This gumbo recipe is a soul-satisfying taste of New Orleans, loaded with juicy chicken, smoky Andouille sausage, plump shrimp and bold spices – it’s one for the recipe binder!
This chicken sausage gumbo is one of the most flavorful, satisfying meals you’ll ever devour; the kind of hot, steaming spoonful that makes your eyes roll back in your head in awe. So, if you’ve never made this New Orleans classic before, NOW is the time – it’s easier and 1000x better than you might think! This recipe boasts a deeply flavorful, dark chocolate colored roux, the holy trinity of onions, bell peppers and celery, protein in the form of juicy chicken, andouille sausage and optional shrimp, all boldly seasoned with a homemade paprika, cayenne, thyme spice mix for zippy, smoky, nutty heat. Serve your chicken gumbo over a big bowl of rice for one of life’s most dizzying delicious pleasures.
How to Make Gumbo Video
The word “gumbo” comes from the West African word “ki ngombo” for “okra.” West Africans used okra as a thickener in their dish which they brought to America.
Most historians agree gumbo has its origins in West Africa and draws inspiration from Native American, African, and European cultures. West Africans brought okra pods to the Americas during the transatlantic slavery period. They planted and harvested the okra seeds and introduced the dish to the Americas.
Over the years, gumbo was further influenced by Native American and European American settlers. Choctaws contributed filé gumbo powder to thicken and flavor the dish. Roux was later introduced as a thickener instead of file or okra, which has its origins in French cuisine.
Gumbo can be made with virtually any protein (chicken, sausage, ham, etc.) and/or seafood (shrimp, oysters, crab, etc.), so its distinguishing factors are: 1) the thickening agent, typically a roux and either okra or gumbo filé; 2) The “holy trinity” – a combination of bell peppers, onions and celery which is the base of much of Creole and Cajun cooking. Other important ingredients include a flavorful broth (typically chicken or seafood) and seasonings such as paprika, cayenne pepper, and thyme.
Generally speaking, Creole gumbo often includes tomatoes, while Cajun gumbo does not. Creole gumbo is typically made with shellfish and the acidity of the tomatoes complements the seafood. Cajun gumbo is commonly made with chicken and sausage and most Cajun cooks will tell you it’s a sin to add tomatoes to gumbo!
Despite the many variances in shrimp, chicken and sausage gumbo recipes, they all follow the same basic technique: brown the meats, sauté the aromatics, make the roux, add the stock and seasonings and simmer until the meats are tender and the gumbo is thickened. Lastly, add quick-cooking proteins, like shrimp and oysters, and add the gumbo file off heat.
Gumbo is traditionally thickened with a roux, a French and Creole method of cooking equal parts flour and fat, then either filé or okra, but never all three or your gumbo will be too thick. Here’s the breakdown:
1. Roux: This is made by cooking flour in oil until a dark chocolate color. The darker the roux, the more flavorful it will be.
2. Okra: This is the original thickening agent in gumbo which also adds a distinct flavor. Some people love it, some people hate it! Today, chopped fresh or frozen (thawed) okra is most popular in seafood gumbos.
3. Gumbo Filé: Like okra, this is both a thickening agent and a flavoring agent. It’s become a popular alternative to okra made of dried and ground sassafras leaves, a plant native to north east America. The powder is added at the end of the cooking process off heat, or at the table, otherwise the gumbo can become stringy.
First let’s clear up Cajun vs. Creole. Cajun and Creole are two distinct ethnic groups with their own unique history, traditions and culture. Creole cooking existed far before Cajun cooking. It describes the French and Spanish influences found in Louisiana in the 1700s when New Orleans was founded by the French, followed by Spanish control in 1769. (Louisiana was not sold to the United States until 1803.) It later grew to include Acadian, Caribbean, West African, German and Native American influences.
Cajun cooking, on the other hand, made its way to Louisiana in the late 1700s when Acadians relocated there. Acadians are French colonist who, in the early 1600s, settled the Acadia region, (today known as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island). As a result of the French and Indian War, the British expelled the Acadians from their homeland and many migrated to Louisiana, with the belief that France still had control of the region. However, by the time they arrived in Louisiana in 1765, the colony had become the property of Spain.
Cajun and Creole gumbo are very similar. They both begin with a roux, include okra or filé powder, the holy trinity and similar seasonings. Cajun gumbo, however, usually includes chicken or sausage, and never tomatoes. Creole gumbo, however, is usually shellfish based and often includes ham or sausage, but not chicken. Creole gumbo also usually includes tomatoes to compliment the seafood.
