Savory and delicious, Gumbo Recipe filled with juicy chicken, Andouille sausage, and fresh seafood all swimming in a flavorful roux-based broth. Learn how to Gumbo and bring 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 recipe 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 ever.
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.
You’ll find tons of tips and tricks all there to help get you the very best tasting Gumbo recipe. Tip number 1? Gumbo is not a recipe you should make if you are in a rush. It is a million times worth the time and energy but does take some time to come together.
You will need at least two to 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 fact, gumbo gets its name from the word ki ngombo, or simply gombo; the word for okra in several West African languages.
So, regardless of its official origin, Gumbo remains, for obvious reasons, the official state dish of Louisiana. And, like most well-known dishes, there are several variations of this popular stew.
Several key elements, however, are found in nearly all Gumbo recipes- a stock, meat or shellfish (or both), a thickener, and the “Holy Trinity”.
Gumbo vs 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). 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, sometimes meat, and always shellfish, but the overall stock is thinner. It starts with a roux, typically contains okra (or filé powder), and unlike jambalaya, the rice is cooked separately and added when served.
Ingredients in this Louisiana Gumbo Recipe
- All-purpose flour
- Sweet paprika
- Cajun seasoning
- Andouille sausage
- “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking: celery, onions, and green bell peppers
- Garlic cloves
- Low-sodium chicken broth (or homemade chicken stock)
- Beef bouillon cubes (optional)
- Hot sauce
- Bay leaves
- Dried thyme
- Diced tomatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Distilled white vinegar
- Seafood: lump crabmeat, sea scallops, shrimp
- Filé powder
Phew! I know. It’s a long list. But most of the ingredients you (probably) already have stashed away in your cupboards. Let’s answer some questions.
What is the “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking?
The “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking, or “holy trinity” or simply “trinity” to some, is an aromatic mixture consisting of finely diced onion, celery, and green or red bell pepper. They are cooked in butter or oil, low and slow as to sweeten the ingredients rather than caramelize them. It is, essentially, the Cajun/Creole version of mirepoix, or soffrito, and found in pretty much any gumbo recipe.
What is okra? Do I need it?
Okra (or lady’s fingers as my mother-in-law calls them) is a type of vegetable, and how gumbo actually got its name (see above). Personally, I am a huge fan and love them in this recipe. Although you could technically get away without adding them to this recipe, give them a try. If you can’t find okra, or you know you dislike this oddly shaped vegetable, replace it with an additional teaspoon of filé powder.
What is filé powder?
Filé powder, made from dried and ground sassafras leaves, is a thickener often found in various gumbo recipes.
What type of chicken should I use?
Feel free to use your favorite type of chicken – boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chicken breasts, etc. Note, however, that strictly Creole gumbo does not have chicken.
What is andouille sausage? What’s a good substitution?
Typically bright red from all the added seasoning, andouille sausage bursts with delicious spicy goodness. It is amazing. If you’re not a fan, feel free to substitute with a different smoked sausage variety, Mexican chorizo, kielbasa, or skip completely.
I only have Creole seasoning, can I use this in place of Cajun seasoning?
Yes. The two are quite similar to each other so trading one for the other generally isn’t a big deal. The primary difference is that Creole seasoning typically contains additional paprika, sweet basil, celery seed, oregano, and white pepper in addition to garlic powder, onion, black pepper, and Cayenne pepper.
Is this Gumbo recipe spicy?
Yes. This recipe is definitely on the spicier side. If you prefer a more mild dish, simply omit the added hot sauce. On the other hand, if you really love spicy foods, feel free to add a diced jalapeno with the holy trinity or garnish with hot sauce at the end of cooking.
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 viewed 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”.
Main differences between Cajun and Creole Gumbo?
- 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. Except where I’ve added chicken and made a roux using bacon drippings.
There are three main gumbo thickeners – the roux, filé powder, and okra.
- Roux. Preparing a good roux is key to making 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. You can use fresh or frozen okra, just be sure to thaw your frozen okra first before adding to the gumbo.
I included all three thickeners. However, if you cook your roux long enough, it will hopefully lose most of its thickening powers and just be there to flavor the stew.
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. Compared to étouffée recipes which use a roux to both flavor and thicken, here we’re using the roux to flavor the dish.
How to Make Gumbo
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 as, say, the roux cooks. However, seeing as though roux is not low-maintenance and actually quite sensitive, let’s wait for it to finish before moving on to step 2.
1. Make the roux
How to Make a Roux for Gumbo?
Set a large pot, pan, or Dutch oven over medium heat. Melt the fat that you plan to use (in my case I used bacon drippings and butter). 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 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 gumbo roux in 30 minutes or less is a liar (sorry, not sorry).
Now, you may need to play around with the heat. For example, if your roux is staying the same color for more than 30 minutes, 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.
2. Sauté the smoked sausage and cook the chicken
Once the roux is finished, set it aside and pull out a large skillet. We want to quickly pan-fry the sausage over medium-high heat. 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, in a single layer, to the same skillet. If needed add a bit more oil to the skillet.
Allow the chicken to cook 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!).
3. Boil the broth
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.
4. The “holy trinity”
As the broth comes to a boil (yes, we’re multi-tasking now), return the skillet that previously cooked the sausage and chicken to medium heat. Add one more tablespoon of oil and cook your “Holy Trinity” (onions, celery, and green peppers) for approximately 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
5. Start putting things together
Reduce heat to medium-low and combine the set-aside roux with the “Holy Trinity”. Mix well to combine and cook, stirring continuously, for 1-2 minutes.
Remember that pot of boiling broth? Slowly add the roux and holy trinity mixture until fully combined with the broth.
Double-check and make sour your pot is at a simmer.
6. Season and 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.
7. Sauté the okra.
The gumbo is simmering, now we need to do something with all that Okra. 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).
8. Final touches
Once your Gumbo has been simmering for approximately 45 minutes, add the cooked okra, cooked 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.
There you have it!
I really have tried to make the instructions as easy to follow as possible.
What to serve with Gumbo
Gumbo is traditionally served over hot white 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 French 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 (but really, where’s the fun in that?)
Can you freeze Gumbo?
There are several ways to freeze Gumbo.
- Freeze just the roux in a sealed, air-tight container for up to 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 more forgiving to freezing, but seafood? Not so much.
More Rice Recipes,
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 bullion ((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 parsley
- 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 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.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)