meat Lovers - skip the bell peppers (but always keep the jalapenos!), decrease the chicken to 1 pound. Add 12 ounces of cooked shrimp (stirred in at the end) and 1 pound of Andouille sausage (cooked with the chicken).
Store this jalapeño pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use 1-4 Tablespoons of milk when reheating. Mix the milk in after it's warm for a wonderfully smooth texture.
This freezes really well! Sometimes I make a double batch for a freezer meal. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months in the freezer. Allow to thaw for a few hours then reheat in a pot. Add milk until it reaches the desired texture.
- Don't overcook the pasta: Cook the pasta al dente, which means it should still have a slight bite to it. Overcooking the pasta can result in a mushy texture when combined with the sauce and other ingredients.
- Sauté the vegetables properly: When sautéing the bell peppers and onions, make sure to cook them until they are tender and slightly caramelized. This brings out their natural sweetness and adds a delightful texture to the pasta.
- Adjust the spice level: Rattlesnake Pasta is known for its bold flavors and heat. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes or spices according to your preference for spiciness. Start with a small amount and add more if desired.
- Toss the pasta well: Once all the ingredients are combined, make sure to toss the pasta thoroughly to coat it evenly with the sauce, protein, and vegetables. This ensures that every bite is flavorful and well-balanced.
- Serve immediately: Rattlesnake Pasta is best enjoyed when served hot and fresh. Try to serve it immediately after preparation to retain the optimal texture and flavors.
- Have fun and experiment: Rattlesnake Pasta is a versatile dish that can be customized in many ways. Don't be afraid to experiment with different ingredients, spices, or protein choices to make it your own and discover new flavor combinations.
By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to creating a delicious and flavorful Rattlesnake Pasta that will impress your family and friends. Enjoy the cooking process and savor the final result!
Take the time to make the roux as directed above. It only takes 2-3 extra minutes to make it more slowly and the texture is top notch. It's smooth and creamy. Not only is it smooth and creamy, but it reheats really well. It won't clump and separate like many Alfredo sauces.
It's just a fun name for this spicy pasta dish. It's made with jalapeños and has a southwestern feel to it.
Make yummy rattlesnake pasta by boiling your favorite noodles. Cook some chicken then make your roux using butter, garlic, onions, and flour. Make the sauce by adding whole milk and cajun seasoning. Add bell peppers and jalapeños, then finish it off with some parmesan cheese.
Rattlesnake Pasta is a delicious creamy, spicy pasta dish. It features chicken, bell peppers, jalapeños, cajun seasoning, a delicious creamy/ spicy sauce and, of course, pasta. It's so yummy!
Best Rattlesnake Pasta
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes.
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 onion finely minced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic or 4 cloves fresh, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 3 teaspoons cajun seasoning* has different amounts of intensity and different amounts of salt. Season until it has the amount of cajun flavor desired. Depending how much salt is in your cajun you may need to add more salt to the sauce.
- 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes optional
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 3 jalapeños sliced. we leave our seeds in- for less spicy remove all or part of the seeds.
- 1 ½ cups parmesan cheese
- ***cook pasta according to package directions while completing the steps below***
- Cut chicken breasts into 1" cubes.
- Heat oil in a large fry pan/ skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until cooked through, stirring occasionally. While cooking mince onion. Internal temperature of chicken should reach 165*F. Place in a bowl and set aside.
- Melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and garlic then cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. While it cooks, chop the bell peppers and slice the jalapenos. I like to leave the seeds in my jalapenos, for less spicy scrape out the seeds.
- Add the flour to the onion mixture and stir to combine. It'll be clumpy and odd looking. See photos above for a great visual.
- Add 1 cup of the milk and stir until combined. It will look weird. The first time I made this I thought I was doing it wrong. Trust the process. Check the photos above for texture.
- Repeat step 5 3 more times until all the milk has been added. At this point, it should be smooth other than the onion pieces.
- Add the cajun seasoning and the red chili pepper flakes if using and stir to combine. Add the bell peppers and jalapenos. Bring to a simmer, and simmer 5 minutes, until sauce starts to thicken.
- Add the parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Then add the chicken and pasta and stir to combine.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Add milk upon reheating until desired consistency is reached.
- Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. Allow to thaw for a few hours then reheat in a pot over medium heat. Add milk when reheating until desired consistency is reached.
- Cook chicken to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove