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.
Dang! That looks amazing and also my favorite kind of meal to prepare… one dish!
This looks crazy good!!
Very similar to a recipe I use (and love!) but I have one extra step that really adds to it and takes little time – bring the chicken broth and the shells from the peeled shrimp to a simmer and then strain the broth into the pot with tomatoes and rice. Adds a nice depth to the flavour. :)
What great neighbors! Sounds perfect :)
Awwww, yummy! I remember when they were coming over to cook with you. Looks fantastic, Ali!
Love your recipes, is there any chance you could add nutrition facts
to all your recipes?
Your neighborhood sounds like ours, a lot of fun! We’re going to have a hamburger cook off this saturday but I think our next cook off should be jambalaya!
Printing out the recipe!
They are a cute couple & John’s a great cook. Cate’s learning.
Um, can I get a skillet to go? Looks amazing, Ali!
I love jambalya and this looks incredible – the flavors and colors are so inviting!
Wow! This looks absolutely delicious! I’ve always wanted to make Jambalaya and cannot wait to try the task with this recipe!
Ok, I was just talking to my mom about how I needed to try and make jambalaya because well.. its amazing especially if you get it right. Thank you for reading my mind and thankful that your neighbor is a jambalaya wizard in the kitchen. :) Can’t wait to try it Ali. Awesome pics too girl!
Looks perfect, Ali! You have the best friends!
I love simple, authentic dishes like this. Totally going to make this soon. Thanks for sharing. Pinned!
Hi Ali. Lovely blog and what a yummy looking dish. Will keep this one in mind for next time I have friends over. Thanks for sharing!
I love Chorizo sausage in jambalaya, adds great flavour and spice
Wow – this looks soooo good! I have never had jambalaya, but always wanted to try it! This dish definitely looks like a winner – you’ve got some amazing neighbors!
As always your photos are beautiful! I have always loved jambalaya and I’ll be making this soon!
this jambalaya looks SO inviting, I am loving all the gorgeous colors!
LOVE Jambalaya! My brother-in-law makes a mean version, but I don’t have the recipe. Must try this one. So beautiful Ali!
Can I just tell you how much I love and appreciate your diagonally sliced scallions? <3
Oh your pictures are making me drool all over my keyboard! I must try this jambalaya recipe very, very soon!
That looks wonderful! I think it will need to go on the menu soon.
What is the jambo seasoning of which you speak is it a special spice you buy at the store?
It’s Cajun seasoning, and should be in the spice section. Any sort of Cajun/Creole/Blackening seasoning would work.
I am cooking this right now Ali. :) hopefully I won’t mess it up. Thank you so much for your hard work and great recipes.
I found you through Pintrest, and can I just say thank you for sharing this recipe! My husband has said that this might be one of the best things that I’ve ever made, and that’s a HUGE compliment when it comes from him :) I’m definitely going to be looking around and seeing what other gems you have on your site.
I love one pot meals like this. It looks really tasty.
Rice takes forever to cook! It’s been 1 1/2 hours and it’s still not done. I’m at high altitude. Does that make a difference?
Hey Cara! Oh no — sorry about that! The altitude could play a role. Your burner temperature also might — different stoves seem to not always be consistent. I’d try cranking up the heat a notch or two next time to see if that speeds things up. Good luck!
Cara.. I live in Denver and rice cooks okay for me at the same time as the directions say. The only difference is that it takes a bit longer for water to get to 212* because it boils at a little bit lower temp. But, every time you lift the lid it lets out the heat and it will take forever to cook.
I made this tonight for my family. I just omitted the celery because for some reason that sounded weird to me. My family loved though! They just said it was pretty spicy but they would eat it again :)
Celery is part of he holy trinity of Cajun cooking, so I think it must blend well with e flavors of bell pepper send onion. Curious if you’ve tried it with celery to see if you like or dislike the difference?
