If you’re on the lookout for a perfect company meal to feed a crowd, this Jambalaya recipe is it!
One of America’s most iconic dishes, this rice comes fully loaded with sausage, chicken, shrimp, veggies and a whole world of big flavors.
It may look intimidating, but trust me, you’ll master our surprisingly easy jambalaya recipe in no time!
But if there’s just one dish that they’re most famous for, it has to be jambalaya. And when we finally cooked it for you, we wanted it to be just perfect.
What is Jambalaya?
Jambalaya is a classic dish that originates from Louisiana, combining influences from French, Spanish, and West African cuisines. It’s a hearty and versatile one-pot rice dish, much like a Spanish paella.
The meat in a jambalaya can vary but typically includes sausage, along with other meats or seafood like chicken, shrimp, or sometimes even crawfish.
The vegetables includes the “holy trinity” in Cajun and Creole cooking: onions, celery, and bell peppers.
What sets jambalaya apart is its robust flavor profile. The dish is very well seasoned with a mix of herbs and spice.
There are two main variations. Creole jambalaya, which we are making today, includes tomatoes, and Cajun jambalaya does not.
At its heart, jambalaya is a community dish, typically made in large amounts and shared at gatherings.
Why You’ll Love Our Easy Jambalaya Recipe
- One-Pot Wonder: Forget the hassle of using multiple pans and pots. Our jambalaya requires just one pot, meaning quicker prep, easier cooking, and minimal cleanup. A win-win for busy cooks!
- Versatile and Adaptable: Want to add in more veggies or switch out the protein? This recipe is forgiving and flexible, allowing you to adjust according to your preferences, or what you have on hand.
- Crowd-Pleaser: The savory combination of sausage, chicken, and shrimp, infused with aromatic herbs and spices, is universally appealing. Whether it’s a family dinner or a larger gathering, this dish is always a hit.
- Perfect for Leftovers: If you manage to have any leftovers, jambalaya tastes even better the next day! The flavors meld and intensify overnight, making it a great dish for meal prep or enjoying a second helping the next day.
- Nutrient-Rich: With a balanced mix of proteins, veggies, and grains, this jambalaya is not just tasty but also wholesome. It’s a complete meal in itself.
- A Culinary Adventure: Each bite of this jambalaya transports you to the vibrant streets of New Orleans. It’s an excellent way to explore regional American cuisine without leaving your kitchen.
Creole Jambalaya Ingredients
- Holy trinity – Onion, celery and bell pepper. Similar to Italian Soffritto, it’s a combination of vegetables that are diced small and sautéed to create a flavor base.
- Garlic – Can’t live without it.
- Meats – We’re going full on with andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp.
- Rice – Regular long grain is traditional, but we prefer basmati because it’s easier to work with.
- Tomato – To make it Creole. We are using both crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.
- Chicken broth – We use Better than Bouillon.
- Seasonings – Creole seasoning, thyme, oregano and bay leaf.
Check out our collection of top Cajun and Creole Recipes!
A Note About Creole Seasoning
We always keep around a jar of our homemade Creole Seasoning. If you love those NOLA flavors, we highly recommend making a big batch for future use, it only takes a few minutes.
If you use store bought Creole seasoning, shop carefully for a brand with lower sodium content. Some of the brands are very heavy on the salt.
The amount of Creole seasoning used in this recipe is based off of our homemade seasoning. If using store bought, use low sodium chicken broth, and taste and adjust for salt towards the end of cooking.
Authentic Jambalaya Recipe
1. Brown the meats: In a large pot (we used a 7qt dutch oven), heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add andouille and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate. Season chicken with 1 Tbsp Creole seasoning. Add to the pot and brown on all sides. Plate it out.
2. Create the sauce base: Add holy trinity and sauté till the veggies beginning to soften.
Add garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, chicken, sausage and remaining Creole seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes.
3. Finish the jambalaya: Mix in chicken broth, then bring to a boil. Add rice, and mix well. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring every 2-3 minutes, for 15 minutes. Stir in shrimp. Continue cooking, covered and stirring every few minutes, for additional 10-15 minutes until rice and shrimp are cooked (time will vary depending on the size of the shrimp).
