This creamy Cajun sausage pasta makes an easy, quick and comforting dinner that the whole family will love! It is bold, a little spicy, cheesy and completely delicious – and can be in just 20 minutes with minimal prep! Perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Why you’ll love this recipe
A stockpile of quick and easy weeknight dinners is essential for any busy family! When you are hungry, but short on time, a simple go-to pasta recipe can be a lifesaver. And this is one you’ll want to make again and again! Here’s why;
- Quick and easy – fast dinner with minimal prep and clean up!
- Family friendly – I keep the spice level family-friendly for my kids, but you can turn the heat up or down to suit your taste. If you like, it can also be adapted to add your favourite vegetables to boost the veggie content.
- Freezer friendly – the whole dish, or just the sauce can be frozen and heated on busy nights when you need a quick dinner.
What you’ll need
** This post contains tips and instructions to achieve the best possible results. For full ingredient quantities and methods, see the detailed recipe card below.
Sausage – Andouille sausage (a smoked pork sausage) or chorizo add a lovely, smoky and spicy flavour to this dish. Andouille can be found in gourmet delis or butchers, but if you can’t source it, use whatever type of sausage you like!
Gourmet pork, chicken or beef sausages also work well. Or use up your leftover sausages from the fridge! Simply chop them up and add them along with the sauce, to heat through.
Pasta – I recommend small, bite sized pasta over longer strands, as the creamy sauce will soak into every last nook and cranny! When it comes to pasta, choose your favourite! I use fusilli (spiral pasta) or casarecce. But bow tie pasta with sausage is great too.
You can use penne or even your favourite filled ravioli or tortellini. For gluten-free pasta, substitute gluten-free brown rice pasta or a pulse pasta like lentil or chickpea.
Parmesan cheese – I recommend using fresh parmesan or pecorino romano, rather than pre-packaged shredded cheese for the following reasons; pre-grated cheese can be coated in preservatives to prevent mold. But that also means that it won’t melt completely into the pasta sauce and will clump, causing a lumpy sauce that doesn’t come together.
The melted cheese works to thicken the sauce, so a good quality, fresh cheese is recommended for both flavour and texture.
Cayenne – this ingredient can be skipped or reduced, if you prefer to keep it mild. Adjust the quantities to suit your taste. I add 1 teaspoon and my kids are still able to eat it (happily!).
Step by step instructions
There is nothing complicated about this recipe. The whole sauce can be prepare while the pasta is cooking! Once the pasta has been added to a pot of salted, boiling water, you can prepare and cook the rest of the ingredients as per the recipe below.
First, the onion, capsicum and garlic is fried together together with the olive oil until soft (about 2-3 minutes).
The sausages are then added to the pan, along with the Cajun spices and gently stirred until the sausages are lightly browned on the outside.
Once the spices have been stirred through, the sausages are simmered in the tomatoes and stock.
Turn the heat off to add the cream and cheese, so that the cream doesn’t split in the sauce. You will need to stir until the cheese has melted and incorporated into the sauce. The sauce will seem thin, but the cheese and pasta will help it to thicken further. The spinach leaves are added to wilt through the sauce.
Toss the pasta through the sauce and allow to sit for a couple of minutes for the sauce to thicken before serving. Serve with extra cheese and some fresh basil or parsley.
- You’ll notice that this recipe doesn’t contain any additional salt. This is because the parmesan cheese and the sausage, as well as the stock, all add their own seasoning. I love salt and I found that I didn’t need to add any to this recipe. But, you can season at the end according to your personal taste!
- The cheese will thicken the sauce as it rests. Once the cooked pasta has been stirred through, allow it to sit in the pan for a couple of minutes to continue to thicken before serving.
- For extra veggies, try adding a handful of chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the finished sauce. Or, lightly fry some capsicum, zucchini, grated carrot or corn in the pan with the sausage. This dish is also great for a fridge clean out! Use whatever vegetables you have on hand.
- Save some calories by using low-fat cream rather than heavy. The pasta will remain nice and creamy, but not as rich.