Gumbo is a rich, flavorful stew with a nutty, earthy, paprika forward flavor profile. It is heavily influenced by the ingredients used. For example, okra (if using), lends a bitter sweetness with a slimy texture. Gumbo file powder, on the other hand, lends a cross between root beer and thyme. The holy trinity of onions, bell peppers and celery adds an aromatic sweetness. The popular inclusion of andouille sausage adds juicy pops of spiciness, whereas shrimp is buttery and mild.
Gumbo is a hearty stew made with a dark roux, the holy trinity of onions, bell peppers and celery. To be a true gumbo, it must have either okra or gumbo file.
All gumbo recipes require a few steps and simmering time, but are not difficult to make. This recipe eliminates the chopping by using a food processor, then the most difficult part is patiently waiting while the roux develops into a deep chocolate color. The rest of the recipe searing and simmering!
Gumbo can be made with a mixture of any proteins such as chicken, andouille sausage, shrimp, crab, and/or oysters.
Yes! The shrimp in this recipe is optional, although I love the texture and flavor it adds. If you omit the shrimp, you’ll want to increase both the chicken and sausage.
The Holy Trinity is a classic flavor base in both Creole and Cajun cooking made of diced onions, bell peppers and celery. They are cooked in butter or oil to release their flavor which forms the base of stews, soups, sauces, etc.
The best type of oil for gumbo is a neutral, high smoke point oil such as vegetable oil, canola oil, sunflower oil or peanut oil. Do not use olive oil because it has a low smoke point and too strong of a flavor. Also, don’t use butter because it creates a light flavored roux and is not recommended for the dark roux needed for the most flavorful chicken or seafood gumbo.
Gumbo should be thick like a stew, much thicker than a traditional soup. It is typically thickened with roux and either okra, or filé powder.
This gumbo recipe is thickened by a roux, file powder, and by simmering the stew for a time uncovered. If you simmer it covered for the whole time or add too much liquid, it will still be thin instead of thick. The quickest way to thicken a thin gumbo is to make a slurry by whisking 2 tablespoons cornstarch with ¼ cup water to make a slurry, then slowly stirring it into the stew, then simmering until it reaches your desired consistency.
The list of ingredients for this chicken and sausage gumbo recipe may look lengthy, but please don’t let that scare you away! It’s actually very easy to make, with practically zero chopping – most of the ingredients are simply dumped in to the pot to simmer! Here’s an overview of what you’ll need to make this recipe from scratch (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
FOR THE protein:
For the gumbo:
HOW TO MAKE Gumbo
Making gumbo at home is easier than you might think, it’s essentially a one-pot stew after all! Grab a large pot and let’s get cooking with these step by step photos (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
Step 1: Chop the vegetables
You are going to love the shortcut of chopping the holy trinity of veggies in your food processor, it literally takes seconds! If you don’t have a food processor, chop by hand.
Step 2: Sear the chicken
To build the flavor of the gumbo, start by seasoning the chicken thighs with salt and pepper on each side. Sear in sizzling oil in a large Dutch oven until golden on each side, about 3 minutes. Don’t try and flip the chicken if it is sticking, it will naturally release once it’s seared.
Step 3: Cook the Sausage
To drippings, heat another drizzle of oil. Add the sausage and sear each side until browned for yet another layer of flavor. Remove the sausage to a paper-towel lined plate.
Step 4: Thicken the Gumbo with a roux
Roux is the thickening agent in this recipe which also contributes complex, deep, rich toasted nutty flavor. To make, add additional oil to the robust chicken and sausage drippings, followed by the flour and cook for about 20, whisking constantly, until the roux develops a rich dark brown color. The roux browns more quickly than seafood gumbo recipes due to the delicious chicken and sausage drippings.
Step 5: Add a Holy Trinity of Vegetables
The Creole and Cajun holy trinity of vegetables adds aromatic sweetness to the nutty, earthy dish as the vegetables are sautéed, releasing their sugars. Sauté the chopped vegetables until tender, about 5 minutes, in the roux. The recipe won’t look that appetizing at this point, but I promise it’s the start of greatness!
Step 6: Simmer To cook Chicken
The gumbo will simmer three separate times: first, to cook the chicken. Add the seared chicken, tomatoes (if using), chicken bouillon, and all seasonings. Simmer until the the chicken is tender, then remove it to a cutting board to shred.
