Rattlesnake pasta is a deliciously spicy pasta dish loaded with penne pasta, sauteed chicken, and jalapenos swimming in a creamy sauce. I love this recipe for when the urge hits to kick family dinners up a notch on busy weeknights or for a special occasion. This rattlesnake pasta recipe is comfort food for the heat seaker.
What is it?
Rattlesnake pasta is a popular pasta entree served at restaurants such as J. Alexander and 54th Street Grill, among others. The spicy alfredo sauce-based pasta dish is famous for being loaded with Cajun spices jalapeno peppers, and sauteed chicken breast.
My easy rattlesnake pasta recipe uses my roux-based alfredo sauce without heavy cream recipe and kicks it up with a dollop of Dijon mustard and crushed red peppers. This creamy sauce is perfect for soaking in the heat of the peppers and seasonings.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Penne pasta - Fettuccine pasta is a great substitute.
- Chicken breasts - Any cut of boneless chicken is great, but shrimp would also be a great option for this dish. Some people even add actual rattlesnake meat.
- Cajun seasoning - You can buy Cajun seasoning at the grocery store, or use my homemade Creole seasoning blend as a substitution.
- Olive oil - Any similar vegetable oil can be substituted.
- Jalapeno peppers - Add additional jalapenos for even more heat, or use serrano peppers instead. Alternatively, use a poblano pepper for less heat.
- Red bell pepper - Any sweet pepper, like yellow bell peppers, can be substituted. Green bell peppers can be used as well, but they are not as sweet.
- Yellow onion - Red onion can be used for a stronger onion flavor.
- Garlic cloves - Fresh garlic is best, but garlic powder can be substituted.
- All-purpose flour
- Milk - Heavy cream is a fantastic substitute.
- Parmesan cheese
- Dijon mustard - Any spicy brown mustard can also be used.
- Crushed red pepper flakes - Cayenne pepper can also be substituted.
How to make it
Your homemade rattlesnake pasta is made in three easy steps. First, boil your pasta in a pot of salted water until it is al dente. Once it is finished, toss it in olive oil to prevent clumping and set it aside.
While the pasta is boiling you want to saute the chicken pieces with olive oil in a separate saute pan or large skillet. Saute the chicken until it is fully cooked, then remove it from the skillet and set aside. Next, do the same with the peppers, onions, and garlic. Cook the vegetables in additional olive oil until the onions are tender and the peppers are tender-crisp then set them aside with the chicken.
The final step is to prepare your rattlesnake sauce. Melt butter in the saute pan reduced to medium-low heat and sprinkle in the flour. Whisk the flour into the butter and continue whisking to prevent it from burning. After three minutes start adding the milk to form a sauce. Once all of the milk has been added you can stir in the cheese in batches.
Finally, add the Dijon, crushed red peppers, salt, and black pepper to the alfredo mixture. Simmer the sauce for a couple of minutes to thicken slightly. Add the cooked pasta, chicken, and sauteed vegetables to the sauce. Once everything is heated serve immediately.
How to store it
Your rattlesnake pasta should be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator and eaten within five days. It is best to reheat this dish in individual servings in your microwave, along with a small splash of milk to rehydrate the sauce. Otherwise, the pasta soaks in the liquid as it sits in your refrigerator, resulting in less creamy leftovers.
More Spicy Pasta Recipes
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- 1 Large pot
- 16 ounces penne pasta
- 1 pound chicken breasts cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 ½ teaspoons cajun seasoning
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 4 jalapeno peppers sliced
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 yellow onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add penne pasta. Cook according to package instructions until the pasta is tender. Then drain from water and set aside.
- Dust the chicken breasts with cajun seasoning.
- While the pot of water is heating, add one tablespoon of olive oil to a saute pan set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering add the chopped chicken breast and cook until the chicken reaches 165 degrees and is fully cooked. Remove chicken from the skillet and set aside.
- Reduce the burner to medium heat and add an additional tablespoon of olive oil to the saute pan along with the bell pepper, jalapeno, and onion. Cook until the peppers and onions are becoming tender, then add garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. Then remove the vegetables from the skillet and set aside with the chicken.
- Reduce the saucepan heat to medium-low and prepare your rattlesnake sauce by melting the butter in the skillet, and then whisking in flour to form a roux. Continue to cook while whisking for three minutes, being careful not to let the flour scorch.
- Slowly add the milk to the flour mixture, whisking to incorporate it as it is added. Once the milk is fully incorporated into the sauce, whisk in the Parmesan cheese a handful at a time until it all has been melted into the sauce. Finally, add the Dijon mustard, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Bring the rattlesnake sauce to a gentle simmer and let it thicken for a minute or two.
- Add cooked pasta to the sauce, along with the sauteed chicken, peppers, onion, and garlic. Stir well to combine and serve once heated through.