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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. ♡

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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1,221 comments on “Jambalaya”

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  1. Thank you so much for the recipe. I had to make Jambalaya for Diversity day at work. It was a great hit! I had to leave out the shrimp.

  2. This jambalaya was beyond delicious. I have been searching for a copy cat of BJ’s Restaurants’ jambalaya. This is far better! I made it last night with chicken, sausage and shrimp. I followed your recipe to the T. It was sooooooooo yummy! My husband, who is very picky, also loved it. He told me to make it very often and to make it for future guests. Im so glad i found this recipe and your blog. I will be making more of your recipes! :) I pinned it TWICE on pinterest LOL that;s how much we loved it! 

  3. Sorry, but there are errors, in my opinion, in how to prepare this dish.
    There is a chemistry problem here.  The rice can be fluffier.
    Saute sausage and brown first, add onions and bell peppers.  I use a small amount of coconut oil. 
    Add the chicken.  Onions and peppers will cook down a lot. 
    Next, add the rice in the same pot and let it cook until opaque or for several minutes.  Keep stirring. Make sure the rice is sauted this way before adding any liquid.  
    Next, add water or chicken broth and  let the rice fully cook before adding tomato product.
    Half way through cooking rice, add the shrimp.
    Next add tomato paste, juice or sauce at the end of rice coking.

    Tomato product are acidic and inhibit the rice from cooking properly and often the rice will be partially cooked and gooey.
    Once the rice is cooked, add the tomato product.  If I am out of tomato paste or sauce, I use V8.  V8 gives it a great flavor.
    Also, I use Better than Bouillon chicken bouillon (no msg).
    I am surprised someone did not complain about the rice being undercooked.
    If you make it the way I suggest your rice will be fluffy and your jambalaya won’t be gummy or soupy.

    There is a You Tube video of a lady who does it this way and she is the only one who seems to do it properly.  However,I think she uses instant converted style rice which I tell you how to make your own.  This will also give you a fluffy jambalaya if you don’t add too much liquid.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyxG1383cIo

  4. My husband and I made this today in a crockpot…Started at noon and ate at 5:30pm…The only thing we did different was instead of adding the chicken breast in chunks, we boiled it for about 25 minutes, put the chicken in a bowl and took two forks and shredded it back and forth…It just falls apart…We then added it to the the crockpot…It was awesome and the chicken went a long way, shredding it makes it seem like there is a lot more….This is an awesome recipe…

    • Thanks for sharing Kathy — we think that sounds awesome, and we’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  5. Made this last night and it was excellent. I followed the recipe exactly and I thought it was perfect, although one of my kids declared it spicy. A fair amount of chopping but overall it didn’t take too long– once you have the veggies cooking it goes pretty quickly. I used pre-diced onions and chicken andouille sausage from Trader Joe’s, and frozen peeled raw shrimp (thawed obviously) from Whole Foods. It made an absolute ton and it’s very filling– a complete meal with a veggie side or salad.  This will be added to our regular rotation, but I’ll probably cut down a little on the jalapeno and cajun spice.    

  6. I found this recipe about a year ago and have been making it regularly since! My daughter can’t handle too much spice, so I just use mild sausage and omit jalapenos. I also add sour cream to her’s to tone it down more. It’s amazing every time! If I ask my daughter what she wants for dinner jambalaya and corn bread is always her answer. It’s definitely a favorite in our house! Thank you for sharing!

    • We’re so glad you and your daughter enjoy this Morgan! Thanks for taking the time to share this with us. :)

  7. Can you make this with instant rice?

    • Hi Rachael! You definitely could (if so, just mix it in towards the end), but we think this dish is so much better with regular rice. Either way, we hope you enjoy it!

  8. I don’t remember if I comment the first time that I made this recipe, now I I ready cooked more than 4 times, and my family loved 

  9. My husband and I made this last night, and it was super yummy! We followed the recipe (two jalapenos and two tbsp. Cajun seasoning, since we like it spicy) and the only deviation was changing up the meat – we used chicken breast, spicy chicken sausage, and large sea scallops. It made so much in a single batch, our large frying pan was close to overflowing! I am looking forward to the leftovers in my lunch today. I will definitely make this again and even make it for company since you can start it and let it cook while visiting. If making for company, I would only do one jalapeno and regular sausage since not everyone can handle the heat!

    • Thanks for sharing Melanie — we’re glad to hear you and your husband enjoyed it! Also, we bet it was amazing with those scallops you added! :)

  10. Oh my goodness!! I’m clipping this recipe. It was a hit last night. Served it with some dinner yeast rolls. Love the flavors. Will be making this again in a few weeks.

  11. Hi, plan to make this today for a birthday crowd – haven’t made jambalaya before. Sounds like a silly question, brown the sausage first, but also, cook the chicken first, correct? Didn’t know if adding it raw was key to not overcook or something.. Thanks in advance!!! Very excited :)

    • Hi there, not a silly question at all! You add the uncooked sausage and chicken at the same time. We hope you enjoy!

