The holy grail of Cajun food, jambalaya is one of the greatest comfort foods from Louisiana and a staple on my family’s dinner table for as long as I can remember. True southern flavors at their best!
I feel as though a divine light should be shining in my kitchen when I make jambalaya. Not only is this the holy grail of Cajun foods, it’s also made from the foundation of flavors found in the must-have holy trinity of Cajun cooking: celery, onions, and green bell peppers.
When you start with these three ingredients, you can’t go wrong no matter what recipe you follow — and there are A LOT of them out there, all good in their own right.
This recipe captures the essence of the one-pot dish I grew up eating. Everyone in my family knows, though, I make it a little different each time depending on what ingredients I may already have on hand. I share many of the variations I’ve tried over the years in the Helping Hands section.
Jambalaya is a simple dish to make and quite forgiving when experimenting with different ingredients. Try them out or get creative on your own.
- This must-have Classic Cajun cookware works wonderfully for recipes such as this one. If I had to choose only one pot for my kitchen, this is the one! It’s so versatile, cooks evenly, and will last a lifetime.
- Cooking rice ahead makes it so much easier to prepare this dish. And when you use a rice cooker, it’s even better. I use this Rice Cooker and Warmer in the 5.5 cups size, which is plenty big enough for a family of four. It’s easy to clean and keeps rice warm for a couple of days without any issues.
- If you have rice on the menu during the week, make extras. Leftover rice is perfect for this dish.
- Consider serving with a traditional side dish like cornbread, a small green salad, corn on the cob, or a bowl of Classic Cajun Corn (also known as maque choux). Or, as with any Cajun dish, you can’t go wrong with a loaf of French bread on the side.
- I can’t stress this enough, especially for my Northern friends, always have a bottle of hot sauce on the table when serving this or any Cajun food. The best of the best in Louisiana is Crystal Hot Sauce — it’s a must if you want authentic!
- I peel, devein, and pull the tail off my shrimp when I cook; however, you can easily leave the tails on if you prefer.
- No shrimp? No problem. You can safely omit this ingredient and still end up with a tasty dish.
- Use all parts of the cleaned celery stalks, including the leafy green tips. The more the better, as that part adds extra flavor.
- Leftover meats are often good substitutes for this dish. Leftover chicken is always a good or try brisket in place of the shrimp.
- Have some green onions or carrots days away from hitting the trash can? Nothing wrong with cutting those up and tossing in the pot with your celery and bell peppers. Veggies are always a good addition to this dish.
- You can use Kielbasa (smoked or regular) in place of the andouille sausage.
- Any type of rice works, such as long grain, jasmine, or brown. I’m a huge fan of Nishiki Medium Grain Rice and recommend it for this recipe. The medium grain is so versatile, you can use this rice for anything from Cajun to sushi to desserts.
- If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can modify this recipe and cook your rice right in the pot.
- Add 2 cups of uncooked white rice to the pot after adding all your seasonings. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on medium-low for about 20 to 25 minutes or until rice cooks and is tender. Add shrimp and cook another five minutes until shrimp is pink and firm. Serve and enjoy!
If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a comment and star rating below. It’s always refreshing to hear how others like a recipe, find success with it, or tweak to suit. I’d love to hear from you!