Rich, creamy, and oh-so satisfying, this Cajun Salmon Pasta is jam-packed with flavor and made entirely in one pot. A spicy seafood riff on a comfort food classic, it's perfect for a fun and easy weeknight dinner!
Who doesn't love a super flavorful, easy to clean, wholesome weeknight meal?
In this Cajun salmon alfredo pasta recipe, al dente fettuccine pasta is tossed in a creamy Cajun alfredo sauce and topped with beautiful, tender fillets of blackened salmon. And the best part is that it's all done in one pan.
That's right! You can have an irresistible, show-stopping dinner on the table in just 45 minutes with only one pan to clean up. How amazing is that?
So, if you want to make this creamy Cajun salmon pasta recipe at home tonight, keep reading to learn how.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Rich and Creamy- A spicy take on the classic fettuccini alfredo, this Cajun blackened salmon pasta is ultra-creamy, rich, and decadent thanks to the parmesan cheese, light cream, and butter.
- Flavorful- From the Cajun seasoning to the fresh vegetables, this is one dish you won't be calling bland. Both the salmon and the alfredo sauce are seasoned with Cajun spices. Plus, since everything is cooked in one pan, the dish develops more and more flavor every step of the way.
- Made in One Pot- Besides the colander used to drain the pasta, this entire recipe is made in one pot. Who doesn't love a meal that's both delicious and easy to clean up? If you want to save time, you can cook the pasta in a separate pot.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Salmon- I use farmed Atlantic salmon from Norway because it's both sustainable and available at my local grocery store. While you can make this recipe with the salmon skin on, I prefer to remove it before searing. Either remove it yourself at home or ask your fishmonger to remove it for you.
- Fettuccini Pasta- The quintessential pasta shape for fettuccini alfredo. You can, however, use any shaped pasta you prefer.
- Cajun Seasoning- I make my own Cajun seasoning blend so I can better control the salt and spice level. A pre-made Cajun seasoning blend can be used as well. Adjust to taste depending on your spice tolerance.
- Tomato Paste- Although not a typical ingredient in fettuccini alfredo sauce, I added a touch of tomato paste to this recipe. The tomato flavor pairs well with the spicy Cajun seasoning, red bell pepper, onion, and garlic.
- Light Cream- Cream is a classic ingredient in alfredo sauce. I chose to use light cream here, but you can use heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk, if preferred. The milkfat in the cream helps to create a thick and creamy sauce that coats the pasta nicely.
- Reserved Pasta Water- The starch in the reserved pasta water helps thicken the sauce and allows it to cling better to the pasta noodles.
- Parmesan Cheese- Another alfredo sauce staple is parmesan cheese. In addition to the cream and the reserved pasta water, parmesan cheese aids in creating a thick, rich alfredo sauce.
Sustainability Tip: When shopping for salmon, look for sustainably sourced varieties such as Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon. For more information on sustainable types of salmon, check out this guide.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make this Cajun Salmon Pasta.
Step 1: Cook the pasta to al dente. Fill a large, deep sauté pan or skillet with water and add kosher salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and add the fettuccini pasta. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set the cooked pasta aside.
Step 2: Pan-sear the salmon. Return the skillet to the stovetop and reduce the heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to the pan. Season the salmon fillets on all sides with Cajun seasoning and sear over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate to rest.
Step 3: Sauté the aromatics. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet and sauté the onion, red bell pepper, and garlic for 5-7 minutes or until softened. Stir in the remaining Cajun seasoning and the tomato paste. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Step 4: Make the alfredo sauce. Whisk in the starchy pasta water and the light cream and allow to simmer for a few minutes. It will begin to thicken slightly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese until it is completely melted.
Step 5: Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve. Toss the cooked fettuccini pasta with the alfredo sauce. You can either plate the pasta with the salmon on top or flake the salmon and fold it into the pasta. Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon juice, if desired.
- Have all the ingredients measured before cooking. Once you finish searing the salmon, the rest of the dish comes together quickly. Preparing all of the ingredients ahead of time helps to ensure you're not searching for what you need while cooking.
- Use a deep stainless steel sauté pan. For easy clean up, this recipe can be made all in one pot. The key is using a sauté pan that is deep enough to first boil the pasta. Then, you can put that same pot back on the stove and sear your salmon and make your alfredo sauce.
- Adjust salt based on you Cajun seasoning blend. Some Cajun seasoning blends contain more salt than others. Taste the sauce for seasoning before tossing with the pasta and adjust as needed.
Variations and Substitutions
- Dairy-Free- If you want to make this recipe dairy-free, use a dairy-free butter alternative in place of the regular butter. Additionally, you'll want to replace the light cream with a vegan cream alternative. You can also use unsweetened dairy-free milk and some vegan cream cheese in place of the cream. Finally, use a vegan parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast in place of the regular parmesan cheese.
- Gluten-Free- To make this recipe gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta in place of the wheat-based pasta. My favorite brand is Explore Cuisine. As always, be sure to check all ingredient labels before using.
- Reduced Fat- To reduce the fat a bit, opt for half-and-half or whole milk. I don't recommend using 2% milk or lower because we need the milkfat to help thicken the sauce.
- Low-Carb- Trying to eat less carbs? Swap half of the pasta for zucchini or carrot noodles.
