Hands-down the best jambalaya recipe! It is surprisingly easy to make, customizable with your favorite proteins (I used chicken, shrimp and Andouille sausage), and full of bold, zesty, Cajun jambalaya flavors that everyone will love.
I thought it was time we revisit an old favorite recipe of mine here on the blog today, which I love all the more because it always reminds me of two of my favorite people — John and Cate’s famous jambalaya recipe! ♡
John and Cate were two of the very first neighbors I met when I moved to downtown Kansas City five years ago. When I arrived in the neighborhood, I didn’t know a soul around. But a cute new coffee shop serendipitously also happened to be opening next door that very week. And as I began to stop by morning after morning to order my favorite iced pour-over, I noticed that another couple was doing the same. Eventually we all introduced ourselves, and one of my favorite friendships was born.
For years, the three of us crossed paths at the coffee shop nearly every morning — giving each other groggy pre-caffeinated hugs, catching up on the past day’s events, ruffling the heads of one another’s pups, talkin’ shop about all things small business, and finally settling in at nearby tables with our laptops to work for a few hours. Then morning hangs eventually extended to evenings, swinging by one another’s places for impromptu happy hours and dinners, sneaking up to the rooftops to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July, or rallying all of our neighbors together each Tuesday for our beloved “neighbor nights” dinners.
In a heartbeat, these two moved from being neighbors, to what we called “freighbors”, to what we now consider “framily.” And I miss them and our Tuesday nights something fierce now, being 4800 miles across the ocean.
But whenever I pull out the ingredients to whip up a batch of their famous homemade jambalaya recipe, I’m instantly transported back to their old loft, and those impromptu, hilarious, always-longer-than-planned hours we used to spend cooking up a storm together in the kitchen. And the jambalaya simmering on the stove, wine glasses being refilled left and right, random neighbors showing up when they heard we were cooking. And those easy, good, long nights shared around the table together as our little neighborhood family.
As Julia Child once said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” And John and Cate are certainly two of my best.
So is their jambalaya. ♡
Easy Jambalaya Recipe | 1-Minute Video
Alright, let’s talk ingredients. To make classic jambalaya, you will need:
The Cajun/Creole “holy trinity”: Celery, onion and green bell pepper (although for some extra color, I’ve also used red and yellow bell peppers).
Jalapeño and cayenne: For heat. Feel free to add more or less of either, depending on your heat preferences.
Garlic, Creole or Cajun seasoning, bay leaf, thyme: Some of my favorite seasonings.
Chicken, shrimp and Andouille sausage: Or whatever proteins you prefer. Feel free to choose one or two, or you can use all three like I do.
Chicken stock: If the rice needs more liquid as it cooks, feel free to add in more.
Crushed tomatoes: For flavor.
White rice: Long grain is traditional, but short grain white rice also works.
Okra: Fresh or frozen; we will use this to help thicken the jambalaya.
Salt and Black Pepper: Very important! Don’t forget to taste and season with salt and pepper to taste at the end.
Also, feel free to garnish with whatever you prefer! I like to use sliced green onions and a hint of chopped fresh parsley and lemon wedges.
How To Make Jambalaya:
Heads up! I’ve edited this method a bit since I first posted this recipe back in 2014. The ingredients are all the same — I just changed the order of things slightly.
Next, let’s talk about how to make jambalaya. Simply…
Sauté the chicken and sausage. Sauté until the chicken is cooked through and the sausage is lightly browned. Then transfer to a clean plate and set aside.
Sauté the veggies. Sauté the onion, bell pepper, celery, jalapeño and garlic until soft.
Add rice, liquids and seasonings. Add in the uncooked rice, chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, Cajun/Creole seasoning, thyme, cayenne and bay leaf. Give everything a good stir.
Cover and cook. Then cook for 25-30 minutes, being sure to stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so (to prevent burning) until the rice is nearly tender.
Add the okra and shrimp. And cook for a final 5 minutes or so, until the shrimp is pink and opaque. Add the chicken and sausage back in.
