Savory and delicious, this mouthwatering Gumbo Recipe comes filled with chicken, Andouille sausage, and seafood and brings all the flavors of New Orleans home cooking right to your dinner table.
Chicken, Sausage and Seafood Gumbo
Hearty, delicious, and packed full of amazing and well- seasoned ingredients, this Gumbo has officially taken place as one of my top five favorite recipes (right up there with my Jambalaya Recipe). In this version, I decided to combine all the essentials – seafood, chicken, and spicy Andouille sausage – to make the very best Gumbo recipe.
Before getting started on this recipe I encourage you to read through the ingredient list and the post. Yes, the whole thing. Ok, if you insist on skipping anything, skip the “What is Gumbo” section.
Here’s the thing, it’s is filled with tons of tips and tricks to get you the best tasting Gumbo recipe, too. Gumbo, a million time worth the time and energy, is not a recipe you should make if you are in a rush.
You will need at least three hours to make this recipe (properly), with much of that time spent actively stirring your roux (see below). So, pour a cup of coffee (or wine) and grab a friend (or your favorite movie) because this isn’t a recipe that should be rushed.
Good news? This Gumbo recipe makes a lot! Enough to feed a small party or your family for several days.
What is Gumbo?
The exact origin of what we have come to know as Gumbo is somewhat debated, but it is often used as a metaphor for the melting pot of cultures that have come to exist in southern Louisiana. A perfect combination of French, Spanish, indigenous tribes, African, Italian, and German culinary influence, it is known that people from each of these cultures lived together in a small area in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In order to keep the history lesson somewhat short (it’s lengthy), I’m only going to touch on the key points.
- New Orleans was established in 1718 and marked the beginning of the French colony of Louisiana. The French settlers worked together with native tribes to learn new cooking methods and identify edible indigenous plants.
- In 1719 slave ships began arriving in Louisiana. These ships were filled with rice and men who knew how to grow and cultivate this grain.
- Germans arrived 40 miles from New Orleans in 1721 and introduced the skill of sausage-making.
- The Spanish took control of Louisiana in 1762.
- The Spanish recruited 2000 people from the Canary Islands to relocate to the southern part of New Orleans. Skilled fisherman, these new Spanish settlers began supplying shrimp and crab to markets. These settlers also brought with them spices such as cayenne pepper and chili pepper.
- Between 1755-1795 nearly 3000 Acadian exiles (don’t worry, I won’t get into that history lesson) were granted permission to relocate to Louisiana. They became known as Cajuns, and relocated to areas south and west of New Orleans.
- Louisiana returned to France in 1800 and juice three years later, in 1803, was purchased by the United States.
- The southern part of Louisiana, including New Orleans, officially became the state of Louisiana in 1812.
- With the slave trade continuing into the 1800’s, new African vegetables were introduced – Okra.
Regardless of its official origin, Gumbo remains, for obvious reasons, the official state dish of Louisiana.
Like most well-known dishes, there are several variations of this popular stew.
However, several key elements are found in nearly all Gumbo recipes- a stock, meat or shellfish (or both), a thickener, and the “Holy Trinity”.
Why is Gumbo called Gumbo?
The answer is actually found in its name.
In several West African languages, the word for Okra is ki ngombo, which is also known as, gombo.
What is the “Holy Trinity” of Cajun Cooking?
The “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking, or “holy trinity”, is a soffrito-like mixture consisting of finely diced onion, celery, and green or red bell pepper. If you’re thinking, “right, ok, but what is a soffrito?” don’t worry, I was super confused by this as well.
- Soffrito (also known as mirepoix)- a simple base made from finely diced vegetables (the mix of vegetables will vary by country and cuisine) that are cooked in butter or oil, low and slow as to sweeten the ingredients rather than caramelize them.
- “Holy Trinity”– a Cajun soffrito of onions, celery, and bell pepper.
Cajun versus Creole Gumbo
First things first here, you guys.
Creole cooking came first. As in, before Cajun cooking ever existed, there was Creole cooking. Creole cooking dates back to the 1700s when New Orleans was founded by the French in 1718. Cajun cooking, on the other hand, didn’t come to Louisiana until the second half of the 18th century when Acadian exiles relocated outside of New Orleans.
In general, Cajun cuisine is view as less refined and more of a “country food”. These Acadian exiles, also known as Cajuns, didn’t have access to some of the luxuries that Creole people had thanks to trade. As such, Creole cuisine is often viewed as “city food”.
