Jambalaya

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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.

The BEST Jambalaya Recipe

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. ♡

Alright, let’s talk about this jambalaya recipe!  With parents from the South, John grew up on spicy Cajun and Creole food, and always liked to brag to us Midwesterners about all of the fresh Gulf shrimp his family used to pick up at the market specifically for their jambalaya.  (Which sounds…dreamy.)  Still, though, he’s whipped this dish up for our neighbors time and time again right in the heart of Kansas, and proven that it can be a winner wherever in the world that it’s made.  It’s full of great flavor, easily customizable with your favorite proteins (or you can make it vegetarian), and probably much simpler to make than you might think.  It just requires lots of chopping, and a solid 45 minutes or so from start to finish.

So just grab a glass of wine, maybe invite some friends over to keep you company while you cook, John-and-Cate-style, and enjoy this one!  Thanks for the recipe, you two!  ♡

Easy Jambalaya Recipe | 1-Minute Video

Jambalaya Ingredients:

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…

  1. 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.
  2. Sauté the veggies.  Sauté the onion, bell pepper, celery, jalapeño and garlic until soft.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Taste and season.  Season the jambalaya with salt and pepper (and extra Cajun/Creole seasoning, if needed) to taste.
  7. 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:

Jambalaya

My original photo for this jambalaya recipe from 2014.

More Great Cajun Recipes:

Love this jambalaya recipe?  Be sure to also check out these faves:

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Jambalaya

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 0 About 6-8 servings 1x

Description

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.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 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)
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 34 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoonCajun seasoning or Creole seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound raw large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup thinly-sliced okra*
  • Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • optional garnishes: chopped fresh parsley, thinly-sliced green onions, hot sauce

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Serve warm with your desired garnishes.  Or refrigerate and store in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

Notes

*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.

Chicken Jambalaya Recipe with Sausage and Andouille Sausage

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1,066 comments on “Jambalaya”

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  1. Loved the flavour

    • I veganised this recipe, and added some beans…it was delicious!
      We like what over here, so we added more. Definitely will make again.

  2. I’ve made this twice now and the flavors are amazing. But no matter how long I cook it and how much extra stock I add the rice is never totally soft. Usually like 1/3 of it has crunch. I’m a die hard recipe follower and I’ve made it both times as written. Otherwise yummy though.

    • Try soaking the rice first. 30 minutes should do it. :)

    • When this happens to me on recipes, I cook my rice separate (adding chicken broth with the water for extra flavor) then mix it into the main dish.

  3. how many does it actually serve? I am having a mardi gras dinner party for 8 adults

  4. Recipe looks wonderful and I’ve enjoyed reading the comments, but it seems like it calls for too much liquid. All the long grain rice I’ve looked at calls for 1 1/2 cups of liquid for 1 cup of uncooked rice and 3 cups of liquid for 2 cups. If you do the math from this, the 1 1/2 cups of rice in the recipe should need 2 1/4 cups of liquid, not 3 and certainly not 4. Is there a reason why this needs more?

    • I was skeptical at first and started with about two and a half cups of broth. Once it absorbed, the rice was no where near cooked and I’m sure I ended up using closer to 5 cups of broth/water, simmering on medium-low until the rice was cooked through and most liquid was absorbed. It was saucy, spicy and just flat out delicious!

      Play around with it and see if it works for you.

    • Lynn: The dish is supposed to have thick hearty sauce. If you where just going for steamed rice, 1.5 cups of water/liquid per cup of rice is correct for a rice cooker, or 2 cups of water/liquid per 1 cup of rice if it is steamed on the stove top. Hopefully, that clears it up a bit for you. Bon Appetit!

  5. I made this recipe but I made it with no rice and instead I made with cauliflower, and I was soooo happy with the results, sooooo tasty I also after cooking the chicken removing them I added vegs and I added white wine to it was perfect 🥰

    • I was thinking of doing the same thing with cauliflower rice. Did you modify the liquids or cooking time?

  6. I love this recipe, I tried several different ones before coming across this one, and so far this is my favorite. I was wondering, is there a way to use brown rice in this recipe instead of white rice?

  7. I made this last Saturday for company and it was a big hit! I went with 1 jalepeno pepper and it was the perfect amount of heat for us, we do like spicy food. I just have one question about the rice. I only had Basmati rice on hand and it really blew up, what I mean is that it soaked up all of the liquid and the end result was a little more thick than I would have preferred. Would the long grain white rice called for in the recipe have been a little less absorbent?

  8. A photo of you with a guy dressed in a Buckeye tee, a spicy jambalaya recipe, and you don’t even recommend Columbus Pale Ale as a complementary beverage? Ha! Thanks for posting a great, descriptive recipe!

  9. Everything was amazing. I made this for my husband and I so I cut the recipe in half and it was plenty! The flavor was very good a bit spicy but we love that. I added extra stock just for it to be a bit more juicy. Will be saving and making again.

  10. This recipe is the best jambalaya one I’ve made! The flavor was so good. I skipped the chicken and just used sausage and shrimp. It was mouthwatering.

