Cajun Orzo is an incredibly creamy pasta dish with a kick that comes together in under 30 minutes. Studded with shrimp and andouille sausage it is decadent enough for date night but easy enough for a busy weeknight.
Orzo is a big pantry stable for us because it is quick, cheap, and kid friendly. We cook Zucchini and Parmesan Orzo any time we need a quick kid friendly dinner but this Creamy Cajun Orzo takes it up a notch. We plan to spend the fall eating big bowls of this out by the fire with hard cider.
Creamy Cajun Orzo Ingredients
Shrimp: we love shrimp and peeled, deveined shrimp tossed with cajun seasoning and seared off make this meal extra decadent but fast.
Andouille sausage: pre cooked andouille sausage gives that classic cajun smokey spice to the dish.
Orzo: the magical quick cooking base of this recipe that gives you the delicious creamy texture of a risotto in a quarter of the time.
Green onion: Cook the whites of the onions with garlic and cajun seasoning to make a delicious flavor base for a creamy cajun orzo. Slice the green tops thinly on a bias and scatter on top for a pop of color and burst of freshness.
Red bell pepper: any kind of pepper you like will work for this recipe. We prefer red bell pepper and not just because our garden is still full of them but their natural sweetness is a good balance against the heat of the cajun spices.
Zucchini: for me a one pot meal needs to have enough veggies that I don’t feel the need to make more sides but the also have to make sense in the dish. Zucchini is the perfect addition to this creamy cajun orzo it bulks up the veggies but blends seamlessly into the dish.
Cajun seasoning: Cajun seasoning is a delicious smoky spicy blend of paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, white pepper, crushed red pepper, thyme and oregano that gives an amazing depth of flavor and a little kick.
Broth: low sodium chicken stock enhances the flavor while providing enough liquid for the orzo to cook. You can absolutely use water or vegetable stock instead but you do lose some of the flavor provided by the chicken stock.
Cream: obviously creamy cajun orzo needs cream or in our case half and half because I always have it on hand for our coffee and rarely have cream at hand.
Cheese: Mexican-Style cheese with Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso, and Asadero cheese is our favorite for this orzo. But Cheddar, Monterey Jack or your favorite creamy melting cheese will work!
How to make Creamy Cajun Orzo
- In a large pot or deep skillet heat half of the oil. Sauté shrimp until just cooked through, about a minute per size. Remove shrimp from the skillet and set aside.
- Add the andouille sausage to the pot you cooked the shrimp in and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
- In the same pot heat the remaining half of the oil. Add the whites of the green onion, minced garlic, bell pepper and zucchini. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. .
- Toast the orzo by adding orzo and cajun seasoning and stirring for 1-2 minutes.
- Add broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer until orzo is tender and cooked through, about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Stir in the cream and cheese until well incorporated. Add the shrimp and sausage back to the pot and mix in until warmed through.
- Garnish with the green onion slices and enjoy!
Tips for Creamy Cajun Orzo
What is Andouille Sausage?
Andouille Sausage is a double smoked Cajun pork sausage and seasoned with garlic, black pepper, red pepper, paprika, and chili or cayenne pepper.
What can I use instead of Andouille sausage?
You can use any pre cooked sausage you like for this recipe. The best replacement for Andouille sausage flavor wise is chorizo but this recipe will work with any flavor you like.
What is Cajun seasoning made of?
Cajun seasoning is a delicious smoky spicy blend of paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, white pepper, crushed red pepper, thyme and oregano. You can make your own or buy a pre mixed blend at most grocery stores.
Is Cajun Seasoning spicy?
Cajun seasoning blends typically have cayenne or chili powder and can be a little spicy. While the cream tones it down a little definitely start with half as much if you don’t enjoy spicy food.
What is orzo?
Orzo is a short-cut pasta made of durham wheat. It might look like rice but orzo cooks in half the time. Orzo is versatile and useful in all kinds of recipe including pasta dishes, bakes, soups, and salads.
What can I use instead of Orzo?
Acini Di Pepe or Orecchiette are the best replacements for orzo but I really recommend orzo for this recipe.