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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. ♡

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

1,202 comments on “Jambalaya”

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  1. Delicious!! We skipped out on the chicken and it was still great!!!

  2. It was perfect. Did as suggested and used 1/2 c less broth.

  3. I’ve made this at least a half dozen times and my family and I love it each time! Would this freeze well? Any tips on freezer prep?

  4. This would’ve been great if my rice didn’t come out so mushy. I used long grain rice, and it took over an hour for the rice to fully cook. After the rice was done, I mixed it and it was one big sticky mush! What do you do to keep the rice from getting sticky and mushy??

    Thanks!

    • Hi Michele! Oh no, we’re sorry your rice came out mushy. :( Make sure you’re not rinsing your rice! Also, you can try toasting the rice just a little bit before cooking it. We hope this helps for next time!

  5. I was looking for the perfect jambalaya recipe and this is it! Having lived in the south most of my life and being familiar with good Cajun food, I can identify with this as being what true jambalaya is supposed to be like. The familiar smell and taste makes you crave more. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!

    • Thank you so much, Jeremy! We’re thrilled that you loved this, and we appreciate your kind rating!

  6. As a healthier alternative I substited the kielbasa (and chicken) with al fresco spicy jalapeño chicken sausage and used low sodium chicken broth. I added a little Chardonnay but forgot the Cajun spice but it still turned out delish! Will def be making it again! Awesome recipe.

  7. This stuffffffffffffffffffff.

    Ok so let me tell you what I did.

    I used 2 jalapenos- seeded.
    I used peppers and onions spicy chicken sausage.
    I used all the spices.
    I used homemade vegetable stock.
    We used no additional salt.

    It was amazing. Holy – CANNOLI. Made this for the first time yesterday (we prepped the night before so the cooking time was correct for us). My boyfriend loves spice, I cry if I have a spicy chicken wing, and somehow the spice in this dish was enjoyable for me! We really really loved this recipe thanks for sharing :)

  8. I’ve made this a number of times and it is always a hit with my family. Wonderful medley of colors and flavors! The spices can be easily adjusted to suit individual tastes. I sub out some of the Cajun seasoning with season-all and omit the cayenne to make it less spicy for my kids. I’ve also used smoked turkey and beef sausages in place of the andouille with great results. Thank you for this easy and delicious recipe!

  9. love this! the pictures looks so appetizing!

  10. Made jambalaya using this recipe last weekend at a Canada Day cottage weekend – it was a huge hit with my boyfriends family; super filling, spicy, and yielded about 6 servings! Took a lot longer than 55 mins to make however, I found we spent almost 120 mins all together to make it. Nevertheless, loved it!

  11. Should I drain the tomatoes?

  12. Used 32oz of chicken stock. For the jalapeno I used only a few seeds, it is definitely spicy. I used slap yo mama seasoning for the Cajun seasoning, 2 tbsp may have been too much. I only used sausage and I used instant rice after simmering for 25min I removed from heat added 2 cups of instant rice and covered.

  13. This recipe is the bomb.com!???

  14. Recipe sounds good but really? the whole neighborhood is 6- 8 servings. If you went back for thirds, it was a small party. I was looking for a large batch recipe. thanks anyway

  15. I made this, and the rice came out mushy. What do you do to keep your rice from getting mushy???

    • Oh no, we’re so sorry to hear that, Michele! Make sure you’re not rinsing your rice! Also, you can try toasting the rice just a little bit before cooking it. We hope this helps for next time!

  16. We had this tonight for dinner and it was incredible. The flavors we’re so deep but not overpowering I will be putting this into rotation for sure thank you

  17. This is one of my go-to recipes and some of the best jambalaya I’ve had! My husband goes nuts over it! Fun and easy to make.

  18. made this recipe but made it vegetarian! used red beans instead of meat/shirmp and i used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and it came out great!

  19. Delicious! I made this for my teen son and our foreign exchange student who is also a teen. The boys didn’t think it was spicy enough. LOL It was great for me, but we will remake it without the shrimp.
    Thank you for sharing. This is a keeper.

  20. I made this last night and it was good!

  21. I just made this and tinkered with the spices, also added the okra. And.. omg! wow! Great recipe… thanks for sharing :) I did chicken apple sausage and the sweet and spicy balance were so tasty in this dish. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Outstanding ! For jambalaya fast and easy.

  23. I super duper love this recipe… I followed it to the letter, and it came out fantastic!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

  24. This is the first jambalaya from scratch recipe I’ve ever used, in the past it was pretty much always out of a box. ? This recipe is really good though! I’ve made it a few times now because it’s a hit, and so easy to follow. I added more chicken to substitute no shrimp, and ended up using more cayenne (maybe a full tsp? Or more…) and a couple extra jalapenos for a little bit of a kick. I don’t think the prep time was too long, but it goes faster with two people working on separate tasks. ??? Thank you for sharing!!

