This delicious Instant Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta is the ultimate quick dinner recipe. Just 30 minutes from start to finish is all it takes to serve you family a healthy homemade meal. This one pot Cajun pasta with gluten free and dairy free option also is a fantastic meal prep recipe.
Today's recipe is inspired by the most popular dinner recipe on Leelalicious: Cajun Chicken and Rice
It has been almost 2 years since I posted that recipe, so I figured it was high time to make a pasta version of that delicious dish!
How to make Cajun Chicken Pasta
This easy Cajun chicken pasta has two simple cooking steps. While in many Instant Pot recipes browning the meat is an optional step, it is crucial in this recipe.
Pasta takes such a short amount of time to cook in the pressure cooker. So to ensure that the chicken will fully cook it is necessary to brown it first together with the onions.
Then you can deglaze the bottom of the Instant Pot with a splash of broth. It is important to scrape up any stuck on brown bits for the pressure cooker to heat up properly. Otherwise you make get the dreaded 'Burn' message.
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Now you can add all the remaining ingredients. This includes garlic, Cajun seasoning (I make my own spice mix), tomato pasta, bell pepper, a fresh tomato, and broth.
Add the pasta last on the very top and DO NOT STIR! Having the pasta too close to the bottom of the Instant Pot may cause the pasta starch to burn and trigger the 'Burn' message.
So sprinkle the pasta on top and push it down as little so that as much of the pasta is submerged in the broth as possible.
You will notice that I am not using cream or cream cheese in this recipe. It is still a creamy chicken pasta recipe because it is a one pot recipe. The starches in the pasta that aren't rinsed off but cooked together with all the other ingredients.
However, if you want to take the creaminess up one more level, stir in some grated parmesan cheese at the end when the pasta has finished cooking.
What type of pasta to use
I have made this recipe successfully with regular pasta, whole wheat pasta, and gluten free pasta based on rice, corn, or quinoa. I haven't tried legume-based pasta because I find they always need a good rinse after cooking. So I don't use them in one pot recipes.
As for shapes, I prefer short types like fusilli (spirals) or penne. Long pasta shapes might be fine too, I just haven't tried them yet in this recipe.
How Long To Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot
While testing all kinds of different pasta for this recipe, I came to the conclusion that pasta type is not a determining factor in cooking time. Checking the normal (stovetop) cooking type is a much better indicator.
Package instructions usually give a range of time, like 7-11 minutes. When taking the middle of those ranges (9 minutes in this example) this following ratio has worked well for me:
Average cooking time:
9 minutes = 3 minutes in Instant Pot
12 minutes = 4 minutes
15 minutes = 5 minutes
Can I use sausage or shrimp?
Of course, you can mix up the protein in this Cajun pasta recipe. You can add or replace some of the chicken with sliced sausage for Cajun chicken and sausage pasta version.
Cured or smoked sausage doesn't need as much cooking as raw chicken. So you could skip the browning step if pressed for time. But giving the sausage some colour won't hurt and will actually improve the flavour.
If turning this recipe in Cajun shrimp pasta, I recommend cooking the shrimp separately. It will overcook if you have it in the pressure cooker as long as the pasta needs to soften.
Season the shrimp with Cajun seasoning and then sear them in the Instant Pot on Sauté function. This takes only about a couple of minutes on each side.
Then remove the shrimp to a plate and continue cooking the Cajun pasta. Stir the shrimp back into the pasta when everything is done.
What goes with Cajun Chicken Pasta
Although this spicy chicken pasta recipe includes some veggies already, I aim to fill half my plate with veggies or greens.
Typically I would have a fresh green salad on the side of this dish. Other times, I stir fresh spinach into the hot pasta for it to wilt and become part of the one pot healthy Cajun chicken pasta.
Can you Reheat Cajun Chicken Pasta
Absolutely! This creamy Cajun chicken pasta is actually a fantastic meal prep recipe.
It makes 4 servings for 4 healthy lunches. I don't even mind eating the spicy pasta cold.
But it can also easily be reheated either in the microwave or in a sauté pan on the stovetop. In that case I add a splash of water to the bottom and close the pan with lid to let the steam warm through the pasta.
Can you Freeze Cajun Chicken Pasta
Normally, cooked pasta can be frozen and reheated just fine. But for that the pasta should only be cooked to firm al dente texture.
Pasta that has been cooked more, will likely turn mushy when reheating after freezing. You can still freeze leftover of this pasta dish, as long you are aware and ok with the fact that the texture will likely suffer.
Pressure Cooker I Use
More delicious Instant Pot Dinner Recipes You'll Love
- Cajun Chicken and Rice (the inspiration for this pasta recipe)
- Butternut Squash Chicken Stew
- Instant Pot Chili
- Instant Pot Chicken and Rice
- Instant Pot Spaghetti & Meat Sauce
VIDEO: How to Cook Instant Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta
Instant Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ½ large onion diced
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs cubed
- 1.5-2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 fresh tomato diced
- 1 bell pepper small dice (I like to use ½ red + ½ green)
- 1.5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 8 ounces pasta regular, whole wheat, or gluten free, I like to use a spiral shape
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese optional
- Press the ‘Sauté’ button on the Instant Pot and wait until the display shows ‘HOT’. Add the oil and diced onion. Sauté while stirring until the onions start to soften.
- Add the chicken cubes and sauté 2-3 more minutes. Then press ‘Cancel’ to turn off the heat.
- Stir in the Cajun seasoning, black pepper, minced garlic, tomato paste, diced tomato and bell pepper. Stir to combine.
- Pour in the broth and spread out the dry pasta on top. Do NOT stir. Only press down gently to submerge as many of the noodles into the broth as possible.
- Close the lid and turn the venting valve to sealing position. Press ‘Manual’ and select 3-5 minutes high pressure (check for exact cook time below in Notes).
- The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to pressurize before the timer will start counting down. Once the cook time is up, press ‘Cancel’ and release the pressure by turning the valve to venting position.
- Once all the pressure is released, open the lid and stir in optional parmesan cheese.
- Serve with sliced green onion, or chopped parsley/cilantro.
9 minutes = 3 minutes in Instant Pot
12 minutes = 4 minutes
15 minutes = 5 minutes
Cajun chicken typically includes a mix of spices such as paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. It is often accompanied by bell peppers, onions, and sometimes sausage for an authentic Cajun flavor.
The Cajun sauce typically consists of a blend of spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder, mixed with a base of broth or tomato sauce. Some variations may include additional ingredients like cream or cheese for added richness and creaminess.
The calorie count in a bowl of Cajun chicken pasta can vary depending on the specific ingredients and portion size. However, a typical serving of Cajun chicken pasta may contain around 400-600 calories, depending on the amount of pasta, chicken, and sauce used.
Yes, you can still make Cajun chicken pasta without an Instant Pot. Simply use a regular pot or skillet to cook the chicken and other ingredients. Adjust the cooking times accordingly to ensure the chicken and pasta are properly cooked.
The spiciness of Cajun chicken pasta can vary depending on the amount of Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper used. It is typically moderately spicy, but you can adjust the spice level to your preference by controlling the amount of Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper added to the dish.