Easy Jambalaya Recipe

5 from 1 vote
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Jambalaya is a zesty Cajun dish packed with savory meats, rice, and aromatic spices. I promise it will transport your taste buds straight to the heart of New Orleans.

Jambalaya in a dutch oven and wooden spoon.

I first discovered Jambalaya at a restaurant in New Orleans on my honeymoon. It was love at first bite! The Cajun seasonings that were new to me then have now become my favorite comfort food. After we got home, my husband and I started recipe testing, and this jambalaya recipe is the delightful result. When we had our first daughter, it became her favorite as well. At 18-months old she would clean her plate and ask for “more jambie-lee-a-lee.” She’s a teenager now and we still tease her and call it that.

Ingredients in Jambalaya

Don’t let the list of ingredients startle you! These are basic ingredients and very simple to combine together.

Rice

Rice is the base for this dish. It wouldn’t be jambalaya without it. It soaks in the seasonings and flavors as the jambalaya cooks. I prefer to use jasmine white rice, but long grain rice also works well.

Meats

  • Chicken: Cut the boneless skinless chicken breasts into even, bite-size pieces.
  • Polska kielbasa: Slice into pieces about ½ inch thick. Make sure they are cut evenly for the cooking process. This sausage is a thick, round sausage that comes packaged in a U shape. You can also use andouille sausage or another type of sausage ring.
  • Shrimp: Uncooked, peeled, and deveined large shrimp give this dish an extra boost.


Vegetables

  • Fresh vegetables: Onions, celery, and red and green bell peppers add color and enhance the taste.
  • Canned diced tomatoes: Do not drain the tomatoes. The tomato juice gives the jambalaya moisture and flavor.

Liquids and Seasonings

  • Oil: This is necessary to sauté the proteins and adds flavor.
  • Garlic: The garlic starts off with a raw flavor and smell but contributes a soft and buttery flavor as it is cooked.
  • Chicken broth: This provides the moisture in the homemade jambalaya during the cooking process. You can also use chicken stock.
  • Worcestershire sauce: A little hard to pronounce, but it is a savory liquid that gives a smoky and deep taste.
  • Bay leaves: As the jambalaya simmers, bay leaves lend an herbal tone to all the other ingredients. Remove the bay leaves prior to serving.
  • Additional seasonings: Paprika, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried oregano, all do their part to create a beautiful color and variety of flavors.
Ingredients to make jambalaya including green bell pepper, red bell pepper, onion, celery, oil, Worcester sauce, rice, petite diced tomatoes, spices, cut chicken, raw shrimp, kielbasa and chicken broth.


How to Make Jambalaya

Our easy jambalaya recipe is great for a family weeknight dinner, or to serve to company. We like to make it around the time of Mardi Gras, just for fun. Once you have the ingredients together, the cooking process is smooth and simple.

A collage of images showing the four steps for making an easy jambalaya recipe
  1. Stir together – Combine paprika, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Saute – Heat oil in a large skillet and add garlic, chicken, Kielbasa, and shrimp. Saute for about 1 minute then add onion, celery, and peppers. Saute another minute or two.
  3. Season – Sprinkle with previously combined seasonings. Saute until vegetables become soft and onion becomes translucent.
  4. Boil – Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 1 minute, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer on low for about 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove bay leaves and serve with Tabasco hot sauce.

Recipe Tips

Make this homemade jambalaya just the way you like it with these variations and modifications. From protein, making it spicy, and adding in bell peppers that add texture and flavor. These are just a few ways to create the best jambalaya recipe.

Pick your protein. Feel free to use all of the meats like chicken, pork, and shrimp or just one or two of them depending on your taste. 

Spice it up. I love adding a good amount of Tabasco at the end to spice things up a bit but if Tabasco is a bit much for you, just leave it out. Cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes also help add heat.

Throw in some color. I like to add several colors of peppers into my Jambalaya dish since the red, yellow, orange, and green colors of those peppers make it seem much more festive.

Check the texture. If the rice seems too dry when you’re done cooking or if it seems too pasty, just add a bit more chicken broth.

Give it some garnish. This dish is so colorful, it doesn’t need much, but some sliced green onion or chopped parsley adds a beautiful bright green to top it off.

Jambalaya in a bowl.

“We thought this jambalaya was delicious! This recipe is a total keeper!”

-Wilhelmina

Jambalaya vs Gumbo

Many people confuse these two dishes, which is easy to do if you aren’t from the southern United States. Both originate from Louisiana with Creole and Cajun origins and have similar ingredients. The main difference between the two is the rice.

When making Jambalaya, the rice is simmered with all the ingredients in a pot. As the rice cooks, it soaks up the liquids, as well as the flavors, and colors of the seasonings.

Gumbo is prepared as a stew. The rice is cooked separately, and the gumbo is served over the rice.

Side by side images of jambalaya and gumbo

What to Serve with Jambalaya

The spicy and rich flavors of this easy jambalaya recipe pair well with cornbread or biscuits. For dessert, keep it authentic with New Orleans Style Beignets for dessert.

Jambalaya in a bowl.

Easy Jambalaya Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Jambalaya is a zesty Cajun dish packed with savory meats, rice, and aromatic spices. I promise it will transport your taste buds straight to the heart of New Orleans.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Prepare the meats and vegetables. Trim and cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Slice the kielbasa into ½ inch thick medallions. Peel and devein shrimp, if needed. Dice the onion, celery, and peppers and mince the garlic.
    Cubed raw chicken breast on a cutting board with a knife to make Instant Pot Chicken and Rice.
  • Combine paprika, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
    Small bowl with combined seasonings and wooden spoon.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet or dutch oven and add garlic, chicken, Kielbasa, and shrimp. Saute for about 1 minute then add onion, celery and peppers. Saute another minute or two.
    Dutch oven with combined sausage, chicken and shrimp.
  • Sprinkle with previously combined seasonings. Saute until vegetables become soft and onion becomes translucent.
    Dutch oven with sausage, chicken, shrimp, vegetables and seasonings.
  • Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 1 minute, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer on low for about 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender. If the rice seems to be too dry or pasty at the end, add up to ½ cup more chicken broth.
    Dutch oven with lid.
  • Remove bay leaves and serve with Tabasco sauce.
    Jambalaya in a dutch oven and wooden spoon.

Notes

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. With the shrimp and chicken in the dish, it’s best to eat leftovers within 3-4 days. (ask.usda.gov)

Nutrition Information

Calories: 511kcalCarbohydrates: 46gProtein: 23gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 950mgPotassium: 634mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1.305IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 75mgIron: 3mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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