Healthier Cajun Chicken Pasta (gluten-free, whole grain options)

This healthier Cajun chicken pasta has a milk and cheese-based sauce and can be made gluten-free or 100% whole grain.

Mr. Texanerin has been asking me to post this recipe since I first started the blog. I’ve always hesitated because I like to stick to sweets but after having had it recently in New Orleans, I felt compelled to share a healthier version. The version I used to make has 1/2 cup of heavy cream and clocks in at 935 calories per serving. I normally don’t care about fat content and calories but that seems a little over the top, doesn’t it?!

Healthier Cajun Chicken Pasta – has a milk and cheese-based sauce and can be made gluten-free or 100% whole grain.

I’m not an expert or anything but I’m thinking Cajun chicken pasta isn’t Cajun or even authentic to Louisiana (someone correct me if I’m wrong!). Kind of like how stromboli didn’t originate from Italy but Philadelphia. Cajun chicken pasta strikes me as one of those meals started by restaurant chains. One that should have been called Cajun seasoned chicken pasta.

What we have here is an adapted version of my healthier fettuccine alfredo with some vegetables and Cajun-spiced bites of chicken.

Healthier Cajun Chicken Pasta – has a delicious milk and cheese-based sauce and can be made gluten-free or 100% whole grain.

I don’t care whether it’s authentic or not because it’s one of my favorite dinner dishes ever. I rarely make it because honestly, it’s not the quickest meal to make. I can say from experience that if you skip the vegetables, it reduces your prep time by 25 minutes. ;)

By the way, are you following me on Instagram? I’m currently working on healthier versions of some of the goodies I instagrammed from New Orleans that I can’t wait to share! I’d also love for you to join me in the #CookIt Challenge.

This Healthier Cajun Chicken Pasta has a milk and cheese-based sauce and can be made gluten-free or 100% whole grain.

Epicurious has teamed up with The Infatuation to host a #CookIt throw down. Over the next month they’ll be announcing different themes and challenging us to make something awesome at home. All you have to do is upload your photos to Instagram, hashtag #CookIt and tag both @infatuation and @epicurious in your photos. The best photos for each week’s themes will be regrammed on both @infatuation and @epicurious Instagram accounts! This week’s theme? Best dinner ever! Hence the Cajun chicken pasta recipe.

If you’re not familiar with The Infatuation, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s a restaurant review website and mobile app started by two guys who wanted to help their friends find great eats and the right restaurant to suit their needs on a particular evening. They provide readers with honest reviews and suggestions on where to find the best food. Check them out and see if they’re in your city!

Now let’s get cooking!

This post was sponsored by Epicurious and The Infatuation. All opinions expressed are my own.

Healthier Cajun Chicken Pasta (gluten-free, whole grain options)

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Rated 5.0 by 3 readers
Healthier Cajun Chicken Pasta (gluten-free, whole grain options)
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Ready in:
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

    For the vegetables and chicken:

  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 1 medium green bell pepper
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) fresh mushrooms
  • 1 pound (455 grams) boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's but you could use a homemade mix)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • For the pasta and sauce:

  • 8 ounces (225 grams) dry linguine or fettuccine (use gluten-free or whole wheat pasta, if desired)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon white whole wheat or all-purpose flour (use a GF all-purpose flour for a GF version)
  • 1 1/2 cups (355 milliliters) whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I like things salty and use 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese or neufchatel cheese
  • 1 cup (88 grams) grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, plus more for sprinkling on top, if desired
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, optional

Directions

    For the vegetables and chicken:

  1. Remove the seeds from the bell peppers and cut the bell peppers into 1/3" strips.
  2. Cut the mushrooms into 1/4" slices. Set the vegetables aside and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Rub the Cajun seasoning on it.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper strips and saute, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute for another 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender enough for your liking. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper and then remove the vegetables to a medium bowl. Cover with foil or a plate.
  5. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to cook the chicken in two batches. Cook the chicken pieces for about 6-9 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove the chicken to the bowl with the vegetables and cover.
  6. For the pasta and sauce:

  7. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. When it's finished, drain it but do not rinse. Return to the pot.
  8. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil.
  9. Add the minced garlic and cook until soft – about 1-2 minutes.
  10. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  11. Whisk in the milk, Cajun seasoning, lemon pepper, salt and pepper and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce has thickened slightly – about 3 minutes.
  12. Add the cream cheese, Pecorino Romano and whisk until completely melted.
  13. Add the sauce to the prepared pasta and mix until combined. Stir in the vegetables and chicken. Sprinkle with additional cheese and parsley, if desired.
  14. Serve immediately and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 4 days.

