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Easy Cajun Gumbo Stew

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This easy Cajun Gumbo is a slow-cooked amazingly delicious stew, packed with flavor, vegetables, and served over cooked rice. This simplified recipe shaves hours from its traditional preparation without sacrificing flavor.

Closeup view of Cajun Gumbo in a bowl with parsley and rice

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What is Gumbo?

Gumbo is a slow-cooked, melting pot, flavorful, and spicy stew originating in Louisiana. Although the flavors and ingredients are influenced by West Africa, France, Germany, and Choctaw.

It’s a staple comfort food once cooked in large cast-iron pots and stirred with wooden spoons, or in some cases, I’m told, even boat oars were called into duty.

The beauty of Gumbo is in the complexity of its flavor. And the wide variety of passed-down family recipes that make each bowl of stew uniquely delicious.

Gumbo is primarily served in the winter and often for annual traditions of Mardi Gras celebrations. Although jambalaya is also a favorite and one my family asks for all year.

Top view of 2 bowls of Cajun Gumbo with parsley and beignets

What is the difference between Creole Gumbo and Cajun Gumbo?

Gumbo is a signature dish of both Creole and Cajun foods. Cajun gumbo generally has a roux base with a stew consistency. Creole gumbo generally has a tomato base and more soup-like consistency.

Variations of Cajun gumbo soften include chicken, smoked sausage, shrimp, okra, and even wild game.

Kitchen Tools Needed for Making Gumbo

While gumbo was traditionally simmered for hours in a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, this version requires more simple tools.

Here’s what you need:

  • Large, deep skillet
  • Chef’s knife for chopping vegetables and mincing garlic
  • Whisk for stirring the roux
  • Soup bowls for serving

Cajun Gumbo Ingredients

This simplified recipe requires only a few ingredients and a handful of spices. The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  • Butter and all-purpose flour for the roux
  • Canned diced tomatoes (fire-roasted is nice for addtional flavor)
  • Low sodium chicken broth
  • Cooked rice for serving

Vegetables

  • Large onion
  • Medium green bell pepper
  • Celery
  • Garlic cloves
  • Green onions
  • Fresh parsley for garnish

Seasoning

  • Dried thyme
  • Paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Bay leaf

Sausage and Seafood

  • Andouille sausage
  • Medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

Ingredient Notes

Tomatoes:

Use good quality tomatoes, canned whole tomatoes that are crushed by hand are traditional but diced tomatoes are easier. If you want to add additional flavor, consider using fire-roasted tomatoes.

Sausage:

Andouille sausage is the best option for gumbo. However, if you need to find a substitution, look for smoked or double-smoked sausage. If that isn’t an option, you may want to add 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke to the stew.

Shrimp:

Leaving the tails on the shrimp adds amazing flavor to the stew. But removing them isn’t a huge deal either. Cater to the preferences of those eating the gumbo. The size of the shrimp doesn’t really matter, just be careful to not overcook them.

Side view of a bowl of Cajun Gumbo with Rice

Tips for Making Cajun Gumbo

1. Watch the roux:

Cajun Gumbo derives its base from an excellent roux, which is simply a combination of butter and flour. It’s important to cook the roux in the skillet until it develops a deep and dark golden color. This can take between 10 to 15 minutes or even longer. Once the color begins to deepen, it can burn quickly, so watch it carefully.

2. Watch the shrimp:

Shrimp is added during the last few minutes of cooking. My fishmonger, who grew up in New Orleans and is a huge fan of gumbo, steered me toward Gulf Shrimp. Watch it closely as it’s easy to overcook, making them chewy and not as delicious. As soon as they turn opaque, they’re done!

How to Peel and Devein Shrimp

YouTube video

What Do You Serve with Gumbo?

  • Rice, of course!
  • Cornbread is a Southern staple and delicious
  • Hush Puppies (corn pancakes)
  • Potato Salad
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Salad greens

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Closeup side view of Cajun Gumbo with fresh chopped parsley
Closeup view of Cajun Gumbo in a bowl with parsley and rice

Easy Cajun Gumbo

Yield: 4 to 76 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This easy Cajun Gumbo is a slow-cooked amazingly delicious stew, packed with flavor, vegetables, and served over cooked rice. This simplified recipe shaves hours from its traditional preparation without sacrificing flavor.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12-ounces andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • cooked white rice for serving
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. In a large, deep skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat, then stir in flour. Stirring constantly, cook until the butter browns; 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add onion, pepper, and celery to the skillet; cook about 5 minutes until softened. Stir in the garlic and sausage then add the thyme, paprika, chili powder, Cajun seasoning, and salt and pepper. Let cook another 30 seconds or until fragrant. Then stir in bay leaves, tomatoes, and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.
  3. In the last 10 minutes of cooking, add shrimp. Once the shrimp is pink and cooked through, stir in the green onions, reserving a few for garnish.
  4. Spoon the Gumbo over white rice for serving and garnish with remaining green onions and fresh parsley.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 446Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 214mgSodium: 1945mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 30g

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2 Comments

  1. Creole cuisine, the blending of particularly Spanish and French traditions with African and Native American is older than Cajun, with the French Arcadians arriving from Canada around 1765 and was less sophisticated. There are three distinct differences between Creole and Cajun Gumbos.
    Creole Gumbo uses butter, tomatoes, and is more soup-like
    Cajun Gumbo does not use butter as fat, has no tomatoes and is more stew-like
    While the recipe is titled Cajun Gumbo, it really is Creole Gumbo

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