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Give your weekly menu a little kick with this 30-minute Cajun Shrimp Pasta! With whole wheat noodles, juicy shrimp, and colorful veggies tossed in a lightly spicy cream sauce, this recipe is a homemade version of everyone’s favorite restaurant-style recipe.

Creamy cajun shrimp pasta in a skillet

This lighter 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 (when I wasn’t down the street enjoying Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad).

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 (I wasn’t cued into lighter takes like Garlic Shrimp Pasta yet).

Nowadays, I still love a rich and creamy plate of pasta now and then, but with a few tricks to make the recipe just as healthy and wholesome as it is satisfying.

Easy Cajun shrimp pasta healthy 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 —

Tips for Making Cajun Shrimp Pasta without Cream

Why does restaurant food taste so good (hello, Lettuce Wraps | Copycat PF Changs)? Usually, because they contain large amounts of fat and salt (sodium)—great for a night out, not so great for everyday home cooking.

To recreate this restaurant-style Cajun shrimp pasta, I made a few swaps to the classic recipe to make it a solid choice for weeknight meals.

  • No Cream. Unlike Chili’s recipe, which relies on butter and heavy cream for richness, I opted for milk, cornstarch, and light cream cheese to create a healthier but equally-delicious sauce with less fat and fewer calories.
  • Extra Veggies. Restaurants usually go heavy on pasta because it’s an affordable ingredient that accommodates Americans’ expectations for BIG restaurant portions. This recipe, however, opts for more veggies and less pasta for added nutrition.
  • Whole Wheat Pasta. I always prefer to reach for whole wheat pasta (like in this Chicken Alfredo Bake) when cooking a pasta dish at home to sneak a little extra fiber and whole grain goodness into every bite.

These nutritious swaps paired with easy prep and crowd-pleasing flavor will quickly turn this version of Chili’s Cajun shrimp pasta into an instant family favorite.

shrimp cajun pasta creamy in a skillet

How to Make Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

My goal for this recipe was to make a copycat Cajun shrimp pasta that’s tasty and better for you without losing its indulgent appeal.

The luscious, creamy sauce adds decadence (just like in Pasta al Limone), and ingredients like whole wheat pasta, bell peppers, mushrooms, and shrimp bring a scrumptious balance.

The Ingredients

  • Shrimp. Quick-cooking, easy to eat, and tasty in a variety of dishes (everything from Shrimp Tacos to spicy Bang Bang Shrimp), shrimp are also an excellent source of protein. v

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. Omitting the need to devein yourself really speeds up the prep time.
  • 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.

Substitution Tip

If you don’t enjoy shrimp or have an allergy, serve this recipe as Cajun chicken pasta by swapping Grilled Chicken Breast; you also could add Andouille sausage.

Want a vegetarian Cajun pasta? Omit the shrimp altogether.

  • Whole Wheat Pasta. Trading out white pasta noodles for their whole-grain counterpart instantly boosts your intake of fiber, protein, and other nutrients.

The Best Cajun Shrimp Pasta Shape

The classic Chili’s recipe is for a Cajun shrimp pasta with penne. I prefer a longer noodle with Alfredo-style sauces, so I traded penne for linguine. You can use any pasta shape you like, however. Bowties, rigatoni, or spaghetti are other great options.

  • Reduced-Fat Cream Cheese. This is a creamy Cajun shrimp pasta without cream! Just 4 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. (it’s also my secret to creamy Turkey Tetrazzini.)
  • Milk. Making this dish with nonfat milk lightens things up.
  • Bell Peppers. Crisp and colorful, a trio of bell peppers load every twirl of the fork with plenty of vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber.
  • Mushrooms. While the original Chili’s version of this Cajun pasta does not contain mushrooms, I love the addition. They taste super delish in this recipe (and Mushroom Pasta) and add tons of nutritional benefits.

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. (If you love tomato cream sauces, check out Penne Alla Vodka next).
  • 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. You can also use it for Cajun Shrimp Boil Foil Packs and Cajun Shrimp and Grits.


Note that Cajun seasoning contains salt, so depending on 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.

  • Green Onions. For a final flourish of color that adds additional zip and freshness.

The Directions

  1. Cook the pasta to al dente, drain, and set aside.
spicy shrimp in a bowl with Cajun seasoning
  1. Toss the shrimp with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Shrimp in a skillet with Cajun spices
  1. Add the shrimp to a preheated large skillet with oil.
Cajun shrimp being cooked in a skillet
  1. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the cooked shrimp 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. Whisk the milk and cornstarch together.
A creamy cajun shrimp pasta sauce with cream cheese 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 for the BEST cajun shrimp pasta
  1. Return everything to the pan.
Easy Cajun shrimp pasta without cream in a skillet
  1. Toss to coat all the ingredients in the sauce.
cajun shrimp and pasta recipe in a bowl
  1. Top with additional green onions, chopped fresh parsley, or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. ENJOY!

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 of copycat cajun shrimp pasta chilis 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.

