This jambalaya recipe is a classic Southern rice dish with chicken, sausage, ham, and spices. With loads of spices and the Southern “holy trinity” of onions, celery, and green bell peppers as its base, this classic Cajun dish is comforting and satisfying. Sautéing sausage and tasso ham together with onions, peppers, and spices starts building the flavor. Then add chicken, tomatoes, chicken stock, and rice and bake in the oven slowly so the bold, smoky flavors meld and the rice forms a crispy layer on the bottom of the pot. This version of jambalaya from San Francisco’s Town Hall restaurant takes a bit of prep, but it’s worth it when you need a filling dish for a crowd.

What to buy: Andouille is a smoked pork sausage that can be found in many gourmet markets or online.

Tasso is cured pork, usually shoulder, that’s rubbed with a mixture of filé (dried, ground sassafras leaves) and other spices, then smoked. It’s a Cajun specialty that adds another layer of flavor to this dish, but if you have a hard time finding it, you can substitute a different variety of smoked ham.

Game plan: The spice mix can be prepared up to 1 week ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The meats and vegetables can be cut up, placed in separate airtight containers, and stored in the refrigerator up to 1 day ahead.

Store-bought chicken stock would work fine in this recipe, or you could make your own.

This recipe was featured as part of our Mardi Gras recipe slideshow.

6 servings as a main course, 12 as a side dishMediumTotal: 2 hrs 10 mins Active: 1 hr 40 mins 12 Ratings  

Ingredients (30)

For the spice mix:

  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
  • Pinch celery salt

For the jambalaya:

  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 large yellow onions, medium dice
  • 12 ounces andouille sausage, medium dice
  • 4 ounces tasso or smoked ham, medium dice
  • 2 large green bell peppers, cored, seeded, and medium dice
  • 3 medium celery stalks, medium dice
  • 1 jalapeño, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 medium scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)


For the spice mix:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine; set aside.

For the jambalaya:

  1. Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the lower third. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed, ovenproof, 7-quart pot or large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place about one-third of the chicken pieces in the pot and cook, stirring rarely, until browned all over, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and brown the remaining chicken in 2 more batches; set aside.
  3. Remove and discard all but about 1/4 cup of the fat from the pot. Add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add the onions, scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release any browned bits, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions just begin to brown, about 6 minutes.
  4. Add the sausage, ham, and half of the reserved spice mix. Stir to coat everything with the spice mix and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally, until the meat is browned and the onions are very tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the bell peppers, celery, jalapeño, garlic, measured salt, and remaining spice mix. Cook, scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally, until the bell peppers have softened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the reserved chicken and any accumulated juices, the tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, and the tomato paste. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add the rice, stock or broth, and bay leaves, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Cover with a tightfitting lid, transfer to the oven, and bake until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the pot to a wire rack and let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir to evenly combine the jambalaya, taste, and season with salt as needed. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve.