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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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1,216 comments on “Jambalaya”

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  1. Very tasty and spicy dish that is wonderful! I’m asked to make this by the family every month. Thanks for a great recipe, so easy as well.

  2. Instead of trying to figure out how and when to add cooked brown rice, I decided to science it up for you. My uncooked, rinsed brown rice took 1 1/2 hours to cook, with the second half of that requiring almost constant stirring to prevent sticking and burning. I have a reasonably thick-bottomed pot (it’s certainly not a Dutch oven, though), and it’s possible my stove runs a little hot. It’s hard to tell, though. Maybe my last stove was just garbage… lol

    Thanks again for the amazing recipe! I had to resort to using frozen cut baby okra, which I thawed prior to adding. The jambalaya froze well, though it has a strange bready texture before being heated up again, and the okra turned to mush. I served it over a 50/50 mix of brown and black rice, which is just a textural treat for this texture fiend. Also helped stretch leftovers, a big plus for someone who doesn’t like spending time in the kitchen!

  3. Excellent, quick, easy recipe! I have tried different Jambalaya recipes and have finally found my “go-to” recipe. Two of my boys who are “foodies” really enjoyed it and said they would have spiced it up a bit, but that it was very good just as it was just the same. I can’t spice it up more because of the younger kids for whom it would then be too spicy, so as it stands it is a definite crowd-pleaser. Please note that I did not have okra on hand – forgot to buy it – and it was still very good.

  4. This recipe is wonderful! It is a constant “go-to” for our family!

  5. I love Jambalaya but my other half had never had it. When I described it, he said yuck. This is the guy who likes pretty much anything but tomato soup, hummus and yogurt LOL. Too bad. I am the cook. I made it he ate 2 large helpings and liked it. Love the flavors and I am thinking it is time to make it again especially with this 0-20 degree whether. Anyone who has never made it. Do so. It is wonderful.

  6. Great recipe, and I have tried many jambalaya recipes. I will save this one. Had very spicy Cajun seasoning so left out the jalapeños. Rice was a bit mushy but I think I over stirred. I was able to go from start to finish in 1 hour :)

  7. This has become my husband’s favorite meal! We looove this recipe!
    Here comes the tricky part: we are having a friend over and she can’t have rice. Can I make this dish with quinoa? If so, what changes should be made?

  8. This is a great recipe! My husband was dancing in his chair and stated “This is shonuf good jambalaya”. This was easy to prepare and I will definitely be making this again.

  9. Incredible recipe! As dove season winds down, I was looking for dove jambalaya and wasn’t finding one. I used this as my base recipe, but kept it to dove and andouille sausage. I boiled the dove breasts for ten minutes, let them cool, then took the breasts off the book and roughly chopped them. I started by browning the sausage then adding the veggies and garlic for that extra kick. Also, I didn’t have cajun seasoning so I winged it with cumin, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and Lowry’s seasoning, and it worked great! Thank you for sharing — my husband is a huge fan.

  10. I’ve made this several times now. Very easy to make, don’t need to change anything it’s great as is! Yummy leftover lunch also. Thanks!

  11. Wow it was delicious! Making it again for co-workers.

  12. Found this on Pinterest and loved it! I cooked the brown rice separetely in the rice cooker with part of the chicken broth (1.5 cup of brown rice and 3 dry cups of broth). I added the rest of the broth with the crushed tomatoes and then stirred in the brown rice after I added the shrimp and okra. So delicious! Now I need to try your other recipes !

  13. This was amazing! My boyfriend and dad went back for thirds- just enough for leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. I used diced tomatoes because I didn’t have crushed and it worked well. Love your recipes!

  14. Whole family loved it.

  15. This is AWESOMELY flavorful and made the kitchen smell amazing! We loved this recipe. Our only change was leaving out the rice and making it in our rice cooker. I added a little cornstarch to thicken the sauce since the rice was left out. We used Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning. We left out the optional okra. Fantastic recipe!

  16. If I was to make the rice separately as to use brown rice, would I cut down the liquid in the recipe? I would like to try it but I am nervous it won’t come out well with brown rice!

  17. Best. Recipe. Ever! I make this for guests and family often. It is easy and delicious!

  18. Really excellent jambalaya and so easy to make. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Taste even better the next day.

  19. I want to make this recipe because it looks so delicious ,we live in a small town and I cannot find this type of sausage ,what can I put in place of it .

  20. This is the most delicious meal ever!! I browned the sausage prior to putting it in dish and simmered it in the seafood stock and chicken stock 1/2-1/2 for 30 min prior to browning.
    Added lump crab meat and amber jack instead of chicken and added okra roasted first so no slimey or thickening issues.
    Amazing recipe

  21. I have been remiss for not sending my kudos for a great recipe sonner! I have made this many times and it is definitely a favorite … especially of my spice loving husband (I add extra jalapeno)! It also freezes nicely … I portion out the leftovers into individual containers for him to eat when I am travelling … he says they are great!