  12. Now we’re talking! This is a great recipe. Love your stuff. Mom of a 5-yr old and wife of a husband with discerning taste. 

  13. Loved this recipe! I used raw sausage and rendered the fat in the pan first, then used that with only one tablespoon of Olive oil to saute the vegetables. I also used brown rice which took over an hour to get tender – totally worth it. Just brought all the flavors together even more. I think the spicy version described above is perfect for if you’re used to food with some kick, but not extremely spicy ethnic food.

    • Thank you for sharing with us Jordan! We’re so glad to hear you enjoyed this! :)

  14. I’ve made this recipe a bunch, and it is very good! This time I decided to use brown rice though and it has currently been cooking for over an hour and still nowhere close to being done. I definitely suggest using white rice. 

    • Thanks for sharing Mary — we’re happy you enjoy this! We’re sorry to hear about the trouble with the brown rice though, that’s good to know. :)

  15. Absolutely love this recipe! First time making it and it won’t be the last. Was a big hit in my house! Thanks for a great dish

  16. I love this recipe! I am wondering if it can be frozen…we are going camping for a week and would like to include it in our menu

    thanks

    • Hi Katie! Unfortunately jambalaya doesn’t freeze so well. Technically you can freeze it, sure, but after you reheat it, the texture changes. Both the shrimp and rice (especially the shrimp) tend to get mushy.

  17. LOVE this jambalaya recipe, but have yet to make it in under an hour. It always takes a lot longer than expected, but it’s totally worth it. Flavor is amazing and it makes a ton of food! Thanks for the tasty dinner recipe!

  18. My go to recipe!!  Only thing I change is I add more rice and more celery!

  19. Delicious recipe. I forgot to buy sausage but 1/2lb applewood smoked bacon worked really well. I didn’t have raw chicken so I added 1lb cooked pollock, 1lb calamari rings/arms, 1lb black mussel meat, 1lb Dungeness crab meat along with the 1lb gulf shrimp and finished with shredded Parmesan cheese. I didn’t shell the shrimp since I like how the flavors are trapped inside and I eat the shrimp shell-on, sans head of course. I will definitely be making this again.

    • Thanks for sharing Tim — we’re so glad you enjoyed it and we bet that applewood smoked bacon was awesome in this!

  20. Delicious! I loved that the recipe called for raw shrimp– it would have been helpful to have whether the chicken and sausage were to be cooked or raw in the recipe listing, rather than just in the directions.
    I found that cooking the recipe with brown rice TRIPLED the cooking time, so be warned if you don’t use white rice.

    Other than that, a simple, hard-to-beat recipe!

  21. Absolutely amazing recipe. Only things I have changed is my store didn’t have andouille sausage so I got smoked sausage instead. I also am not a fan jalapeño so I just substitute it for another bell pepper. I have yet to add the celery or the okra but I’m hoping to include them some time in the future! This is my number one go to for a good tasty meal. 

  22. Love this recipe!!! It takes a little while, but a lot of that time is just simmering so it doesn’t feel like a ton of work. It’s got just the right amount of spice. Will definitely make again!

  23. Made this for supper last night. We loved it! My husband had 3 helpings. The only change I made was I didn’t have andouille sausage instead I used chirozo sausage (mild) as the 2 jalapeños with some of their seeds made it spicy enough.

  24. This is on recipe rotation! Great, reliable recipe that is easily adaptable as to what ingredients I have on hand. For example, last night I made with chorizo sausage and ground turkey and left out the shrimp, okra and chicken. I didn’t have any chicken stock and just used water which, due to the spice and tomatoes, you could not tell one bit. Finally, I always use brown rice instead of white rice and increase the cooking time. Will make again and again, thank you!!!

  25. This is my go to recipe!! Always a crowd pleaser thank you so much for posting! 

  26. Great recipe! I made the creole seasoning from allrecipes and used the full 2 T.  I did not add the thyme and cayenne in the recipe, as the creole seasoning had both in it.  Was glad I didn’t, still had plenty of kick. Used the okra in it and topped with green onion. Delicious!  One question, the recipe calls for 2 chicken breasts. Do you mean 2 chicken breast halves?  That’s what I used because it was about a pound and in proportion with the sausage and shrimp. 

    • Thank you, Patty — we’re glad you enjoyed it! And yes, we mean two chicken breast halves, so you did this correctly.

  27. Soo good thank you for sharing 

  28. I mak this a lot!  We love it. I omit the green pepper because my son doesn’t like it and I use spicy Italian sausage. Soooo good, and easy. I prep the veggies and sausage in the morning so it’s basically a dump and go dinner for me. 
    Love it, thanks for the recipe!

