How many calories are in Cajun chicken pasta at Chili’s?

Cajun chicken pasta is a popular menu item at Chili’s Grill & Bar restaurants. This flavorful dish features grilled chicken, peppers, onions, and penne pasta in a Cajun cream sauce. Many people enjoy the bold flavors of Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta but may wonder about its calorie and nutrition content, especially if they are tracking their diet or have specific health goals. This article will provide a detailed breakdown of the calories and nutrients in Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta to help you make an informed choice when dining at Chili’s.

Nutrition Facts for Chili’s Cajun Chicken Pasta

According to Chili’s nutrition information, a serving of Cajun chicken pasta contains the following calorie and macronutrient counts:1

Calories 1,030
Total Fat 59 g
Saturated Fat 26 g
Trans Fat 1.5 g
Cholesterol 165 mg
Sodium 2,060 mg
Total Carbohydrates 87 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Total Sugars 8 g
Protein 59 g

As you can see, a single serving of Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta contains 1,030 calories. The majority of those calories come from fat (59g total fat) and carbohydrates (87g total carbs). It also contains a sizable amount of protein (59g).

Now let’s break down those nutrition numbers in more detail.

High Calories and Fat

The most striking nutrient numbers for Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta are the very high calorie and fat contents.

At 1,030 calories per serving, this single dish provides over half of the daily calorie needs for most adults. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets standard daily calorie intake recommendations at around 2,000 calories for moderately active adult women and 2,500 calories for moderately active adult men.2 Consuming Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta would use 51% of the daily calories for a woman’s diet and 41% for a man’s diet.

In addition, the meal contains 59 grams of total fat, which is very high. The American Heart Association recommends limiting total daily fat intake to between 25-35% of total calories.3 For a 2,000 calorie diet, this equates to about 56-78 grams of fat per day. The Cajun chicken pasta alone delivers 59 grams, exceeding the recommended upper limit of daily fat intake.

The meal also contains saturated fat, at 26 grams. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to no more than 5-6% of total calorie intake, which would be about 11-13 grams per day based on a 2,000 calorie diet.4 The pasta dish surpasses this, supplying over two days’ worth of recommended saturated fat intake. Consuming these high levels of fat and saturated fat should be done in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet.

High Sodium

In addition to the high calorie and fat contents, Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta is very high in sodium. It contains 2,060 milligrams of sodium per serving.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams per day.5 Again, this single pasta dish contains nearly an entire day’s worth of sodium in one serving. High sodium intake is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.6 Those with hypertension or heart health concerns may want to avoid such high sodium levels in a single meal.

High Cholesterol

The Cajun chicken pasta is also high in cholesterol, with 165 milligrams per serving. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily cholesterol intake to no more than 300 milligrams per day.7 So at 165 milligrams, this dish supplies over half of the recommended daily limit. High cholesterol intake can increase blood cholesterol levels, also increasing heart disease risk. People with high cholesterol should be particularly mindful of limiting their cholesterol intake from this dish.

High Carbohydrates

In addition to the high fat content, Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta also contains a substantial amount of carbs, at 87 grams per serving.

However, it is lower in fiber and sugars. It provides only 3 grams of dietary fiber, while the recommended daily target is 25-30 grams per day.8 It also contains just 8 grams of sugars. These nutrients help round out the nutritional evaluation of this dish. While the carb count is high, the lower fiber and sugar levels are less of a concern compared to the fat, sodium, and cholesterol content.

Benefits of Protein

On the positive nutritional side, Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta does contain a sizable amount of protein at 59 grams per serving. This supplies a substantial amount of an adult’s daily protein needs.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 46-56 grams per day for adult women and men, respectively.9 The protein in this pasta dish helps meet these protein requirements to support health. Protein provides essential amino acids that help maintain and repair muscle, bone, skin and other tissues in the body.

Protein Powers With Balance

Consuming Cajun chicken pasta can provide nearly an entire day’s worth of necessary protein in one meal. However, the high levels of fat, sodium, and cholesterol mean this dish should be eaten in moderation as part of an overall nutrient-balanced diet. Enjoying this pasta occasionally can provide a protein boost, as long as daily nutrient limits aren’t regularly exceeded.

Effects of Ingredients on Nutrition

Now that we’ve broken down the overall nutrition numbers for Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta, let’s take a look at how some of the specific ingredients impact the nutrition profile:

Chicken: Lean protein source that provides a substantial amount of the protein content in this dish. Chicken is an excellent source of protein while being relatively low in fat and calories compared to red meat options.10

Pasta: Made from refined grains, so while pasta provides carbohydrate energy, it lacks the fiber of whole grain options. The white pasta skews the nutrition profile towards refined carbs rather than healthier complex carbs.11

Cream sauce: The Cajun cream sauce adds significant amounts of fat and sodium to this dish. Cream-based sauces like this achieve their rich, indulgent texture from copious amounts of heavy cream and butter.12

Cheese: Cheese adds additional fat and sodium to the cream sauce. Typical Cajun recipes call for cheese like cheddar, Monterey Jack or pepper jack.13

Peppers and onions: While modest amounts of veggies are included, they provide relatively little fiber, vitamin or mineral value compared to the other high-calorie ingredients.14

Summary of Ingredients

In summary, the chicken provides lean protein, the pasta provides refined carbs, and the cream sauce and cheese provide massive amounts of fat and sodium. An overall lack of fiber-rich whole grains and fresh vegetables skews the nutrition profile away from balanced.

How to Make Healthier Choices at Chili’s

If you love eating at Chili’s but want to make healthier menu decisions, here are some tips:

– Choose grilled chicken breast entrees without heavy sauces or fried coatings. Load up on veggies as garnishes or sides.

– Opt for salads with light dressings on the side and add grilled chicken or shrimp for protein.

– Ask for whole wheat pasta or brown rice instead of white refined grains.

– Request sauces and dressings on the side to control how much you use.

– Modify menu items, such as getting steamed veggies instead of fries.

– Share high-calorie items or take home part of large entrees for leftovers.

– Drink water with lemon instead of sugary sodas, juices or alcoholic beverages.

– Compare nutrition info and calories before ordering to make the healthiest selections.


Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta is an indulgent, flavor-packed menu choice that contains very high amounts of calories, fat, sodium and cholesterol in each serving. The multitude of ingredients like cheese, heavy cream and white pasta skew the nutrition profile towards less healthy refined carbs and saturated fats.

Occasional indulgence in this delightfully rich pasta dish can be part of an overall balanced diet. However, the high nutrient contents mean it’s best consumed in moderation. Being mindful of your daily calorie, fat, sodium, cholesterol and nutrient targets can help guide wise menu selections when dining at Chili’s. With some simple modifications and smarter choices, you can satisfy your cravings for Chili’s flavorful cuisine while still maintaining your health goals.

Leave a Comment