Jambalaya

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.

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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!  Being 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 they 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.
  6. Taste and season.  Add in 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.

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Jambalaya

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:

  • 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
  • 3-4 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

Directions:

  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.

*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.

All images and text ©

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

Chicken Jambalaya Recipe with Sausage and Andouille Sausage

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802 comments on “Jambalaya”

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  1. WOW Ali & Hayley
    Thanks for the recipe.
    I made it today and sharing in my website :)

    • You’re very welcome, Sabrina — we hope you enjoy! :) Just so you know, this is Ali’s blog and recipe (I just help out with stuff). :)

  2. This was so good! I used this recipe as a guideline and customized the spice level and meats. Will definitely make again!

  3. We made this tonight for dinner with half of the cajun an d no okra. It was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you!!!

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  6. My boyfriend spent part of his childhood in New Orleans and was very skeptical when I told him I would be making jambalaya. He really enjoyed it and has asked for it a few times since. He rarely asks for a specific dish, so that is high praise in and of itself.

  7. OMGOSH so easy and yummy!

  8. Made this yesterday as per, except I halved the jalepeno and cajun seasoning for a couple of the diners. It is great and although it takes some time to do all the chopping and cleaning of the shrimp, it was very tasty and all was eaten by the 4 of us.Maybe I should serve it in smaller bowls as you showed rather than the larger ones I used. Anyway, it was a success! Thanks.

  9. This looks so SO good, and I want to make it for dinner tonight!! :) I actually have everything on hand except the bay leaf…. probably a dumb question, but will that make a big difference in the flavor? Would you do without or make a run to the store?

    • Thanks, Karen — we hope you enjoy it! And no, you would be fine to skip the bay leaf if you don’t have it. :)

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  13. This looks amazing, just like what my mom made while growing up! If I can only find frozen okra should I still add it in the same time as the shrimp? Or earlier?

    Thanks so much!

    • Thanks, Alex — we hope you enjoy it! And yes, we would add the frozen okra in when you add the shrimp.

  14. I made this as close to per as I could based on what was already in my house and it was fantastic!! The only meat I used was smoked turkey sausage (thought I had shrimp and didn’t and forgot to thaw chicken). Had tomatoes to use up, so fresh pureed those in lieu of canned. Lots of veggies, lots of spice and so much yum.

    • We’re so happy you enjoyed it, Michelle, and we bet it was awesome with the fresh tomatoes you used!

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  16. Have you made this in a slow cooker?

    • We haven’t, but you’re welcome to give it a try, as we have seen some slow cooker jambalaya recipes out there!

  17. This recipe just rocks!! I’ve printed a hard copy for emergencies!! Has the perfect amount of heat. I’ve made it on several occasions and it comes out perfect every time.

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  19. Delicious, but one major omission: brown rice takes so much longer than white. I cooked this darned dish for hours with brown rice … rice still isn’t quite cooked and everything else is overcooked.  Next time, I’ll make the rice separately and mix it in. Otherwise, on point!

    • We appreciate your feedback, Polly — we’re sorry the rice took longer but if using brown, we do think cooking it separately will help next time! :)

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  21. Made this for dinner tonight and it was a huge hit with my family. Delicious! Will definitely make this again!

  22. Question,,, since I try to expand the use of basic components, I would like to know the constituents of a basic, generic Cajun spice. I suspect it has the variability of a “curry”but does it have a common backbone like the “holy trinity”?

    A suggestion; if someone has a herd time finding Andouille sausage. I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to find a decent Chorizo. Slice this in thin small pieces, about 4 oz worht and add it in the first stage, with the onions. Then you can use a less assertive and easily available sausage like a Farmers sausage. The small amount of Chorizo will infuse the smoky, rich wine flavours you are looking for.

  23. Made this tonight in place of my old jambalaya recipe and it was so good I am going to keep this one. Got the right amount of heat by using 2 tbsp of cajun seasoning, 1 seed-in jalapeno and skipping the 1/4 tsp of cayenne.

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  25. Can I keep the jambalaya longer than 3 days if I didn’t use shrimp? It’s just me, so I have a lot left over and don’t want to freeze it all just yet.

  26. This is a great recipe! I have made it twice now and everyone that has tried it loves it. Thanks for posting !

  27. I made this for my family of 7 and they loved it! I bookmarked the page for later reference. I absolutely L.O.V.E the pictures, they are amazing. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  28. Hi, do you use minute rice or regular non fast cooking rice? And you spout the rice in uncooked, right?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Meredith! We didn’t use Minute Rice, we used regular long grain white rice, and yes, you add the rice in uncooked. We hope you enjoy!

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  30. This was really good! One word of caution, if you make it with brown rice it takes a LONG time to cook. It took an hour before the rice was done through & I ended up having to add about 4 cups of water. 

