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.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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 tablespoons Cajun 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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Recipe rating

1,225 comments on “Jambalaya”

  1. excellent

  2. Tastes like being in Nola!

  3. Truly a five star recipe. Great flavor. Was a hit with all my dinner guests. To solve the crunchy rice problem put rice in a strainer and soak in a sauce pan of water while you are cooking the veggies. I soaked my rice about 30 minutes and it was fully cooked! No crunchies! That step also reduces some of the starchieness from the rice. I used one quarter tsp. of red pepper flakes instead of the hot pepper and it came out great. Thank you for a great recipe. It will be go to in my house!

  4. This was so amazing. It was really easy to make and extremely flavorful. I will be saving this for the future. Thank you.

  5. sounds really good

  6. This is has been my go to jambalaya recipe for a few years. It is easy to make and very hearty.

  7. First time trying this recipe and it’s super easy. The taste is amazing. I chose the chicken breast and shrimp combo. Give this one a try and you won’t be sorry. Bookmarking this recipe for future use.

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

  9. Nice recipe. Jalapeños are different. I add okra snd/or file to my Gumbo, but being born and raised and cooking in Cajun country for decades, never heard of either in jambalaya and will pass on dat.

  10. I LOVE this recipe! I omitted the chicken and used vegan sausage because I’m pescatarian. Used basmati rice and about 3.5 cups of broth… but that made it a little too wet.
    This made a LOT of food. Myself and my 2 roommates ate it and we have enough left for the rest of the week… to the point that I’m worried about us finishing it before it goes bad. So I’d recommend cutting this in half if you’re serving only a couple people!

  11. 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.

    • This is not Jambalaya!!!!! You do not mix seafood and land animals!! There are no tomatoes in Jambalaya!!!!!! There are no Jalapeños in Jambalaya!!!!!! Okra does not go in Jambalaya!!!!! As a resident of New Orleans, I must let you know you should feel shame for this recipe, the people who taught you this should feel shame!!!!! You disgust myself and everyone in Lousiana with this recipe!!!! May whatever deity you believe in have mercy on you, for your horrid actions. This is disgusting.

  12. I used only one cup of Arborio rice and two cups of chicken broth, 1/2 lb of sausage

  13. Everyone, including picky children, loved this! To accommodate the wimps, I only used 2 tsp creole seasoning and 1/2 jalapeno and had extras for the spice-loving adults. I used 3 chicken thighs and cooked them with the diced vegetables. I had smoked sausage so added it with the crushed tomato. I did soak the rice as suggested in another review to shorten the cooking time and it worked perfectly with about 3 c chicken stock. I used fresh okra, tops and bottoms trimmed and cut into 3rds (wasn’t sure everyone would like it and wanted it to be easy to pick out) and added it with the shrimp so it still had a bit of a crunch. I also threw in some frozen corn at the end just to increase the vegetables. Served with cheesy cornbread. This will be a regular on our menu for sure.

  14. Great recipe! I doubled the cayenne and jalapeño for a little extra heat. Delicious!

  15. Love this recipe, can you freeze this? If so whats the best way to do so

    • I’ve just put it in a freezer safe container and put it in the freezer. I probably wouldn’t freeze more than 6 months though.

  16. I used parboiled long grain rice. I use 6 cups of broth to 3 cups of rice boild water and turned to simmer 25 mins later it was perfect. Except I didnt add the shrimp yet

  17. Very good! Whole family loved!

  18. I don’t want it spicy or hot. Do I eliminate the jalapeño and cayenne pepper?

  19. This Jambalaya recipe is the BEST!!!! Everyone ate it and asked for seconds. I used the cajun seasoning recipe that you have and it is by far the best cajun seasoning I have ever had!!

  20. This recipe is part of our regular rotation and never fails to be the BEST. We always look forward to it!

  21. I don’t understand it.. I just made it and had to add another 1.5 cups of rice and it is still insanely salty. I did not even add any salt the recipe calls for. I think 2 tablespoons of Creole seasoning is too much. I don’t know what to do… this is one big pot of Jambalaya that is painfully salty. What can I do???

    • I will be making this tomorrow. I make my own Cajun Seasoning, but do not add the salt. It has a very strong flavour (I’m Canadian). My daughter put me onto this recipe. I’m really looking forward to it.

      It is good to know that this can be frozen. Since my wife went into the care home I do a lot of batch cooking – make lots and freeze in portions.

    • Jeanie, I used Creole seasoning before and found it to be very salty, so now I just use Cajon seasoning, much better!

    • For next time – I never use package creole or Cajun seasoning. They’re too salty. Mix up some at home with no salt in it, then you can salt to taste.

  22. Really really good! This one is a keeper for sure and we will be making this again. We made a few modifications (2 onions, 2 cans of tomatoes, 2 cups of Okra, lots more garlic {we love garlic} and we cooked the rice separately and added at the end, then cooked for another 10 min. or so) Also, we used turkey sausage and basicly cooked everything together instead of removing chicken and adding later – sausage and chicken were cooked when we started veggies. Thanks for a great dish!

  23. The addition of tomatoes makes this dish creole, NOT Cajun!

  24. If I wanted to add more rice, how would the recipe change? Would I double the amt of chicken broth for double the amt of rice?

  25. I’ve made this several times over the last couple of years and it’s always a hit!! I apologize if this has been asked. But, can I make this in the crockpot?