  11. I found my new recipe. I did find adding a tablespoon of old bay gave it amazing flavor.

  12. This recipe turned out insanely good! Won’t try another Jambalaya recipe. Didn’t change a thing other then add a little extra broth in order to cook the rice a bit longer.

  13. Best everI was feeling very hungry and adventurous and so I bought the ingredients and I finished making my jambalaya at 12 in the evening it was the bestest best jambalaya have ever tasted I don’t care if I was eating it at midnight I don’t care if it’s heavy or whatever I was loving every bite and then the next morning I shared it with my husband and ate the rest of it he only got one bite no one plate but it was the bestest I don’t care no regrets

  14. Boom! Best jambalaya recipe by far! I used chicken thighs instead of breasts, Slap Ya Mama cajun seasoning and all 4 cups of chicken broth and it was absolutely amazing. It’s a keeper and will be in our regular rotation!

  15. I’ve made this twice and it’s been fabulous both times! I had to adjust cooking time for rice a bit and I always season by sight. :-)
    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Dinner and lunch prep favorite :)

  17. By far, the best jambalaya recipe! I tried this recipe a couple years ago and LOVED it! Unfortunately, I forgot to save it to Pinterest. So, I’ve tried other recipes with disappointing results. Luckily, I found your recipe again. Thank God! I will never lose this recipe again. Amazing!

  18. This is HANDS DOWN one of my favorite recipes to make. I love all the flavors and the aromas that fill our house! Also, I love how versatile it is (like spice? add jalapenos. like seafood? add more shrimp or some fish. trying to boost your protein? add more chicken). This is one of mine and my husband’s all time fav recipes. A staple I make AT LEAST once every two months. Also, we get ample leftovers from it!

    I’m going to try cooking and freezing this for my sister who will be giving birth in June. I will follow-up once she lets me know how it is reheated. Per previous reviews who have freezed this post cooking, they have had great success.

  19. Just made this with Italian sausage, no cayenne, no bay, no okra as we didn’t have any of them….it’s incredible.

  20. No, not jalapenos. Ever. Cayenne and hot sauce. And okra? Not in jambalaya. Otherwise, it’s okay.

  21. This is truly incredible. I added 4 cups chicken broth and 2 cups total of the long grain rice and about 20 ounces crushed tomatoes just to make a little more for our family of six and it was amazing. We couldn’t find andouille sausage so we used chorizo instead and was delicious. Love this recipe!!

  22. This recipe was amazing. Tons of flavour, lots of spice (and added more) and my husband loved it. Only issue was the rice took FOREVER. Had to add quite a bit more chicken broth and then again more water to make sure it wasn’t too salty and the rice STILL wasn’t fully cooked. This added quite a bit of cooking time overall. Will probably partially cook the rice before hand. Overall amazing recipe, can’t wait to make this again!

  23. Can I use brown rice? I have a slight allergy to something in white rice. It sounds terrific. Have to be careful too…celiac.

  24. amazing recipe! my family enjoys it everytime I make it, thank you!

  25. Just made this and it was amazing! My husband had 3 plate-fulls!
    It was easy to make and we have lots of leftovers. I didn’t include okra, but did everything else as per the recipe. A definite keeper

  26. Just having a bowl of this recipe now! Thanks for sharing your recipe; it’s quite tasty and was straightforward for me to follow. I only had brown rice and didn’t have any thyme spice, yet didn’t let that stop me from making it. Makes me excited to make this again with thyme and long grained rice ;)
    Turned out find with the brown rice I used, and put a little lovage for celery flavour. Not the same, I know but I’m proud to have thought to try my own substitutes and not wreck the meal 😁
    It was a great way to fill an evening alone during the quarantine here in Ontario, Canada. I hope you and yours are keeping well!

  27. I made this last night for hubby’s birthday. It’s his favorite meal. We usually go to his fave restaurant, Drew’s Bayshore Bistro in Keyport,NJ. But we’re in quarantine from Virus. Soooooo I made this recipe minus the shrimp & okra. It was perfect!!! This recipe is a keeper?

  28. We’ve been cooking a lot during COVID-19 stay-safe-at-home and have tried many new recipes. This one was voted the BEST so far! And we’re in week 7 so that’s saying something. The spiciness is perfect and the flavors are amazing! I used chicken thighs bc that’s what I had and they worked nicely. Basmati rice needs the full 4c of broth. We are going to be fighting for the leftovers!

  29. Tried this and I’m really impressed! It was delicious! Adapted slightly in that I precooked the meat, presoaked the rice and then combined everything in a cast iron cooker in the oven. Thanks for posting the recipe. This is a new go-to for me.

  30. Excellent recipe! I used a food processor for all of the dicing, smoked sausage & chicken thighs, with the shrimp. No okra, so added the gumbo file. Caution… I opted to use Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning, and it was way too salty for us. Will try making the seasoning next time.

    • Look for Emeril’s essence recipe online, is very good, not too salty. Also great for fish and dry rubs.

