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.
Any idea of the nutritional content? I made mine with turkey Kielbasa and it still turned out really well .. just curious!
Thanks in advance :)
Oooh, we love kielbasa, great choice! Unfortunately though we currently aren’t publishing nutrition facts on the site. The nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. We hope that’s helpful!
This absolutely wonderful and can’t wait to try this with my family. I am also wondering if this could be prepared in a crock-pot? I would also love to take this to a church pot luck, but it would have to be in a crock-pot to stay warm. Would love to hear your thoughts.
Stay tuned, we actually have a crock pot version of this recipe coming soon!
This was FANTASTIC!! Thank you for the recipe :)
Thank you Emily, we’re so happy you liked this!
This recipe is absolutely amazing. There’s a restaurant near us that makes the most amazing jambalaya and this taste just like it! The Creole seasoning definitely makes it. Thanks so much for sharing!
Thank you Brooke, what a nice compliment! We’re so happy you enjoyed this!
This is a really good recipe for people that do not know how to cook Cajun/Creole food. I followed your directions nearly to a T. I changed the amounts of certain items to suit my tastes.
Here is my critique.
Using thighs will give you more flavor than breasts. You can get the boneless skinless, or do that part yourself. When cooking this, you should saute the Andouille at the very beginning then remove it from the pan. Then you saute the chicken in the Andouille fat (and added oil), and remove it afterwards. After that, you can follow your recipe completely. Add the chicken and sausage once you add the tomatoes. The carmelization on the sausage and chicken adds a complexity you don’t achieve otherwise. Using diced tomatoes is more traditional than crushed, but either could work. I used tomatoes from my garden, but I understand everyone doesn’t have that option. Making your own Cajun seasoning will allow you to alter it to your own tastes, but if you’re just going to pick something up from the store; Emeril’s is decent.
Overall, this is pretty damned good. I enjoyed it, as did my wife; but cooking your protein first brings this to another level.
Tim, we’re so happy you and your wife enjoyed the recipe, and we really appreciate you sharing these helpful tips with us! We will follow your lead next time. :)
Love it. I just finished a vegi version and it was great. Your water quantities were way off but it was great. I just added the extra water and it was good. Tasted great.
We’re glad to hear you enjoyed the jambalaya! :)
Made this for dinner . My husband said it was a little spicy but he kept going back for 2nds and 3rds and invited our neighbor to have a bowl. I’d say it was a success. :)
Thanks for sharing Dianne, we’re happy to hear it was a hit! :)
Just graduated from Tulane in May and have been really feeling the New Orleans blues. Made this today with homemade cajun seasoning becuase I couldn’t find any in the local grocery store. Couldn’t be happier! Learned that I need a bigger pan with a lid… ended up having to use a wok and aluminum foil! Thank you for the recipe :)
Congrats Danielle, that’s awesome! We’re so glad you liked this! :)
i was just wondering could you put all the ingredients into a slow cooker/crockpot. And allow it to cook that way. Or does it have to be done on a stove top
I haven’t tried this in a slow cooker, but I’d be a little worried that the rice might burn. If you try it, I’d recommend adding a little extra broth.
We love this recipe! Soooo yummy and pretty easy to make. I’m working my way through your recipes on Pinterest and have loved them all!
Thanks Sarah, we’re so happy to hear that! :) Thank you for being a fan!
What to serve with jambalaya???
Hi Kay! You can serve this with some crusty bread or cornbread, and some okra, squash, or cucumber-tomato salad, or just a simple salad. We hope this helps!
Second time I’ve made this and it’s been awesome both times! Thanks for taking a dish I was somewhat intimidated by and making it easily doable. Definitely going into the permanent recipe rotation.
Thanks Hali, we’re glad to hear you love it! :)
Omg I should try this! Drools. Thanks guys! :)
Thank you Aileen, we hope you enjoy!
I saw this on Filpboard and was amazed because this is what I did the first time I made Jambalaya. This is a very good recipe. I used spicy anduille and regular to add the extra kick to it. I love Jambalaya because you can customize it to how you eat.
Thanks for sharing Theron, we’re glad you liked it! And yeah, jambalaya is one of those things that’s super fun and easy to play with. :)
A terrific recipe. I’m not super confident in my skills in the kitchen so I followed the recipe to the finest detail. It turned out exactly like the pictures and it was delicious. Will definitely make it again. Thanks!
Yay, we’re happy to hear that Ryan!
