This mouthwatering dish combines tender chicken, smoky sausage, and a medley of spices, all slow-cooked to perfection in the crock pot. With its creamy sauce, al dente pasta, and a touch of paprika for that extra kick, this Crock Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta will transport you straight to the heart of Louisiana!
Cajun cooking originated in the heart of Louisiana, where a vibrant mix of French, African, and Southern flavors come together to create a unique culinary experience. Think bold spices, rich sauces, and a touch of heat. Cajun dishes, like this Cajun pasta, are packed with robust flavors that leave a lasting impression!
This dish combines tender chicken and smoky sausage cooked in a velvety sauce made with butter, cream, and Parmesan cheese. Each bite is packed with flavor that will warm your soul on a cozy night or for a simple family meal.
While there are few ways to make this pasta dish, the crock pot, is a kitchen superhero that does all the hard work for you! Simply toss in the chicken, sausage, onions, spices, and a splash of chicken broth, then let it work its magic as it simmers away. The slow and gentle cooking process ensures that the flavors come together perfectly, resulting in tender meat and a sauce that clings to the pasta like a dream.
Plus, using the crock pot means you can set it and forget it, freeing up your time. It's a foolproof method that guarantees a delicious and satisfying meal that tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This recipe combines zesty and aromatic Cajun spices with the smoky goodness of sausage, creating a perfect blend of flavors.
- The creamy sauce, infused with the richness of butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese, coats every bite of tender chicken and perfectly cooked penne pasta, delivering a comforting and satisfying meal.
- With just a few minutes of prep, you can let your slow cooker work its magic, effortlessly infusing the ingredients with flavor and creating a hands-off cooking experience to save you time and effort.
- Add extra veggies like bell peppers or mushrooms for a burst of freshness, or dial up the heat with a pinch of cayenne pepper. With each batch, you can create a personalized dish that suits you and your family's tastes.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Chicken Breast - Serves as the main protein in the dish, providing a tender and succulent texture that pairs perfectly with the Cajun flavors.
- Smoked Sausage - Adds a smoky and savory element to the dish, complementing the chicken and bold flavors.
- Yellow Onion - Provides a flavorful base for the dish, adding a subtle sweetness and enhancing the overall taste profile.
- Chicken Broth - Serves as the liquid component of the recipe, infusing the dish with a savory and aromatic base that helps to cook the chicken and sausage while keeping them moist and flavorful.
- Cajun Seasoning - Brings signature bold and spicy flavors to the dish. It typically consists of a blend of spices like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and various herbs, adding a punch of heat and complexity.
- Black Pepper - Adds a subtle kick and enhances the overall savory notes.
- Butter - Adds richness and depth to the sauce, creating a smooth and velvety texture that coats the pasta and melds all the flavors together.
- Heavy Cream - Contributes to the lusciousness and creaminess of the sauce, creating a velvety coating for the pasta.
- Penne Pasta - The perfect choice for this dish as its shape and texture allow it to hold onto the sauce and absorb the flavors.
- Parmesan Cheese - Adds a nutty and salty flavor while also providing a creamy and velvety texture as it melts into the sauce.
- Paprika - Serves as a garnish, adding a pop of color and a mild smokiness to the finished meal.
How To Make Cajun Chicken Pasta In The Crock Pot
Layer the ingredients: Chop the onion, then slice the bell pepper and layer them on the bottom of the crock pot, followed by the chicken and sausage.
Cook the chicken: Add the chicken broth, Cajun seasoning, and black pepper on top of the mixture, then cover with the lid and cook on HIGH for 2½-3½ hours or LOW for 5-6 hours.
Cook the pasta: While the chicken is cooking, cook the penne pasta according to the package directions for an al dente texture. Drain and sweet aside.
Assemble the dish: Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the crock pot and set aside. Add the heavy cream, penne pasta, and Parmesan cheese to the crock pot. Mix until well combined and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
Slice chicken and serve: Slice chicken and mix back into the pasta. Serve while hot and garnish with paprika. Enjoy!
- For maximum flavor, brown the chicken and sausage before adding them to the crock pot. Searing the proteins in a hot skillet will enhance their taste and create a caramelized crust that adds an extra depth of flavor to the dish.
