This easy and versatile cajun sausage pasta makes a quick weeknight meal, ready in under 30 minutes. Mix it up with whatever veggies you have in your fridge or freezer.
NOTE: This recipe, photos, and post have been updated since it was first published in 2018. The changes made to the recipe are detailed in the recipe card, in case anyone wants to make it the old way.
Pasta. The only thing everyone, young and old, can agree on at meal time in my house. Whether I'm short on time, inspiration, or ingredients, pasta is the thing I turn to almost every time.
It can make great salads, like this Italian Pasta Salad that is a meal prep staple in my house, or this amazing 20-minute Pasta with Fresh Tomato Cream Sauce that just hits all the right spots, or this Spicy Mac and Cheese for when we're craving some gooey, cheesy comfort food.
What I mean is that we love pasta in this house... you get the idea right?
Anyway, let's not get distracted right now because I want to share this easy Cajun sausage pasta recipe that has been in my repertoire of quick weeknight meals for years.
Like most of my weeknight favorites, it's really versatile and I usually have some variation of the ingredients on hand. This means it's perfect for those nights when you don't have a plan and need to come up with something satisfying on the fly.
Cajun Sausage Pasta
This creamy, spicy sausage and peppers pasta gets a mild Cajun kick from the andouille sausage and some Cajun spices, which you can adjust to taste.
A little Creole mustard (I often subsitute this with whole grain mustard) gives it a flavor boost without tasting mustardy.
Nutritious vegetables like bell peppers and onion round it out, and the andouille sausage is truly unique, adding a delightful smokiness to the recipe as well as protein to keep you full.
Since you have heard the word Cajun a dozen of times now, and might have even come across my delicious Cajun Shrimp Pasta, Cajun Blackened Fish, or this chicken, shimp and sausage jambalaya you might be wondering what exactly is this seasoning.
Cajun Seasoning, often known as Cajun Spice Mix, is a traditional blend of herbs and spices from Louisiana. It's a versatile blend of just a few basic, everyday spices that you most likely already have on hand.
You can easily find pre-made Cajun seasoning in any grocery story, but making your own ensures fresh taste and you can adjust the level of spiciness by controlling the amount of cayenne pepper.
You'll find my recipe for the perfect blend in this Cajun Blackened Fish post.
Cajun Seasoning has a strong spicy flavour with a hint of earthiness. It's the ideal all-purpose seasoning and the spice blend I can't live without.
It goes well with anything from burgers and steaks to Cajun fries and chicken breasts, as well as soups, pasta, and rice.
This is one of those recipes where the ingredient list isn't huge and intimidating, and it comes together quickly with pretty much everything you already have in the pantry.
Any sausage will work, but if you want some kick, use a spicy one. This recipe calls for andouille sausage, which is great and most authentic, but you can also use kielbasa, which I often do since Andouille is rare in these parts, or really any smoked sausage.
For a vegetarian version of this recipe, you can also use any plant-based sausage.
You can also use chicken, or skip the meat altogether!
You can use any shape or type of pasta you like, but penne is an excellent choice. Use a gluten free version if you have gluten sensitivity.
I like to use heavy cream in this recipe. I find that ¾ cup makes this pasta skillet perfectly creamy without being overly indulgent, but I sometimes use only a half cup when I want to keep it lighter.
You can always start at ½ a cup and adjust from there.
If you want to make this vegan, there are a few dairy-free heavy cream substitutes on the market, like this silk brand one.
Onions and bell peppers go great with the whole Cajun vibe, but you can use any vegetables you have in your refrigerator.
Thawed frozen veggies work great too!
I have used creole mustard in this recipe. It's a spicy whole grain mustard from the southeastern United States, most especially New Orleans.
It is a robust, spicy, and flavorful condiment that is as diverse as it is tasty, with flavours influenced by French, Spanish, and African influences. It goes great with the cajun seasoning and ties the whole sauce together.
You can also use regular whole-grain mustard.
What's the difference between Cajun and Creole?
The commonalities between Creole and Cajun cuisines stem from both cultures' French background, as well as new ingredients to which French cooking techniques were applied by Creoles and Cajuns.
Both forms of cooking have culinary roots in France, with a reference to Spain, Africa, and Native America, as well as, to a lesser extent, the West Indies, Germany, Ireland, and Italy. Both cultures value food and enjoy cooking, eating, and entertaining.
The difference between Creole spice and Cajun seasoning boils down to one simple question: do you want something spicy or something seasoned? Cajun meals are more likely to satisfy your craving for heat. Creole is the way to go if you want something well-seasoned.
Though these two cuisines tend to merge together, folks from the South can always detect the difference. But, no matter where you come from, one thing everyone can agree on is that both of these flavours are excellent for pasta.
- Boil your pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al-dente and drain.
2. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the sausages for 3-4 minutes until they are browned.
3. Transfer the sausage to the pot of the drained pasta.
4. Bring the empty frying pan to a medium high heat and add the onions and peppers with salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning. Saute until they are tender.
5. Add the cooked pasta and sausage to the frying pan.
6. Add the Creole mustard and cream and stir to combine.
7. Cook a minute or two longer until the sauce is thickened. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if desired. You're ready to eat!
How to Store the Pasta
Store any leftovers of this Cajun pasta with sausages recipe in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
To reheat, use the microwave, or place the leftovers in a pot on the stove and heat until hot all the way through.
Because the sauce tends to thicken as it cools, you may want to add a dash of milk to loosen it up.
You can enjoy this creamy Cajun Sausage Pasta without anything on the side because it makes for a great stand alone meal. But a simple green salad, some crusty French bread, or the best Cheesy Garlic Bread are great options.
You can make a quick and creamy pasta without making a time-consuming sauce separately. Cook your pasta till just al dente, sauté some meat and veggies, and add the pasta back to the pan.
Then stir in some heavy cream and continue to cook a minute or two to thicken the sauce. Season to taste. Unlike a heavy Alfredo sauce, the pasta is lightly coated (or more heavily coated if you add more cream), and still lets the other ingredients shine.
To make sure your pasta is creamy and delicious, you don't need to load up on the heavy cream.
Reserving some of the pasta cooking water, and stir it in at the end, if your pasta is looking a bit dry. The starch in the water will bring it right back to perfectly creamy. If you forgot to save some cooking water, a little milk will help too.
The method of adding the cream at the end, as in this recipe, also ensures your pasta will be creamy when ready to serve.
Sound good to you? If you make this recipe, I would be THRILLED if you would take a pic and tag me on Instagram @ourhappymess!
Easy Sausage and Vegetable Pasta Skillet
- 8 ounces dried penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 8 ounces pork sausage such as andouille or kielbasa, sliced into ¼ inch slices
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning more or less, to taste
- 1 tablespoon whole grain or creole mustard
- ¾ cup heavy cream more or less, to taste
- Bring in a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions, until al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil
- While the pasta is cooking, in a large saute or frying pan, over medium heat, heat one tablespoon olive oil. Add the sausage and cook for 3-4 minutes until browned. Transfer the sausage to the pot of cooked and drained pasta.
- Return the pan to medium heat and add the peppers and onions, with a large pinch of salt and pepper, Cajun seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Saute until vegetables are tender and lightly colored.
- Add the pasta and sausage back to the skillet with the vegetables. Add the cream and mustard to the pan and stir until well combined. Cook a minute or two longer until sauce is thickened.