Recipe by  | www.texanerin.com

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52 comments on “Healthier Cajun Chicken Pasta (gluten-free, whole grain options)” — Add one!

  • Marisa says
    March 14, 2017 @ 6:06 pm

    We made this substituting shrimp for the chicken and zucchini noodles for the pasta. It was fantastic!!!!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Marisa
      March 15, 2017 @ 9:24 pm

      Yum! That sounds wonderful. Thanks for the tip! I’m so happy it came out well for you. :)

      Reply
  • sally M says
    May 11, 2016 @ 1:38 am

    HI Always looking fore another delicious reipe–We dont like white sauce Would red sauce work and how much Thanks Sally

    Reply
    • Erin replies to sally M
      May 11, 2016 @ 4:33 pm

      Hi there! I’m not sure if that’d be so good. I’m guessing you wouldn’t be able to taste the Cajun spice through the flavorful red sauce. Or maybe you would! Here’s a recipe for Cajun chicken pasta with tomato sauce. :)

      Reply
  • Sue says
    February 21, 2016 @ 8:29 pm

    So…without the heavy cream about how many calories is this “healthier” version? You don’t say. Looks good, though…I’ll be trying.

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Sue
      February 21, 2016 @ 11:03 pm

      I hope you’ll enjoy it! I don’t have the calorie info but you can copy and paste the recipe here for that info, if you like. :)

      Reply
  • Sarah says
    February 21, 2016 @ 6:15 pm

    Any suggestions for a substitution for the mushrooms?

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Sarah
      February 21, 2016 @ 7:52 pm

      You can just omit them! I usually do. Onions would also go well in this dish. I hope you’ll enjoy it. :)

      Reply
  • Jan Morgan says
    February 20, 2016 @ 6:04 am

    This sounds delish…I may add onions to it as well, instead of 2 types of peppers

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Jan Morgan
      February 20, 2016 @ 9:10 pm

      I bet that’d be delicious! I hope you’ll enjoy it. :)

      Reply
  • Amanda
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    February 18, 2016 @ 8:36 am

    This was excellent, the whole family loved it, including my 18 month old! For real, can we just be besties so I can try EVERYTHING you make? I have yet to find a recipe I’m not wanting to make over and over again!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Amanda
      February 18, 2016 @ 10:29 pm

      Haha. Aww! Thank you. Your comment totally made my day! And I’m so happy that you liked the pasta and everything else. Thanks a ton for letting me know! :)

      Reply
  • Kristyn says
    January 20, 2016 @ 10:34 pm

    This looks wonderful! And I love that it’s a bit lighter than traditional fettucine alfredo!

    Reply
  • Monique @ Ambitious Kitchen says
    January 18, 2016 @ 5:22 pm

    This looks amazing, Erin! :)

    Reply
  • Susan says
    January 17, 2016 @ 10:38 pm

    I never order meals like this at restaurants because like you I normally don’t care about calories but I feel like they are better put elsewhere (such as dessert). However, I do love this version because I don’t think it needs to be so heavy! The vegetables are a fantastic add-in and rounds up the entire meal!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Susan
      January 21, 2016 @ 11:49 pm

      Haha. Yes! That’s my philosophy. Same thing with drinks. I’d rather have some dessert than some sodas!

      Reply
  • Renee - Kudos Kitchen says
    January 17, 2016 @ 3:05 pm

    I’m glad you posted this recipe because I’m all about a balance of sweet and savory. This Cajun chicken pasta is my kind of dinner. I love that you’ve beefed it up with all those yummy veggies, and that you’ve given options to make it gluten free too.

    Reply
  • Cookin Canuck says
    January 17, 2016 @ 1:08 am

    Years ago, I fell in love with a cajun chicken pasta recipe in a restaurant, but have never tried to recreate it. I MUST try your recipe!

