Cajun Chicken is a super flavorful dinner made entirely in one pan in just 30 minutes. The recipe features a simple homemade spicy Cajun rub made from scratch (you can also use store-bought). Juicy and moist seared chicken is smothered with delicious garlic butter lemon pan juices to create the easiest weeknight dinner!
Simple Cajun chicken
This recipe will show you (with step-by-step photos) how to make the most flavorful, the juiciest, and, most importantly, the easiest Cajun chicken in 30 minutes in one pan using basic ingredients found in most pantries:
- First, you will make your own simple Cajun seasoning by combining together the smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Make it as spicy as you like! Or, use your favorite store-bought seasoning!
- Then, you will sear the seasoned skinless boneless chicken thighs on the stovetop until nicely browned and juicy at the same time. This is easy because the dark meat of skinless boneless chicken thigh is incredibly easy and forgiving to cook.
- For a final touch, you will make a quick Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce with pan juices, garlic, lemon juice, white wine, and butter to pour all over your chicken and make it even juicier.
- What is the best side dish for Cajun chicken? Beans and rice of any kind! I highly recommend this reader's favorite cilantro-lime and black bean rice.
- If you enjoy Cajun flavors, don't miss this crowd-pleasing and super-simple Cajun-inspired recipe: Cajun Chicken Bake with Bell Peppers.
If you're looking for a family-friendly weeknight meal or an easy-to-make romantic dinner for two, look no further. This Cajun Chicken with Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce is easy enough to make on a regular busy weeknight, yet looks quite fancy to entertain guests. It's a must-have to have in your rotation for busy weeknights since it's a one-pan, 30-minute recipe. This Cajun chicken can be customized to be as spicy (or not spicy at all) while still retaining its distinctive Cajun flavor.
Why you'll love this recipe
- This quick and easy flavor-packed meal is done in one pan on the stovetop in under 30 minutes!
- Nutritionwise, it is low-carb, keto-friendly, and gluten-free.
- Easily customizable recipe. Elevate simple spicy cajun chicken by serving it with rice and beans, pasta, or any other family favorite side dish!
- It's a budget-friendly meal made with basic ingredients. There is nothing fancy about this recipe as it uses minimal ingredients found in most grocery stores. Yet the ingredients are carefully selected to create the most amazing flavor combo: homemade spicy cajun seasoning, garlic, lemon juice, butter, and chicken.
What kind of chicken can you use?
- Skinless, boneless chicken thighs. This is what I use in this recipe. The dark meat of chicken thighs goes really well with all the other flavors.
- Skinless, boneless chicken breast. You can definitely use chicken breasts. If using thick chicken breasts, slice each one carefully in half to create thinner chicken breasts. Thinner chicken breasts and easier and quicker to cook vs thick breasts.
- Chicken Tenderloins or Tenders. This is another perfect meat to use here.
How to make Cajun seasoning
Stir together the below ingredients in a small bowl. Once you have homemade Cajun seasoning, you don't have to use the whole amount - use it to taste.
- 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- ½ teaspoon Chili Powder
- ½ teaspoon Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
My favorite store-bought Cajun Seasoning
I've tried many Cajun spice mixes offered by my local store, and my absolute favorite is Frontier Cajun Seasoning. This Cajun seasoning is not overly spicy, and the flavor is much better than other brands I've tried. My local store recently ran out of this particular seasoning mix, but gladly Amazon carries it, too.
While I do provide the recipe for the homemade Cajun seasoning mix in the recipe card, you can use any store-bought Cajun spice. I wholeheartedly recommend Frontier Cajun Seasoning.
How to adjust the spiciness
- Homemade Cajun seasoning. If you use my homemade recipe for the Cajun seasoning mix, you can easily adjust the spiciness of the mix by reducing the amount of Cayenne pepper in half or removing it from the mix altogether.
- Store-bought Cajun spice. I find that a lot of the store-bought Cajun seasonings are pretty mellow as far as the spiciness, but it's always best to taste it and judge for yourself. My absolute favorite is Frontier Cajun Seasoning. They sell it in my local store, and you can also find it on Amazon.
How to make the cajun chicken by searing it on the stovetop
Below are helpful step-by-step photos and instructions.
