Time to get sassy, healthy Cajun Shrimp Pasta style! Whole wheat noodles, juicy shrimp, and veggies tossed in a lightly spicy, creamy sauce, this slimmed-down recipe is ready in 30 minutes and will have you dancing around your kitchen like you’re in downtown New Orleans.

Healthy Cajun shrimp pasta in a skillet

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This easy Cajun shrimp pasta recipe is inspired by a well-loved restaurant of my childhood, Chili’s.

Their Cajun shrimp pasta was always one of my go-to orders.

Spicy blackened shrimp cooked in a thick alfredo sauce, it was indulgent, heavy on the penne pasta, light on the veggies, and exactly that sort of thing that high school Erin craved.

Nowadays, I still love myself a rich, creamy plate of pasta now and then, but my expectations are higher.

  • Typically, Cajun cream sauce is made of rich ingredients like butter and heavy cream.
  • For this recipe, I opted to use nonfat milk, cornstarch, and light cream cheese to create a healthier but equally-delicious sauce.

With easy prep, crowd-pleasing flavor, and veggies in every bite, this version of Cajun shrimp pasta is one you can feel good about making on repeat.

Easy Cajun shrimp pasta with vegetables

5 Star Review

“This was absolutely delicious!!! I’ve never left a comment on a recipe before, but I just HAD to for this one.”

— Joselyn —

How to Make Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

My goal for this recipe was to make Cajun shrimp pasta tasty and better for you, without losing its indulgent appeal.

The luscious, creamy sauce adds decadence, and ingredients like whole wheat pasta, bell peppers, mushrooms, and shrimp bring a scrumptious, healthy balance.


The Ingredients

  • Shrimp. Quick-cooking, easy to eat, and tasty in a variety of dishes (everything from this pasta to spicy Bang Bang Shrimp to Healthy Shrimp Pad Thai), shrimp are also an excellent source of protein.
  • Whole Wheat Pasta. Trading out white pasta noodles for their whole-grain counterpart instantly boosts your intake of fiber, protein, and other nutrients.

Choosing Cajun Shrimp Pasta Noodles

The classic Chili’s recipe is for a Cajun shrimp pasta penne. I like a longer noodle with creamy alfredo-style sauces like this (personal preference), so I traded the penne shape for linguine. Use any pasta shape you like.

  • Reduced-Fat Cream Cheese. This is a creamy Cajun shrimp pasta no cream! Just four ounces of light cream cheese are all you need for a sauce that tastes thick and creamy like alfredo, for a fraction of the calories.
  • Nonfat Milk. Making this a Cajun shrimp pasta with nonfat milk instead of a Cajun shrimp pasta with evaporated milk helps lighten things up.
  • Bell Peppers. Crisp and colorful, bell peppers are a staple ingredient in Cajun cooking and make this pasta an all-in-one healthy dinner. This recipe leans more heavily on the veggies, so you’ll score bell peppers with every twirl of your fork.
  • Mushrooms. OK FINE. You caught me. The original Chili’s version of this pasta does not contain mushrooms (and they are not traditional in the slightest) but they taste super delish in the Cajun shrimp pasta.

Substitution Tip

Not a mushroom fan? Turn this recipe into Cajun shrimp pasta with spinach instead. Stir in a few handfuls of spinach at the very end, allowing the heat of the pasta to wilt it.

  • Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes. A one-ingredient trick to make this Cajun shrimp pasta taste like Chili’s. I keep several of these cans in my pantry at all times to add instant flavor (and extra veggies!) to my meals.
  • Cajun Seasoning. Cajun seasoning is a blend of flavorful Cajun spices and herbs such as smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, thyme, and oregano. It gives this pasta its signature flavor.

Tip!

Note that Cajun seasoning contains salt, so depending upon how much you choose to add to this recipe (more seasoning = more spicy), you’ll want to adjust the amount of salt you add elsewhere accordingly. If you have concerns with sodium content, be sure to compare different Cajun seasoning brands.

