This Easy Cajun Shrimp Pasta recipe from scratch is flavorful and delicious with a creamy silky smooth cajun Alfredo sauce made with parmesan and without whipping cream. The shrimp, spinach and bell pepper (which you can leave out) is in the best sauce made with a roux (don't worry if you've never made one, it is EASY and we have great directions), which makes it much lighter and less heavy, yet still incredibly creamy. It also means the sauce will stay smooth when reheated. Every bite is filled with flavor and a variety of textures. This meal also comes together in about 20 minutes, which makes it a win in my book!
This is a delicious from scratch meal year round. It's a great quick meal to serve and impress others with, or just great for those busy nights full of soccer and recitals. For another fun spicy pasta try our yummy Rattlesnake Pasta or Jerk Chicken Rasta Pasta.
- garlic - fresh or minced
- whole milk
- cajun seasoning- Our favorites are Tony Chachere's and Slap Ya Mama.
- bell peppers
- shrimp (we use frozen cooked, but you can use raw)
See recipe card for quantities.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. While waiting on that: Chop onion finely. In a large fry pan over medium heat (or medium low heat for an induction stovetop), sauté onions and minced or fresh garlic for 5-7 minutes, until onions are tender, stirring occasionally.
2. While onions and garlic are cooking, chop bell peppers into 1" chunks. After onions are tender and translucent, make make the roux. Start by mixing in the flour. It will clump up, don't worry.
3. Being careful to work quickly so you don't burn your flour/ onion/ garlic mixture, add 1 cup of milk. It will be all separated and not want to mix together easily, but be patient with it. Mix it together to combine.
4. Mix it in until it looks like the above picture. It'll be similar in texture to lumpy mashed potatoes. As soon as it's well mixed, add another cup of milk and again mix in until well incorporated. Repeat with the remaining 2 cups of milk, one cup at a time.
5. Stir in the cajun seasoning and salt if needed. See Hint below about cajun seasoning. Stir in the bell peppers.
6. Add the spinach to the cajun Alfredo sauce and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes, until it starts to thicken and the spinach is all wilted. Finally, add the parmesan cheese and shrimp and stir until the cheese is melted and the shrimp is hot!
Hint: Cajun seasoning can come in a variety of ways. Most have some amount of salt in them. Generally speaking the lower the heat level of the seasoning, the more salt there is per teaspoon. For this recipe, we used mild and 2 teaspoons of seasoning and no additional salt made it perfectly salted. We also tested with medium cajun seasoning and found we liked 1 Tablespoon of seasoning and ½ teaspoon salt. We recommend purchasing the desired heat level and starting with 2-3 teaspoons of seasoning until the heat level is acquired, then adding salt until the desired saltiness is acquired.
- gluten free- use gluten free noodles and make the roux using 1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons corn starch.
- garlic powder- we HIGHLY recommend fresh or minced garlic, but you can use 1 ½ teaspoons of garlic powder in a pinch. Add it at the same time as the cajun seasoning.
- Pasta- use any pasta you like! Our favorites are penne and linguini for this recipe.
- Vegetables- feel free to switch up the vegetables. Others we recommend trying are green beans and zucchini.
- Chicken- substitute one pound cooked chicken for the shrimp. Cut raw chicken into 1" cubes and sauté over medium heat until cooked through.
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta with Sausage- add 1 pound cooked Andouille sausage to the cajun Alfredo at the same time as the shrimp.
- Extra Vegetables- we recommend adding no more than an additional 2 cups raw vegetables. Zucchini, summer squash and green beans would be great with this dish!
- Deluxe- Add 8 ounces button mushrooms at the same time as the onion, then top with chopped fresh tomatoes when serving.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot on the stove until hot. The beauty of using a roux means that you don't have to worry about it separating and becoming gross.
Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerate then reheat as directed above.
- Work fairly quickly after adding the flour to the onion mixture. As soon as it's well mixed, add the milk so the flour doesn't burn.
- Use only whole milk! We have tried this recipe with 2% milk and it doesn't thicken nearly as nicely and isn't as smooth.
Easy Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- 1 pound pasta of your choosing I used linguine
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- ⅓ cup flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning*
- 3 chopped bell peppers
- 4 oz spinach about 2 large handfuls
- 2 ½ cups parmesan cheese real parmesan only! Not the stuff that you shake out of a bottle
- 1 pound cooked shrimp
- Bring water to boil and cook one pound of pasta according to instructions.
While that is happening:
- Finely chop one yellow onion.
- Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat, or medium low if using an induction stovetop. Add finely chopped onion and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes until onions turn translucent, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the flour.
- Slowly whisk in milk, one cup at a time. With the first cup, it will be clumpy and weird at first, but keep whisking. Once it's combined, add another cup and repeat until all 4 cups have been added.
- Once all the milk is blended and the sauce is smooth (other than the onion) add the cajun seasoning.
- Add the spinach and bell peppers, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Add the parmesan cheese and shrimp and stir until parmesan is melted.
- Drain the pasta when it's finished cooking. Add the pasta and serve!
- *Cajun seasoning can differ a lot! The preference for amount of cajun seasoning can differ a lot! Chachere's has salt in it and is designed to be added until it's salty enough. We use the "spicier" version. Basically, season with cajun seasoning to taste 🙂 If your cajun seasoning doesn't have salt, add ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste.
- This stores great and makes delicious leftovers and reheats beautifully. It's one of those magical foods that is even better as leftovers as it gives the flavors a chance to really penetrate the dish. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Use whole milk only! We have experimented with 2% milk and it doesn't set up properly.