Hands-down the best jambalaya recipe! It is surprisingly easy to make, customizable with your favorite proteins (I used chicken, shrimp and sausage), and full of bold, zesty, Cajun jambalaya flavors that everyone will love.
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 sausage: Or whatever proteins you prefer. Feel free to choose one or two, or you can use all three like I do.
You may also like: Lemon Garlic Shrimp Scampi
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.
Next, let’s talk about how to make jambalaya. Simply…
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.
Sauté the veggies. Sauté the onion, bell pepper, celery, jalapeño and garlic until soft.
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.
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.
Add the okra and shrimp. And cook for a final 5 minutes or so, until the shrimp is pink and opaque.
Taste and season. Add in salt and pepper (and extra Cajun/Creole seasoning, if needed) to taste.
Serve warm. Garnished with your desired toppings!
You may also like: Vegan Mac & Cheese
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 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.), 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Taste season the jambalaya with salt, pepper, and additional Cajun seasoning if needed. (I typically add about 2 teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.) Remove from heat.
Serve warm with your desired garnishes. Or refrigerate and store in a sealed container for up to 3 days.