The Directions

  1. Cook the pasta.
Shrimp in a bowl with seasoning
  1. Toss the shrimp with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Shrimp in a skillet with Cajun seasoning
  1. Add the shrimp to a preheated large skillet with oil.
Shrimp being cooked in a skillet
  1. Cook shrimp for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove them to a plate.
Mushrooms and peppers being stirred in a skillet
  1. Saute the bell peppers with more Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add the tomatoes.
Veggies and sauce in a skillet
  1. Add part of the green onions. Remove the vegetables to the plate with the shrimp.
  2. Whisk the milk and cornstarch together.
A creamy sauce in a skillet
  1. Pour the milk mixture into the skillet with butter, whisking until smooth. Add the cream cheese. Stir in the remaining Cajun seasoning.
Pasta being added to a skillet
  1. Return everything to the skillet.
Easy Cajun shrimp pasta in a skillet
  1. Toss to coat all the ingredients in the sauce. Top with green onions or chopped fresh parsley. DIG IN!
Cajun shrimp pasta in a bowl

Tips for Purchasing Shrimp

  • For the fastest cook time, look for shrimp that are already peeled and deveined (or at least deveined and easy-peel).
  • The best shrimp are often in the freezer case. Usually what’s behind the seafood case was previously frozen anyway, so you can often get a better deal purchasing frozen shrimp, then letting them thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Forget to thaw overnight? Put your frozen shrimp in a colander and rinse them with lukewarm water.
Creamy Cajun shrimp pasta in a skillet

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate pasta in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze. Freeze pasta in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, cook the pasta and chop the vegetables. Store each ingredient in a separate airtight storage container.

A skillet with noodles, seafood, and vegetables

What Sides Go with Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Dutch Oven. Perfect for making Cajun shrimp pasta.
  • Whisk. This small whisk is easy to handle.
  • Mixing Bowls. A set of mixing bowls is essential in every kitchen.

The Best Dutch Oven

A high-quality Dutch oven like this one will help you prepare everything from casseroles to pastas to desserts.

A skillet of creamy and healthy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this a Spicy Cajun Shrimp Pasta?

As the recipe is written, this pasta has a kick but certainly won’t set off alarm bells if you are accustomed to spice. The creamy sauce helps to cool it down. You can also squeeze lemon juice over the top for some extra zip that balances the spice.

If you’d like the pasta hotter, feel free to add additional Cajun seasoning and/or cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes until it’s as spicy as you care to dare.

Can I Make Cajun Pasta without Shrimp?

If you’re not into shrimp, you can replace the shrimp with sautéed bite-size pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. You can also omit the shrimp for a vegetarian version. Swap in extra mushrooms or peppers.

Can I Make Gluten Free Cajun Shrimp Pasta?

For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free noodles. I recommend rinsing them with water after they cook to keep them from becoming gummy.

A skillet of creamy and healthy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

4.96 from 23 votes
This lightened up Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta features juicy shrimp and colorful veggies in a spicy sauce. Easy recipe with no cream!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins

Servings: 4 –6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces whole wheat linguine noodles or similar long noodles
  • 1 pound large shrimp peeled and deveined*
  • 3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning divided, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt divided, plus additional to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper divided
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  • 1 medium red bell pepper thinly sliced and halved
  • 1 medium orange or yellow bell pepper thinly sliced and halved
  • 1 meduim green bell pepper thinly sliced and halved
  • 8 ounces sliced baby bella (cremini) mushrooms sliced
  • 1 small bunch green onions thinly sliced, divided
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes drained
  • 1 1/4 cups nonfat milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese softened to room temperature

