This Blackened Salmon Pasta is rich, creamy, and jam-packed with Cajun flavor. Ready in just 45 minutes, this easy weeknight dinner is hearty enough to satisfy even the hungriest appetites!
The first time I ever cooked salmon, I made pan-seared blackened salmon fillets for my fiancé. Smoke filled the kitchen and the salmon stuck to the pan. It was edible, but definitely not my finest work.
Over the years, I’ve gotten much better at making blackened salmon. In fact, it’s now one of my favorite ways to eat it!
This blackened salmon alfredo pasta recipe is my go-to whenever we’re craving salmon and pasta. Perfectly creamy and flavorful, it’s like a spicy seafood riff on classic fettuccine alfredo.
Today, I’m walking you through how to make the best blackened salmon pasta, including which ingredients to use, tips that guarantee it turns out right the first time, and some of my favorite side dishes to serve with this easy dinner recipe.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Easy to Make- Don't worry if you're new to cooking salmon. Pan-searing blackened salmon is incredibly easy! In fact, it’s one of my favorite ways to prepare it.
- Ready in 45 Minutes- Perfect for a busy weeknight meal, this simple blackened salmon pasta recipe is ready to serve in just 45 minutes.
- Rich & Creamy- Light cream, parmesan, and pasta water form a velvety Cajun alfredo sauce, coating the salmon and noodles.
- Cajun Flavors- Cajun seasoning adds a bold and spicy kick to the seared salmon and creamy alfredo sauce.
- Hearty & Satisfying- No hungry bellies here! Even those with the biggest appetites will leave the table feeling full and satisfied after this salmon dinner.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Salmon- Use fresh salmon fillets with the skin removed. Be sure to pat the salmon dry before seasoning to get a good sear.
- Pasta- I typically use fettuccine when I make this dish, but any pasta shape can be used. Cook the pasta until just al dente, as it will continue to cook slightly when mixed with the sauce.
- Vegetables- A combination of red bell pepper, onion, and garlic gives this dish a Cajun flavor.
- Cajun Seasoning- I prefer using my homemade Cajun seasoning for this recipe. Adjust the seasoning quantity to your taste and depending on the brand you use.
- Light Cream- Light cream gives the sauce a rich, creamy consistency without being overly heavy.
- Parmesan Cheese- Use freshly grated parmesan cheese for the best flavor and sauce consistency.
- Tomato Paste- A small amount of tomato paste gives the homemade alfredo sauce a rich, subtle tomato flavor.
- Butter & Olive Oil- Use a combination for a balance of flavor and a higher smoke point.
- Kosher Salt- Added to the pasta water to enhance the flavor of the pasta.
🌱 Sustainability Tip: Opt for sustainably sourced salmon to reduce environmental impact and support responsible fishing practices.
How to Buy Fresh Salmon
When it comes to buying fresh salmon, the options at the fish counter can be intimidating. Here are some tips on how to select the best salmon for your meal:
- Choose the Right Cut- Salmon is often sold in fillets and steaks. For this recipe, you’ll want salmon fillets.
- Bright & Vibrant Color- Fresh salmon should have a vibrant pink or orange hue. Avoid any salmon that appears dull or off-color.
- Minimal Odor- Salmon should have a clean, oceanic scent. Avoid any salmon with an overly fishy or pungent odor.
- Check the Skin- If the salmon has skin, it should be shiny and smooth. Scales should be tightly adhered to the skin. Peeling or discoloration of the skin may indicate the fish isn’t fresh.
- Ask the Fishmonger- They can provide recommendations based on what's freshest that day.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can try customizing this Cajun salmon alfredo recipe to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Salmon- Swap salmon for trout, tilapia, or cod. Alternatively, try this recipe with other proteins, such as chicken, shrimp, or tofu.
- Pasta- Substitute pasta for rice, vegetable noodles, or cauliflower.
- Cajun Seasoning- To make your own quick Cajun seasoning, combine paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder in a 2:1:1 ratio, adding cayenne pepper and salt to taste.
- Red Bell Pepper- Use green bell pepper or tomato in place of the red bell pepper.
- Onion- Swap fresh onion for one teaspoon of onion powder.
- Garlic- Replace 3 cloves of fresh garlic with ¾ teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Light Cream- Substitute light cream for heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk.
- Parmesan Cheese- Pecorino romano cheese and asiago cheese are good substitutes for parmesan cheese.
- Tomato Paste- Swap tomato paste for tomato sauce or leave it out entirely.
- Gluten-Free- Use your favorite gluten-free pasta or zucchini noodles for a gluten-free version of this dish.
- Reduced-Fat- Swap light cream for half-and-half or whole milk to reduce the fat in this recipe.
- Vegetarian- Replace the salmon with tofu for a vegetarian-friendly Cajun alfredo pasta.