  29. Made this for dinner, loved it!  Was in a hurry so I used minute rice so only used 2 cups of broth. Cooked in about a half hour. 
    Thanks for the recipe!

  30. Best. Jambalaya. Ever. 

  31. So we did the recipe but no andouille sausage and used frozen Okra :(. It was still 9/ 10 but we added hot Italian sausage we needed no salt for the recipe. We added some Sauvignon blanch during the process and paired it with that as well. I just wished we had the andouille for the recipe. Maybe linguisa next time.

    • We’re glad you enjoyed it — hopefully you guys can get a hold of some andouille next time (it definitely makes this dish sing)! :)

  32. One word, FABULOUS!!! Thank you so much for sharing! I only used one Jalapeño, seeded, it provided just enough heat for my guests. I didn’t want use two, just in case it was too hot for some. ;-) Thank you, again!

  33. Was surprised ato how well family and I loved, loved, loved it because we hate spicy. Will definitely add to recipe book. Thank you for posting. Oh, and since allergic to shrimp, cut up a pound of cod and used instead. Will try with scallops when make again

    • We’re so glad you and your family enjoyed it, Mary, and we bet it was yummy with the cod! :)

  34. I read one review and the person said they used minute rice but only used two cups of broth. Do you know why they done this? Thanks Darrell

    • Hi Darrell — we wouldn’t recommend using Minute Rice for this recipe. We hope you enjoy it!

  35. Good Recipe! thanks so much! made it a couple weeks ago and making it again tonight. Easy to follow for someone who doesnt cook from scratch a lot!

  36. Absolutely the best jambalaya I’ve ever had!!!! I would give it 10 stars! Chopping is a little time consuming but it’s well worth it! Everyone always wants the leftovers when I make this! I just love spicy food and this recipe is awesome with no changes made. 

  37. We LOVE jumbalaya and I’ve been making the box kind because I’m afraid of making it from scratch go some reason (complete silliness). It’s really the only processed food left in our diets. So I’m venturing here to get rid of the processed. Problem is, I have a kiddo with bell pepper sensitivity. As she gets older they make her sicker when she eats them. Can I sub in green chiles?

    • Hi Miranda! Yes, you could skip the bell pepper and use green chiles instead. We hope you guys can give this a try, and that you enjoy it! :)

  38. I have cooked using this recipe about 20 times. Thank you so much for this! I love you! This is seriously the best meal i have ever had.

  39. Excellent! Recipe is simple but makes a fancy dish. Left out the sausage ,but still full of flavor. Thanks a bunch for the recipe : -)

  40. I made this today. It was very good. I didn’t have Jalapenos, but used plenty of Texas Pete sauce, Cajun seasoning and red pepper.( I used white rice)

  41. This is great but I’ll have to substitute my roasted red pepper sauce for the tomatoes since I’m deathly allergic. It won’t be the same but it will good anyway. Bring on the homemade hot sauce, too! If I use brown rice, I’ll cook it first. The sausage will be cooked first, too, and I’ll use the drippings for the veggies. In my busy life, I need a couple of short cuts!

  42. Some delicious food…i’ve been buying andouilles sausages  4 other reasons, thanks 4 putting them to use☺☺

  43. just got back from New Orleans and my hubby wanted me to get a good “go to” jambalaya recipe for our weekly dinners.  This is a winner!! so good!  My 2 and 8 year old eat it with the recommended 2 tbsp of spice and love it!  For anyone wondering – it felt really soupy to me and then of course as the rice fluffed up it developed that thick stew feel we know and love in this dish. So if you are making this for the first time – don’t let that scare you like it did me! It all works out!  Now….the boys need to buy me a larger saute pan for Christmas, LOL!!!

  44. I substituted farro for rice & love it

  45. I am trying this recipe tonight for a dinner party – sounds good.  I used to go to a restaurant in Ottawa that had very good Creole food – they made the Jambalaya with Dirty Rice… very good. 

  46. I am making this today. I am adding 1/2 lb of scallops and crab legs as well. should I cut them before than and throw in at the end or cook when I add shrimp? Thanks 

    • Hi Diana! We’re sorry for getting to your comment too late! We’ve never tried this with scallops or crab legs, but we would think it’s probably best if you cooked them separately first and then added them when you add the shrimp. We hope this helps for next time, and that you enjoyed the recipe!

  47. This dish tastes awesome! But there is a killing amount of sodium in it. We all ate it and loved it but I won’t be making this again?

  48. Do you use fresh or dried thyme?

  49. I was making jambalaya for dinner and needed a refresher on a few ingredients when I stumbled on to your recipe and was inspired by your addition of jalapeños!! So yummy thanks for the tip!

  50. How well does this freeze?

    • Hi Joel! Unfortunately jambalaya doesn’t freeze so well. Technically you can freeze it, sure, but after you reheat it, the texture changes. Both the shrimp and rice (especially the shrimp) tend to get mushy.