I just made this, and it is simply delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe
Thanks Annie, we’re glad you liked it! :)
That’s pretty much how I make mine. I’m English but I love Cajun/Creole. My herbs and spices are bay leaves, thyme, oregano, smoked paprika, black & white pepper, celery salt, cayenne and a dash of smoked tabasco. Tomatoes are fresh out of the garden – canned stuff doesn’t even compare, so I implore people to look up how to grow their own tomatoes and give it a go. Okra is good !
I usually make a huge batch of jambalaya when I’m half way through the meat from a big smoker batch, so chicken, pork, sausage all goes in there perfectly – I’d add shrimp but my wife doesn’t like them so I’ve adjusted. This meal is astounding, and makes people do the “happy food dance”. That’s a good thing :)
That’s awesome, and oh my goodness that smoked meat sounds amazing! And yes, jambalaya definitely makes us do a happy food dance as well. :)
So as I was going through my collection of recipes on Saturday looking for something to cook over my weekend, I was eyeballing this jambalaya. The ingredient list intimidated me, though. I mentioned such to my boyfriend and he encouraged me to make it (as it sounded delicious). I went with it. There were A LOT of ingredients I had to gather, and it took me a while to prep all the cut stuff (I’m still pretty much a n00b in the kitchen… that coupled with having a ridiculously tiny and under-equipped kitchen). I then had to make this in a pot rather than a pan due to the amount of stuff being used. Both the vegetables and (brown) rice took way longer to cook than the recipe said it would (still not quite sure why). Turns out I should’ve checked the shrimp before throwing them in ’cause even though I bought peeled and deveined ones, some still had some shell on them (I tried to convince myself it was vegetable matter, but alas…). There was also some either undercooked or burned rice lurking in the giant mass of yum I created. Regardless, this was a real hit in my apartment! The only reason my roomies stopped eating it was ‘casue it was getting too hot. I only used one seeded jalapeno, but they’re not really used to heat. Apparently that is how I can make food last longer. lol
Thanks so much for the recipe! This is probably the most complicated, ingredient-heavy recipe I’ve made so far… Sad but true. :D
Thanks for sharing with us, we’re glad you liked it! And don’t feel bad about this taking you awhile or being complicated — the more practice you have, the more at ease you’ll get with more involved recipes. :) Keep cookin!
I made this tonight and OMG is it good! The best jambalaya recipe I’ve tried. Thank you Ali! Will definitely make again and again. :)
We’re so happy you liked it Amanda – thanks for letting us know! :)
My husband and a group of our friends really enjoyed this recipe! We were short chicken broth, so we substituted some red wine. It changed the flavor dramatically, but it was amazing all on it’s own!
Also, we really enjoyed the bite. We put in one seeded jalapeno and of course the seasonings. I don’t think they want me to change it from using the red wine base haha.
We’re glad to hear that Elizabeth! Also, that’s good to know red wine works in this! :)
This was really good!! I needed a one pot meal for a busy Saturday and this was perfect. Thanks for the recipe!!
Thanks Bailey, we’re happy you liked it! :)
Thank you so much for the recipe! It turned out absolutely delicious — and not hard to cook at all. It’s already freezing where I live, so that hearty spicy pan of hot jambalaya was perfect to enjoy on a cold evening. Will be definitely making it again.
You’re so welcome Anna! We’re happy you liked it so much! :D
made this last night and can’t wait to have leftovers tonight! I used brown rice so it took about 45 minutes once it was added. It was delicious!
That’s great Katherine, we’re so happy you liked it! And it definitely makes some killer leftovers!
Made it at the fire house for 9 guys. Huge hit ! I tripled all the ingredients and have a ton of leftovers for our next shift. Used spaghetti squash instead of rice for some of the guys on diets….
That’s so awesome Javier! We’re thrilled that it was a hit with everyone, and we love that you tried it with spaghetti squash instead of rice! :)
Could you use turkey sausage instead of andouille?
You definitely can! We hope you enjoy!
I copied Tim Byrnes suggestion to sear meat before… I was thinking this before I even read his suggestion… YUMMY IN MY TUMMY AND SO HEALTHY! I used less rice tho 3/4 cup
Awesome Inga, we’re so happy you enjoyed this — thanks for sharing! :)
I just finished making this right now and it is amazing. I am not very good or experienced in cooking and I was able to make it. Thank you for providing a delicious recipe that is easy to follow! Will definitely be making this again!