Recipe Tips and Notes
- Don’t use okra: In one of our early experiments, we used okra, having seen it in some recipes. Not only is it not authentic, the end result was a slimy mess that ended up in the garbage can!
- Rice choice: Long-grain white rice is the traditional choice for jambalaya, though we tend to use basmati for pretty much all rice dishes. Avoid using quick-cooking or instant rice.
- Sausage selection: We don’t have any trouble finding andouille in our local supermarkets, but if you can’t find it, substitute with another smoked variety such as kielbasa.
- Shrimp selection: For best taste and texture, use wild caught shrimp. If using larger shrimp, they may require a couple more minutes to cook. Watch them closely to ensure they turn pink and opaque but don’t overcook.
- Creole seasoning: As mentioned earlier, we really recommend homemade Creole seasoning.
- Liquid proportions: Make sure you maintain the right ratio of liquid to rice. If the dish seems too dry or the rice isn’t fully cooked, you can add a little more broth, a quarter cup at a time.
- Stirring is key: Make sure to give the jambalaya regular stirs, especially after adding the rice. This will prevent sticking at the bottom of the pot and ensure even cooking.
- Have fun! Feel free to play around with the ingredients. Some variations use pork instead of chicken. Some use different types of seafood. When we’re in a spicy mood, we’ll add some red chili flakes. It’s your jambalaya, make it your way!
Jambalaya vs Gumbo
Jambalaya and gumbo are perhaps Louisiana’s two signature dishes, but sometimes there is confusion among non-locals. While both share some common ingredients, they are distinctly unique in preparation, texture, and presentation.
Jambalaya is primarily a rice dish. The flavors meld together as the dish simmers, with the rice absorbing the seasoned broth, resulting in a hearty, one-pot meal.
On the other hand, Gumbo is a rich and flavorful soup or stew that’s thickened with a roux, okra, or file powder. Once the base is prepared, a variety of ingredients, including meats like sausage and chicken, and sometimes seafood, are added.
Unlike jambalaya, where the rice cooks within the dish, gumbo is traditionally served over separately prepared rice.
What to Serve with Jambalaya
Jambalaya is a hearty meal all by itself. That being said, it’s nice to have a little something on the side, especially if entertaining.
Leftovers and Storage
Leftover jambalaya can typically be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. If making just chicken and sausage jambalaya, without the shrimp, you can add a day or two to storage time. Store in an airtight container.
When you’re ready to eat the jambalaya, simply microwave it or cook it on stovetop over medium heat until heated through out. If needed, add a splash of water.
Give this easy jambalaya recipe a try in your kitchen. It’s the most famous dish out of Louisiana for good reason. Trust me, you’ll savor every bite!
If you’re a big fan of Cajun and Creole cooking like us, check out our travel guides Things to do in New Orleans and What to Eat in New Orleans. They just might inspire you to visit and try these delicacies in person!
In the meantime, make sure to save or pin this recipe so you always know where to find it. And don’t forget to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you…
Jambalaya, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 12oz andouille sausage, sliced
- 1lb boneless skinless chicken thigh, cut into small bites
- 3.5 Creole Seasoning, divided
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 14oz crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 cups uncooked white rice
- 1lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- In a large pot (we used a 7qt dutch oven), heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add andouille and brown on both sides. Remove to a plate.
- Season chicken with 1 Tbsp Creole seasoning. Add to the pot and brown on all sides. Remove to plate.
- Add onion, celery and bell peppers. Sauté till beginning to soften.
- Add garlic and cook for a minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add crushed tomatoes, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, chicken, sausage and remaining 2.5 Tbsp Creole seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Mix in chicken broth, then bring mixture to a boil.
- Add rice, and mix well. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring every 2-3 minutes, for 15 minutes.
- Stir in shrimp. Continue cooking, covered and stirring every few minutes, for additional 10-15 minutes until rice and shrimp are cooked (time will vary depending on the size of the shrimp).
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 503Total Fat 22gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 217mgSodium 2869mgCarbohydrates 41gFiber 2gSugar 5gProtein 37g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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