1) First things first. Use skinless, boneless chicken thighs. If your chicken has been frozen, make sure to thaw it completely and pat it dry with paper towels before searing it.
2) Next, season the chicken with Cajun seasoning on both sides.
3) Then, heat an empty large, high-sided, heavy-bottomed skillet (such as stainless steel or cast iron) over medium heat for 3 minutes so that the skillet heats through. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet, then add chicken thighs.
4) Cook the chicken on medium heat on one side for 5 minutes, without moving it around. This allows the chicken to get seared and acquire a nice color.
5) Then, flip it over and cook the chicken on low-medium heat on the other side for about 5 minutes or longer until the chicken is cooked through. The meat thermometer should register 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the chicken. Remove from heat.
How to make Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce
The below step-by-step photos and instructions will guide you through how to make the easiest and the most delicious pan juices for cajun chicken.
1) To the same, now empty, skillet add minced garlic, white wine, and lemon juice. Cook for a couple of minutes until garlic softens on medium heat.
2) Then, fold in salted butter on low heat.
3) Add back cooked chicken and spoon the sauce over the chicken. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with freshly chopped parsley.
What kind of pan to use?
Use a large high-sided heavy-bottomed skillet. Good quality stainless steel skillet or cast-iron pan works well. It's the best kind of pan to sear the chicken on the stovetop. Thinner pans might cause the chicken and other ingredients to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Use skinless boneless chicken breasts or skinless boneless chicken thighs.
- Make your own homemade Cajun spice or use a store-bought seasoning.
- Add another protein, such as shrimp or sausage.
- Add veggies, such as bell peppers, mushrooms, or broccoli.
How to store and reheat it
Cajun chicken is a great recipe to make ahead and reheat later. Here are some tips:
- Fridge. Store the leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- Freezer. Freeze this in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
- How to reheat. To reheat on the stovetop, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over low-medium heat, add the chicken, and reheat, occasionally stirring, for about 5 minutes or until everything is heated through.
What to serve it with?
Elevate Cajun chicken by serving it alongside delicious side dishes. Pour over the delicious pan juices over these sides:
- Rice and beans always provide a delicious pairing to Cajun chicken. I highly recommend this recipe: cilantro-lime and black bean rice. You can also serve plain red beans or plain black beans.
- Potatoes. Oven-roasted sliced potatoes with garlic or mashed potatoes.
- Mashed cauliflower potatoes or cauliflower rice.
- Pasta. I prefer a short type of pasta for this cajun chicken. Use penne, rigatoni, farfalle (bow-tie pasta), fusilli (spiral pasta), pasta shells, or any other type of short pasta you have available. Or, use really fine long pasta, such as angel hair. Pasta is a perfect side dish to soak in the delicious Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce.
- Vegetables. Bell peppers are the perfect addition to any Cajun dish. You can also add chopped asparagus, green beans, sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, or sliced zucchini.
Other Cajun recipes you might like
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
How to make Cajun chicken
- 1.5 lb chicken thighs boneless, skinless
- salt and black pepper freshly ground to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Garlic Butter Lemon Sauce
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons white wine
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
How to make Cajun seasoning
- Combine ingredients for Cajun seasoning in a small bowl.
- Or, alternatively, use 1 tablespoon of your favorite Cajun seasoning. My recommendation is Frontier Cajun seasoning.
How to sear the chicken
- Generously season the chicken thighs with the Cajun seasoning on both sides. You don't have to use the whole amount. Note: the homemade Cajun seasoning already has salt added.
- Heat an empty large, high-sided, heavy-bottomed skillet (such as stainless steel or cast iron) over medium heat for 3 minutes. This allows the skillet to heat through.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add chicken thighs. Cook the chicken on medium heat for 5 minutes, without moving it. This allows the chicken to sear.
- Flip the chicken thighs over, reduce heat to low-medium, and cook for about 5 more minutes or longer until it's cooked through. The meat thermometer should register 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the chicken. Remove from heat. Remove chicken from the skillet.
Make garlic butter lemon sauce
- To the same, now empty, skillet add minced garlic, white wine, and lemon juice. Cook for a couple of minutes until garlic softens. Then fold in butter on low heat. Add back cooked chicken and spoon the sauce over the chicken.
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Top with freshly chopped parsley.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.