If you’re a fan of Cajun flavors and you love the convenience of slow-cooker meals, you’re in for a treat! Our Crock Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta recipe combines the bold and spicy taste of Cajun cuisine with the ease of a slow cooker. This dish is perfect for busy weeknights, family gatherings, or any time you want a delicious, fuss-free meal. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through every step, from the list of ingredients and necessary equipment to the cooking process, helpful tips, tantalizing variations, and even keto and low-carb alternatives. Get ready to savor a mouthwatering Cajun experience without the hassle. Let’s dive into this flavorful delight.
Table of Contents
Keto and Low-Carb Versions
For the Crock Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta, you’ll need:
1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
12 oz andouille sausage, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (store-bought or homemade)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to your spice preference)
1 cup heavy cream
12 oz penne pasta
Salt and black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional, for serving)
Before starting, ensure you have the following equipment on hand:
Slow cooker (Crock-Pot)
Skillet or pan
Cooking spray or oil (for greasing)
Large pot for boiling pasta
Let’s dive into the step-by-step process of creating Crock Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta.
Preparing Crock Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta:
Begin by greasing the inside of your slow cooker to prevent sticking. You can use cooking spray or a bit of oil.
In a skillet or pan over medium-high heat, cook the sliced andouille sausage until it’s nicely browned. This should take about 5 minutes. Once done, transfer the sausage to your prepared slow cooker.
In the same skillet, add the diced chicken breast pieces. Cook until they’re browned on the outside, but don’t worry about cooking them through at this stage. Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker as well.
Now, add diced onions, red bell peppers, green bell peppers, and minced garlic to the skillet. Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until they become tender.
Transfer the sautéed vegetables to the slow cooker with the sausage and chicken.
Pour chicken broth and diced tomatoes (with their juices) into the slow cooker.
Add the Cajun seasoning, dried thyme, paprika, and cayenne pepper to the slow cooker. Mix everything well.
Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Keep in mind that the andouille sausage and Cajun seasoning already contain salt, so adjust accordingly.
Cover your slow cooker and cook on the low setting for 4-6 hours. This allows the flavors to meld and the chicken to become tender. You can also cook on the high setting for 2-3 hours.
About 30 minutes before the slow cooker time is up, boil your penne pasta according to the package instructions. Cook until it’s al dente. You’ll want it to be slightly undercooked because it will continue cooking when mixed with the other ingredients.
Drain the pasta and set it aside.
Bringing It All Together:
After the slow cooker time is up, open the lid and pour in the heavy cream. Mix until the sauce is creamy and well combined.
Add the cooked penne pasta to the slow cooker and gently stir until it’s fully coated with the Cajun chicken and sauce.
Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If you prefer more heat, you can add extra cayenne pepper at this stage.
Let everything simmer for another 15-20 minutes on the low setting to ensure the pasta is fully cooked and the flavors meld.
Serve the Crock Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta hot, garnished with chopped fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
Pair with some crusty bread or a side salad for a complete meal.
Cajun Seasoning: If you don’t have store-bought Cajun seasoning, you can make your own by combining spices like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme.
Spice Level: Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to control the spiciness. You can also remove the seeds from the bell peppers if you prefer a milder dish.
Heavy Cream Substitute: If you want a lighter version, you can replace heavy cream with half-and-half or even whole milk, but keep in mind it won’t be as rich.
Serving Suggestions: This dish goes wonderfully with a side of garlic bread, a green salad, or steamed vegetables.
Crock Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta is versatile, and you can customize it to suit your preferences. Here are some ideas for variations:
Seafood Twist: Add shrimp or crawfish to make it a Cajun seafood pasta.
Vegetarian Option: Skip the meat and load up on veggies. Mushrooms, zucchini, and okra are great choices.
Cheese Lover: Sprinkle some shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Parmesan cheese over the top before serving.
Fresh Herbs: For a burst of fresh flavor, add chopped parsley, cilantro, or green onions as a garnish.
Keto and Low-Carb Versions
If you’re following a keto or low-carb diet, you can still enjoy this Cajun delight with a few tweaks:
Pasta Substitute: Use cauliflower florets, zucchini noodles, or shirataki noodles instead of traditional pasta.
Low-Carb Veggies: Incorporate low-carb vegetables like bell peppers, asparagus, or spinach to maintain flavor and reduce the carb content.
Cream Replacement: Substitute the heavy cream with unsweetened almond milk or coconut cream to lower the carb count.
Thicken with Xanthan Gum: Instead of traditional flour, use a small amount of xanthan gum or a low-carb thickener to achieve the desired sauce consistency.
There you have it! Crock Pot Cajun Chicken Pasta is a flavorful, easy, and versatile dish that captures the essence of Cajun cuisine. Whether you’re a spice enthusiast or prefer a milder taste, this recipe is adaptable to your preferences. It’s an ideal solution for busy weekdays when you want a satisfying meal with minimal effort. Plus, with keto and low-carb variations, you can savor this flavorful delight while adhering to your dietary goals. So, gather your ingredients, fire up the slow cooker, and enjoy the irresistible combination of tender chicken, spicy andouille sausage, and perfectly cooked pasta. Your taste buds will thank you!