- Tomatoes– in general, Creole cooking uses, or has access to, tomatoes, while Cajun cooking does not. This is because early Creole cooks had access to canned tomatoes from Sicily.
- The main source of fat. Creole cooking will often use butter as the primary source of fat, while Cajun cuisine will typically use a vegetable oil or animal fat (or both).
- Seasoning. For the most part, Cajun and Creole season is very similar. The primary difference, however, is that you will often find extra Paprika in Creole cooking, in addition to sweet basil, celery seed, and white pepper.
- Meats. Typically, Creole Gumbo will come filled with shellfish and some kind of ham or sausage. Cajun Gumbo, on the other hand, usually contains chicken and sausage.
This recipe is mostly a Creole Gumbo… but with chicken and a roux made with bacon drippings and butter.
What is the difference between Gumbo and Jambalaya?
This is a really fantastic question. Although quite similar, there are several major differences between Gumbo and Jambalaya.
The easiest way to remember the difference between the two is that Jambalaya is, at its core, a rice dish (much like paella). Of course, it has protein, vegetables, sometimes tomatoes, rice and stock that are simmered together to make one big happy pot of spicy rice.
Gumbo, on the other hand, is more of a soup. Like Jambalaya, Gumbo contains a mix of vegetables and meat and some kind of shellfish, but the overall stock is thinner. In addition, the rice is cooked separately and added when served.
Ingredients in this Louisiana Gumbo Recipe
Rather than list out all the ingredients, I’m going to list out what’s most important.
- Flour plus fat. this makes the roux (more on this below)
- Holy Trinity “mirepoix”. In nearly all Gumbo recipes you will find a mirepoix of finely chopped celery, onion, and bell peppers. The vegetable base for the stew, like Jambalaya, Gumbo isn’t really Gumbo without the Holy Trinity.
- Broth or stock. In a perfect world, we would have some kind of homemade chicken or bone broth on hand at all times for times like this. After all, such a beautiful and time-consuming dish deserves a delicious broth. Unfortunately, life is busy. As such, I combined low-sodium chicken broth with three cubes of beef bouillion.
- Seasoning. I added sweet paprika, a pinch of dried thyme, and store-bought Cajun seasoning because it’s my favorite. Of course, I encourage you to play around with the salt and pepper and overall seasoning amount.
- Tomatoes. I added both pureed and diced tomatoes. As I mentioned previously, the addition of tomatoes is usually strictly limited to Creole Gumbo, however, this is definitely a fusion of both Cajun and Creole cooking.
- Okra. Personally, I am a huge fan of okra (or lady’s fingers as my mother-in-law calls them). So, although I could have technically gotten away without adding them to this recipe, I decided to add them anyway. If you can’t find okra, or you know you dislike this oddly shaped vegetable, skip it.
- Filé powder. A thickener often found in Gumbo made from dried and ground sassafras leaves.
- Chicken. If you want to make a strictly Creole Gumbo, skip the chicken. However, I love a little chicken all the time so I added some chopped chicken breasts to this recipe.
- Seafood. Shellfish is a must-have in Creole and Cajun cooking, so naturally, I had to add some shrimp and crab. I also added sea scallops because I had some on hand, though I expect these are less commonly found in traditional Gumbo recipes.
- Sausage. The overwhelming favorite in both Gumbo and Jambalaya is spicy smoked Andouille sausage.
There are three main thickeners for any Gumbo recipe- Filé powder, Okra, and the Roux.
- Roux. Preparing a good roux is key to a good Gumbo. Explained in full below, you’ll see the progression from light to dark roux. The lighter the roux, the less flavor it will have and the greater the thickening properties it will have. On the other hand, the darker the roux, the more flavorful it will be, but the less thickening power it will have.
- Filé Powder. Made from dried and ground sassafras leaves that grow natively in eastern North America. In general, it is recommended to add the Filé powder toward the end of the cooking process.
- Okra. Most popular in seafood Gumbos, the seed pod of the Okra plant is typically cooked first.
I included all three thickeners in this Gumbo recipe. If you cook your roux long enough, hopefully, it will lose most of its thickening powers and just be there to flavor the stew.
Take a deep breath and repeat after me, “I can do this”.
Ok, awesome, because I know you can! Here’s the thing, you guys- making roux really isn’t all that hard. Read the steps, be attentive, have patience, and you’ll be good. The hardest part is the constant stirring.