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare pasta according to the package instructions for al dente.
  • Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place the shrimp in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Toss to coat.
  • Once the oil is hot but not yet smoking, add the shrimp.
  • Cook just until they turn from gray to pink, are lightly firm, and fully cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. (Be careful not to overcook!) With a slotted spoon, immediately remove them to a large plate or large bowl. Reduce the skillet heat to medium.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the red, orange, and green bell peppers. Cook 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Sauté until the mushrooms are tender and have given off their liquid, about 5 additional minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until most of their liquid has cooked off, about 3 minutes.
  • Add two-thirds of the green onions. With a large spoon, scoop up the vegetables into the plate or bowl with the shrimp.
  • In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and cornstarch until well combined.
  • Grab a whisk and heat the final 1 tablespoon butter over medium. Pour in the milk mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the cream cheese in small pieces. (I usually tear and drop it right in with my fingers.) Whisk constantly and bring the mixture to a steady (but not violent) simmer, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened, whisking all the while so that you have a smooth, creamy sauce. Stir in the final 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning.
  • Return the vegetables and shrimp to the skillet. If there are a lot of juices that have collected in the bottom of the bowl, you can choose to add it if you want a thinner sauce or omit it if you prefer a thicker sauce. Drain the noodles and add them to the skillet.
  • With a long pair of tongs, toss to fully combine and coat every bit with that yummy, creamy sauce. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning to taste. Sprinkle with remaining green onions. Serve hot.

Notes

  • *For the speediest possible prep, purchase peeled and deveined shrimp. (Easy-peel and deveined would also work.) I buy frozen and let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Tails on or off is your preference.
  • TO STORE: Refrigerate pasta in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze pasta in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 6, about 2 cupsCalories: 327kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 29gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 136mgFiber: 7gSugar: 10g

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More Shrimp Pasta Recipes

Thanks to their versatility and ease, you can do so much with fresh shrimp. Here are some of my favorite healthy shrimp recipes:

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Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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68 Comments

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  1. This looks DELISH….can I sub chicken for the shrimp and not have to change anything else about the recipe?5 stars

    1. Hi Kisha, I think that should work (although I haven’t tried it myself). The chicken pieces will need to cook longer than the shrimp, and you can always taste for seasoning at the end and adjust as needed. I hope you enjoy!

  2. Looks delicious! I remember there was a creamy pasta dish at Olive Garden that had artichokes and mushrooms in it that was my go-to “adult” dish when I was a freshman in college, because artichokes seemed so exotic to me at the time. I’ll have to dig up that recipe one day and see if there’s a lighter version of it.

  3. Chili’s was THE place to go in high school! We love the bottomless chips and salsa :)

    Can’t wait to try this, I’ll make it this week!

  4. This sounds SO GOOD! I cannot wait to make this! Thanks for your recipe. The photos just about have me drooling.

  5. I never tried the Chili’s version because high school me was too busy drilling bacon cheeseburgers & strawberry lemonade, but this is soooo good. I substituted bow tie for linguine because it was the only whole wheat pasta I could find. DELICIOUS!5 stars

    1. Hi Janessa, you could experiment with frozen, but frozen veggies tend to get soggy and mushy when reheated. If the texture isn’t an issue for you, you could certainly give it a try!

  6. I just made this recipe….UH-MAZING!!! Love it. The pasta was so creamy and flavorful. Thanks for sharing.5 stars

  7. Perfect dish to use up my cream cheese! I subbed unsweetened cashew milk for nonfat milk and kept everything else the same and it came out just as creamy and delicious. I would make this again!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review, Aly! I’m so happy to hear that this recipe was a hit!

  8.  kind of disappointed by this, I just made this and followed the recipe to a T. It wasn’t very flavorful at all ( 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder??), and the sauce was on the thin side. If you’re going to make this I would recommend  tripling  the amount of seasoning. no hate to the chef, just a suggestion for future makers! 

    1. Hi Emily! I’m sorry this recipe didn’t live up to your expectations. I (and many readers) enjoyed the flavors of this dish. Next time, you could experiment with extra spices for added flavor. I hope this helps!

