Jambalaya is a classic one-pot recipe filled with chicken, sausage, shrimp, and rice. Completely irresistible, this easy recipe includes all the classic flavors of true Cajun/Creole cooking like Cajun seasoning and starts with finely diced onion, bell pepper, and celery – the holy trinity of Cajun cuisine. Learn all about this representative New Orleans dish, including how to make Jambalaya, below!
This easy and delicious Jambalaya recipe practically bursts from the pot with its mouthwatering flavors. Filled with the holy trinity of Cajun/Creole cooking (onion, celery, and bell peppers), juicy chicken, shrimp, andouille sausage, and delicious tomato rice filled with Cajun spices, you’ll LOVE this amazing New Orleans classic comfort food.
What is in Jambalaya?
Originating in Louisiana with French and Spanish influence, Jambalaya is typically made with meat and vegetables mixed with rice. Traditional recipes almost always have some kind of smoked sausage (such as andouille sausage), in addition to one or two other meats. The vegetables, a mixture known as the “holy trinity”, usually consist of onion, celery, and green bell pepper. And while this “holy trinity” of vegetables is added to Jambalaya, traditional Jambalaya recipes are not usually vegetable-heavy. Typically you’ll find few vegetables, lots of rice, and a variety of different cooked meats.
- Andouille sausage
- “Holy Trinity” of Cajun/Creole cooking (onion, celery, bell pepper)
- Cajun seasoning
- Salt + Pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Italian seasoning
- Red pepper flakes
- Worcestershire sauce
- White rice
- Chicken broth or chicken stock
- Parsley + Green onions
Depending on who you ask this recipe may or may not be considered “authentic”.
Actually, just kidding, it’s definitely not 100% authentic since I included okra which is typically reserved for gumbo – but I’ll get to that in a sec.
Anyway, while researching jambalaya and learning all these fun and fantastic facts for you guys, I learned that there are actually two primary methods for making this magical one-pot meal.
- Creole Jambalaya “red jambalaya”– Creole Jambalaya includes tomatoes and (usually) includes shrimp. Typically, the chicken and the sausage are added to the pot and cooked together with the “holy trinity”.
- Cajun Jambalaya “brown jambalaya”– unlike Creole Jambalaya, this version does not contain tomatoes. The meat is browned in the pot first, leaving bits of meat stuck to the bottom of the pot, giving this version a deep brown color and lots of delicious added caramelized flavoring.
This jambalaya recipe is a mix of the two. I’ve added tomatoes (Creole) but browned the meat (Cajun). I decided to take the best of both and mix them into one.
RELATED: Easy Dirty Rice Recipe (Cajun Rice)
How to Make Jambalaya
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If you prefer to bake your rice rather than cook it on the stovetop (more on this below).
2. Sear your sausage. Slice your sausage into small rounds and sear each side in a little oil (or butter). If you are using raw sausage (i.e. non-smoked sausage) you’ll want to cook your sausage whole, first. Once it’s cooked, you can remove them from the pan to slice.
3. Cook the chicken. Coat the chicken pieces with Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper, then cook over medium-high heat until fully cooked. Remove to a clean plate and set aside.
- You may use chopped chicken breast or chicken thighs.
4. Cook the “holy trinity” low and slow. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in the minced onions, bell pepper, and celery. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. We want to cook the vegetables to sweeten, rather than char or brown.
5. Seasoning. Add the garlic, Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, cayenne, Italian season, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for an additional minute.
- If you are sensitive to spicy foods, omit the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes.
6. Add the rice and tomatoes. Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, (thoroughly washed and drained) white rice, and low-sodium chicken broth. Mix it all together and bring it to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover.
7. Cook the rice. You can do this on the stovetop or in the oven.
- Stovetop: Cook for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until the rice is nearly cooked through.
- Oven: Transfer pot to the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the rice is nearly cooked. Stirring every 5 minutes is not necessary.
Tip: To prevent the rice from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot, stir every 5 minutes or so.
8. Cook the shrimp. Cook the shrimp in a hot skillet with a couple of tablespoons of butter for 3-4 minutes. Remove to a clean plate.
9. Put it together. Once the rice is nearly cooked, gently stir in the shrimp, sliced okra, chicken, and sausage. Gently mix to combine. Cover and continue to cook on low (or in the oven) for an additional 5-8 minutes.
10. Remove from heat. Season to taste and serve garnished with chopped parsley, hot sauce, and chopped green onions.
RELATED: Slow Cooker Jambalaya Stew
Frequently Asked Questions
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. Cajun seasoning and Creole seasoning are very similar to each other. The primary difference between the two 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 jambalaya spicy?