What is a Roux?
A Roux is flour and fat cooked together to thicken or flavor sauces, soup, and stew. Typically made from equal parts flour and fat and cooked to varying shades of doneness depending on if the sauce will be used to thicken or flavor a dish.
How to make a Roux for Gumbo?
- Grab the large pot, pan, or Dutch oven. Melt the fat that you plan to use (in my case I used bacon drippings and butter) over medium-low heat. Once the butter is fully melted, slowly whisk in the flour, little by little, until all of the flour has been fully incorporated.
- Continue to cook over medium to medium-low heat for 1-2 hours, whisking continuously.
- The color will change from a creamy off-white to a light caramel, to a darker mahogany brown color, and finally, a chocolate brown color.
- Anyone who says that you can have a dark, perfect Roux in 30 minutes or less is a liar.
- You may need to play around with the heat. For example, if your roux is staying the same color for more than an hour, it’s usually a pretty good sign that the heat needs to be increased just slightly. That said, do not burn your roux or you will have to start over.
- Don’t walk away.
How to make Gumbo
The first thing you need to do is make the roux. Since we’ve already discussed how to make the roux, I’m going to skip over that part. Hopefully, however, if you’re planning to enjoy this Gumbo recipe sometime around 6 pm for dinner, you’re starting this recipe by at least 2 pm. Ok, good.
Now, normally, if we were making a relatively low-maintenance sauce, I would have you multi-task, and do the next step at the same time. However, seeing as though roux is not low-maintenance and actually quite sensitive, let’s just wait for it to finish.
Once the roux is finished, set it aside and pull out a large skillet. We want to quickly pan-fry the sausage. If the sausage is already cooked, that’s ok. I still like to fry it up a bit as it adds a bit of extra flavor. As the sausage cooks, toss the chicken in a bowl with olive oil, paprika, and some Cajun seasoning. Let the chicken rest until the sausage is finished cooking. Remove the sausage and add the chicken to the same skillet. If needed add a bit more oil to the skillet.
Cook your chicken in an even layer for approximately 2 minutes per side. There is no need to fully cook the chicken as it will be added back to the Gumbo later to finish cooking. Remove the chicken to a clean plate and set aside (but keep the skillet as you’ll need that in just a sec!).
Grab one more extra large pot (or transfer the roux to a clean bowl and set aside so that you can clean and re-use the large pot that had been used previously). Bring the chicken broth and bouillon cubes to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce to a simmer.
As the broth comes to a boil, return the skillet that cooked the chicken to medium heat. Add one more tablespoon of oil and cook your “Holy Trinity” (onions, celery, and bell pepper) for approximately 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Reduce your heat to medium-low and add that roux to the “Holy Trinity”. Mix well to combine and cook, stirring continuously, for 1-2 minutes.
Remember that pot of boiling broth? Slowly add Roux and Holy Trinity mixture until fully combined with the broth.
Are you still with me? Hello?
I know, the roux is long and boring and as soon as that’s over a million different things start to happen. Don’t worry, we’re nearly done.
Now we’re going to add a bunch of things. But first, make sure the heat is reduced to a simmer. Add the hot pepper sauce, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, dried thyme, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Mix it up. Reduce heat to low and let your Gumbo simmer for at least 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, we need to do something with all that Okra, right? Here’s what you’re going to do- melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped okra and distilled white vinegar and sauté for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently (see image above).
Once your Gumbo has been simmering for approximately 45 minutes, add the cooked okra, chicken, and sausage to the pot. At the same time, add the Worcestershire sauce, crabmeat, and sea scallops. Simmer all together for an additional 20-30 minutes.
Season to taste, since, you know, that’s pretty important. Finally, 5-10 minutes before serving add the shrimp and stir in the Filé Powder. Continue to simmer until shrimp are fully cooked.
What to serve with Gumbo
Gumbo is traditionally served over hot rice. The addition of rice helps feed a much larger number of people, making Gumbo a practical and economical dish for feeding a crowd. Often, you may also find Gumbo served with some kind of fresh bread, or, in some Cajun families, a side dish of potato salad.
I find that this Gumbo recipe really is a complete meal all in one. Served with rice or bread, it covers all the major food groups – starch, protein, vegetables, and fat. Ok, just kidding, it’s missing fruit. So perhaps, serve Gumbo with a bowl of fruit salad for dessert. And, for a more low carb version, swap the rice with cauliflower rice.
