Jambalaya

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Jambalaya is an appetizing mix of bold creole spices, long grain rice, vegetables, shrimp, chicken, and andouille sausage. Simmering all the ingredients together allows the rice to infuse with rich flavors. A colorful one-pot feast inspired by New Orleans cuisine!

large pot of jambalaya with shrimp and sausage over rice

Jambalaya is a comforting rice-based dish that celebrates the soul of Louisiana’s food scene. It’s an infusion of French, Spanish, & Creole cooking techniques and flavors. This recipe includes a trifecta of proteins for savory and smoky notes featuring chicken breast, shrimp, and andouille sausage.

Jambalaya is similar to paella but making it requires a little more work. There’s a bit more pot stirring involved but every time you lift the lid, a wonderful blast of aromas hits the nose. The jumble of herbs, fiery spices, and hearty ingredients work harmoniously together for a satisfying meal.

Sauteing onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic in a dutch oven

How to make jambalaya

  • Sear chicken and sausage in a dutch oven.
  • Saute onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic.
  • Add salt, thyme, pepper, chili powder, cayenne, and bay leaves.
  • Stir in rice and lightly brown.
  • Add tomatoes, chicken, sausage, stock, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Boil, simmer and stir every few minutes.
  • Add shrimp then cover until cooked through.
  • Garnish with green onions.

pouring liquid into a pot with chicken and sausage pieces

How to build layers of flavor

The chicken and sausage are seared first in the pan to brown the meat. This provides rich tasting rendered fats for sauteing the rest of the ingredients. Thyme, cayenne pepper, and chili powder cook with the oil to bloom the fat-soluble flavors, making their impact stronger.

The rice is lightly fried in oil which browns the exterior and also helps keep their structure intact as it simmers in liquid. Like any proper Southern dish, the base of the recipe uses a holy trinity of vegetables. Onions, celery, and bell peppers that build the characteristic taste.

Choosing the right shrimp

Use extra jumbo sized shrimp to give about a two-bite experience. This is sold as 16/20 count per pound at markets. I use peeled and deveined white shrimp, but any variety works, even prawns would be stunning. The shrimp are very delicate proteins and cook within minutes. Therefore cover and steam for 5 minutes with the rice mixture. This prevents overcooking and ensures a tender texture.

close up photo of jambalaya cooking in a pot

What’s the difference between gumbo and jambalaya?

Gumbo has a soup or stew texture that’s thickened with a dark brown roux and gumbo file powder. Jambalaya is a moistened rice dish that’s cooks similarly to pilaf. Both can be made with chicken, shrimp, or andouille sausage, and vegetables like okra, bell peppers, and onions.

What to serve with this dish

After making a big pot of jambalaya you could dig straight in, or make a few sides to go along with the dish. My top pick is cornbread muffins, sauteed swiss chard or okra. For more southern flare I would make braised collard greens.

close up of spoon scooping jambalaya out of a big pot

Long grain white rice is recommended

The rice will cook up to be tender and light as it simmers in the liquid. Long grain rice holds its shape better than short grain and has a less dense texture. Do not wash the rice, the starches on the surface help to lightly thicken the jambalaya.

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Jambalaya

Jambalaya is an appetizing mix of bold creole spices, long grain rice, vegetables, shrimp, chicken, and andouille sausage.
Pin Print Review
3.67 from 36 votes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Servings 8 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 12 ounces andouille sausage, 4 sausages, cut into ½-inch thick slices
  • 2 cups yellow onion, ¼-inch dice
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, ¼-inch dice
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, ¼-inch dice
  • 1 cup celery, ¼-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 2 bay leaves, dried
  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 ½ cups diced canned tomatoes, 1 cup of liquid reserved
  • 3 cups unsalted chicken stock, or unsalted chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, 16/20 count shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon sliced green onions

Instructions 

  • Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, once hot add the vegetable oil. 
  • Combine cubed chicken with ½ teaspoon of salt. Add the chicken and spread into a single layer. Allow it to sear for 2 minutes. Stir and cook another 2 minutes until no longer pink. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Add sausage in a single layer and allow to sear for 2 minutes. Stir and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer to the same bowl as the chicken.
  • Turn the heat down to medium. Add onions, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, thyme, black pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper powder, and bay leaves. Stir and cook until vegetables are softened, 3 minutes.
  • Add rice, stir and cook to lightly brown, 3 minutes.
  • Add diced tomatoes, chicken, and sausage, stir to combine.
  • Add 1 cup reserved canned tomato juice, chicken stock, and Worcestershire sauce to the pot.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Stir, cover and cook 10 minutes.
  • Stir, cover and cook an additional 10 minutes.
  • Stir and add shrimp then cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until the shrimp is fully cooked. 
  • Taste and season with more salt, pepper, or chili spices.
  • Garnish with green onions.

Recipe Video

Equipment

Notes

This recipe contains tomatoes, but some Cajun versions do not.

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Nutrition Facts
Jambalaya
Amount Per Serving
Calories 497 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 6g30%
Cholesterol 72mg24%
Sodium 1189mg50%
Potassium 905mg26%
Carbohydrates 52g17%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 29g58%
Vitamin A 785IU16%
Vitamin C 49.7mg60%
Calcium 299mg30%
Iron 8.4mg47%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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5 Comments Leave a comment or review

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Julie- I think it could but you may need longer cooking time so use the package directions to help guide you. Don’t add the shrimp until the very end after the rice is tender.

  1. Utamu says

    This was awesome! It made more than enough food for left overs. I just signed up for the app and I am Loving that too!

  2. JJ says

    Jessica, this is an OUTSTANDING recipe. I’ve only made Jambalaya once before, and disliked the clump of pasty, overdone rice mush that is common for the dish, and thought I’d try cooking it in three ‘stages’: rice, meats, veggies, staying with every ingredient and measurement shown in your recipe. I also needed to “make-it-now-and re-heat/serve-later”, so I let the rice, meats, veggies chill overnight in separate bowls, and waited to mix it all together just before serving. Here are more details, if interested…

    I cooked the long grain rice in my rice cooker, using the juice from the diced tomatoes, the W. sauce, and enough chicken broth to bring it to the prescribed mark in the cooker to make a dry, fluffy rice. The salt was VERY lacking, but by serving time, wasn’t a problem. I set to cutting veggies and measuring the herbs/spices into bowls.
    Cooking the chicken was straight forward, with salt. I kept the liquid and added the andouille sausage (I peeled the paper-thin casing first and sliced the sausages very thin). When it was cooked as prescribed, I drained the fat and continued cooking the sausage to blacken it just a bit to add more dimension.

    As suggested in another online recipe, I put the fat from the sausage back to the pan (plus some olive oil) and added the cut veggies, all at once. I cooked them until slightly crunchy; about 8-10 minutes, tossing often. It was only then that I added the bowl of herbs/spices into the just-cooked veggies, gently tossing them in, then took the pan off the heat, covered, and allowed it to cool.

    I stored the veggie mix, rice and meat mixes in three different containers overnight. To serve, I reheated each in separate pans/bowls and when each was good and warm, only then, put them all together into a large pot, and stirred gently. I noticed that the juice from the warm veggie mix very quickly softened the rice, so I took two cooking spoons together into the pot and ‘fluffed’ the mass (it was like serving salad from a bowl) until everything was good and hot. And it helped keep the rice separated, not clumped.

    It came out great…the rice was moist (not pasty) but best of all was the amount of flavor and the wonderful aromas that came from all the ingredients.

    It’s definitely a keeper, and it’ll be handy the next time I have a few more people over for lunch or dinner. Thanks!

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