- Extra Spicy- Sauté some diced jalapeño along with the other vegetables to give this dish an extra kick of heat.
- Shrimp or Chicken- Swap blackened salmon with equally delicious blackened shrimp or chicken for a tasty variation.
How to Make Blackened Salmon Pasta
Here is how to make Cajun pasta with salmon.
Step 1: Cook pasta. Fill a large pot with water and add kosher salt. Bring it to a boil. Add the fettuccine pasta and cook until al dente according to package instructions. Reserve ⅔ cup of pasta water before draining. Set aside.
Step 2: Sear salmon. While the pasta is cooking, heat butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet or stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Season salmon with Cajun seasoning on all sides. Sear salmon for 4-5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and set aside to rest.
Step 3: Sauté aromatics. In the same skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Sauté onion, red bell pepper, and garlic for about 5-7 minutes or until softened. Stir in Cajun seasoning and tomato paste and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Step 4: Make alfredo sauce. Reduce heat to low and whisk in the reserved pasta water and light cream. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and stir in grated parmesan cheese until melted.
Step 5: Toss pasta with sauce. Toss the cooked pasta with the alfredo sauce. Plate with the salmon on top or flake the salmon and mix it into the pasta. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Cajun Pasta with Salmon (Video)
Tips for Success
- Prep ahead of time. Gather, measure, and chop your ingredients before you start cooking. This ensures the dish comes together quickly and efficiently.
- Save the pasta water. Reserved pasta water is starchy and helps thicken the Cajun alfredo sauce.
- Pat the salmon dry. Blackened salmon should have a beautifully charred and flavorful crust. Patting the salmon dry before seasoning helps achieve this.
- Adjust the spiciness. Add more or less Cajun seasoning depending on your tolerance for heat.
- Salt to taste. Note that Cajun seasoning blends can vary in saltiness. Taste the sauce before mixing with the pasta, and adjust the seasoning to your preference.
What to Serve with Cajun Salmon Pasta
Blackened salmon pasta can be served on its own or paired with a variety of delicious side dishes.
If you’re in the mood for a hearty, comforting meal, serve this Cajun salmon alfredo pasta with crusty bread or rolls. Garlic sourdough breadsticks, cheesy sourdough garlic bread, sourdough bread, or dinner rolls are all delicious options.
Finally, serve your favorite vegetable side dish alongside this blackened salmon alfredo for a well-balanced meal. Some of my favorites include roasted honey garlic Brussels sprouts, sautéed butternut squash, sautéed garlic green beans, air fryer cherry tomatoes, and sautéed asparagus.
Storage and Reheating
How to Store
- Refrigerator- Store leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- Freezer- Freeze leftovers in a freezer-safe plastic bag or container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
How to Reheat
- Stovetop- Melt a small amount of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add leftovers to the skillet and heat, stirring frequently, until fully warmed through.
- Oven- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place leftover salmon and pasta in a baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Add a splash of water to loosen if the sauce seems too thick. Heat for 15-20 minutes or until hot.
- Microwave- Transfer a serving of blackened salmon pasta to a microwave-safe bowl and cover with a lid or plate. Heat on HIGH for one minute. Stir, then continue microwaving in 30-second intervals until fully warmed through.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use frozen salmon that has been thawed in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.
If serving the salmon on the side, leaving the skin is optional. However, if you plan to mix it into the pasta, it's best to remove the salmon skin before searing.
To make this dish a little lighter, consider using whole milk instead of light cream. Additionally, swapping out regular pasta for whole wheat pasta or vegetable noodles can add some fiber.
Cajun Salmon Pasta
For the Pasta
- ½ pound (8 ounces) pasta reserve ⅔ cup pasta water
- ½ tablespoon kosher salt
For the Blackened Salmon
- Fill a large pot with water and add kosher salt. Bring it to a boil. Add the fettuccine pasta and cook until al dente according to package instructions. Reserve ⅔ cup of pasta water before draining. Set aside.½ pound (8 ounces) pasta, ½ tablespoon kosher salt
- While the pasta is cooking, heat butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet or stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Season salmon with Cajun seasoning on all sides. Sear salmon for 4-5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and set aside to rest.1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 pound salmon fillet, 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- In the same skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Sauté onion, red bell pepper, and garlic for about 5-7 minutes or until softened. Stir in Cajun seasoning and tomato paste and 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
- Reduce heat to low and whisk in the reserved pasta water and light cream. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and stir in grated parmesan cheese until melted.½ cup light cream, 1 cup parmesan cheese
- Toss the cooked pasta with the alfredo sauce. Plate with the salmon on top or flake the salmon and mix it into the pasta. Serve immediately and enjoy!
- Note: Cajun seasoning blends can vary in saltiness and spiciness. Taste the sauce before mixing with the pasta, and adjust the seasoning to your preference.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.