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Cookin Canuck
      January 21, 2016 @ 11:50 pm

      Oh, I hope you will! It’s full of veggies, just like you like it. :D

      Reply
  • Carrie @Frugal Foodie Mama says
    January 16, 2016 @ 4:28 pm

    I have a feeling that my husband would LOVE this pasta dish! We always like adding a little Cajun kick to some of our home cooking. :)

    Reply
  • Joanie @ Zagleft says
    January 16, 2016 @ 12:47 am

    Having grown up in New Orleans, I’m immediately drawn to anything “cajun”. I love the flavors in this dish and a healthier option is always great.

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Joanie @ Zagleft
      January 16, 2016 @ 12:24 pm

      I totally agree! I’d love to eat 950-calorie meals all day, every day, but I’d rather not weight 600 pounds. ;)

      Reply
  • Gerry @ Foodness Gracious says
    January 15, 2016 @ 9:36 pm

    Loving all of this goodness going on!!

    Reply
  • Karyn @ Pint Sized Baker says
    January 15, 2016 @ 8:34 pm

    This dish sounds wonderful! I love homemade dinners that just come together. They are so comforting and everyone is happy with the meal. Your trip to New Orleans looked wonderful! Can’t wait to see the recreated recipes.

    Reply
  • Heather | All Roads Lead to the Kitchen says
    January 15, 2016 @ 6:38 pm

    Oh my gosh, I’m happy that you did post it – because it looks mouthwatering! From looking at it, I’d never guess it was a “healthified” dish (not that that’s a bad thing…just sayin’) – it looks like pure comfort food.

    Reply
  • Katerina @ Diethood says
    January 15, 2016 @ 6:07 pm

    Mr. Texanerin was right!! What took you so long!? ;-)
    Looks fabulous!!

    Reply
  • DessertForTwo says
    January 15, 2016 @ 3:13 pm

    YUM! This sounds delicious :)

    Reply
  • Kacey @ The Cookie Writer says
    January 15, 2016 @ 2:21 pm

    I love heavy cream in my pasta dishes, but I too have learned to lighten up a bit :) This looks really good and I am glad you were convinced to post a non-baking meal!

    Reply
  • Liz @ The Lemon Bowl says
    January 15, 2016 @ 5:57 am

    This looks so damn good girl!

    Reply
  • Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust says
    January 15, 2016 @ 4:28 am

    I must make this!! It’s one of my favorite restaurant meals (my parents too) and those are sooooo high in calories. I love your recipe!

    Reply
  • Kim Beaulieu says
    January 15, 2016 @ 3:22 am

    Love this recipe, Cajun food just rocks. It’s that simple. I could eat this all the live long day and keep coming back for more. I’ll be googling that app, very cool.

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Kim Beaulieu
      January 15, 2016 @ 9:55 am

      Definitely check it out! And I could eat this all day, every day, too. SO good.

      Reply
  • Lauren Kelly Nutrition says
    January 15, 2016 @ 2:25 am

    I just love a good, easy, healthy dish! Love cajun flavors too, I am pinning this for later :)

    Reply
  • Charlotte Moore
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    says
    January 15, 2016 @ 2:23 am

    I really need to try this. My husband orders this at O’Charleys. Same name too. This would be much less calories.

    Reply
    • Erin replies to Charlotte Moore
      January 15, 2016 @ 9:50 am

      It definitely would! I hope you get a chance to make it for him and that he’ll enjoy it. :)

      Reply
      • Charlotte Moore
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        replies to Erin
        January 30, 2016 @ 6:26 am

        I did make it and my husband says he will not have to order it at O’Charleys any more. I omitted mushrooms and didn’t have the Cajun seasoning but he loved it. I did use whole wheat linguine. I also used precooked fajita chicken stripes.(cut smaller) Sure saved me some time too. HA!!

        Reply
        • Erin replies to Charlotte Moore
          February 1, 2016 @ 11:23 am

          You didn’t use Cajun seasoning in the Cajun chicken pasta? :D But that’s what gives it its Cajun-y flavor! Or did you use something else in its place? Either way, I’m so happy he liked it so much he doesn’t have to order it from O’Charley’s anymore. Yay! Thanks so much for your feedback. :)

  • Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes says
    January 14, 2016 @ 10:53 pm

    Love your lighter version of this dish! I definitely can’t justify eating 900 something calories for one serving for my dinner LOL

    Reply

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