  9. I was looking for a fast meal to make for dinner when I found this. My husband lives Cajun shrimp pasta so I made it and didn’t mention that it was a healthier version. We both loved it. Thank you for a great recipe.5 stars

  10. This is one of my households favorite dishes! We make it ALL the time! About two or three times a month at least! I make the less healthy version of it though! 10/10 would recommend! 5 stars

    1. I made this dish tonight with a couple of minor changes. We haven’t acquired a taste for whole wheat pasta so I used regular. I also substituted fresh tomatoes instead of canned. Lastly I used heavy whipping cream and the entire 8 ounces of  low fat cream cheese. This dish was excellent and the flavors really came together very well. The sauce was thick and rich so I added a little milk to thin it a bit. We love having access to fresh Mayport shrimp near by. Will definitely add this into the dinner rotation. Thank you for posting this recipe. Steve5 stars

  11. Made this tonight for my family. (Husband, 12yr old, 8yr old) We used creole seasoning, because that is what I had on hand. AMAZING!! NOBODY complained, everyone cleaned their plates, and there are NO leftovers!5 stars

  12. Awesome dish, just what we were looking for! The sauce is amazing!!! We added 1lb smoked sausage and 1/2 onion sliced. We had enough sauce to use a full 16oz box of linguine too. Made 8 huge servings. Going in the recipe book!5 stars

  13. Tried this last night with chicken instead of shrimp. Really worked well! Beautiful flavours…will be doing it again soon!5 stars

  14. This recipe was SO good. It was such a balanced meal for me–some carbs, protein, veggies, and fat. I was beyond satisfied and so happy after a bowl! thank you so much!5 stars

  15. Can I use the creamy sauce mixture and instead of adding noodles to the pot, ladle some onto steamed. rice? 

    1. Hi! I haven’t tried this change myself, but you could experiment with it. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  16. I’ve made this several times before and absolutely LOVE it each time. Tonight I made a few changes and wanted to share. I used oat milk to cut out some of the dairy, and Banza chickpea pasta (cavatappi) to cut out the gluten. It was still absolutely phenomenal and you couldn’t tell that I’d made any changes.
    I have also made it before using frozen peppers, and it’s fine, but fresh definitely make for a better texture.5 stars

    1. This was very delicious. Instead of non fat milk and constarch i used heavy cream and Frigo’s parmesan shaved cheese and i also added spinach to my dish.

  17. So good, a great recipe! A little salty, id suggest skipping the last salt addition. A flavorful & creamy sauce (& enough sauce!)5 stars

  18. Hi, can you say what the sodium content is per serving. RDA is 2300 mgs or less . Would love to know how this will fit into my meal plan. Thanks!

    1. Hi Debra! I stopped including sodium info because it can vary so much depending upon what products you used, and I found a lot of conflicting info online, so ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it because sometimes it wasn’t even in the ballpark. If you’d like to calculate it yourself, there are lots of free tools online (myfitnesspal.com is popular). I hope that helps!

  19. Love the versatility of this recipe to clean out the vegetable drawer and utilize leftovers. I had two links of andouie sausage and half a grilled chicken breast from a previous meal that I added. Also used a 4 oz chunk of cream cheese and half a Vidalia onion ( instead of green onions) that were taking up space in the fridge. I also love the combination of different peppers.5 stars

  20. This was really delicious! Perfect combo of creamy, not overly cheesy and felt healthy because of all the vegetables.5 stars

  21. I took out the mushrooms because I don’t like them and added a container of raw spinach, but kept everything else the same. I didn’t love it, but I think part of that was that my Cajun seasoning is old. I added some additional spices for the leftovers and it was much tastier. I still don’t think I’d make it again due to the amount of work (and dishes!) involved though.4 stars

  22. Looks amazing!!!

    Can I leave the cream cheese out? Any suggestions for substitutions that are non dairy (other than non dairy cream cheese)?

    1. Hi Sarah! I’ve only tested the recipe as written so it would be hard to say what could be substituted. The cream cheese helps with thickening the sauce and flavoring, but you could try to leave it out. It would definitely change the end result. If you try it, let me know!

  23. Yum! Ended up using regular cream cheese, and it was delicious!! I had enough sauce to just use a whole pound of rigatoni and have leftovers for the week.5 stars

  24. Made this last night and it was super good! Love that all the veggies made it feel like a balanced meal. Can’t wait to make it again and toss in some turkey smoked sausage as well!5 stars

  25. This was absolutely delicious!!! I’ve never left a comment on recipes before, but just HAD to for this one.

    I used barilla gluten free linguine and it was just perfect!

    Thank you!!5 stars