Thanks for the sweet words Savy, we’re so happy you enjoyed this! :)
I tried this recipe last night and loved it! I could not stop eating it. I kept poking my fiancé saying, “I made this!”.
Thank you for sharing
Thanks Anna, we’re glad to hear that, that’s so sweet! :)
This is currently on my stove cooking as I type. My whole family is from New Orleans and my grandma’s gumbo recipe is tantamount to pure gold, but she doesn’t really cook jambalaya and I haven’t found a recipe that even compared to what I’ve had back home. The smells wafting through my kitchen right this moment would probably make grandma proud!
This was such an easy recipe to follow and augment as you wish. Can’t wait until it’s done, as it could very well become a staple family dish (along with grandma’s gumbo, of course!).
**the sound of bobbling boiling deliciousness**
Awesome, I hope you enjoyed it! :)
This recipe looks awesome! Do you think it would get mushy in the crockpot?
We’re actually hoping to develop a slow cooker version soon. Stay tuned! :)
I made this recipe for my husband and another couple earlier this year. I will be making it again, this time for 4 couples, in a few weeks. I’m planning to make one recipe as is and modify the recipe to make another omitting the meat. I have two questions:
1. Do you have any suggestions on how to make the rice separately? In other words, how much of the stock goes toward the rice versus the ‘sauce’?
2. Do you have any vegetable suggestions to add to the meatless option in additional to okra?
Thanks so much. We loved this the first time!
Awesome!! Unfortunately I’m really not sure how much of the stock would go into the rice, but you’re welcome to cook it separately in stock and then add it back to the dish. The bummer is that the rice itself won’t be infused with as many of the flavors. And any kinds of squash, peppers, cauliflower, and/or even eggplant would be delicious with a vegetarian version!
As a born and raised New Orleanian (who loves to cook), I have to compliment your recipe. I make my own homemade jambalaya and it is very close to mine. The only difference is I use chicken thighs instead of breast, I add 1/2 cup of chopped green onion, and instead of Cajun seasoning I make my own using chili powder, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, kosher salt, minced parsley,thyme, and 2 crushed bay leaves. I get requests for my jambalaya all the time. If you’d like to stick to Cajun seasoning, Tony Chachere’s is the local favorite. It’s technically Creole not Cajun, but it’s fantastic.
Thanks for sharing Shelley, and for your compliment! And w think your recipe sounds amazing!
I’ve used this recipe twice now and it is absolutely delicious!! I had to tone down the cayenne a tad because I’m pregnant and couldn’t handle the heat! haha, I told my boyfriend I was making jambalaya for dinner and he was jumping for joy, he loves it too!
Thanks for sharing Kasey, we’re happy to hear that! :D
LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! Although a lot of prep work went into the chopping (i.e. allow for 1.25 hours), it was well worth it! My family loved it at a dinner party and there was not a drop to be spared. I was able to prepare this recipe with the following modifications: 2 lbs of shrimp, 2 cups of rice (Increase the chicken broth), 3 chicken breasts, white onion (1.5 c) as the large onion allowed for 3 cups, used 1 seeded jalapeño, and 1 tbsp of creole seasoning. I too followed another commenter’s suggestion to sauté the andouille sausage first, reserve the liquid from the sausage, and then use the same broth to sauté the chicken breast. I did however, get comments on the spiciness of the meal so I would recommend that using what is barely recommended, and then add some hot sauce to the dish after it is plated. The meal was simply amazing. My 17 year old nephew made the request and found this recipe, my 16 year old nephew who rarely eats meat went back for seconds, and the entire dinner party loved it. I would like to know how those that commented on doubling or tripling the recipe fared, and how it was done. I know leftovers would have been the hit the next day. (We have to survive on Thanksgiving Leftovers!!!)
We’re so happy to hear you and your family loved this Monica – thanks for sharing! Also, thanks for sharing your modifications. :)
Thanks so much for taking the time to share Monica – we’re happy you and your family enjoyed this! :D
I just made this for a friends birthday party and it was aHUGE hit! I doubled the recipe and I thought I’d have too much – they completely cleaned me out. Thanks so much.
Hey Hilary, we’re so happy you and your friends enjoyed this! :D
Simple and great tasting, I’m making it again tonight and thought I would have a peek at the recipe just to be sure. I follow it to the letter and it comes out better each time I make it! Thanks for the recipe, one of my favorite things to make for company now.