Can you freeze Gumbo?
melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped okra and distilled white vinegar and sauté for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. There are several ways to freeze Gumbo.
- Freeze just the roux in a sealed, air-tight container for at least 6 months.
- The broth, “Holy Trinity”, and roux combination in a sealed, air-tight container in the freezer for 3-6 months.
- Or, the whole thing, in a sealed, air-tight container in the freezer for 3-6 months.
If I had to pick one of these, I would pick option number 2.
The reason being that most of the lengthy, time-consuming grunt work has been done already, but the meat hasn’t been added yet (chicken, sausage, and especially seafood). Now, everyone will tell you “sure, go ahead and freeze the previously frozen, thawed, and cooked shrimp”. But I’m going to tell you that, unless you have to, don’t do it.
Why spend good money on delicious seafood just to freeze it and mess it up?
Chicken and sausage is a little less forgiving to freezing, but seafood? Not so much.
Love Gumbo? Try these,
- Cajun Chicken and Rice Bake
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta Recipe
- Slow Cooker Jambalaya Stew
- Cajun Shrimp Foil Packets (oven and grill)
- How to Cook Chicken Breasts
- Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe
- Chicken Cacciatore Recipe
- Cioppino Recipe (Seafood Stew)
- American Goulash Recipe (One-Pot)
If you try making this Gumbo Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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Chicken, Sausage and Seafood Gumbo
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup bacon drippings or butter - or a mix of both
- 3 tbsp + 1 tsp oil - divided
- 2 tsp sweet paprika
- 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning - divided
- 2 pounds chicken breast - chopped
- salt and pepper - to season
- 1 pound smoked Andouille sausage - sliced
- 5 stalks celery - finely chopped
- 2 large onions - chopped
- 2 green bell peppers - seeded and finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic - minced
- 3 quarts (12 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
- 3 cubes beef bouillion - (optional)
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tsp salt - plus more to taste
- 3 tbsp hot pepper sauce - (I used Tabasco sauce)
- 4 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 pound okra - chopped
- 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pound lump crabmeat
- 2 pounds jumbo sea scallops
- 2 pounds raw, uncooked, shrimp - peeled and deveined
- 4 tsp gumbo filé powder
- Fresh chopped cilantro
- Make the roux. Add the bacon drippings (or a mix of bacon drippings plus butter or just butter) to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add the flour, whisking continuously to create a smooth mixture. Continue to cook, stirring continuously, for 1-2 hours. The color will turn from a creamy off white to a light caramel, to a darker mahogany brown color (see notes). Take care and watch the heat level as you do not want to burn the roux (otherwise you will need to start over). Once the roux has reached the desired doneness, remove from heat and set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, paprika, 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, and chopped chicken to a medium-size mixing bowl. Mix well to coat the chicken in the spices. Set aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet or Dutch oven. Swirl to coat the surface of the skillet. Add the smoked sausage in a single layer and brown on each side for 1-2 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan to a clean plate and set aside.
- In the same skillet add one tsp olive oil. Add the chicken and cook for approximately 2 minutes on each side (it’s ok if the chicken isn’t fully cooked). Remove from the pan to a clean plate and set aside.
- Add the low-sodium chicken broth to a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil and stir in 3 beef bouillon packets and 1 tablespoon white sugar.
- Meanwhile, as the broth comes to a boil, add the final tablespoon of olive oil to the same skillet as the chicken and sausage over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper to season. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the green bell peppers and continue to cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Finally, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and transfer the roux to the same skillet as the onion and celery mixture. Mix well and stir continuously for 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly whisk the vegetable and roux mixture into the pot of boiling chicken broth. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the hot pepper sauce, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, dried thyme, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Mix well to combine.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes add the chicken and sausage to the pot. Continue to simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
- As the gumbo simmers, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped okra and distilled white vinegar and sauté for approximately 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add to the Gumbo.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce, crabmeat, and sea scallops to the pot and continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
- 10 minutes before serving, stir in the gumbo filé powder and shrimp. Simmer until shrimp are fully cooked.
- Traditionally served with rice and fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy!
- You will need at least 3-4 hours to prepare this recipe.
- You will need a large pot or Dutch oven, at least 8-10 quarts.
- Note that my roux could have been darker, but I ran out of time as it was nearly dark outside and I still needed to get photos taken.
- This recipe is relatively spicy, please adjust hot sauce and spices to taste.