The Ultimate Cajun Jambalaya: A Taste of New Orleans

  • July 07, 2023
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  • The Ultimate Cajun Jambalaya: A Taste of New Orleans

Cajun Jambalaya

Cajun Jambalaya is a dish that is as vibrant and diverse as the culture it originates from. A staple of Louisiana cuisine, this hearty meal is a symphony of flavors and textures that can transport you straight to the heart of New Orleans.

What is Cajun Jambalaya?

Cajun Jambalaya is a one-pot dish originating from Louisiana, specifically from the rural, low-lying areas of the state where Cajun culture is most prominent. It's a versatile and hearty dish that combines meat, vegetables, and rice, all simmered together in a deliciously seasoned broth. The meats can vary but typically include chicken, sausage, and seafood, particularly shrimp.

How is it different from Creole Jambalaya?

While both Cajun and Creole Jambalaya share some similarities, there are key differences. Creole Jambalaya, also known as "red jambalaya" in New Orleans, includes tomatoes, giving it a reddish hue. Cajun Jambalaya, on the other hand, does not use tomatoes, resulting in a browner color. The order of cooking also differs. In Cajun Jambalaya, the meat is browned first, creating a rich base of flavor for the rest of the ingredients.

What is the history of Jambalaya?

Jambalaya's roots can be traced back to several cultures. It's believed to be a derivative of Spanish paella. When Spaniards first arrived in New Orleans, they attempted to recreate paella using local ingredients. The French influence came later, with the name "jambalaya" coming from the French word "jambon," meaning ham, a common ingredient in early jambalayas. The dish has since evolved, incorporating elements from West African, Caribbean, and Native American cooking, reflecting the melting pot of cultures that Louisiana is known for.

How to serve Cajun Jambalaya?

Cajun Jambalaya is a complete meal in itself, boasting a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and vegetables. However, if you wish to add a side, a simple green salad or cornbread makes a great accompaniment. The dish is traditionally served hot, straight from the pot it was cooked in.

Can it be stored and reheated?

Yes, Cajun Jambalaya stores well. It can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. When reheating, add a little vegetable oil to a skillet and stir in your leftovers, allowing the rice to crisp up on the bottom of the pan. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp, as it can become tough and chewy.

The Ultimate Cajun Jambalaya Recipe

Ultimate Cajun Jambalaya


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
  • 1 lb Andouille sausage, sliced
  • 24 medium peeled and deveined shrimp, about 1/2 pound
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain rice
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

Cajun Jambalaya Directions:

  1. Season the chicken and shrimp with the Cajun seasoning in a bowl and toss to coat evenly. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers, celery, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, Worcestershire, and hot sauces. Stir in the rice and slowly add the broth. Bring the rice to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. In a separate pan, brown the chicken and sausage, then add them to the pot. Cook for about 8 minutes.
  5. Stir in the shrimp and cook until pink, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and allow the jambalaya to continue to steam for 10 minutes longer before serving. Stir in the green onions just before serving.

Optional Additions to Your Cajun Jambalaya

While our Ultimate Cajun Jambalaya recipe is delicious as is, one of the beauties of jambalaya is its versatility. Feel free to experiment with additional ingredients to suit your personal taste. Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate bacon, pork tenderloin, chicken, or brisket into your jambalaya.


Bacon can add a smoky depth of flavor to your jambalaya. Start by rendering the fat from a few strips of bacon in your pot before you begin sautéing your vegetables. Remove the crispy bacon and set it aside to be added back into the dish towards the end of cooking. The rendered bacon fat can be used in place of, or in addition to, the olive oil for sautéing your vegetables and meats, adding a rich, smoky flavor to your dish.

Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin can be a tender and flavorful addition to your jambalaya. Cut the tenderloin into bite-sized pieces and add it to the pot along with the chicken. Be careful not to overcook it, as pork tenderloin can become tough if cooked for too long.


Brisket is not a traditional ingredient in jambalaya, but that doesn't mean it can't be a delicious addition. Because brisket requires a long, slow cook time to become tender, it's best to cook it separately. Consider slow-cooking or braising the brisket until it's tender and flavorful, then shred it and stir it into the jambalaya towards the end of the cooking process. The rich, beefy flavor of the brisket can add a hearty element to your jambalaya.

Remember, the key to a great jambalaya is balance. Each ingredient should contribute to the overall flavor of the dish without overpowering the others. Don't be afraid to experiment and make the dish your own. Enjoy your cooking adventure!

Enjoy your Ultimate Cajun Jambalaya!

Cajun Jambalaya is more than just a dish—it's a celebration of a rich cultural history and a testament to the power of food in bringing people together. So, gather your ingredients and get ready to bring a piece of Louisiana into your kitchen with this Ultimate Cajun Jambalaya recipe. Enjoy!


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