Thanks Terry, we’re happy you enjoy it! :D
oh my gosh – I’m drooling. I’ve been wanting to try Jambalaya from scratch but hadn’t found a recipe I liked. I think this is it! I also want to mention, I LOVE refrigerated minced garlic. It makes my life so much easier!
Thanks Aileen, we hope you love this! :)
Had this for dinner today and it was amazing! So happy I found this recipe! Thank you!!!
Awesome Karen, we’re glad you enjoyed it! :)
This is much easier to cook and tastes way better than other Jambalaya recipes I’ve tried. My son is a student and this is the first meal he learnt to make from scratch. However, being a student, the meat in the recipe is more often than not hot dogs – but it seems to work! We find that cutting the quantity of rice down to 1 cup works well with the amount of stock given and yields 3 large (student sized) portions.
Thank you Judith, we’re happy you and your son enjoy this! Also, thanks for sharing your rice tip with us!
Making this tonight. Looks delicious!
Thanks Michelle, we hope you enjoy it! :)
Loved this! I used quinoa instead of rice, and it still turned out excellent. The flavor here is just absolutely killer! I used 1 jalapeno seeds in. I quite possibly grabbed the hottest jalapeno at the store. Mine was suuuper spicy, but that still couldn’t stop the hubs and I from gobbling it up (while downing milk). Great recipe!!!
Thanks for sharing Whitney, we’re so happy you enjoyed this (aside from the abnormally hot jalapeño)! :)
Made this for the 3rd time last night, but instead of rice I used Orzo. Wow, made it really velvety… This recipe is perfect.
Thanks Kristina, we’re so happy you enjoy this! :D
IT WAS A HIT!!!!! ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!!!!! My husband loved it! I will be adding this to the recipe box. THANK YOU!!!
Thanks Bee, we’re so glad to hear that! :)
Made this for a Christmas Eve party. Made two pans; one mild (less Cajun seasoning and no jalapeño) and the other I followed the recipe to a tee. Both were a hit! Gonna make it again for New Years. The rice came out a little mushy…any ideas how to minimize this?
Hi Louis! We’re happy you enjoyed this! We’re sorry the rice came out on the mushy side, that’s strange! :/ You could try toasting the rice beforehand, that might help prevent it from getting mushy!
I was looking for something different for New Year’s Day. Being from the south, it had to include black eyed peas. I found this recipe and decided to give it a try, adding black eyed peas. Amazing. I had all ingredients on hand to prepare 1/2 recipe which was perfect. I did sub Rotel tomatoes for crushed but only because that is what I had in the pantry. My husband loved it! Need I say more?
We love that Southern good luck tradition for new year’s! Good call on adding black peas to this, we’re so glad it worked out and that you and your husband enjoyed everything – thanks for sharing with us! :)
This is such good jambalaya!!!! I’ve made it many times before, but just made a double batch today for our family who were here from Texas – vising to The Great White North – for a family wedding. I cook the rice separately so that it doesn’t turn mushy, and I keep extra jalapenos and hot sauce on the side so that spice-lovers have options. This is always a hit!!!
Thanks Missy, and thanks for sharing with us, we’re so happy you’re a fan! :D
Is there a way to make this with out it being spicy at all?
Hi Cari! Hmmm, if you don’t like any heat at all, we would recommend skipping the jalapeños and cayenne, and using a different type of sausage (Andouille packs some heat) – we’d suggest a chicken sausage or kielbasa. You don’t want to eliminate the Cajun/Creole seasoning altogether (that’s where this jambalaya gets so much of its classic flavor), but you could add less of it – maybe start with 1 TBS and see how that tastes?
i am making this for a Marti Gras party. Can I make this earlier in the day and warm in oven later?
Hi Linda, you should be able to make this earlier in the day and just reheat it in a 325 degree oven (we’d recommend using a dutch oven if you have one, but a casserole dish with a lid/foil will work). We hope you enjoy!
Can I use a bag of frozen brown rice instead? Should I just add it frozen or let it thaw?
Hmmm, we’ve never tried using frozen rice, but we think it should be fine (definitely use it thawed though)! We hope you enjoy. :)
This is the perfect recipe to get back into cooking!! I’ve been out of the kitchen mostly since November or so and my husband has been filling in. I’m excited to taste this recipe! My husband and I prefer different cooking styles (he loves tacos and noodles, I’ll have to search your blog for any of those) and this is the perfect one to bring me back in. Thanks!
Thanks Elise, we hope you enjoy! :D