Jambalaya

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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987 comments on “Jambalaya”

1 12 13 14
  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I have made it three or four times now, and it is a great one-pot dinner. I make it vegetarian with a few changes: I saute 1 pack of Field Roast spicy sausage and 1 bag of Beyond Meat Crumbles at the beginning to substitute for the chicken and sausage, and add 1 cup cooked black beans at the end to substitute for the shrimp. I also double the okra to bulk it up a bit more. It’s really delicious.

  2. 5 stars
    Outstanding recipe. Easy to follow and full of flavor.

  3. 5 stars
    Awesome. Loved it.

  4. 5 stars
    I just finished making this recipe and it was fantastic. It was my first time making Jambalaya myself and I will definitely use this recipe again.

  5. This is delicious but super spicy! I omitted the jalapeño bc I was making it for a family who has a kiddo who doesn’t like spicy food and it was still making me sweat when I tasted it! Just adjust to your level of spiciness ;)

  6. 2 stars
    Great flavors but this was not enough time for the rice to cook, and by the time the rice was complete, the chicken was completely dry! I will cook my rice before adding it next time. (Wanted to give 1 star for this, but the flavors redeemed the meal.

    • Sarah – whenever I make this recipe I use chicken thighs instead of breast. It’s my preference anyways, but I find I like it as well because the thighs stay more moist during all the cooking.

    • Sarah, I don’t put my chicken back in until the very end, that way it’s not over cooked! Maybe something to try next time :)

    • 4 stars
      Hi Sarah, I added my chicken near the very end as the recipe states, so it doesn’t cook in the rice and doesn’t get a chance to dry out- could give that a go? Also I use thighs too like Christina.

  7. 5 stars
    I would say that I am a very serious (and snobby) cook and rarely follow a recipe to a tee, but today I did. Absolutely fabulous Jambalaya! Just the right amount of spice. My husband loved it, too.

  8. 5 stars
    Excellent dish!

    I just made it for the second time in two weeks.

    I’m new to cooking and it was a blast to make.

    (Sure, my prep time was note like *two* hours my first time in but it was still worth it. :-)

    Thanks!

  9. 5 stars
    Excellent Jambalaya recipe! Easy enough to make and tastes great!

  10. Can you use cabbage??

  11. 5 stars
    I loved this recipe and my husband is saying he wants to have it for his birthday!

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  13. 5 stars
    I’ve made this a few times with hot Hungarian farmers sausage and it’s honestly life-changing. Thanks so much for posting! I’ve got a big pot simmering on the stove right now.

  14. 5 stars
    Have made this 5 times now. Great recipe, only think I leave out is okra…. otherwise it is gray the was it is.
    Go Chiefs!

  15. 5 stars
    Have made this 5 times now. Great recipe, only think I leave out is okra…. otherwise it is great the was it is.
    Go Chiefs!

  16. 5 stars
    Absolutely DELICIOUS, as written! Definitely saving this recipe and will make often! Thank you!!

  17. If I am cooking the rice separately due to wanting leftovers, should I cut back on the stock added to the pot?

  18. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this recipe for years now when I found it back in 2015. It is absolutely fabulous and everyone I serve it to raves about it! Absolutely outstanding! A staple in my cookbook for sure. Thank you for sharing!

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  20. 5 stars
    This was so easy to make. It is very delicious. Next time I will add a jalapeño for the extra heat!

  21. 5 stars
    This recipe was phenomenal. I followed it to a T and my family and I loved it! I normally have to add seasonings to recipes because they are somewhat bland, but not this one. Saved and will use again. I would rate it a 10 if I could…

  22. I tried this recipe today for the very first time. However being Italian & whipping recipes up off the top of my head, I changed it up a bit. I used hot italian sausage, seafood medley, & added mushrooms…as well added 1 secret ingredient (of which I use in all my cooking & simply cannot share). This meal was amazing.

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  24. 5 stars
    I’ve made this twice now, and it is SPECTACULAR! Seriously, this jamalaya is bangin’. Follow the recipe to a tee and you will be in heaven. 100% delicious and authentic.

  25. 5 stars
    Made this scrumptious recipe for dinner. Using chicken thighs and brown rice just for my Taste, and boy was it a really great meal. Saved this recipe because I will definitely be making this again and again. Thanks for sharing!

  26. 4 stars
    I really love this Jamba recipe, and the flavor is still good, but I cant stand the update that was done that changed the order of things. It makes the meat less flavorful and by the time its added back to the pot there’s not enough cook time left for it to take on the flavors of the dish.

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  28. 5 stars
    My daughter and I made this together, she is only 12 yrs old we had a blast and it came out so very delicious. This will be a staple in my house. It’s meaty enough to serve as the main dish no need to have sides unless you want it.

  29. It was very good!!!!

  30. I follow the recipe (out the okra) a year ago and all my family said: oh my God!!, now I have to make it every family party.
    Thanks for an excellent recipe of Jambalaya.