Yes. This recipe is absolutely on the spicier side. If you prefer a more mild dish, omit the cayenne pepper or chili flakes. 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.
What is the “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking?
The “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking, also known as “holy trinity” or simply “trinity” to some, is an aromatic mixture consisting of finely diced onion, celery, and green or red bell pepper. It is the Cajun/Creole version of a mirepoix or soffrito.
- 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 mirepoix of onions, celery, and bell pepper.
What type of rice is best for jambalaya?
Use any type of long-grain white rice. This includes regular long-grain white rice, basmati rice, or jasmine rice. Do not use enriched rice or minute rice, or any type of short-grain white rice.
Can I use brown rice instead of white rice?
While I do not have personal experience making this recipe with brown rice, if you choose to try it with brown rice, note that the cooking time will be longer (about 15 minutes) and you will need additional water.
I can’t find okra, now what?
Technically, okra isn’t traditional to jambalaya recipes, so if you prefer to leave it out, you can’t find it, or you already know you dislike it, simply skip it. However, I love the flavor. Alternatives include frozen okra (just be sure to thaw before adding) or file powder.
Difference Between Jambalaya and Gumbo?
Although quite similar, there are several major differences between Jambalaya and Gumbo.
The easiest way to remember the difference between Jambalaya and Gumbo is that Jambalaya is, at its core, a rice dish (much like paella).
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, like shrimp or crawfish, but the overall stock is thinner, almost like a broth. In addition, the rice is cooked separately and added when served.
This actually brings me to my next question…
Difference Between Jambalaya and Paella?
After visiting Spain a million years ago I fell in love with their signature rice dish, Paella. It wasn’t until I started learning about Jambalaya, however, that I ever even considered a connection between Spanish and New Orleans cuisine, let alone Jambalaya and Paella. So what’s the difference?
There are several differences between Jambalaya and Paella.
- Paella uses short-grain Spanish rice while Jambalaya uses long-grain rice.
- The primary seasoning in Paella is saffron.
- Paella is cooked in a wide, flat pan which causes the rice to crisp around the edges. Jambalaya is cooked in a large pot or Dutch oven.
- Traditional Paella is cooked on a fire, where Jambalaya is cooked on the stove.
You May Also Enjoy These Other Delicious Rice Recipes,
Have you tried making this delicious Jambalaya Recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts. And tag me #theforkedspoon on Instagram if you’ve made any of my recipes, I always love to see what you’re cooking in the kitchen.
- 3 tbsp olive oil (divided)
- 1 pound Andouille sausage ((or any smoked sausage))
- 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs (chopped into 1-inch cubes)
- 3 tbsp Cajun seasoning (divided and adjusted to suit your own personal taste/heat preference)
- 2 medium yellow onions (diced)
- 1 green bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 1 red bell pepper (seeded and diced)
- 3 stalks celery (diced)
- 6 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 (14 ounce) can diced/crushed tomatoes
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1.5 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
- 2.75 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup okra (thinly sliced (or 1 tsp file powder))
- 1 pound raw shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- fresh chopped parsley (to garnish)
- chopped green onion (to garnish)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large stockpot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the sliced sausage and cook for approximately 1 minute per side. Remove to a clean plate and set aside.
- Add the chicken pieces to a large bowl and season with approximately 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Return the stockpot or Dutch oven (used to brown the sausage) to medium-high heat. Add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil and add the chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until chicken is cooked. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate and set aside.
- To the same pot set over medium-low heat add the last tablespoon of olive oil. Add in the minced onions, bell pepper, and celery, mixing well to combine. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until softening, stirring frequently.
- Add the minced garlic, Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, cayenne, Italian season, and red pepper flakes. Mix well and continue to cook for an additional minute.
- Mix in the crushed tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, white rice, and low-sodium chicken broth with the softened veggies. Mix well to combine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid
- Cook for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until the rice is nearly cooked through, gently stirring every 5 minutes to prevent the rice from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot (see note - how to cook your rice in the oven).
- As the rice cooks, add 2 tablespoons of butter and sear the shrimp for 2 minutes on each side in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
- When the rice is nearly finished cooking, stir in the shrimp and the sliced okra, and return the chicken and sausage back to the pot. Gently mix to combine with the rice. Continue to cook on low, stirring as needed, until the shrimp is cooked, approximately 5-8 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Serve warm garnished with chopped parsley and green onion if desired. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Enjoy!
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)