- Don't be afraid to adjust the level of spiciness according to your preference. If you prefer a milder heat, reduce the amount of Cajun seasoning or opt for a mild variety. On the other hand, if you crave an extra kick, feel free to sprinkle in some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to amp up the heat.
- To prevent the pasta from becoming overly mushy, cook it to "al dente" before adding it to the crock pot. This means cooking it just until it is firm to the bite. The pasta will continue to cook and absorb flavors while simmering in the crock pot, so ensuring it starts slightly undercooked will result in perfectly tender pasta in the final dish.
- Once cooked, the chicken breast can be sliced or shredded as desired.
- Swap out the chicken and sausage with shrimp and crawfish tails to create a Cajun seafood pasta. Add them to the crock pot during the last 30 minutes of cooking to ensure they remain tender and succulent.
- Throw in some diced bell peppers, celery, and okra to add a colorful medley of flavors and textures. These veggies will not only amp up the nutritional value but also lend a delightful crunch and freshness to the dish.
- Skip the meat altogether and load up on a variety of sautéed vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms. Season them with Cajun spices and proceed with the recipe as usual, enjoying a flavorful meatless option.
- Add a blend of different cheeses such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, and pepper jack alongside the Parmesan. The combination will create a cheesy sauce that will take your Cajun chicken pasta to the next level of indulgence.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Transfer cooled leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate. It will stay fresh for up to 3-4 days. When reheating, add a splash of water or broth to maintain the creamy consistency, and heat it on the stovetop or in the microwave until thoroughly heated.
Freezing: If you want to freeze for later, it's best to do so before adding the pasta. Allow the dish to cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and reheat it on the stovetop, adding cooked pasta separately for optimal texture.
You can easily make your own homemade Cajun seasoning by combining one teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon dried thyme, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust for desired heat), ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and a pinch of salt. Mix all the spices together until fully combined.
While penne pasta works great in this recipe, you can substitute it with other short pasta shapes like rotini, rigatoni, or fusilli. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Yes, you can use bone-in chicken for this recipe, but keep in mind that the cooking time may need to be adjusted. Bone-in chicken will generally take longer to cook, so you may need to increase the cooking time by 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the chicken pieces.
If you prefer a lighter version, you can reduce the amount of heavy cream by half and replace it with an equal amount of chicken broth or a lighter alternative, such as low-fat milk. This modification will result in a slightly lighter sauce while still maintaining a creamy texture and delicious flavors.
More Crock Pot Chicken Pasta Recipes
- Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan
- Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta
- Olive Garden Crock Pot Chicken Pasta
- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
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Crock Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 1 lb smoked sausage (sliced into ¼-inch thick pieces)
- 1 cup yellow onion (diced)
- 1 medium red bell pepper (sliced)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 lb penne pasta (cooked al dente)
- 1½ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp paprika
- Add onion and bell pepper to the bottom of a 6-quart crock pot. Place the chicken and sausage on top of the onions.
- Add chicken broth, Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and butter to the crock pot.
- Cover and cook on high for 2½-3½ hours or low for 5-6 hours.
- Cook pasta to al dente per directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
- Add heavy cream, penne pasta, and Parmesan cheese. Mix until well combined and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
- Serve while hot and garnish with paprika.
- You can easily whip up your own homemade Cajun seasoning by combining 1 ¼ teaspoons of paprika, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of onion powder, ½ teaspoon of dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon of dried thyme, ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (adjust for desired heat), ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, and a pinch of salt. Mix all the spices together until they are fully combined.
- Although penne pasta is a fantastic choice for this recipe, you have the flexibility to replace it with other short pasta shapes such as rotini, rigatoni, or fusilli. Just remember to adapt the cooking time accordingly.
- You can use bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe; however, it is important to note that the cooking time may require adjustment. Bone-in chicken typically takes longer to cook compared to boneless chicken. To compensate, you may need to extend the cooking time by 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the chicken pieces.
*All nutrition information provided is automatically calculated and is an estimate and will vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact numbers on your ingredients, I would recommend calculating them with your prefered nutrition calculator.