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

1,238 comments on “Jambalaya”

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  1. Love this except for the shrimp—- am I not rinsing it long enough? Both times I have made it the shrimp taste like shrimp — maybe I am not letting sit long enough for the flavor to get to the shrimp? I thaw out the shrimp (peeled and deveined) and rinse in colander for a few minutes. Any tips would be appreciated!

    • I’m sorry I don’t know if I understand. Shrimp should taste like shrimp, because it is shrimp. Lol if you mean it tastes off or fishy, that’s because the shrimp is old. I never do frozen shrimp because they sometimes will taste fishy. Get your shrimp from the seafood section at a store instead of from a bag and you’ll get much better quality.

    • Perhaps you can dry and season the shrimp before adding it to the pot.

    • All shrimp is “frozen” shrimp. Shrimp must be shipped frozen. When you buy it in the seafood department they just thaw it for you…. The quality may be higher but with shrimp we can’t conflate frozen with low quality.

    • I LOVE this recipe. I make it for holidays and any other occasion. I normally get my shrimp from an actual seafood market I live near the Gulf, so I have easy access to fresh Gulf seafood. Takes longer to prep, but the flavor is outstanding.

    • My son is a pescatarian, so I always cook the proteins separate from the rice and veggies. I coat the meat in the spices and olive oil and let it marinate while the rice cooks. I let everyone add the chicken, sausage and shrimp to their liking.

  2. I made this for my husband and and adult son and they both can’t stop raving about it. The perfect amount of spice and it was super easy to make. Thank you for sharing this recipe, I will definitely make this again!!

  3. It’s the best Jambalaya I’ve ever made at home. It’s so good and easy. Thank you.

  4. I’m making this for dinner again tonight. This will be my 5th time enjoying this jambalaya recipe. It’s absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Made this tonight and it was yummy. Looking forward to leftovers tomorrow

  6. Lived up to the hype, that’s for sure! Sadly I couldn’t find any okra, so I just went without and everything was jazzy.

  7. Ive made this recipe multiple times and we love it. Best jambalaya recipe!

    • If you can’t get fresh shrimp, try adding about 1/2 bottle of clam juice… great recipe, just like my cajun friend taught me.

  8. Delicious, a little too spicy for my families taste. Will make again omitting some of the cayenne pepper.

  9. I love this recipe! I’ve used it over and over again over the years and it never fails me. It’s packed with flavour and is easy to make.

  10. Excellent recipe. Particularly for adaptational preference.

  11. Gonna try this coming weekend.
    My dad used to make this and I remember he’d always cut an orange in quarter pieces and cook it on top of the rice, flesh side down.

  12. Great recipe! I omit the chicken and add crawfish instead. I do not add the okra. I make a pot then eat it everyday for lunch. Good stuff! Thank you

  13. I just made this for Easter Sunday, and it is delicious. Even my 8 year old loved it. It’s so flavorful and simple!
    A side of homemade cornbread doesn’t hurt either…
    Thanks for sharing this recipe, I will definitely make it again!

  14. My son and my husband love jambalaya, so I made this for them and they both loved it!! They both said it was a perfect amount of heat. It really is a very easy recipe, I do all my cutting of veggies in the morning and then it is just dumping and cooking.thank you for making it so easy to make.

  15. Best of the best, thank you so much for this awesome recipe.

  16. I just made it tonight for wife and daughters and they’re friends for they’re girls night out at home, not one piece of rice remained. After I made it I made myself a plate and went upstairs to watch football so they can talk lady talk. Came down hours later for another beer and drink and more jambalaya and there was none left! Will definitely double up on recipe next time, ever since I started using your recipes I am the star chef! Thank you so much,,I tell them it’s all because of you.

  17. Great base recipe! I added a few more of the veggies, more celery, and entire package of frozen okra, the biggest jalapeno I’ve ever seen and left seeds in. I’ve had a few recipes fail with uncooked rice, maybe altitude issue, so I cooked the recipe seperate, cut the broth in half and combined it all together with the shrimp, cut the chicken and doubled the shrimp. Ate off it twice and freezing the extra. Added to the tried and true recipe bin and plan to make it again.

