Cajun Sausage Pasta

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An easy one pot creamy cajun sausage and veggie pasta made healthier and a little lighter! via chelseasmessyapron.com

This Cajun Sausage Pasta is deliciously creamy, perfectly spiced, and deeply savory. Plus, we’ve made it a little bit lighter — no heavy cream needed!

Close-up view of Cajun Sausage Pasta!

A Creamy Cajun Sausage Pasta Made A Little Lighter

When I’m craving a hearty, Alfredo-based pasta, the goal is pure comfort food. Meaning, it needs to be ultra creamy and packed with flavor. Typically this is achieved with a whole lot of heavy cream and/or cheese (hello my fave creamy sausage pasta!).

But not with this healthy Cajun Sausage Pasta — in fact, there is no heavy cream and much less cheese than most recipes. But you can rest assured that we aren’t sacrificing flavor or creaminess — not one bit! Even with the few swaps to make this dish a bit lighter, it still tastes just as indulgent as a heavy cream-based pasta.

Process shots: Sear the sausage and remove to bowl; sautee onion.

Quick Recipe Breakdown

  • Cajun sausage pasta — no cream! Instead we use milk. Use low-fat (1%) for lowest calorie/fat percentages. Or use 2%/whole milk for the creamiest result. (These options still deliver far less calories than cream.
  • Chicken broth in the sauce. Instead of solely relying on milk in the cream sauce, 1/3 of the sauce is made up of chicken broth– which has a fraction of the calories and fat that milk does.
  • Low-fat cream cheese (or neufchâtel cheese) plus less Parmesan cheese than a typical creamy Alfredo sauce. It’s just enough to still get that classic Alfredo flavor, but without all the extra fat.
  • Then we add a myriad of delicious seasonings to add an incredible depth of flavor without adding any calories/fat.
  • An alternative sausage option. While any skinless smoked sausage works great here, we like to use turkey sausage as a lighter option. (And it’s truly delicious in this Cajun Sausage Pasta!) If you aren’t a fan of turkey sausage, we recommend making this cajun pasta with Andouille sausage.
  • Of course, we can’t forget all of the veggies we’re “sneaking” in here — onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, and garlic!

Process shots: sautee mushrooms, peppers and garlic; transfer out of pan; create the sauce by melting butter and whisking in flour

How To Make Cajun Sausage Pasta

  • Season as you go. If this dish tastes flat, add a sprinkle of salt or some extra cajun seasoning. 
  • Optional additions. If the sauce tastes too heavy, cut it with some fresh herbs (we prefer flat-leaf Italian parsley). For a bit of heat, I recommend adding in extra cajun seasoning or even a pinch of red pepper flakes. 
  • Loosen the sauce. If the sauce ends up too thick at the end, pour in some additional liquid  (a splash of reserved pasta water or extra milk) to thin it out a bit and nicely coat the pasta.

Process shots: whisk the sauce; sir in chicken broth and milk; whisk constantly

Cajun Sausage Pasta Alfredo Ingredients

  • Butter: This sauce also works great with 1/4 cup olive oil instead of butter.
  • Flour: This ingredient is responsible for thickening the sauce.
  • Chicken broth: This ingredient cuts lots of fat/calories while infusing the sauce with additional flavor and savoriness.
  • Milk: The lowest-fat milk I found to work in this sauce is 1%; 2% or whole milk will deliver a creamier pasta. We don’t recommend skim milk or milk alternatives like soy, almond, or oat milk. These milks don’t thicken well and change the overall flavor substantially.

Process shots: season and add cream cheese; whisk to smooth; add pasta and return veggies and sausage to the pan

Ingredients Continued

  • Seasonings: Cajun seasoning (see “quick tip” below), dried oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper deliver incredible depth to the sauce. Feel free to increase any of these seasonings to personal preference, making sure to add the salt slowly so you don’t end up with an overly salted Cajun Sausage Pasta. (Remember: the sausage, pasta water, and chicken broth are all salted.. 
  • Cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese: Neufchâtel is sometimes labeled “1/3 less fat than cream cheese.” Cream cheese and Neufchâtel cheese are extremely similar, but the Neufchâtel keeps this sauce a little lighter.
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese: Good Parmesan makes a big difference to overall flavor. Avoid canned Parmesan and go for the blocks of cheese to freshly grate. When grating the cheese for this dish, use a microplane (best texture!) or the small holes of your cheese grater.

QUICK TIP

Let’s chat Cajun seasoningThis seasoning can vary a lot from brand to brand. We personally use McCormick’s® Perfect Pinch Cajun or Tony Chachere’s® Original Creole Seasoning (neither sponsored).  You can also make your own Cajun seasoning mix if you’d prefer. Whatever you use, add slowly and to taste.

Toss ingredients together; stir in Parmesan cheese

VARIATIONS

Add a Different Protein

Make Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Pasta by adding in some pan-seared shrimp! After cooking veggies, sear some shrimp (reference directions in this Lemon Garlic Shrimp recipe) and set aside with sausage and veggies.

Prepare Cajun Chicken and Sausage Pasta by adding in some leftover diced rotisserie or grilled chicken. Mix just to warm through when adding the pasta to the sauce.

Overhead view of Cajun Sausage Pasta

STORAGE

Cajun Sausage Pasta  Storage

This recipe is best enjoyed the minute it’s finished. In fact, this is when all pasta dishes taste their best!

