“Laissez les bons temps rouler” with this creamy Pastalaya recipe. This southern cajun pasta is loaded with bold creole seasoning, customizable proteins (andouille sausage, shrimp and/or chicken), diced tomatoes, vegetables and pasta. It’s basically our Instant Pot Jambalaya recipe made with pasta instead of rice.
What is Pastalaya?
Pastalaya goes by a few names, including cajun pasta jambalaya and jambalaya pasta recipe. It’s a New Orleans based dish, thought to arrive on the scene in the 1980’s.
Louisiana pastalaya recipes consist of all the good stuff from Jambalaya: variety of proteins, the holy trinity mix of vegetables (onion, bell pepper and celery), creole spices, diced tomatoes and pasta in place of rice.
The Best Protein Options
There are a few common proteins added to pastalaya, so mix and match or use just one. Shrimp, sausage and chicken are the most common. We recommend using a total of 2-2.5 pounds of protein.
- Sausage – Andouille is what local folks use, however any type of smoked sausage can be used. The spicier the better.
- Chicken – Diced chicken thighs is a very common protein to include. You can use chicken breasts, however you’ll need to watch the cook time to avoid dry chicken.
- Seafood – While shrimp is the most common, crawfish and oysters are sometimes used.
- Pork – While not as common as the three proteins listed above, diced pork shoulder can be used. It’s an inexpensive addition to bulk up the dish.
- Turkey – While not traditional, smoked turkey breast or smoked turkey would be killer additions.
Are Pastalaya Recipes Spicy?
For the majority of folks, this recipe for pastalaya is spicy. Between the spicy sausage and creole seasonings, you’ll definitely feel the heat. If you’re a bit apprehensive, start with the minimal amount of spice and go up from there after you cook and taste it.
Is Andouille Sausage Spicy?
It depends on the brand. If you have a favorite, this is a great place to use it. We find Aidell’s Smoked Cajun Style Andouille Pork Sausage has a nice bit of heat without overwhelming the dish.
Sausage Internal Temp
Andouille sausage has already been cooked, so you’re just browning and re-warming. If you opt for another type of sausage, not pre-cooked, make sure the cooked temp of sausage reaches 160°F.
Cajun and creole seasoning are two different beasts, albeit pretty interchangeable in pastalaya. Creole seasoning includes a ton of herbs, not found in cajun seasoning.
If you only have cajun seasoning on hand, no worries. Just add this mix of spices to bring it in line with creole seasoning: 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp oregano, and 1/4 thyme.
You can make your own homemade blend of creole seasoning or use a store bought brand. Keep in mind each store bought brand has varying amounts of sodium, so we highly recommend not adding extra salt until the dish is finished cooking. Taste and add as needed.
How to Make Pastalaya
Pastalaya is an easy recipe to make, despite the extensive ingredient list. It’s all about building the flavors one at a time.
Start by browning/cooking your protein of choice. Next add the green bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic to soften. Throw in the tomatoes and seasonings, followed by the rest of the ingredients and you’ll be set after 12 minutes of simmering. That’s it!
Jambalaya Pasta Variations
As with jambalaya, jambalaya pasta is a flexible recipe; each family and restaurant customize it to fit their needs. Here are some ideas to consider, when making this cajun pastalaya recipe.
Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Pasta
Making shrimp and sausage pasta requires just one extra step: cooking the shrimp for 2-3 minutes before browning the sausage. If using cooked shrimp, just toss them in about 3-4 minutes before removing the pasta from the heat. The heat of the pasta will warm up the already cooked shrimp.
To make cajun pastalaya, omit the diced tomatoes and replace the creole seasoning with cajun seasoning. Add in an extra 1/2 cup of chicken broth to make up for the reduction in juices.
Spicy Chicken Pasta
Cajun chicken pasta requires just one extra step: cooking the chicken for 4-5 minutes before browning the sausage. Of course if you’re not using any other protein, it’s just as easy as using only sausage or only shrimp. This would be a great recipe to use leftover chicken.
Cajun Pasta With Sausage
Sausage pastalaya is our preferred variation as to keep it quick to make and inexpensive. No edits to the recipe are required to make this a 100% sausage pasta dish. Just add 4 links of sausage and you’re good to go.
Cajun Jambalaya Pasta Tips
- Dutch Oven – you’ll need a big pot to house pastalaya. Now would be a good time to use your nifty dutch oven or even a large cast iron dutch oven.
- After making this several times, we found it’s best to use a larger dice for the green bell pepper and onion as it makes them easier to pick up with a fork.
- Chicken Broth – don’t have any on hand? Feel free to sub in Instant Pot Bone Broth or even Turkey broth.
- Rotisserie Chicken – To cut back on cooking, use rotisserie chicken in place of raw chicken thighs.
- How Long Is Pasta Good For In The Fridge? Cooked pasta can be kept in the refrigerator, in an air-tight container, for up to 4 days.
Side Dish Ideas
This southern classic is truly an entire meal in one, so no sides are required. If you do want sides these would make great pairings: corn bread, corn on the cob, white rice, or a basic green salad.
Wine- Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Pinot Noir
Creamy Pastalaya (a.k.a Cajun Jambalaya Pasta)
Servings: 6 bowls
- 1 lb Penne Pasta
- Salt, To Taste (To Season Pasta Water)
- 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 lb Smoked Sausage, Sliced Into 1/4″ Rounds (*Note 1)
- 1 lb Skinless and Boneless Chicken Thighs, Diced (*Note 1)
- ½ lb Raw Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined (*Note 1)
VEGETABLES & SPICES
- 1 large Onion, Diced
- 2 large Bell Peppers, Diced
- 2 stalks Celery, Diced
- ½ Tbsp Minced Garlic
- 14.5 oz Petite Diced Tomatoes, With Juices
- 2-3 Tbsp Creole Seasoning (*Note 2)
- Black Pepper, To Taste
- 1 whole Bay Leaf
- ½ cup Chicken Broth
- 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- ½ cup Heavy Cream
- Salt, To Taste
- Optional Garnish: Green Onions
Pre-heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil.
SHRIMP (Skip This Step If Not Using): Season with black pepper and add to the dutch oven. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
CHICKEN (Skip This Step If Not Using): Season with black pepper and add to the dutch oven. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, until no longer pink in the center. Remove and set aside with the shrimp.
SAUSAGE (Skip This Step If Not Using): Add the sausage to the dutch oven and cook until well browned (approx. 5 minutes). Optional: use a paper towel to remove some of the leftover oil.
Push the sausage to the side of the pan and add the onion, bell peppers and celery and sauté until softened (approx. 4-5 minutes). Add the garlic and sauté for 30-60 seconds, until fragrant.
Add the diced tomatoes, 2 Tbsp of creole seasoning, black pepper, bay leaf, chicken broth and Worcestershire. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Let simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.
Add the heavy cream and simmer for 2 minutes before adding the cooked shrimp, chicken and cooked pasta back to the pan. Stir to combine. Taste and add more creole seasoning, black pepper and/or salt, as needed.
Divide the pasta into bowls, top with green onions and enjoy!
Note 2 – If you only have cajun seasoning on hand, no worries. Just add 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp oregano, and 1/4 thyme to the mix.
Note 2 – Store brand has varying amounts of sodium, so we highly recommend not adding extra salt until the dish is finished cooking. Taste and add as needed.
Calories: 576kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 196mg | Sodium: 1286mg | Potassium: 761mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1355IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 4mg