Step 7: Simmer to Thicken the Gumbo
The second simmer is to thicken the gumbo and concentrate the flavors. As the chicken cools and you work on shredding it, continue simmering the gumbo for another 20 minutes without the lid. It should thicken up beautifully during this time as moisture evaporates.
Step 8: Simmer with chicken and sausage
For the third simmer, the shredded chicken and sausage are added back to the pot. If you would like a thicker gumbo, simmer uncovered, or to maintain the current consistency, simmer covered for about 15 minutes. This brief simmer infuses the chicken and sausage with flavor without drying out the proteins and marries all of the flavors together.
step 9: Add the gumbo filé and shrimp
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the shrimp, Add the gumbo filé powder, green onions, and chopped parsley. Let the pot stand, covered, for 20 minutes. The residual heat will perfectly cook the shrimp while the filé will both season and thicken the gumbo.
how to serve gumbo
Now that your chicken and sausage gumbo is done, it’s time to dig in! Gumbo is most commonly served with a scoop of quintessential white rice and a garnish of green onions. Gumbo filé powder and Tabasco hot sauce are then passed around for individuals to customize their bowls. Here are are a few additional side serving ideas:
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR making chicken Gumbo
The key to making fabulous gumbo is cooking the roux until dark chocolate color, which is not difficult, it just requires patience! Here are a few more key tips for the best gumbo recipe ever!
possible recipe variations
The beauty of making your own gumbo recipe is you can make it completely how you want it! Here are a few ideas:
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- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 4 stalks celery, chopped into thirds (to fit food processor)
- 1 large green bell pepper, seeded, roughly chopped (to fit food processor)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (increase to 1 ½ lbs if not using shrimp)
- 12 ounces andouille sausage, sliced ½-inch thick (increase to 18 ounces if not using shrimp)
- 3/4 cup neutral high smoke point oil (peanut, sunflower, canola, or vegetable, etc.)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices recommend if adding shrimp for Creole style, (I KNOW tomatoes are not in Cajun Gumbo)
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon (base, powder, or 3 crushed cubes)
- 1 ½ tsps EACH dried parsley, dried thyme, dried oregano
- 1 tsp EACH smoked paprika, regular paprika, onion powder, garlic powder
- ½ -1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (start with less and add more to taste)
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound raw medium, peeled and deveined shrimp (optional)
- 1 teaspoon gumbo filé powder <<click for Amazon
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- white rice for serving
- diced green onions for garnish
- Louisiana hot sauce for serving
- Chop veggies: Place onion, celery, green bell pepper, and garlic into the bowl of a food processor; pulse until all vegetables are very finely chopped (or chop by hand).
- Sear the chicken: Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven/soup pot. Once hot, add the chicken and sear until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a plate but leave the drippings.
- Cook the sausage. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat (medium if your stove runs hot) in the chicken drippings. Add the sliced andouille sausage in a single layer. Sear each side until deeply golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain; set aside.
- Make the roux: Reduce heat to low. To the same pot, don’t wipe out, add ¾ cup neutral oil. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Increase heat to medium. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is a rich dark brown color, like dark chocolate, about 20 minutes. I suggest turning the heat down to medium-low once you hit the chocolate brown stage then continuing to cook until dark brown. If the flour begins to stick at any point, reduce heat/and or add additional oil – you don't want it to burn!
- Sauté the vegetables: Stir in the chopped vegetables and cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, until the onions are tender.
- Cook chicken: Add the seared chicken back to the pot followed by tomatoes, chicken bouillon, all spices, bay leaves and chicken broth. Partially cover, leaving a 1-inch gap opening and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over medium-low until the chicken shreds easily with two forks, about 15 minutes.
- Shred the chicken: Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred when cool enough to handle. Meanwhile…
- Simmer again: Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer, UNCOVERED, for an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add chicken and sausage: Add the shredded chicken back to the pot along with the seared sausage. Cover and simmer an additional 15 minutes OR simmer uncovered if you would like the gumbo even thicker. (You can also start simmering uncovered, then cover when it reaches desired consistency.)
- Add shrimp. Turn OFF the heat and stir in the shrimp (if using) gumbo filé powder, green onions, and chopped parsley. Stir well, cover, and rest for 20 minutes.
- Adjust to taste. Remove the bay leaves and season with salt (I add ½ teaspoon), pepper and or/cayenne pepper to taste. The gumbo should be thick but you can thin it with additional chicken broth if desired.
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