Cajun Fried Bowtie Pasta

small cajun fried bowtie pasta from Our Best BitesThere were a lot of things I loved about living in Utah, but one of the things that drove me crazy was that if we ever wanted to go away for the weekend, there wasn’t really anywhere within a couple hours of us. We could drive 2 hours north and see my parents, but anything in the 3-4 hours range would land us pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Or in Moab, which involved camping. Funny thing: as I’ve become older and the one responsible for camping logistics, camping is not my most favorite activity ever.

One of the things I love about living in Louisiana is that we’re a few hours away from lots of little getaways–my husband has been out of town for the last couple of weeks, so last weekend, I schlepped my kids to Houston for the weekend in a misguided attempt to save my sanity by going to IKEA on a Saturday. But, all things considered, it was just fun to get out of town.

One of my favorite little trips we took recently was to New Orleans the day after Christmas. I’ve discovered the cure for the post-holiday blues: leave your house in utter Christmas disaster, pack your stuff up, and head somewhere else for a few days right after Christmas, even if it’s off to see family. You’ll have fun, be glad to come home, so glad, in fact, that cleaning up the Christmas mess is fun and therapeutic instead of a dreaded chore. I’m not kidding, it was awesome.

New Orleans is such a fun, unique, crazy city. I think it’s probably next to impossible to go and not enjoy people-watching and listening to the street musicians and the never-ending eating and admiring the architecture. And the fun-having doesn’t really matter whether you’re a partier or not (I’m decidedly in the “not” category–I didn’t drink, I remained fully clothed, and we were back to our hotel room by 9 every night at the latest). For me, the most incredible thing is the food.

Lots of food.

Food that makes you think, “THIS IS SO WRONG AND YET SO RIGHT.”

Like pasta (carbs) coated in seasoned flour (more carbs) and deep fried and then sprinkled with cheese and used to scoop up…wait for it…cheesy, creamy artichoke dip. Thank you for the delicious self-loathing, Chartres House Cafe.

For the last month, I’ve literally pondered every day about how I would execute frying bowtie pasta. Until one day when I realized I was ready to try it out. Just in time for Mardi Gras. It was serendipitous.

You’re going to need 8-10 ounces of bowtie pasta, a cup of flour, 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning (like Tony Chachere’s or Emeril Essence, although I really don’t want to know what the true Essense of Emeril tastes like), a quarter cup of buttermilk, and a little Tabasco. You’ll also need some shredded Parmesan cheese and a cooking oil with a high smoke point like peanut or canola oil. I prefer peanut oil because canola can take on a fishy flavor when it’s cooked at high temperatures.





Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a separate, heavy-duty pan that’s at least 12″ in diameter, add about 1 inch of cooking oil.

Shake 6-8 drops of Tabasco sauce into the buttermilk, whisk, and set aside. Don’t freak out if the vinegar in the Tabasco curdles the buttermilk a little–it’ll all be okay, I promise.


In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and Cajun seasoning. Set aside.


When the water begins to boil, add the pasta and cool al dente. Be sure the pasta isn’t overcooked–it needs to have a bite to it still or it will fall apart when you’re frying it. When you add the pasta, begin heating the oil over medium-high heat. If you have a candy or frying thermometer, you want to heat the oil to 325.

When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and then add the buttermilk (if you’re using a fine mesh strainer, there’s no need to transfer it to another bowl).


Toss to combine. Add the flour and toss to coat the pasta evenly.


Test the oil by flicking a little water into it. If it sizzles, it’s just right; if it pops and splatters violently, it’s too hot and you need to reduce the heat for a few minutes. If nothing happens or if the reaction is mild and a little delayed, allow it to continue heating. When the oil is ready, add the pasta and cook, stirring gently but frequently, for 5-7 minutes or until the pasta is golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside (you don’t want to cook it for too long, lest you break a tooth, but mine could stand to cook a wee bit longer than I did this particular time around). Using a slotted spoon or frying tool, remove the pasta and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.


Sprinkle with a little additional Cajun seasoning to taste, tossing to combine. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately with this artichoke dip or with your favorite hot dip (this roasted red pepper dip would be amazing.)

crispy, salty, and a tiny bit spicy--fried Cajun bowtie pasta from Our Best Bites, perfect for scooping up hot artichoke dip!

A lot of you have requested a gumbo recipe, and up until very recently, I was convinced that I hated gumbo. Turns out that while I do hate a lot of gumbo, it can be incredible and I’ve got a recipe that will knock your socks off coming on Monday. Until then, if you’re looking for more Mardi Gras recipes like king cake, beignets, jambalaya, red beans and rice, dirty rice, pralines, meat pies, and shrimp and grits, click HERE.



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Sara Wells
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. Um, this post could not have better timing! I am actually sitting in my hotel room in New Orleans just steps from Chartes. So totally going for some fried pasta tomorrow. Thanks for the tip!
    Btw, I’m with you on the non-party thing, which is apparent cause I’m commenting on your post instead of hittin’ the city. 🙂

  2. I totally understand what you mean about living in an area where you can do day/weekend trips. We love living in Boston for that very reason.

    I want this! So fun.

  3. It’s nice to hear good things about visiting New Orleans. My dad and I are meeting up there in a couple of weeks for some good food and great music. But everyone from the West keeps telling him it’s not worth visiting. Are they just boring? It sounds like a great place! This pasta alone would be worth the visit!

    1. Just like in any big city, as long as you’re smart, it’s an AMAZING city. I seriously can’t imagine not loving it. I mean, yeah, you might catch an STD if you walk around Bourbon Street barefoot, but that’s all part of the charm, haha. It’s kind of like visiting Europe minus the giant plane ride, plus way more delicious food. 🙂

  4. Hey…I was in Houston on Saturday too. 🙂 Now I’m back to the bitter cold. We went to Louisiana/New Orleans about 5 years ago and it still lives in my memory as the best food ever. I’ve been all over the world and that trip was the best food….period. I’m going to have to try this when I’m ready to feel fat. 🙂 I have a recipe that is a family favorite (partially because its only made rarely) for fried raviolis. Same concept. SO SO good. When you fry them, they puff up really cute and we eat them with either marinara or a dip that I make with mayo, cheese, basil and some other stuff I can’t remember off the top of my head. REALLY good. I can’t wait to try this…when I need to feel fat that is. 🙂

  5. I live just down the road from the houston ikea! It does get a little crazy on Saturdays. I would have never thought to fry pasta but it looks delicious!

  6. Even though I am there frequently, I have not had this dish. This looks incredibly yummy and I believe we would fight for the last piece of pasta. (My son is a self-proclaimed carbivore)

    The question now is: should I just drive over to the Chartr’ House or mess up my kitchen?

    1. That’s tough. 🙂 This recipe was surprisingly quick and not as messy as I was anticipating. That said, if you’re in the mood for a snack, I’d make it at home. If you want other food and/or don’t want to deal with it, head over there! I had the BBQ shrimp with a cup of gumbo and it was fabulous!

  7. Oh my! Sounds like a perfect way to celebrate mardi gras! And it’s early this year so I’m glad you got us thinking about it.

  8. We used to make something very similar (minus the heat) to this when our children were small and they LOVED it! Thought at the time we were introduced to it at a friend’s house that it was an unusual take on snack food, but seeing it in print now seems perfectly reasonable. I think my sweetie would like this ‘grown-up’ version. We’ll give it a try ~

  9. Oh how I love New Orleans! Louisiana holds a special place in my heart (my family is from there) and there is just something about that New Orleans charm! The food there is to die for and this fried pasta sounds insane! So glad you recreated it and shared!