Updated Nov 05, 2023
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Get a taste of classic New Orleans comfort food right in your kitchen with this easy jambalaya recipe! It’s a hearty blend of chicken, sausage, shrimp, veggies, and rice — brimming with spiced Cajun and Creole flavors.
A fresh pot of jambalaya always reminds me of my trip to New Orleans. The amount of seafood I tried was incredible, and dishes like gumbo and jambalaya (i.e. classic Louisiana feel-good meals) are forever imprinted in my brain.
If you’ve never made jambalaya before, it may seem intimidating or difficult to make, given the number of ingredients. But it’s actually quite the opposite. It’s an easy one-pot meal! Plus, I’ve got a homemade Cajun seasoning that adds a hefty amount of flavor and really brings this recipe to life.
And if you’ve got any leftover homemade Cajun seasoning from making this jambalaya recipe, you can make creamy Cajun chicken – another great weeknight meal!
- Meats: While you can choose from chicken, beef, or pork, the one ingredient you should always try to include is andouille sausage. It’s a jambalaya classic, plus it tastes so good. If you can’t find andouille sausage you can use chorizo.
- Seafood: Similar to meat, there’s quite a few seafood options to choose from such as jumbo shrimp, oysters, crawfish, or mussels. But for this recipe, I’m using shrimp that’s been peeled and deveined.
- Vegetables: The mix of onion, bell peppers, and celery is called the Cajun Holy Trinity. Think of this as a Cajun version of a French mirepoix vegetable blend!
- Rice: Use a long grain white rice for this recipe (I’m using basmati). Brown rice and other types of rice will alter the cook time. And make sure to read the tips in the following section on how to prevent mushy rice!
- Cajun Seasoning & Spices: While you can buy Cajun seasoning, I suggest making my homemade Cajun seasoning to match the flavors and colors happening in this recipe (I talk more about this below). You’ll also need fresh garlic, red pepper flakes and a bay leaf.
- Broth: The base of this recipe uses lots of chicken broth and a can of crushed tomatoes to cook the rice.
Helpful tip: Jambalaya is naturally spicy. But my version isn’t overly spicy (at least I don’t think so). If you’re concerned about the level of spice, you can reduce or omit the red pepper flakes.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below
Cajun vs Creole Jambalaya
While the differences are subtle, you can usually tell by the color. Creole jambalaya includes tomatoes, so it’s more reddish in color. Cajun jambalaya is more brown. So this recipe leans towards Creole given the crushed tomatoes (and is similar to what I personally ate in New Orleans).
But just to confuse the matter, I’m using my homemade Cajun seasoning (that has a Creole bent with thyme and oregano), so it’s honestly a delicious blend of both. If you use store-bought Cajun seasoning like Slap Ya Mama that doesn’t include herbs, you can always add a teaspoon of thyme and oregano to the dish, when you add the minced garlic.
How To Prevent Mushy Rice
One of the biggest complaints when making jambalaya is that the rice ends up mushy. And there’s two main culprits of this – choosing the wrong type of rice and over-stirring.
For this recipe, you want long-grain white rice, like basmati or jasmine. Don’t use short-grain rice. And remember that every time you stir rice it releases more starch and breaks down, which can make the end result softer and mushier.
Lastly, if you want to be extra cautious, you can use parboiled rice (or converted rice) which maintains its structure and “fluffiness” when cooked longer and slower. If you opt for parboiled rice, just make sure to read the package for the proper cook time. And you may need to add more broth or water.
How To Make Jambalaya
Season and cook the chicken. In a medium mixing bowl toss together the diced chicken with 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, until evenly coated. Then saute the chicken until lightly golden and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Cook the sausage. Saute the sausage with the remaining oil, until lightly browned on both sides. Then move the sausage to the plate with the chicken.
Saute the veggies. Saute the onion, bell pepper, and celery for 4 to 5 minutes, until the veggies have softened. Then add the minced garlic, remaining Cajun seasoning, and red pepper flakes to the pan. Stir together for 30 seconds.
Add the rice and liquid. Stir in the rice, then add the bay leaf, tomatoes, and broth. Bring everything to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for about 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally just to make sure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot, until the rice is al dente.
Add the shrimp. Remove the bay leaf, add the shrimp to the pan along with the sausage and chicken, gently stir, cover, and turn off the heat. The shrimp will cook through in about 4 to 5 minutes, and all of the liquid should be absorbed by the rice!
Helpful tip: The seafood should always be added at the end so that it’s not overcooked. No one wants rubbery shrimp.
Garnish. Before serving, garnish with sliced green onions and chopped parsley.
- Enjoy throughout the week: Trust me when I say this will last you for a good few days! Just store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
- Freeze for later: Like most of my one-pot recipes, jambalaya is great for a future frozen meal. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge the night before, then pop it in the microwave for a minute or so to heat it back up.
More Comforting One Pot Meals
- Shepherd’s Pie
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- White Chicken Chili (or this classic Beef Chili)
- Irish Lamb Stew
- Red Wine Braised Short Ribs
I hope you enjoy this cozy jambalaya recipe as much as I do! If you make it, let me know how it turned out in the comment box below.
Jambalaya (No Mushy Rice!)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 11 ounces fully-cooked andouille sausage, sliced
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 green bell pepper, deseeded and diced
- 2 ribs of celery, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ cups uncooked long grain white rice, rinsed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (15-ounce can) crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound large shrimp (in the 16-20 count range), peeled and deveined
- sliced green onions and chopped parsley for garnish
- Season the chicken. In a medium mixing bowl toss together the diced chicken with 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, until evenly coated.
- Cook the chicken. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven or wide-bottomed (and preferably deep) pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and saute until lightly golden and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate.
- Cook the sausage. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil along with the sausage to the same pan and saute for a couple of minutes, until lightly browned on both sides. Remove the sausage to the plate with the chicken.
- Saute the veggies. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until the veggies have softened. If you need to add a splash more oil feel free to do so.
- Add the garlic and spices. Add the minced garlic, the remaining 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, and the red pepper flakes to the pan. Stir together for 30 seconds.
- Add the rice and liquid. Add the rice and toast with the veggies and spices by stirring for a minute. Then add the bay leaf, tomatoes, and broth. Give it a stir, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, and cover. Cook for about 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally just to make sure the rice isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot, until the rice is al dente. *see notes on rice below
- Add the shrimp. Remove the bay leaf, add the shrimp to the pan along with the sausage and chicken, gently stir, cover, and turn off the heat. The shrimp will cook through in about 4 to 5 minutes, and all of the liquid should be absorbed by the rice. Taste the jambalaya and season with extra salt and pepper if you'd like.
- Garnish. Before serving, garnish with sliced green onions and chopped parsley.
- The variety of rice you use, along with the type of pot and stovetop temperature really impacts the cooking time and whether the rice goes soft and mushy, or if the grains stay fluffy. Basmati and jasmine rice can cook quickly, so I’d recommend checking on the texture at around 7 to 8 minutes. It’s best to stop when it’s al dente, as it will keep cooking when you add the shrimp and let it sit. If using parboiled rice or long-grain brown rice, you will need to cook the rice longer and add additional broth or water.
- Make sure to use a large Dutch oven or stock pot. This recipe makes a good amount, and it’s easier to stir in a large pot.
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