This Cajun Chicken Pasta bake is the best kind of comfort food. Blackened chicken breast is tossed with creamy Alfredo pasta, then baked in the oven and topped with a thick layer of parmesan and cheddar cheese. Pair it with a side salad and some homemade focaccia bread to complete the meal!
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Homemade Baked Chicken Alfredo
I have to admit that I love pasta. I would eat it every night of the week, if I could. (Well, I should say if my metabolism worked at hyper speed.)
This Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake recipe is creamy, decadent, and pairs perfectly with a side salad, some homemade focaccia bread, and a cup of soup. If you like blackened chicken and a bit of spice, you will definitely love this dish.
This recipe is loaded with penne pasta, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, and creamy Alfredo sauce, then topped with fresh chopped parsley. It’s a beautiful as it is delicious! Not to mention it’s a cinch to make. Just sauté your chicken, boil your pasta, make a quick Alfredo sauce, then toss is all together in a baking dish and let you oven do the work. Dinner’s ready in 30 minutes or less!
This is an easy weeknight dinner, but it would also make a delicious, simple Valentine’s Day dinner, especially when served with my favorite red wine sangria.
- Penne Pasta: I chose this type of pasta because it’s easy to pick up with a fork, it’s sturdy, and the ridges help the Alfredo sauce adhere to the noodles. But you can use whatever you prefer! Bowties, cavatappi, and elbows would also work beautifully, as well as whole wheat pasta.
- Chicken Thighs: You’ll need 1 pound in total for this recipe. I like boneless, skinless chicken thighs because they don’t dry out when baked and yield a ton of flavor, but you could also use chicken breasts, if you prefer.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: To keep the chicken pieces from sticking to the pan.
- Cajun Seasoning: You’ll need four teaspoons for this recipe. Make your own by following the tip below, and make sure to double or even triple it so you always have some on-hand.
- Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese: Just half of a cup will make bind this baked pasta dish together and make it super creamy.
- Alfredo Sauce: Make your own by following the steps below, or buy it off the shelf. Just opt for a high-quality brand like Rao’s if going this route. Keep in mind, though, that it’ll never be as good as my from-scratch version!
- Fresh Parsley: For garnish, if desired.
PRO TIP: Make your own homemade Cajun seasoning by combining the following spices: 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, and 1 teaspoon dried thyme.
How To Make Homemade Alfredo Sauce
Making your own Alfredo sauce from scratch may sound intimidating, but it couldn’t be simpler. Even beginner home chefs can make this! It instantly takes my Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake recipe to the next level.
- Just heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until melted and foamy.
- Then, whisk in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, and stir constantly for 1 minute to ensure it doesn’t burn. If needed add more butter to prevent burning.
- Next, gradually pour in 2 cups of milk (whole preferred), whisking the entire time to prevent lumps, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir continuously so the milk does not bubble out over the pan. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Add 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the milk mixture, and stir until combined and lump free.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you want some spice, add a few shakes of cayenne or red pepper flakes.
That’s it! It only takes about 10 minutes to make your own homemade Alfredo sauce from start to finish. It’s well worth the extra effort, in my opinion!
How To Make This Homemade Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Cook the Pasta: Follow package instructions until al-dente. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Sauté the Chicken Thighs: Sprinkle the cajun seasoning on both sides of the chicken that’s cut into bite-sized pieces. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Once the oil is shiny, add the chicken, and cook for 6-7 minutes, flipping halfway through or until fully cooked.
- Make the Alfredo Sauce: Follow the instructions above for making your own silky smooth homemade Alfredo sauce!
- Assemble the Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake: Add the pasta and Alfredo sauce to the skillet with the chicken and toss to coat the pasta. (Make sure to scrape up all the browned bits; that’s where all the chicken flavor is!) Transfer the pasta to a greased 9 x 13 baking dish, top with the 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Turn the broiler on low at the end to get the cheese golden brown; just watch it closely so it doesn’t burn!
- Serve: Scoop into bowls or onto plates, and garnish with fresh chopped parsley, if desired. Enjoy!
PRO TIP: Cut down on the amount of dirty dishes by cooking your chicken in a large oven-safe pan to make this a Skillet Cajun Chicken Alfredo. Then, combine it with the pasta and Alfredo sauce thoroughly, top with cheese, and pop in the oven.
Variations for Baked Chicken Alfredo Pasta
- Swap out the blackened chicken for blackened shrimp or your favorite fish! (If serving with fish like salmon, cook the fish and pasta separately, then serve the fish on top of a bed of the Alfredo pasta.)
- Use gluten-free pasta like lentil or chickpea noodles or shells.
- Throw in some chopped, cooked bacon or pancetta to take this dish to the next level!
- In a hurry? Substitute jarred Alfredo sauce for this homemade version. But opt for high-quality brands like Rao’s. (Fair warning — it won’t be nearly as good as it is from scratch!)
- Leave the meat out all together for a vegetarian-friendly option!
- Add more veggies before baking like frozen peas, zoodles, sliced bell peppers, diced onions, or chopped spinach.
- Make it a spicy Alfredo with crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or diced jalapeños.
How To Store, Freeze, and Reheat Baked Cajun Chicken Pasta
- To Store: Allow pasta to completely cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for three to four days.
- To Freeze: Store cooled pasta in an airtight, freezer-safe container or plastic bag for up to three months in your freezer.
- To Reheat: Allow frozen pasta to thaw in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. You can also place in an oven-safe baking dish and heat in a 275-degree oven until warmed through and bubbling.
More Recipes To Try
If you enjoyed this Homemade Cajun Chicken Pasta, then you’ll love these other easy pasta recipes:
- 15 Minute Vodka Pasta
- Crock Pot Chicken Alfredo
- 30 Minute Mushroom Carbonara
- Pasta with Garlic and Oil
- Walnut Pesto Pasta
- One Pan Mexican Pasta
Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake
Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake
- Cook pasta: per package instructions until al-dente. Meanwhile preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Saute chicken: Sprinkle the cajun seasoning on both sides of the chicken. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a large skillet. Once hot add in chicken and cook for 6-7 minutes flipping halfway through or until fully cooked.
- Alfredo Sauce: Heat butter in a medium saucepan until melted. Whisk in flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Make sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn. Slowly add in milk and bring to a simmer, stir continuously so the milk does not bubble out over the pan. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes then take off of the heat. Add in both cheeses and stir until combined and lump free.
- Assemble: Add the pasta and Alfredo sauce to the skillet with the chicken and toss to coat the pasta. Transfer the pasta to a greased 13 x 9 pan and top with the 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. You can also turn the broiler on at the end to get the cheese golden brown just make sure to keep an eye on it.
- Serve: Immediately with fresh chopped parsley for garnish, if desired.