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This Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta was inspired by a favorite New Orleans dish. The creamy sauce with the slightly spicy, buttery shrimp is to die for!
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This Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta reminds me of the delicious food we ate in New Orleans last fall. There are so many yummy Cajun/Creole recipes that are unique to that area that I am dying to learn how to cook. I keep kicking myself that I didn’t buy a cookbook while I was there. I guess I am just going to have to go back!
Back to this Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta, there is a reason why you don’t use pre-cooked shrimp. You’ll regret it if you do. Why? The shrimp will be overcooked and rubbery. Also, buying fresh or frozen is usually less expensive than buying pre-cooked shrimp. I found a great article on preparing and deveining frozen or fresh shrimp after I made this mistake of trying this recipe with pre-cooked shrimp. I’ve included some highlights here, but you can find more information and photos here at recipetips.com
Check Shrimp for Freshness
- Fresh shrimp should smell clean. Refrain from shrimp that smells of ammonia.
- At the fish market, fresh shrimp should be stored in or on ice.
- If you purchase frozen shrimp, avoid shrimp that was peeled and deveined prior to freezing. The practice of cleaning the shrimp before freezing may cause a loss of flavor and texture.
- Be aware of leakage or frozen surface ice on frozen shrimp. These are signs that the shrimp has been defrosted and refrozen and should be avoided.
- Raw shrimp – remove shells, tails, and veins
- Cajun seasoning – Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning is the best!
- Red pepper – chopped
- Minced garlic
- Heavy whipping cream
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Linguine – cooked al dente
How to Prepare Shrimp
- “Refresh” frozen shrimp by soaking in salted water, 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt to 1 quart of water. The best way to keep shrimp fresh while preparing them is to keep them in ice water. Return the cleaned shrimp to the ice water until you are ready to cook them. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel before cooking.
- The black vein that runs along the back of shrimp is the digestive tract. Typically, whether veins are in or out, seldom is there a flavor difference unless the vein is large and contains a high volume of grit and digested material. It is removed more for the appearance than taste. The decision to remove the digestive tract is based on personal preference.
- Prepping shrimp can be as simple as rinsing them in fresh water. If the recipe calls for removing the head, gently pull of the head and discard. Most often, shrimp is purchased with the head already removed.
- To remove the shell, begin by holding the shrimp firmly and pulling off the legs.
- An alternative technique is to remove the legs at the same time the shell is removed. Using your thumbs, peel back the sides of the shrimps shell. Pluck away any legs that remain after the shell has been removed.
- Peel the shell away from the body. The tail of the shrimp can be removed at the same time by simply holding the body of the shrimp and pulling away the tail. The shell will come off with the tail. Removing the tail is optional.
- To devein the shrimp with a small utility knife, make a shallow cut down the back of the shrimp to expose the vein.
- Once the vein is exposed, pull the intestine out with the knife, a toothpick, or your fingers.
We’ve had some great suggestions from some of our readers on additions they have made to this Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta. Here are their tips:
- Add capers.
- If you like it spicier, use a red Fresno pepper instead of a red bell pepper.
- Use fresh cherry tomatoes as a garnish.
- Use chicken instead of shrimp.
- Garnish with parsley and oregano or a sprinkle of paprika.
- Add chopped onion sautéed in olive oil, or just a dash of onion powder (and garlic powder too, why not?!)
- Incorporate diced tomatoes while you are cooking, with the red pepper and garlic.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are making Cajun shrimp pasta, something delicious to pair with it are sausages, specifically the andouille sausage – a Cajun andouille sausage is delicious, filled with Cajun spices and flavors that would pair well on the side or even sliced and put into your Cajun pasta. This adds protein to the pasta dish as well as gives it a kick.
Leftovers of this creamy Cajun shrimp pasta recipe will last in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
Read More:35+ Quick and Easy To Follow Dinner Ideas Your Family Will Surely Love
More Favorite Recipes from New Orleans
We are big fans of the delicious flavors in New Orleans. We’ve made a bunch of delicious copycat recipes from our visits there. If you love the flavors of New Orleans as much as we do, you’ve got to try some of these recipes!
- Mini Beignets
- Mint Juleps
- Cajun Chicken Po’ Boys
- Pecan Pralines
- Creole Butter Shrimp
- Cajun Style Grill Foil Packets
- One Pot Jambalaya Pasta
- Red Beans and Rice
- Shrimp Po Boys with Creamy Cajun Sauce
Just for fun, I added some pics from our trip below the recipe to help you get in a “Nawlins” mood while cooking. There are a few fun pictures from our trip to New Orleans, such a beautiful and unique city full of great culture and music.
How to Make Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta
Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- 1 pound raw shrimp remove shells, tails and veins
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning is the best!
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup red pepper chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 8 ounces linguine cooked al dente
- Stir together and coat the shrimp in cajun seasoning.
- In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the seasoned shrimp and sauté until shrimp begins to turn pink.
- Add the red pepper and minced garlic and sauté another minute or two.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add the cream, parmesan cheese, basil, and pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes (I like to cook the pasta while this is simmering).
- Toss in the cooked pasta and stir to coat.
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The recipe is perfect as written, however I like to add a bit more garlic – maybe top with green onions. I’ve made this more than a dozen times ; my husband’s favorite! Thank you!
Can I substitute cream cheese or maybe even ricotta for the Parmesan? Not a fan of cheese but those two choices are tolerable in my household.
You could leave the cheese out, and it will still be fine. I think the cream cheese would be your best bet for a substitute if you decide to try it. Thanks for asking!
This was delicious! Next time I will quit at one helping because I’m stuffed! The only thing I did differently was cook the shrimp set aside then cooked red pepper and garlic and made sauce added shrimp back in with noddles and served! It was a hit at my house!
Just had Thanksgiving this week but dreaming of this yummy recipe. It’s my favorite!!
My favorite dinner ever! I made it for myself on Mother’s Day because I wanted this instead of something from my husband’s repertoire. Lol!
Thank you so much!!
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