  25. I’ve made this a few times, exactly as the recipe states and it’s perfect, thank you! Yesterday, I made it but had no time for most of the steps – you may hate or love this, but I put everything into a slow cooker all at once, high for 3 hours, then low for 3 more (except for the rice, shrimp and okra, which I added much later in the process). Certainly not as crispy and light, but heck of a lot better than no Jambalaya at all.

  26. I have cooked this many times and switched to a new phone. I wanted to make it again and it wasn’t in my bookmarks. I googled ‘neighbors jambalaya’ and thank God, I found this recipe again. It is really that good. Try it.

  27. Can you make this dish with out the jalapeno peppers? I understand that if you remove the seeds it would be less spicy. I have a family member that has an irritation whenever they eat spicy stuff.

    Thanks!

  28. Love this recipe, very easy

  29. This is fantastic. My family loved it so much they keep asking me to make it. Thank you for a delicious and uncomplicated recipe!

  30. Followed this recipe as is!! One word AMAZING! Made this Sunday for football with my parents and everyone loved it. Simple and so good!!!!

  31. My first attempt at jambalaya! Took about 1.5 hours prep to serve. Forgot the celery and purposely left out the jalapenos. It was still pretty spicy, coming from people who like spice, but we really enjoyed it and would make it again. Thanks for a great recipe!

  32. Made this today for a friend party was off the chain so delicious two thumbs up Yum Bridget in California

  33. This is by far the best jambalaya recipe I have found on the Internet, thank you! I don’t usually write recipes down, but this makes the cut!

  34. I’m making this tonight and can’t wait! I went to print it and the formatting is trying to print the video at the top, making it spill funny into two pages. Just FYI!

  35. I just made this and it’s amazing!! A new favorite for the man and me. If the kids were home I know they’d love it too. Thanks for sharing. 5 ⭐

  36. I like to use brown rice and it does take a lot longer to cook. If I cook the rice separately, how do you recommend constructing?

  37. This is my and my family’s all-time favorite Cajun recipe — one I have made at least a dozen times over the past few years, and the only recipe that has received a standing ovation in our home… I will be sharing it on my business Facebook page on Friday.

    Felicidades por tu mudanza a Barcelona. Que este capítulo de tu vida se llene de hermosos recuerdos.

  38. Wow this is such a great recipe!

    Made it twice now and its very delicious and not very hard to make! Just requires a bit of prep work like any other dish.

    Followed the recipe exactly minus the thyme since I never seem to have it and just forget to buy it.

    Thanks!

  39. This is my third time I make it. I love it. A couple of years ago I went to New Orleans and fell in love with Creole dishes. This recepie is very good!!

  40. It was amazingly delicious!!! I only used green pepper but added mushrooms and zucchini. The whole pot was gone in one meal? the spices were perfect for me but my husband & son added hot sauce. I would make this again in a heartbeat .

  41. Really excellent jambalaya, and just as easy to make as advertised. Even better the next day. This recipe is a keeper!

  42. Even though it was a little spicy, the entire family enjoy it. Will certainly do it again because it was that delicious.

  43. I make this at least twice a month. Love it! I just never have chicken thawed, so I just do the sausage and shrimp.

  44. My 15-year-old made this and it was outstanding! It was her first time making jambalaya. We used cooked shrimp and added them at the very end.

  45. I’ve made this at least a dozen times in the last year & it is delicious!!! We pretty much follow the receipt to the letter & it’s perfect. Thanks for a wonderful dinner & great leftovers.

  46. This was so yummy but I added 1/2 cup more of rice, so perfect!

  47. Excellent recipe! Lots of chopping, but otherwise easy to make. I added 1/3 of the spices with the veggies, 1/3 with the meat (I removed the veggies while cooking the meat, then put them back in), and 1/3 when I added the rice. I left out the jalapenos entirely,then put Tabasco sauce on the table for those who wanted it spicier – my thinking was that Tabasco is from Louisiana and fitting with the Louisiana theme of the dish. I made my own Cajun spice from another internet recipe. Everyone loved it and had two people go back for thirds! I thought I made enough for an army but we finished it all. Thanks.

  48. Can I make this for 25 people?

  49. If I were to use pre-cooked brown rice, should the liquid content of this be reduced at all? And when should it be added if it’s not needing to cook?

  50. Wonderful. Everyone loved it. Made this last night with a few changes due to shrimp allergy. Left the shrimp out and used 1.25 pounds of each chicken and sausage. Cooked brown rice separately and added it with 2 cups of stock. Simmered for 15 minutes partially covered to thicken. Will definitely make again.