Taste and season. Season the jambalaya with salt and pepper (and extra Cajun/Creole seasoning, if needed) to taste.
Serve warm. Garnished with your desired toppings!
Options To Customize Your Jambalaya Recipe:
Want to mix things up? Feel free to:
Add more/less heat: If you’d like a milder jambalaya, I’d recommend nixing the jalapeño and just stirring in some cayenne at the end if you’d like. For a spicier jambalaya, use two jalapeños. And then you can always add more cayenne at the end if you’d like.
Pick your protein: Chicken, shrimp and Andouille sausage are all traditional options for jambalaya. But feel free to choose just one, two or use all three, depending on what proteins you like. Other options could include other kinds of seafood (i.e. cod, mussels, clams, crawfish, etc.), pork or firm tofu.
Make it vegetarian: Wanting to avoid the meat? No prob! I also love making a vegetarian version of this with veggie stock and lots of hearty veggies (such as carrots, squash, mushrooms, broccoli, etc). Some veggies can withstand the long cooking time with the rice. But if you use some softer veggies, feel free to set them aside after sautéing at the beginning, and then add them back in at the very end.
Use file powder: Not into okra? Feel free to sub in 1.5 teaspoons file powder instead.
What To Serve With Jambalaya:
Since this dish is already incredibly hearty, I would recommend serving it with anything light and fresh, such as:
Hands-down the best jambalaya recipe! It is surprisingly easy to make, customizable with your favorite proteins (I used chicken, shrimp and Andouille sausage), and full of bold, zesty, Cajun flavors that everyone will love.
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pound andouille sausage, thinly sliced into rounds
3 small bell peppers, cored and diced (I used a yellow, red and green bell pepper)
optional garnishes: chopped fresh parsley, thinly-sliced green onions, hot sauce
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a stock pot (or a very large, deep sauté pan) over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sausage and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the sausage is lightly browned. Transfer to a clean plate and set aside.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the stock pot. Add bell peppers, celery, jalapeño, onion and garlic. Sauté for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened.
Add the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, rice, Cajun seasoning, thyme, cayenne, bay leaf, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 25-30 minutes, or until the rice is nearly cooked through, stirring every 5 minutes or so along the way so that the rice does not burn.
Add the shrimp, okra, and stir to combine. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through and pink. Stir in the chicken and sausage, and remove and discard the bay leaf.
Taste season the jambalaya with salt, pepper, and additional Cajun seasoning if needed. (I typically add about 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.) Remove from heat.
Serve warm with your desired garnishes. Or refrigerate and store in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
*Feel free to use fresh or frozen okra. If using frozen, make sure to thaw it before adding to the jambalaya.
If you like spicy jambalaya, I would recommend adding in 2 jalapeños. If you would like it more mild, you can omit the jalapeño altogether.
This recipe was edited slightly in August 2018 — just the order of the steps, not the ingredients.
Awesome recipe. The only change I may make the next time I cook this recipe is to reduce the time to cook the rice, increase the time for the okra, and add a smaller amount of thyme seasoning. Regardless, even with no changes the recipe tasted awesome. As an FYI, I cooked the 1X batch in a 7 quart pot. A smaller pot would have made it difficult to stir the batch when the rice has absorbed the excess water.
I doubled the recipe, add a few slices of bacon and cooked with the chicken and sausage. Halved the chicken broth and made the rice by itself. This way I could pour the jambalaya on top.
I’m about to make it
Again and again come back to his recipe? Easy and do good!!
Been making this recipe for years! So yummy! We withhold the shrimp because I don’t like it and have never ventured out to do the okra, but even without those two things this recipe is bomb! Even my 3 year old loves it! We freeze half of the leftovers and it’s always such a win when we find some in the freezer on a day I don’t feel like cooking. Definitely on a regular rotation at our house!
Absolutely delicious! I’ve made it many times and it never disappoints. A very flexible recipe that one can adapt to one’s own preferences. I’ve never added okra. I’ve used both chicken breasts and thighs, used chicken andouille sausage and usually added more shrimp. I usually use 2 cans of diced tomatoes and end up adding 6 cups of broth.
