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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 pound (454 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 12 ounces andouille sausage, 4 sausages, cut into ½-inch thick slices
- 2 cups (260 g) yellow onion, ¼-inch dice
- 1 cup (140 g) red bell pepper, ¼-inch dice
- 1 cup (140 g) green bell pepper, ¼-inch dice
- 1 cup (130 g) celery, ¼-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon (10 g) 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 (400 g) long grain white rice
- 1 ½ cups (350 g) diced canned tomatoes, 1 cup of liquid reserved
- 3 cups (720 ml) unsalted chicken stock, or unsalted chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pound (454 g) peeled and deveined shrimp, 16/20 count shrimp
- 1 tablespoon (3 g) sliced green onions
- 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.