- My Cajun seasoning has a power of bold flavours with smoky, spicy and peppery notes and this pasta really benefits from those flavours. If you do use store-bought Cajun seasoning, you may need to adjust the quantities to achieve a similar depth of flavour.
Andouille is a pork sausage flavoured with Cajun spices and twice smoked for its distinct flavour. Overall, it has smoky and mildly spicy notes. It is one of the key ingredients in traditional Cajun dishes, such as jambalaya and gumbo and gives a lovely depth of flavour to pasta dishes.
If you don’t have Andouille sausage for this dish, an easy substitute is Polish sausage (Kielbasa) or chorizo. You can also use any good gourmet pork sausage (as I have above) and add a little extra Cayenne to replace the missing heat. Otherwise, use whatever sausages you have on hand. This recipe also works well with leftover sausages! Just slice them up and heat them in the pan before adding the tomatoes.
This dish can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for 2 days in an airtight container. It can also be frozen for 2 months. If you do make it ahead, I recommend making the sauce only and leave the pasta out, to cook fresh when you want to serve it. This is because the pasta will continue to soak up the sauce, as well as losing some of its texture (becoming mushy) when frozen. It is much nicer eaten fresh with re-heated sauce, where possible.
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Cajun sausage pasta
- 1 ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cayenne powder adjust to suit your personal taste, or omit this for a milder pasta.
- ½ tsp dried thyme leaves
For the pasta
- 5 cups dried pasta 400 grams. Choose your favourite pasta.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 green capsicum sliced
- 1 brown onion sliced
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
- 6 pork sausages Andouille, chorizo or gourmet pork sausages are recommended, but use what you have! Approximate weight 500 grams, roughly chopped.
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 ½ cups canned tomatoes roughly 400 grams
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ½ cup cream
- 1 cup parmesan cheese fresh, finely grated
- 3 cups baby spinach leaves
- extra parmesan cheese freshly grated.
- Place the pasta in a pot of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, place a large frying pan over low-medium heat and stir the onion, capsicum and garlic together with the olive oil. Stir fry the vegetables together for 2-3 minutes, until they become soft.
- Increase the heat to high and add the sausages. Gently stir the sausages and add the cajun spices, stirring until the sausages are coated in the spices and the sausages have browned on the outside.
- Add the tomato paste, canned tomatoes and stock and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat off. Carefully add the cream and parmesan cheese and stir for 1-2 minutes until combined and slightly thickened. Add the spinach leaves, stirring until the leaves have wilted.
- When the pasta has finished cooking, drain it and stir it through the pasta sauce. Allow everything to sit in the pan for 1-2 minutes while the sauce continues to thicken.
- Top with some more fresh parmesan cheese and serve. Enjoy!
- The cheese will thicken the sauce as it rests. Once the cooked pasta has been stirred through, allow everything to sit in the pan for a couple of minutes to continue to thicken, before serving. Because the sauce is thickened by the cheese, I recommend using a good quality, fresh parmesan or pecorino that you grate yourself. Pre-shredded cheese can clump in the sauce, which won’t thicken.
- Save some calories by using low-fat cream, rather than heavy. The pasta will remain nice and creamy, but not as rich.
- If you do use store-bought Cajun seasoning instead of homemade, you may need to adjust the quantities to achieve a similar depth of flavour. You can also adjust the spice level to suit your taste by adding or subtracting Cayenne or chilli powder to taste.
- Use any type of sausage you prefer for this dish. If you don’t have Andouille sausage, an easy substitute is Polish sausage (Kielbasa) or chorizo. You can also use any good gourmet pork sausage (as I have above) and add a little extra Cayenne to replace the missing heat. Otherwise, use whatever sausages you have on hand. This recipe also works well with leftover sausages. Just slice them up and heat them in the pan before adding the tomatoes.
- Storage- This dish can be made ahead of time and stored (once cooled) in the fridge for 2 days in an airtight container. It can also be frozen for 2 months. Frozen pasta can become mushy when re-heated, so I recommend freezing the sauce and cooking up some fresh pasta when you want to serve it.