  31. Yum! This is delicious.

  32. My first time eating and making Jambalya. I made it twice in one week.. it was THAT GOOD! Shared some with our neighbors and they loved it as well. Everyone gave it rave reviews and it will now be at the top of my list for what to bring to potlucks, etc. Easy to put together and so warm and soothing! Perfect comfort food for these crazy times.

  33. OMG, this was delicious! Due to CoVid we had to substitute asparagus for okra, organic brown rice, made my own creole seasoning, and it turned into a tasty and beautiful one pot dish for Mother’s Day. We took a hike and enjoyed our day, then put this together for a perfect meal. Super easy.

  34. You called this “Cajun Jambalaya” when it is, in fact Creole, because you put tomatoes in it.

  35. Fabulous, but way too hot for my weak palate. We used half the jalapeno and half the Cajun seasoning and it was plenty spicy. I would recommend people making this recipe for the first time do the same and add more to taste.

  36. This recipe is really really good! I’m really glad I tried this, I’ll probably never have boxed Jambalaya again honestly.

  37. I’m definitely going to try your recipes. After 3 strokes I can’t remember how to cook or bake. I love spicy foods My ex(now deceased) is from New Orleans. So I’m in a learning process which I think will be a great help to me because I’m learning from a wonderful lady who likes to share..I’m 74 and thank God for your generosity. JR

  38. Great recipe, the only change I made was cooking the rice on the side instead of adding it. Great turn out!

  39. It was definitely super tasty, I have picky eaters in the house and was nervous about how they would react. Let’s just say my kids fought over the pot and cleared two plates each, which almost never happens. Anyway, I chose to cook the rice separately before integrating into the pot to avoid crunchy rice, then I simmered for 10 minutes. I used the chicken stock to cook rice and ran out so I used 3 cups of beef stock for the pot. I also used:
    1/4 teaspoon mustard
    Teaspoon cumin
    1 Tablespoon chili powder
    3 tablespoons of honey for a little more depth of flavor.
    But overall was really pleased with your recipe 😀

  40. The flavor was delicious. I modified the recipe with variety of poultry,seafood and vegetables. Will make this again!

  41. This is a bit of a mixed review. I loved and didn’t love aspects of this recipe. Starting with the good: the flavors in this jambalaya are fantastic! I made it with chicken breast, shrimp and kielbasa (no andouille since meat plants have been locked down for quarantine and store selection was slim). I made the cajun seasoning according to the linked recipe. (Smoked paprika is definitely the way to go over regular paprika! Added a deeply satisfying depth to all the other good tastes in the pot.) The seasoning mix is a definite winner that I will be using repeatedly this summer!

    Now the not so good part: When at least 6 ingredients in a recipe require dicing, mincing or slicing, there is NO way prep time is 15 minutes!! I should have cottoned on to this early, but the lightbulb didn’t go off until I was at least 30 minutes into the slicing and dicing. So beware! This recipe requires a lot of prep time.

    My other issue with the recipe has to do with the rice. I used basmati and 4 cups of liquid, plus whatever came from the tomatoes. I cooked for 27 minutes, stirring every 5, as directed. My rice mixture was very gloppy, and as a texture person, this was the most disappointing aspect, especially after all the time spent chopping! I wish love a little more guidance with choice of rice and amount of liquid. 3-4cups of liquid is a big difference! I had looked at other reviewers’ comments and pre-soaked the basmati. I know basmati sucks in a lot of liquid, so I opted to use 4 cups, not 3. Maybe next time, I will start with 3.

    Bottom Line: I said “next time” because there will definitely be a second dance for me and this recipe! Even though the rice was sticky and gloppy and stuck to the spoon, my husband and teens had second helpings. The flavors were Just. That. Good!

  42. O.M.G…. new family favorite! Thank You!

  43. Made this for dinner tonight and it was so good! I used brown rice because that’s all I had on hand but it was delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  44. This is a very good recipe! The only changes were that I used more broth and added the sausage and chicken about 10 minutes before the rice was completed cooked, so it absorved theirs flavour; the dish was perfetly moist and tasted so good! Thanks!

  45. Delicious! Made almost exactly as directed. Used one chicken breast & one thigh. Store was out of fresh jalapeños, so I used pickled. I will definitely make it again.

  46. I grew up around New Orleans. I have never seen anyone put okra in Jambalaya. I personally don’t recommend it as it is not a traditional ingredient pertaining to this dish. That being said do as you wish.
    2nd.. A suggestion.. Unless you live in Louisiana and can get real andouille sausage which is highly smoked… Skip the fake process stuff that is sold in your area because trust me anything commercially processed won’t taste like the real thing. Instead look a good quality smoked sausage from a with a strong smoke flavor.
    And just an informational tidbit, if you add tomatoes whether it is tomatoes, tomato sauce or whatever it would be considered a creole jambalaya. If you skip the tomatoes it would traditionally be considered a cajun jambalaya. Good luck and enjoy

  47. Absolutely delicious! We loved it!

  48. Excellent! One suggestion, make it the day before and it will give the spices time to take. Delicious!

  49. I found this recipe years ago and now I am expected to make it for every birthday for my dad, husband, and father-in-law. They are obsessed.