The classic jambalaya recipe gets an upgrade with hearty, tasty red kidney beans. All the Cajun jambalaya flavor in this tasty, filling recipe with hearty kidney beans.
Y’all, I’m a big fan of jambalaya. I’m pretty sure it’s the ultimate definition of comfort food – a little spice, a little rice, a little veggies, a little chicken, a little shrimp, a little sausage… so why not add another ingredient that is also comforting and hearty? Some kidney beans!
Jambalaya might seem like one of those recipes that takes all day and needs to simmer on the stove for hours, but it is actually pretty quick to make! This jambalaya recipe is just under an hour.
You actually don’t want jambalaya to simmer forever because the rice will get mushy and the shrimp will overcook and get tough.
So the point is you can make jambalaya without too much fuss.
Make jambalaya for Sunday dinner. Make jambalaya for Mardi Gras. Make jambalaya for a Louisiana crayfish boil party. Make jambalaya for a work potluck. Just MAKE IT because it is really not as onerous as you might have imagined.
Related recipe: Check out this Instant Pot Sausage Jambalaya
How much jambalaya should you make per person?
How much jambalaya to make per person totally depends on what else you might be serving. If it’s just jambalaya for dinner, then count on a large bowl of jambalaya, about 2 cups per person. This recipe makes about 8-10 large servings.
If you’ll be serving jambalaya as just one of many dishes at a party, then count on people only eating about 1/2 – 1 cup per person at most, which means that this recipe will have enough for ~20 people to try jambalaya.
Can I half or double this jambalaya recipe?
Halving this recipe might get tricky, since it only uses a little bit of every ingredient and STILL ends up with a huge pot of jambalaya. To make half the jambalaya, you’d need half an onion, 1/2 of each color bell pepper, 1/4 lb okra, 1/2 lb each chicken, sausage, and shrimp.
You see where I am going with this? It’s almost more work if you want to half this recipe. I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, make the full batch and then read below for how to freeze jambalaya for later if you have extra.
This jambalaya will last in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you can’t eat it all within 3 days, I recommend freezing it (see below for freezing tips).
You can, however, double this jambalaya recipe without increasing cooking time much. It might take longer for the water to come to boil, but all the ingredients will still cook in the same amount of time.
The only thing to keep in mind for doubling this recipe is that you will need either two large 8-quart pots to cook this side by side, or one REALLY large pot, at least 14-16 quarts.
Can jambalaya be frozen?
The good news is that jambalaya can be frozen!
To freeze jambalaya, wait for it to cool down, then ladle 1-2 serving portions into freezer-safe zip-lock bags. Gently squeeze out extra air and lay the bag flat until it freezes.
To thaw jambalaya, place the frozen zip-lock bag into the fridge the night before (place it in a container or on a plate to catch the condensation and any potential leaks from the zip-lock bag). Once it’s thawed, transfer it to a bowl to microwave or a small sauce pan to heat up on the stove-top.
What’s in jambalaya seasoning?
The flavor in jambalaya comes primarily from two main components: Cajun or creole seasoning and the “holy trinity.”
Holy trinity is a trio of ingredients used in Cajun cooking: onions, bell pepper, and celery. They are often the base for many sauces and soups and they give every recipe so much flavor. In most recipes, you start out by dicing and sauteing those ingredients to release their flavors.
Luckily, all those holy trinity ingredients are vegetables! Jambalaya actually contains a huge amount of vegetables in it, especially if you add okra. This recipe here had 7 cups of veggies in it total! That’s more than half a cup of vegetables per servings. Not bad for a hearty stew that people don’t associate with health food at all.
Cajun seasoning is a combination of spices, seasonings, and herbs, typically including dried garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper. It can also have other herbs and seasonings in it. The cayenne pepper definitely brings lots of heat to Cajun seasoning and makes it spicy.
Healthy solutions is spicier. Badia is a bit more mild in spice but more flavorful. Badia has tricalcium phosphate added to prevent caking. Healthy solutions doesn’t have any chemicals added. Healthy solutions is a small business owned by a woman. Badia is a huge company. You decide what’s right for you and your kitchen!
Is jambalaya spicy?