- Extra Spicy- While the Cajun seasoning adds a little kick, you can always add some extra cayenne pepper, red pepper chili flakes, or hot sauce to make things even spicier.
- Less Spicy- Reduce the amount of Cajun seasoning added to the alfredo sauce or leave it out entirely.
- Salmon- You can make this recipe using chicken, tofu, shrimp, scallops, cod, or other white fish.
- Refined White Pasta- For a boost of fiber, try making this recipe with whole wheat pasta or lentil pasta.
- Red Bell Pepper- If you're not a fan of red bell pepper, you can replace it with green bell pepper or even diced tomato.
- Onion & Garlic- Fresh onion and garlic can be swapped out for onion and garlic powder. You can also use shallots in place of the onion.
- Light Cream- Want an extra decadent sauce? Opt for heavy cream instead. Otherwise, you can use half-and-half to lighten things up.
- Reserved Pasta Water- If you have an "oops" moment and forget to reserve some of the pasta water before draining, that's okay. You can use chicken broth or plain water. However, the sauce may be slightly less thick.
- Tomato Paste- You can either leave it out entirely or replace it with 3 tablespoons of tomato purée or tomato sauce.
- Parmesan Cheese- Use Pecorino-Romano cheese, Asiago cheese, or a dairy-free alternative.
What to Serve with Cajun Salmon Pasta
While Cajun salmon pasta is a complete meal in and of itself, a vegetable side dish would pair nicely with this recipe. Crusty bread with butter would also be delicious. Here are a few suggestions for what to serve with Cajun salmon pasta:
- Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Crispy Brussels Sprouts
- Garden Salad or Caesar Salad
- Steamed Broccoli, Asparagus, or Green Beans
- Sautéed Spinach or Kale
- Garlic Bread
Storage and Reheating
- Refrigerator- Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Since this dish contains both dairy and fish, it does not have a long shelf life.
- Freezer- Yes, you can actually freeze this recipe! If you have more leftovers than you'll be able to eat within a few days, freezing this Cajun salmon pasta in a freezer-safe container is an option. It will maintain good quality for up to 6 months in the freezer.
How to Reheat
- Refrigerator- You can easily reheat Cajun salmon pasta in the microwave, in the oven, or on the stovetop. While the oven and stovetop yield the best results, the microwave works in a pinch. The key for all three of these methods is adding a splash of milk or water to help revive it and keep it moist.
- Freezer- For best results, thaw your Cajun salmon alfredo pasta in the refrigerator for 24 hours prior to reheating. Then, reheat using one of the methods mentioned above.
Frequently Asked Questions
If serving the salmon on top of the pasta, it is okay to leave the salmon skin on if you prefer. On the other hand, if you plan on folding the salmon into the pasta, I recommend removing the skin either before or after searing.
No, you can use pre-made Cajun seasoning. However, keep in mind that the amount of salt varies between brands. Don't forget to taste the sauce and adjust for salt as needed.
Blackened salmon or other meats are called that because they're coated in a spice blend that turns dark when seared in oil or butter. While it may look burnt, blackened salmon is, in fact, not burnt at all. The Cajun seasoning should be very dark brown or almost black in color when seared properly.
Salmon is an excellent protein choice due to its heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. While the rest of this recipe is on the heavier side, you can lighten it up a bit by using whole milk and reducing the amount of butter. You can also swap the refined pasta for whole wheat pasta or zucchini noodles.
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Cajun Salmon Pasta
For the Pasta
- ½ pound (8 ounces) fettuccini pasta
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
For the Blackened Salmon
- 1 tablespoon butter unsalted
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound salmon fillet cut into 4 equal pieces
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
For the Cajun Alfredo Sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter unsalted
- ½ large yellow onion finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ⅔ cup reserved pasta water
- ½ cup light cream
- 1 cup parmesan cheese grated
- Fresh parsley and lemon juice optional for garnish
- Fill a large, deep sauté pan or skillet with water and add kosher salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and add the fettuccini pasta. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set the cooked pasta aside.½ pound (8 ounces) fettuccini pasta, ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- Return the skillet to the stovetop and reduce the heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to the pan. Season the salmon fillets on all sides with Cajun seasoning and sear over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate to rest.1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 pound salmon fillet, 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet and sauté the onion, red bell pepper, and garlic for 5-7 minutes or until softened. Stir in the remaining Cajun seasoning and the tomato paste. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.2 tablespoons butter, ½ large yellow onion, 1 red bell pepper, 3 cloves garlic, ½ tablespoon Cajun seasoning, 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Whisk in the starchy pasta water and the light cream and allow to simmer for a few minutes. It will begin to thicken slightly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese until it is completely melted.⅔ cup reserved pasta water, ½ cup light cream, 1 cup parmesan cheese
- Toss the cooked fettuccini pasta with the alfredo sauce. You can either plate the pasta with the salmon on top or flake the salmon and fold it into the pasta. Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon juice, if desired.Fresh parsley and lemon juice
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You may also freeze leftovers in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 6 months.
Did you try this recipe?
Let me know! Comment below, or take a picture and tag me on Instagram @enwnutrition.
This was delicious!! So creamy with the perfect amount of spice. Yummy!
Ashley Petrie says