  22. We love this . I have a family of four and they love it so much I have to double the reciepe.. Make it as stated without the ocra.thanks for a great reciepe

  23. I made this last night and it was absolutely amazing! I split the recipe in half since I was only serving 2 people and it didn’t stand a chance for leftovers. I will definitely be saving this recipe for future use!! Thanks for sharing!

  24. I NEVER give reviews…but this was AWESOME!!! I adapted a tad, but this was great! Why haven’t I been making Jambalaya all along?? I am making this again!

  25. Made it added black beans and corn (never had jambalaya before so had no bias about ingredients or how it should look or taste). It was good.

  26. My goodness I love this recipe!! I have made this about 12 times and it is always delicious!!

  27. I’m eating this right now. So delicious, it was an easy to follow recipe even though I’ve never tried making jambalaya. A tiny squeeze of lime ads a perfect balance of acidity. This recipe made me subscribe! Thanks so much!

  28. I loved this recipe , very good ,but I made it early in the day for an easy dinner but the rice became very soft and over cooked. I will make the rice on the side next time so everyone can help themselves. I will make again it was very good.

  29. Loved it….so good. I make it all the time. As good as in New Orleans.

  30. This was everything I wanted in Jambalaya! Great recipe. It’s a definite keeper and I’m sure to make it again.

  31. I made this for a friend from LA and he said it was the best he ever had.

  32. Would this freeze well?
    I cook for one (me), and it’s hard to split a recipe with multiple proteins!
    Thanks!

  33. Has anyone tried this with quinoa instead of rice?

  34. I love this recipe! Both my husband and myself like spicy foods and this certainly hits the spot! ?Do you, or anyone else, happen to know the calories per serving and what the serving size is?

  35. We make this recipe all the time. Soooo delicious!

  36. Amazing flavor. We loved it!!!

  37. It was delish! This is my second time making it! Thanks

  38. What a wonderful easy to do recipe. Thanks a lot.
    Will do it for my housband tomorrow.

  39. Amazing! This recipe is great for a week night or when you have family coming over. It’s always a hit!
    Thank you!

  40. Excellent! Next time i’ll do it without okra… Makes it a bit too slimy for me.

  41. How many would this serve?
    Dave

  42. Wonderful, full-flavoured dish! Easy to make and tastes great the next day. Thank you for this gem!

  43. Whoahhhh, this was/is amazzzzzinggg. I left out the okra (personal pref) and subbed chicken thighs for breasts and it was outrageously awesome!!! Thank you, thank you for such a homerun recipe!!!

  44. Love this recipe! Have made it three times over the last 18 months and keep coming back to it. Thanks very much!

  45. I have no idea why I suddenly decided to be ambitious for dinner today, but I was like, “what can I make for dinner that I can freeze and have next week too? Some kind of soup would be nice”, and ten minutes later I was reading this recipe and totally thought that I, who usually can manage a very basic stirfry, could make jambalaya.

    An hour and a half later, and, uh… it turns out I can make jambalaya. And it’s DELICIOUS. (which is good because this recipe is huge and I’m going to be eating it for the next sixty years and I have no clue why I didn’t halve it)

    A couple minor alterations I made: didn’t have cayenne pepper, so I subbed in chili powder. Also started from frozen peeled shrimp, but that worked out well–I let the shrimp thaw in a bowl of cold water while everything else cooked, and they were thawed when it was time to add them. I also loathe celery, so, sorry authentic Cajun cooking, but I left it out. In the end, it still tastes amazing! The balance of heat to flavor is stupendous (I did one mostly-seeded jalapeno, but both tablespoons of cajun spice), and the ratio of broth to meat and veggies is perfect–enough liquid to qualify as stew, but just barely.

    Soooo filling, so delicious. I may never get the ambition to make it ever again, but BOY is it good!

  46. My kitchen smells wonderful! I can hardly wait until it is done. Thanks for the recipe, super easy and I think it will be delicious if the smell is any indication!

  47. Followed the instructions to a T and it was amazinggggg. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, it was quite the crowd pleaser!

  48. This WOULD have been amazing for me if I hadn’t gone balls-to-the-wall with the spices. I did two jalapeno peppers (fully seeded), both tablespoons of cajun seasoning, and I made my own cajun seasoning but messed it up and put in WAYYYY too much cayenne pepper. Like, all of the cayenne pepper. I’m basically going to have to re-make this as a second batch without any spices and merge with my first batch to get it to a semi-reasonable heat level. However, those were all my mistakes and wanted to share my learning experience, because all things considered this is a great recipe.

  49. I’m just leaving a review now, but over the last 2 years this recipe has become a favorite and is in our mix of dinners. I cook the rice sausage and chicken all separate then just add at the end. Its just personal preference. The flavor is great and i can always adjust the spice based on who I have at the dinner table. My fiancé and brother always get so excited when I tell them I am making this for dinner and it’s great to make at night to have for lunches during the week.

  50. Fantastic