    • Thanks for sharing, Sheila — we’re sorry the brown rice took so long, but we’re glad you enjoyed it!

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  32. Just wondering if you’ve ever frozen left overs? Do you think it would freeze OK? Thanks!

  33. I used brown rice, just like many others, and it did, infact, take longer to cook. However, after an hour of it cooking and not being done I added a 1.5 cups of water and turned the heat up. This helped a lot. Within the next 30 mins it was cooked! 

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  35. I had never tasted Jambalaya before this recipe (it’s not really a “thing” where I’m from) but I was eager to try, since all the ingredients sounded great. I love how all the flavours come together! I probably won’t have a chance at eating Jambalaya at a restaurant, but I’m perfectly content just making this recipe :)
    I’ve omitted the chicken breasts a few times and it still comes out great. The first time I made this it was a bit too spicy for my taste and I wasn’t able to finish it – oops! I’ve found a better balance of spiciness since then.

  36. Hey ya’ll, my son’s a type 1 diabetic so I’m wondering if you know the carb count on this recipe. I can figure it out, you’d just be saving me some time.

    Cheers

    • Hi Darrell! We’re sorry but we are unsure of the nutrition facts/amount of calories in this recipe. We currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as 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 helps!

  37. Going to give this a try for visiting family.
    So—–wondering how to add to your list of ingredients in order to feed a thundering herd of 12.
    Thanks,
    Carl

    • Hi Carl! If you’re hoping to get about 12 servings out of this, we’d recommend just going ahead and doubling it (you may have a little more than you need, but that way you’ll guarantee you definitely have enough to serve 12). We hope you and your family enjoy! :)

  38. I made this tonight for FAT Tuesday & it was delicious!! I wouldn’t change a thing! We used one seeded jalapeño and added the okra. Amazing. Thanks for a delicious recipe. 

  39. I made this tonight in honor of Fat Tuesday and it was perfect. As someone who is not a great cook, the simplicity of this recipe was perfect! I used chicken and chicken andouille sausage which was great. The chef of our house (my bf) raved about it and went back for seconds! Thanks for helping this novice chef look like a pro!
    This will definitely be repeat at our house!

    • Thanks for sharing with us, Sarah — we’re so glad to hear you and your boyfriend loved it!

  40. Made this with no changes to the recipe, and I have to say this was some of the best Jambalaya I’ve ever had. Thanks for sharing the recipe, it was delicious!

  41. 1st time I fixed Jambalaya and it was a hit – that’s difficult in my house. The 3 men in the household are allergic to poultry, so I will just added more andouille sausage (or smoked sausage, as andouille is not easily found here) next time. Substituting beef stock just kept the broth earthy. One itty bitty jalopeno did it for us (it cost me a whopping PENNY, literally 1 cent on my grocery bill – the gloves probably cost me just as much). Pulled out half the batch before adding shrimp, hubby doesn’t like seafood. So even with my picky family, this was a HIT! Thanks so much for contributing to my meal plan.

    • Thank you for sharing with us, Christina, and for giving this a try! We’re so glad to hear it was a hit with your family! :)

  42. What brand of cajun seasoning do you use? I have Tony C’s and the first ingredient is salt. I think 2 tablespoons would make it super salty.

    • Hi Lorrie! We love “Slap Ya Mama!” :) We hope you enjoy the jambalaya!

  43. This is the best Jambalaya I’ve ever had!! It’s so delicious, full of flavor and colorful. Even my picky kids ate more than one serving! Ali, I love your blog and I have tried several of your recipes, and I’ve never been disappointed. Yesterday I tried the Zesty Lentil Spinach Salad. Incredibly yummy.

  44. Wow… I love your recipe.
    It looks so delicious
    Hope I will make it for next weekend.

  45. I’m so excited to make this recipe! It looks delicious! I can’t find Andouille sausage. Do you think spicy Italian sausage would be a good substitute?

    • Thanks, Nicole — we hope you love it! And we’re sorry you’re unable to find Andouille sausage. We think your next best bet would actually be a smoked sausage, like kielbasa. We hope this helps!

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  47. I really wished I would have read the comments ahead of time. I used brown rice and omg it’s taking forever to cook. If possible I think it would be nice if you put a little note about people using brown rice, maybe cooking it separate. I am very disappointed in this, really hoping it will cook to be tender enough to eat, it’s been cooking for about an hr and a half now. If I make again, I will cook the brown rice separate. 

    • We’re sorry about that Megan! We will make a note in the recipe about this!

  48. Wow! Just made this for my boyfriend and myself, he put down three servings! It’s delicious. I found that I needed to keep am eye on the pot and add a little extra chicken stock as it simmered away. Otherwise I followed the recipe to a T and it was perfect.

  49. Thanks for the recipe!! I made it tonight and it turned out great!!! 

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