This jambalaya recipe is mildly spicy. Maybe moderate spicy, depending on your tastes. It will definitely make your mouth burn a little, in a pleasant way. This recipe uses a total of 4 tablespoons of Cajun spice: 2 tablespoons are added to the holy trinity, and 2 tablespoons are added to the chicken, sausage, and shrimp.
If you’re not big into spice, then cut down on the Cajun seasoning in this recipe and substitute some mild paprika with an extra pins of onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano instead of 4 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning. Maybe start with 1-2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning when sauteing the holy trinity and then add more at the very end if you want more spice.
Also keep in mind that different brands of Cajun seasoning can have different levels of spiciness based on how much cayenne pepper they have.
Does jambalaya need chicken AND sausage AND shrimp?
That is totally up to you. You can certainly omit any of those ingredients, or double one of them if you choose to skip one. But I think having the combination of all three meats gives this jambalaya maximum flavor, texture, and goodness in every spoon.
How to make jambalaya:
Make sure you read the recipe card below for more details, but here is the breakdown for how to make this easy jambalaya recipe:
- Prep all the ingredients as they are described. Clean, chop, thaw, mince, etc. Get everything ready.
- Brown the chicken and season it with Cajun seasoning and salt. Add the sausage. Remove the meats from the pot and set aside.
- Saute the holy trinity with Cajun seasoning and salt.
- Add the meat back into the pot, add all the liquid (broth, water, diced tomatoes) and tomato paste. Add the rice.
- Cook until the rice is mostly done.
- Add the okra. Add the shrimp and kidney beans. Cook a few more minutes.
That’s it! A few simple steps to make a huge pot of jambalaya! I think it’s definitely worth making!
Looking for other hearty, satisfying recipes? Try these reader favorites:
- Ethiopian chicken stew – spicy, hearty, rich, tasty, easy to make… and happens to be low-carb and keto-friendly!
- Sweet potato and sausage skillet with bell pepper – a one-pan meal full of flavor, and so easy to prep
- Sweet potato chicken soup with black beans – a lighter soup with a ton of healthy ingredients – yes, healthy comfort food exists!
- Lentil butternut squash soup – a vegan soup but so filling and hearty thanks to the lentils. Puree it until it’s silky smooth or serve chunky – your choice!
- Spiced Moroccan lentil soup – another vegan hearty soup SO FULL OF FLAVOR
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 lb chicken, diced into 1 inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (or less, depending on your spice preference), divided
- ½ + ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 lb sausage, sliced into ½ inch pieces
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, cleaned and chopped into ½ inch pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, cleaned and chopped into ½ inch pieces
- 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
- 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups uncooked white rice
- ½ lb okra, ends removed and sliced into ½ inch pieces
- 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and tails removed
- 2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 scallions, chopped
1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large 8-quart soup pot. Add the diced chicken, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir, then cook undisturbed for 5 minutes, or until the chicken starts to brown.
2. Add the sliced sausage, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes. Carefully remove from the pot and set aside in a heat-proof bowl or large plate.
3. Add the rest of the olive oil (2 tablespoons) to the pot and the chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped bell pepper, and chopped celery. Add 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, stir, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add the chicken and sausage back to the pot. Add the whole can of diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 quart chicken stock, and 4 cups water. Stir. Add the uncooked rice and stir.
5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice to ensure that the bottom doesn’t burn. Stir in the okra and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
6. Season the cleaned shrimp with the remaining Cajun seasoning (1 tablespoon) and a pinch of salt. Add the seasoned shrimp and drained kidney beans to the jambalaya, and continue cooking until the shrimp and the rice are fully cooked (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and garnish with chopped scallions.
Taste the jambalaya and see if it needs more salt or more Cajun seasoning for spice.
If you don't like spice, substitute 3 tablespoons of paprika for 3 tablespoons of Cajun spice. You can always stir in more Cajun spice after cooking the jambalaya.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 626Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 2415mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 7gSugar: 9gProtein: 36g
The nutritional information displayed is just an estimate based on 10 servings and will vary depending on the actual ingredients and brands used and the exact amounts used. Please consult with a dietitian or nutritionist if you are actually tracking nutritional information for health reasons.