Be warned; this creamy Cajun shrimp pasta is about to fire up your busy weeknight dinner expectations!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is This a Spicy Cajun Shrimp Pasta?

As the recipe is written, this pasta has a kick (like this Spicy Shrimp Pasta) 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 spice and/or cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes until it’s as spicy as you care to dare.

How Do You Thicken Cajun Shrimp Pasta Sauce?

If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can reduce the amount of milk in the recipe. Add gradually to the sauce and stop when it reaches the desired consistency. If you’ve accidentally added too much milk, you can experiment with adding additional another cornstarch slurry or an extra tablespoon of nonfat cream cheese to thicken the sauce back up.

How Do You Thin Cajun Shrimp Pasta Sauce?

If you prefer a thinner pasta sauce, you could add an extra splash of milk or reach for a few tablespoons of chicken broth or reserved pasta water.

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.

How Many Calories Are in Cajun Shrimp Pasta From Chili’s?

A Cajun shrimp pasta restaurant serving from Chili’s contains an estimated 1190 calories! Conversely, this healthy Cajun shrimp pasta contains just 340 calories per serving.

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

4.88 from 39 votes
This healthy Cajun Shrimp Pasta without cream tastes just like the restaurant recipe but with less fat, fewer calories, and extra veggies.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes

Servings: 4 –6 servings


  • 8 ounces whole wheat linguine noodles or pasta of your choice
  • 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 medium green bell pepper thinly sliced and halved
  • 8 ounces sliced baby bella (cremini) mushrooms sliced
  • 1 small bunch green onions thinly sliced, divided
  • 14 ounces fire-roasted diced tomatoes drained (1 can)
  • 1 1/4 cups nonfat milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese softened to room temperature


  • 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.



  • *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.


Serving: 1of 6, about 2 cupsCalories: 340kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 21gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 117mgPotassium: 582mgFiber: 2gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 2470IUVitamin C: 52mgCalcium: 186mgIron: 3mg

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Erin Clarke

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 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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  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. 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!

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

  4. 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!5 stars

    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!

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

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

  10. 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

  11. 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!

  12. 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.5 stars

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

  14. 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 ( is popular). I hope that helps!

  15. 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

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

  17. 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

  18. 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!

  19. 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

  20. 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

  21. 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

  22. Made this tonight Erin and all I can say is I want to eat it every night! So delicious and easy!!! I wish I could post a picture of it! Everything in your cookbook is delicious too! Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe!!!5 stars

  23. I don’t often comment on recipes but this was SO good!!! I used more pasta than was called for. I also used vegan sour cream instead of cream cheese, and oat milk – turned out perfect.

    Putting it in the dinner rotation!!!5 stars

  24. We have made this recipe twice now and I am IN LOVE! We are currently counting macros and this recipe was an amazingly healthy macro friendly recipe.

    I made the sauce and then each serving I was able to measure out my protein and pasta to make sure they fit my day the way I wanted.

    The other thing I have done with the leftover sauce is used different protein! First was shrimp, then I did blackened chicken, and then most recently I did bare lightly breaded chicken bites!

    THANK YOU for this awesome recipe!5 stars

  25. I added 1/2 lb of andouille sausage but other than that I followed the recipe exactly and it was so delicious! I can’t wait to make it again5 stars

  26. Currently eating this, and very disappointed. Followed the recipe to a T and it’s lacking. No flavor and has a gritty feel to it. Sad to say, we are tossing this out and won’t make it again.1 star

    1. Sorry to hear that you had trouble with the recipe, Barbara. The amounts, flavorings and timing have worked well for myself (and others) so I wished it would have been a hit for you too! I know it can be so disappointing to try a new recipe and it does not turn out for you.

  27. I’m thinking to make this dairy-free I would try oat milk and coconut cream to make it creamy. The coconut cream with the cajun may be a good mix. If I do it, I’ll let you know!

  28. I loved this, but it definitely wasn’t a 30 minute meal for me. If I made it again I can probably make it go faster. I appreciated being able to use up so many veggies in my fridge, and the sauce was perfect. Thank you!5 stars

  29. Just made it for dinner tonight and loved it!
    Didn’t have cream cheese but even then it tasted great to me. Thank you!5 stars

  30. I made this recipe this week and it was absolutely mouth-watering. I made only two substitutions – cream (10 %) and fresh garlic (I don’t even own garlic powder). I also added red pepper flakes (I like some bite!) It was excellent and will become a regular in my house. Creamy, full of flavour, healthy, and challenging to stop eating. Thanks very much for sharing.5 stars

  31. Made this recipe for a Friday night dinner. Probably the best thing I have ever served, I would pay for this in a restaurant!! My shrimp were already cooked so I just seasoned them and added them at the end to heat through. So happy we have leftovers.5 stars

  32. This recipe is absolutely phenomenal!!!! I made a few tweaks. I added an onion and andouille sausage. My dinner guests raved about this dish and begged to know where the recipe came from!!! 25 + ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!!!5 stars