When it comes to gumbo vs jambalaya, they’re both flavorful and hearty dishes associated with New Orleans, and we wouldn’t turn down either—but what is the difference between the two?
Gumbo is a Creole stew that is frequently made with okra and is a combination of many different culinary heritages. A very hearty soup or stew, gumbo can contain a variety of different meat or seafood combinations—chicken, andouille sausage, shrimp, crab, and oysters are all very popular.
Gumbo is made from what Louisianans call the “Holy Trinity” of vegetables: celery, bell pepper, and onion, and is then thickened with okra, filé powder (a spicy herb made from grinding sassafras leaves), or a roux (a dark roux in particular). There are many styles of gumbo—Cajun, Creole, and Gumbo z’herbes (a meatless variation) are just a few that exist but the main recipe is easy to personalize based on taste. Tomatoes are often added and gumbo is simmered for several hours and frequently served over rice.
Jambalaya is similar to gumbo in that it’s a stew made from meat and vegetables (and includes the “Holy Trinity” as a base) but does not include the okra or filé powder as a thickener. Jambalaya is also prepared with rice, but the rice is integrated into the stew while cooking the other ingredients. There is a lot of overlap in many jambalaya and gumbo recipes, as similar seasonings, broths, meats, and vegetables are used.
Jambalaya is similar to the Spanish rice dish, paella, in that the ingredients are all simmered together in the soup until the rice is cooked (the meat should be sautéed or browned in a Dutch oven before adding to the mix). Jambalaya can contain any number of smoked meats and seafood, including crawfish, shrimp, pork, and chicken, and the spiciness can easily be adjusted. Some varieties contain tomatoes (red jambalaya) and recipes can vary greatly by region—throughout the South and Louisiana it’s hard to find any two cooks with the same recipe.
A gumbo base made of vegetables (onion, bell peppers, tomatoes, celery, okra) and homemade Cajun seasoning make this a healthy recipe that you can easily adjust based on your preferences. Substitute frozen veggies to save time. Get the Chicken and Andouille Gumbo recipe.
This recipe for jambalaya includes the trinity (celery, onion, and green peppers) and any combination of chicken, shrimp, or andouille sausage that suits your fancy. Get the Jambalaya recipe.
If you’re looking for gumbo without the work (instead of a traditional gumbo roux, you brown flour in the oven before mixing with chicken stock), this recipe with andouille sausage and three pounds of shrimp is a winner. Use your slow cooker on a five-hour simmer and you’ll have dinner on the table in no time. Get our Slow Cooker Shrimp Gumbo recipe.
The addition of wild rice to this jambalaya recipe adds a nuttiness and complexity that you won’t find using white rice. Get our Wild Rice Jambalaya recipe.
A rotisserie chicken forms the base of this quick recipe for chicken gumbo that also includes eight ounces of andouille sausage and chopped vegetables. You’ll be able to shave a few hours of prep time and can be ready to eat in less than an hour. Get our Easy Chicken Gumbo recipe.
An extremely filling dish that’s great for serving a crowd, this chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya has a number of seasonings (paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, black and white pepper, salt, cumin, oregano, thyme, coriander, ground mustard, and celery salt) and includes tasso, a savory smoked ham to go with the smoked sausage. Break out the hot sauce if you like more spice. Get our Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya recipe.