We didn’t use celery that time around, but it’s certainly included in many jambalaya recipes out there. So go for it if you’d like!
Found this on Pinterest and decided to give it a try. It’s simply amazing. I Ionic went with 1 tablespoon of creole seasoning as suggested at the end of the recipe, it was a good choice. Plenty of space and great flavors. Thanks!
This is my husbands fav dish so I thought I would attempt to make it.. Sooo glad I found this recipe..WOW.. It was delish !! Thanks for sharing..
My husband loves Jambalaya, he’s going to be so excited when he walks in from work and smells this cooking on the stove! I used Rotel tomatoes because they’re spicier and sub’d ham for the shrimp. It smells sooooo good!!! Thank you for sharing:)
If you don’t have the can of crushed tomatoes, is there anything else I can use instead?
You could substitute in diced tomatoes, or even diced fresh tomatoes.
Made this tonight, it was excellent!! We’ll be making it again for sure!!
Hey! Loved your jambalaya! SO GOOD! My sausage started to crumble when I went to slice it into rounds though, any suggestions? What brand did you use?
Oh no! So sorry about that. Hmmm, it’s hard to know based on the type of sausage, but most brands I’ve worked with should hold together pretty well. If you use the same brand and make the recipe again, you could also slice the sausage beforehand and then cook it. Either way, though, it should still be good to eat even if it falls apart. Best wishes!
We moved back to Chicago last summer from New Orleans and I’ve been on a roll so far with the new year, making foods to take me back to that special place (can we say Mardi Gras season?). I’m finding I didn’t pick up enough recipes while I was in NOLA, however, and when I went to the web, your jambalaya recipe caught my eye. Just made it tonight with turkey stock from our Thanksgiving turkey and it came out great! Overcooked the rice, but everything else came out great, so I will definitely use this recipe again. Love your website!
I just made this. It tastes delicious, however mine is a little watery….? Maybe I just needed to let it simmer longer?
Yep, that could be. Sometimes slightly different cooking temperatures will adjust cooking time for the rice.
My hubs and I LOVE Jambalaya and I am always looking (and cooking) for the ultimate recipe. Well, holy creole, my search is over! This is the most delicious Jambalaya we have ever eaten! I certainly understand why you went back for thirds! I modified it a tad for dietary reasons, but it was still delightfully delectable!! I will be blogging about it later this week, so expect a pingback!
I just made this tonight and it was amazing!! Thank you so much
Question – how should I tweak the recipe if I don’t plan to include rice? Less chicken stock? Thanks!
Thanks for the great recipe! I made this for Super Bowl Sunday and ended up with some nice leftovers for work lunches.
Interesting, though, I basically halved everything that could make it spicy, and the dish still has quite a kick. I only used one jalapeno with no seeds, one tablespoon of Creole seasoning, and about 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper. My husband didn’t eat very much of it because he has such a low spice tolerance. Maybe I just happened to get a really hot jalapeno. Just something to keep in mind for those thinking of making this. :)
Found your wonderful recipe on Pinterest. I posted a link to your blog recipe on my FB. It’s so yummy and just perfect for Mardi Gras!
just made it, it turned out wonderfully! Thanks so much!
Tried this recipe, just tonight. Was definitely one of the best I have ever tasted…if not the best. Thanks for including this recipe. It got two thumbs up from both my wife and I, and we’ve decided this recipe is a definite keeper.
Great recipe! I substituted quinoa for rice and it was fantastic!
I think this jambalaya was awesomely delicious
This turned out great! Made the whole house smell amazing too. I have used 3-4 of your recipes and everyone of them has been wonderful. Your pepper steak is my kids” favorite meal. Thanks for all the great recipes! :)
Just made this….IT IS AWESOME!
This looks amazing and will be making this tonight! If I wanted to not add the rice would I adjust the amount of chicken broth?
Easily falls into my top 10 recipes. It’s AMAZING and SO easy!
Thank you so much Francesca! : )