  26. Easy to make and the taste is OFF the Hook!!

  27. Is this ever made with the rice cooked separately?

    • LOVE this jambalaya! Great flavor for a fairly short cook time. Jambalaya does require some prep work , but I always get help when I say I’m cooking it. I did follow the recipe the first time, but I like a lot of sauce, so I make the rice separately add the rice to the jambalaya is done. I have a rice cooker and have it ready to go when I start cooking the “holy trinity.” It works for me. I use all 3 proteins. I also use both creole and File powder. No okra. All I have to say is, “Thank you and Thank You John and Cate!”

  28. I made this tonight. I love it! Thank you for such a great recipe. I’m a fan from Kansas City!

  29. My family loved this recipe! Will definitely be making it again!!

  30. My daughter and I made this for dinner and every body loved it. So full of flavor and very filling. Am a little curious though, it’s surprisingly the same as the recipe on this page …

  31. Fantastic recipe! Easy prep and amazing flavor! I will definitely make this again. Thank you!

    • Made your Jambalaya, it is awesome. I’m not from the south but have been exploring southern cooking. I used italian hot sausages and chicken thighs, the consistency seems perfect. The flavors are all there but not overpowering. Thanks for sharing!

  32. The only real objection I have to this recipe is that it leaves out Ham. Ham in French is Jambon, which is the Jam in Jambalaya.
    When I make it, I add some tomato sauce as well.
    I also use both Okra and File.
    More than one way to skin a cat.

  33. I made this last night and it was so good that my “food critic” son said, “This is insane!” And it was.
    So, thank you! This is my new go-to jambalaya!

  34. We LOVED this–it was awesome!!! Before I made it, my husband told me that he loves jambalaya, but that he has only had GOOD jambalaya twice…in New Orleans (and he’s had it many times). But when I made this tonight…he loved it and said I should make it again. We had a total of 4 people for dinner and had a little leftover, but not a lot, which tells you it was a hit. I made the full recipe, but used file powder instead of okra. Also, I cooked rice separately, as a personal preference. I used 3 cups of stock and it was perfect. The only negative to jambalaya is that it takes a long time to prep all of the ingredients. So I recommend doing the prep in the morning and saving everything else for when you are ready to actually cook. This is not a knock on the recipe, its just the nature of jambalaya—there’s a lot of ingredients to chop and prep! But it is definitely not 15 minutes of prep, so give yourself time.

  35. This is a keeper. Thank you for the delicious recipe!

  36. Delicious!

  37. I often make adjustments to recipes to make it more flavorful. That is NOT necessary for this recipe. The measurements and flavors are perfect for this recipe. My family and I love this version. I’ve made it so often I’m beginning to memorize it. Our only variations is the different types of proteins we use.

  38. As a NOLA native… that’s definitely not how jambalaya… it doesn’t even look like it. If they didn’t title it as being jambalaya I wouldn’t have even known what they were attempting to make.

  39. Absolutely wonderful
    Cheers

  40. Delicious, with lots of flavor!

  41. I’ve used this recipe for years, total dime. We have a newly minted diabetic in my house and I’m happy to report that I substituted cauliflower rice for the regular rice and it was still delicious. Not identical, but the flavor was spot on and the rice wasn’t missed.

  42. We’ve made this recipe several times. It’s so good! It’s a little spicy for some of my family members, but I think it’s perfect :) and they usually just mix a little greek yogurt in and are fine. Good with or without the shrimp if you don’t have it on hand!

  43. The flavor is good but the rice definitely needs to be precooked. Otherwise I cooked it for 50 minutes and added six cups of broth just to make the rice edible and not crunchy. I should have precooked the rice as many suggested. May try again making those important modifications.

  44. I made the recipe using shrimp, chicken and andouille chicken sausage. It was very flavorful!!! I will certainly make it again.

  45. This is truly an amazing and tasty recipe! I made it for some family and they absolutely loved it. Since I am not one to cook very often, this recipe was a little difficult and confusing for me at first, but I got it and can always make adjustments the next time around! Will definitely be adding this to my dinner rotation! Thank you so much for sharing this great recipe.

  46. Incredible!!! Prepared with chicken andouille sausage and shrimp. Our new Favorite! Thank you

  47. I’m so confused. The video says to add Chicken and sausage with veggies and uncooked rice but the instructions say to leave it out till after the shrimp and okra are cooked. Which is it?

  48. Great recipe. The flavor is spot on.

    My wife and I don’t particularly like okra so we left that out. We also used chinese Jasmine rice since that’s what we have at home. Jasmine rice cooks down very easily so I just moderated the amount of liquid in the pan during the 30 min stewing period. I started with only 2 cups and added a little at a time every few minutes as needed to prevent the rice from getting too soft or soggy.

  49. Absolutely delicious recipe! Great one-pot meal prep that I will definitely make again. The Cajun seasoning recipe was also great and helpful to have linked.

    Made just a few alterations to make it slightly healthier: 1/2 pound shrimp and Andouille chicken sausage instead of a whole pound each, 6 Roma tomatoes instead of a can, extra bell peppers, and homemade vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Still super flavorful!

  50. I make this recipe all the time and it is always a hit! Making it tonight on a cold Chicago night and I can’t wait until it’s ready! It’s always perfect!!