You can certainly store leftovers, but you’ll likely need to add a splash more milk or chicken broth to loosen the sauce as you reheat the pasta. (Pasta will continue to absorb the sauce as it stores). Leftover pasta will be softer, but still plenty flavorful.

Because of the pasta and dairy in this dish, it isn’t a great candidate for freezing and thawing.

Close-up view of Cajun Sausage Pasta

QUICK TIP

Don’t forget to season the water with plenty of salt before adding in the pasta; otherwise the entire recipe will taste under-seasoned. As a general rule of thumb, I add 1 teaspoon salt per 4 cups of water.

More Lighter Pasta Dishes:

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Cajun Sausage Pasta

5 from 5 votes
This Cajun Sausage Pasta is deliciously creamy, perfectly spiced, and deeply savory. Plus, we've made it a little bit lighter -- no heavy cream needed!
Print Recipe

Cajun Sausage Pasta

5 from 5 votes
This Cajun Sausage Pasta is deliciously creamy, perfectly spiced, and deeply savory. Plus, we've made it a little bit lighter -- no heavy cream needed!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Cajun Sausage Pasta, cajun sausage pasta recipe
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings
Chelsea Lords
Calories 666kcal

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 1 package (13 oz.) smoked sausage, coined (Note 1)
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced (1 cup)
  • 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced (1 red & 1 green)
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz) sliced mushrooms (baby bella or crimini)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 2 cups milk (1%, 2% or whole)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-4 teaspoons cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and paprika
  • 2 ounces cream cheese (reduced-fat or regular)
  • 12 oz. penne pasta (3-1/2 cups -- See Note 2)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Note 3)
  • Optional: fresh parsley, finely diced

Instructions

  • PREP: Dice onion, mince garlic, remove the stems and seeds and then thinly slice the bell peppers. Slice the sausage into thin coins.
  • SAUSAGE: Place a large cast iron skillet/pot (big enough to hold all the pasta later) over medium-high heat. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon oil. Once oil is hot, add coined sausage. Let sear, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a large bowl, leaving the oil behind. Set aside for now.
  • VEGGIES: Add another tablespoon olive oil to the pan along with the diced onion. Stir for 1 minute then add in the sliced peppers and mushrooms. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until veggies are crisp-tender, about 6-8 minutes. (Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil if needed.) Add 1 tablespoon garlic and sauté for one minute. Add the sautéed veggies to the bowl of sausage.
  • PASTA: Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions subtracting 1 minute from time indicated on package. Be sure to generously salt the boiling water (I add 1 tsp salt for every 4 cups of water).
  • CREAM SAUCE: In the same pan veggies were cooked in, reduce heat to medium and add in the butter. Once melted, sprinkle flour on top and briskly whisk until mixture forms a dough. Cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Very gradually pour in 1/2 the chicken broth while whisking constantly until mixture forms a thick sauce. Gradually add in remaining chicken broth and milk, 1/2 cup at a time, while whisking briskly and constantly.
  • CREAM SAUCE, CONT.: Increase high to high. Bring sauce to a boil, stirring frequently so the sauce doesn't stick; then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer until sauce is nicely thickened. (Sauce should be thick enough that you can draw a path across the back of a spoon and it stays, about 5-8 minutes.) Meanwhile, melt cream cheese in the microwave until very soft. Add to sauce along with the cajun seasoning (to taste/spice preference; not all cajun seasonings deliver the same heat), oregano, paprika, salt & pepper (to taste). Whisk briskly until combined.
  • COMBINE: Remove cream sauce from heat. Stir in cooked and drained pasta and the sausage and veggies (plus any accumulated liquid left behind in bowl). Use two spoons to toss everything generously until nicely coated. Gradually add in Parmesan cheese, adding a few tablespoons at a time until nicely integrated. Taste and adjust seasonings/salt to personal preference. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve immediately. If desired, grate a touch more cheese atop individual bowls with a microplane.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Sausage: Any smoked skinless sausage will work great in this dish. We typically use hardwood smoked turkey sausage to keep it on the lighter side.
Note 2: Pasta: Most packages of penne pasta are either 12 ounces (perfect amount for this recipe!) or 16 ounces. If you get a 16 ounce package, measure out 1 full cup and remove that (use in a different recipe). The remaining left in the package is 12 ounces (or 3 and 1/2 cups) -- just the right amount for this recipe.
Note 3: Parmesan cheese: Packaged grated Parmesan (in the can) is very salty and won't melt as nicely in this recipe. We highly recommend grating a block of Parmesan cheese on a microplane or the small holes of the grater for ultra-fine cheese shreds. Alternatively, use finely grated Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 666kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 89mg | Sodium: 870mg | Potassium: 641mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2128IU | Vitamin C: 53mg | Calcium: 239mg | Iron: 2mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is a superbly delicious recipe. I made it for our meal prep recently and used campanelle pasta (which I think held the creamy sauce much better tbh,, but I did have to double up on the liquids since I used more pasta). It also went well with a chicken apple sausage that I had on hand. I love the fact that I could really just use one pan with this recipe! S/O loved it too!

  2. 5 stars
    I have made this a number of times over the past few years…it is good!! It’s kid friendly, however be prepared that it does make a lot.

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