    • Gonna make this for the family this weekend, however not big fans of okra. Does anyone have any recommendations for substitutions or should I just omit and call it a day?

  18. I am making this for a small dinner party. What type of salad do you suggest best compliments it (as a first course)? Thank you!

    • This recipe will definitely get added to my list of favorites. I used my new dutch oven and it worked perfectly. The only “downside” is it makes so much, so may freeze some for later. I didn’t add the okra or file powder and it seems to be fine.

  19. Made this recipe last night and sure is a hit with my family . It was first time eating jambalaya 5 stars from us

  20. Delish! This is my second time making it and the first time my family loved it! You are the best cook ever!
    PS. im ten

  21. Great recipe! Will definitely use it in the future. ❤

  22. Made this today and got a shining smile from my SO! :) Thanks!~

  23. This recipe is great! Entertained family and friends who all LOVE food and they LOVED the dish. We like our dishes to be on the spicy side so I added a bit of extra seasoning and it was delicious. First time making jambalaya and definitely going to be making it again. Prep time was definitely longer than 15minutes (I think it took that amount of time to clean and gut the shrimp) but definitely worth it. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  24. Wonderful! Reminded us of our trips to New Orleans.

  25. Am I able to cut the recipe in half. It is only me and my husband and there is no way we will eat that much. Just asking yo know if it will mess up the recipe at all!!

  26. Can I make this in an instant pot?

  27. I don’t like jalapeños and okra what can use to replace them with?

  28. We varied some amounts, and didn’t use some ingredients, but this was just fantastic. Everyone loved it and we will be making this often.

  29. Great recipe!!!! Didn’t have shrimp 🦐 still delicious 😋
    Used chicken andouille with chicken breast and came out fantastic! The flavor is great. Rice not mushy

  30. Made this tonight and it was delicious! Used 2 jalapenos as we like it spicy. Also left out the okra and didn’t substitute anything for it and it came out fine, very thick. The only criticism of the entire process is this: Nobody, not the author of this recipe, not Julia Childs, not Gordon Ramsey or anyone else can prep this meal in 15 minutes. I really wish I would have thought that out before planning dinner as it pushed dinner hour back quite a bit. And I’m not an amateur with a knife, I cook every day and did so for a living years ago. So please, give yourself ample time to prep everything. Other than that, thank you for the recipe and keep cooking!

  31. Sarah all shrimp is not previously frozen, unless you’re unable to get freshly caught where you live. Here in south Florida we get fresh/wild caught shrimp at our fisherman’s market or catch them ourselves.

  32. Today was the 4th time to make this oh so simple oh so amazing dish! My entire family loves it!!

  33. I like this recipe! I’ll make it for the holidays and any other occasion. Good stuff! Thank you.

  34. Good day, I just made the jambalaya, my family and I really enjoyed it! I appreciate the little no mistake video and look forward to making the next inspirational recipe. But more importantly, congratulations to you and Barclay on your joyous blessing, Teo!

  35. If making ahead of time, what temperature and time length do you suggest for reheat?

  36. I’ve made this jambalaya as-written several times, and it’s one of my faves. It’s very impressive and delicious, yields a whole lot, and is EXTREMELY satisfying to watch come together. What’s better is that I’ve recently ventured into cooking plant-based, and this was easy to substitute. I used veg stock and field roast italian sausage (though next time may opt for something without fennel) and it’s very good. Just wanted to throw that out there for anyone looking for a vegan jambalaya recipe–this one is VERY good!

  37. My favourite jambalaya recipe. To make it a bit cheaper, I omit the shrimp and chicken, and just use a couple of andouille sausages as the protein. I also omit the okra as it’s very difficult to find where I live. I’ve even made it vegan, and it’s still amazing and very flavourful. Good seasoning mix. Also, for a (possibly heretical) freezer hack: I make a big batch of this recipe base with no rice, freeze individual portions of the jambalaya base for later, and then I cook individual servings of rice in my rice cooker when I want to eat the frozen jambalaya. Yes, the rice doesn’t soak up the juices quite the same, but IMO frozen soggy rice is just *yuck*.