This Cajun shrimp pasta is loaded with a blend of Cajun seasonings and succulent shrimp in a spicy red sauce that is huge on flavor and incredibly easy to make. Perfect for spicy food lovers!
It's Cajun Shrimp Pasta in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen, my friends! Are you up for a nice, spicy pasta? I know I am! Patty and I LOVE spicy pasta.
I think of all the seasoning blends in the world, a good Cajun blend is one of my very favorites. I typically use my own Homemade Cajun Seasoning recipe, but there are some very good ones on the market today. Just search your local grocer.
Cajun seasonings can vary, but most contain the perfect blend of hot, spicy, and flavorful elements.
As most Cajun food and seasonings are very "spicy" but not very "hot", I've brought in a bit of ghost pepper chili powder to add an element of that heat I so desperately crave. I'm sure many of you do, too!
We can't help ourselves! We're chiliheads! This is such a quick and easy dinner recipe. Pasta for dinner just got better.
Let's talk about how we make it, shall we?
Cajun Shrimp Pasta Ingredients
- Olive Oil. 1 tablespoon olive oil for cooking.
- Cajun Holy Trinity. The traditional Cajun Holy Trinity consists of onion, celery and bell peppers, along with garlic. I like to use 1 medium onion, 1 stalk celery, 1 small green bell pepper and 1-2 jalapeno peppers (sometimes serrano peppers for extra heat) and 2-3 cloves fresh garlic.
- Tomatoes. I am using 28 ounces crushed tomatoes for this recipe. Feel free to use diced or fresh tomatoes.
- Fresh Basil. Use ¼ cup fresh chopped basil.
- Spices. Use 1 tablespoon Cajun seasonings (or more as desired) + ½ teaspoon ghost pepper seasonings (totally optional! Or more if you desire!) + Salt and pepper to taste
- Shrimp. Yes, you'll need shrimp to make Cajun Shrimp Pasta. This recipe calls for 1 pound shrimp.
- Pasta. Yes, you'll also need pasta! Use 8 ounces pasta noodles. I used spaghetti noodles this time, though you can use your favorite.
- Garnish. I like to garnish with sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh chopped parsley, red pepper flakes and thinly sliced peppers. And some parmesan cheese!
How to Make Cajun Shrimp Pasta - the Recipe Method
Cook the Vegetables. First, gather up all of your ingredients. Grab a large pan and heat to medium heat. Drizzle in some olive oil. Add in some onion, celery and peppers and cook them down until they begin to soften up, about 5 minutes or so. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. You will be able to smell that awesome garlic cooking. SO. GOOD.
Get the Sauce Going. Pour in the tomatoes, basil and seasonings and bring the mix to a quick boil. Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer about 20 minutes (or longer) to let the flavors develop.
Mine is nice and thick here. You can easily add in more tomato sauce if you're looking for a thinner, saucier version. I like mine nice and chunky.
Prepare the Pasta. While the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to the packaging instructions, about 10 minutes or so to al dente. However you like it!
Stir in the Shrimp. Next, add the shrimp.
Tuck the shrimp into the simmering pasta sauce and let them cook through, about 5 minutes.
Drain the Pasta. Drain your pasta but reserve about a half cup of the starchy pasta water. Swirl the reserved pasta water into your sauce. The starches from the pasta water actually help to bind and thicken up the sauce a bit more.
Mix! Toss the noodles with the sauce and shrimp.
Serve the Pasta. Serve it all up into bowls and top with a 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (if desired), fresh chopped parsley, sliced peppers, and sliced cherry tomatoes.
Oh baby! This is SO GOOD!
About the Peppers and Seasonings
Bell peppers have no heat to them at all. Jalapenos are the most commonly used in the U.S., and run about 5,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU) on average. Serrano peppers measure in around 50,000 Scoville Heat Units, so they DO have some good heat. Feel free to stop there in terms of peppers and seasonings.
I also added in a BIT of ghost pepper chili powder. Ghost peppers add some serious heat, measuring in at around 1 Million Scoville Heat Units.
Of course you can omit the ghost pepper powder for a milder, yet still spicy with good heat, version of the recipe. Or try cayenne pepper for more heat that isn't as crazy as ghost pepper powder.
You just gotta ask yourself - How spicy do I like it?
Storage & Leftovers
Storing your Cajun Shrimp Pasta in an airtight container in the fridge may allow you to store the leftovers for up to 3-4 days. To maximize the storage life, make sure to refrigerate the dish promptly.
Additions and Recipe Variations
- Other Proteins. A good Cajun sausage would be a nice addition to this recipe. Consider smoked andouille sausage, or boudin. It will make the dish heartier and more filling.
- Make it Creamy. Try swirling 2-3 tablespoons of sour cream or crema, heavy cream or cream cheese into the sauce before serving for a creamy version. Serve up a big pan of creamy cajun shrimp pasta! Delicious!
Recipe Tips & Notes
- If you'd like to use cooked frozen shrimp instead of raw shrimp, be sure to thaw them out first, then tuck them into the simmering sauce a few minutes to warm them.
- Also, if you like this dish, try these variations - Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta or Cajun Pasta with Shrimp and Smoked Sausage. Or, try my own homemade Spicy Ramen Noodles. Spicy and delicious!
I absolutely love that Mike adds Cajun seasoning to so many meals. I’ve grown so accustomed to Mike’s cooking that I expect bold flavors with nearly every meal. We’ve gotten much pickier about where we go out to eat because we crave bold flavors and heat so much.
Since Mike started blending his own Cajun seasoning he keeps a pretty large amount of it handy at all times. I remember packing for a long trip where he would be doing a lot of cooking and he had run out of the seasoning and was trying to figure out what to do.
I said, just make some more. And he did and it took no time to do it. This Cajun Shrimp Pasta dish sure did not disappoint in the flavor or heat department.
Try Some of These Other Cajun and Cajun-Inspired Dishes
- Cajun Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- Cajun Chicken Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Cajun Shrimp Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Shrimp Creole
- Cajun Shrimp
Got any questions? Ask away! I'm happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you'll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don't forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I'll be sure to share! Thanks! -- Mike H.
Cajun Shrimp Pasta Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper chopped
- 1 serrano pepper chopped
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup fresh chopped basil
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasonings
- ½ teaspoon ghost pepper seasonings or more if you desire! Optional.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound shrimp
- 8 ounces pasta noodles I used spaghetti noodles
- Heat a large pot to medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, celery and peppers and cook them down about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute, stirring.
- Add the tomatoes, basil and seasonings and bring to a quick boil. Reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer about 20 minutes (or longer) to let the flavors develop.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook your noodles to the packaging instructions, about 10 minutes or so to al dente.
- Tuck the shrimp into the simmering pasta sauce and let them cook through, about 5 minutes.
- Drain your pasta but reserve about a half cup of the starchy pasta water. Swirl the reserved pasta water into your sauce.
- Toss the noodles with the sauce and shrimp.
- Serve into bowls and top with Parmesan cheese, fresh chopped parsley, sliced peppers, and sliced cherry tomatoes.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 10/7/20 to include new information. It was originally published on 6/13/18.