So good and a big hit among friends! We made this dish for eight adults and it was enough for each person to have a healthy portion. The flavors were outstanding. We were near the coast so we were able to get our hands on some fresh east coast shrimp.
We used extra chicken stock to keep the dish from drying out so I’d have some nearby. Also added to two jalapeños for heat and were very happy with our choice.
Pairs well with Moscow mules and key lime tarts.
No good…the water to rice ratio made this mushy!! Should have gone with my gutt. U can’t stir this when it’s simmering it will break the rice!
Stuck with the recipe. Rice was very mushy.
One of my favorite recipes!! I can seldom find okra (hi! Northerner here!) so I usually skip it. And I love a squeeze of lemon over the end product. But otherwise I make it just as recommended. Love love love
Absolutely delicious! Have made this many many times! Always a hit! I have never added okra simply because I’m not a fan of okra. I use boil-in-a-bag rice. I cook it seperately and add it at the end. Anyone that doesn’t like this needs to have their tastebuds examined! LOL!
LOVE this recipe!! Think I could eat this meal almost every day–no kidding!! Though it IS easy to customize, I think the “spice balance” is pretty much “on the mark.” And recipe includes most of my favorite “proteins,” PLUS, I’m an “okra gal,” so… Yeah… THANK YOU!
Good flavor but i had a hard time cooking the shrimp thoroughly without burning the rice.
The first go around I didn’t have chicken stock, so I made it from bullion. It was just too salty. My second go, I did everything the same but was sure to use unsalted chicken stock. The dish is fantastic as described.
This recipe was absolutely FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Better than in the restaurant!
Hi, is this recipe gluten free?
I made this tonight and it was exactly what I was looking for in a jambalaya recipe. My wife us gluten free and it was a dish she loved and can eat. Thanks!
I usually like your recipes but this one falls short. I prefer the recipes using roux for better flavor.
Absolutely DELICIOUS!!!!!!! I made this for my very picky eaters :) extended family and everyone loved it!! It’s very simple to make and so delicious. The 1X recipe fed 6 adults without any leftovers (also served cornbread and a side salad). I left out the okra because I didn’t have it and it still thickened up nicely. I started out with 3 cups of chicken stock, quickly added the 4th, then probably added about another cup while the rice simmered. Cook times were spot on! Can’t wait to make it again!
Amazing, delicious, and simple recipe. Thank you.
Okra does not go in jambalaya. Born and raised in New Orleans and never seen okra in jambalaya. Most southerners do not put tomatoes in jambalaya either. I use a little tomato paste and tomato bouillon. Okra goes in gumbo by the way.
This was awesome
Tasty recipe. I grew up in Louisiana and this is so close to how my mam-ma made it. Love it. I leave the meats in while cooking, add more okra and cook the rice separately.
Amazing…followed the ingredients and directions…YUMMY! Would be a great dish for a Mardi Gras celebration.
Super yum and super easy!
Very good! But 15 minutes of prep time? It took me more than an hour to chop veggies, slice chicken and sausage, clean shrimp, and measure other items. Well worth it on a rainy day, but beware of time but oh so good!
My family prefers to keep the rice separate from the jambalaya mixture. With this particular recipe would I just reduce or omit the amount of chicken stock?
This was the best yet! Spicy Ang full of flavour. My husband said it was a 5 but just missing okra (out of season for us) he’s from Texas and I’m from Canada so this was a win for me.
This recipe is a winner every time we make it.
Great recipe. We like spicy so I use fresh chorizo and a habanero and add a can of black beans and some corn. Delish!
Just made this tonight and I must say it is another winner.Your recipes are ones I come back to again and again Thank you so much. My customizations: I did not add the okra but I did add oregano and added only half the amount of thyme directed in the recipe.I added (2) cans of fire roasted tomatoes.
I loved this recipe.
Try adding a good shake of ground white pepper and some canned chopped clams.
Also, sauté the chunked chicken with a healthy dose of Old Bay.