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Feb 10, 2006 02:08 PM

Jambalaya v. Gumbo

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What's the difference between Jambalaya and Gumbo?

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  1. Jambalaya is more like paella, in a way - primarily a rice dish.

    Gumbo is usually a roux-thickened stew, typically containing either poulty and sausage or seafood, although there are many variations.

    9 Replies
    1. re: rudeboy
      Hungry Celeste

      Yeah, what he said. Gumbo=soup, and jambalaya=paella/pilaf/biryani (in spirit, not in flavor). And in defense of my native cuisine, neither is hard to make or takes all day. Gumbo's no more difficult than jambalaya. If you really want to know about cooking either one, repost or email me directly. I happen to have killer chicken gumbo defrosting in the fridge right now, in celebration of "winter" weather (45 degrees).

      1. re: Hungry Celeste

        I am VERY interested in making jambalaya. Please, please share......

        1. re: LaShanta

 and do a search on Jambalaya. They have a killer recipe with andouille, chicken and shrimp. I made it last year for a Mardi Gras party and it was a huge hit. Not difficult either.

          1. re: bnemes3343

            Thanks so much. Unfortunately, America's Test Kitchen makes you pay for their recipes. :-( Is there any other way that I can get the recipe?

            It's a shame because I really did want to make mine with all 3 of those "meats" (chichen, shrimp, sausage). I would LOVE that one!

            1. re: bnemes3343

              I found it!!! (the internet really IS a wonderful thing!!) It was posted at (with permission, I might add). Here is the link if anyone else wants the recipe.

              Thanks bnemes3343 for the tip!!

            2. re: LaShanta

              If you are interest in Louisiana cooking, find a copy of Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Ktchen. My copy was published in 1984. There are 4 jambalaya recipes in the book. The book has 7 gumbo recipes.

              Amazon still carries the book if your local library does not have a copy.

              1. re: ChiliDude

                Prudhomme's Chicken Andouille Gumbo in that book is so much better than any other iterations. It has layers of flavor and HAD layers of flavor long before the foodchannel took over those words.

                1. re: shallots

                  The one shallots mentions is virtually identical to the recipe I use, so I suspect it is indeed wonderful.

                2. re: ChiliDude

                  I have had this cookbook for years! Great recipes. Takes a little longer BUT he's making them right. Well worth it!

          2. Okra (gumbo has it, jambalaya does not).

            4 Replies
            1. re: Hoyt Pollard

              Plenty of gumbos don't have okra. The main distinction is that jambalaya is a rice centered dish. There are many varieties (seafood, meat, etc.) but the original jambalaya always started with ham. That's where it got its name, from the french jambon or ham. Gumbo is a stew, often served with or on rice, but not necessarily like jambalaya. All gumbos regardless of variety, start with a roux, and often have another thickening agent such as file powder or sometimes, okra.

              1. re: Aaron

                Actually quite a few okra gumbos are roux-less. They are completely thickened by okra.

                Jambalaya usually uses tomatoes, tasso, and is a rice dish.

                Totally different flavors.

                1. re: Aaron

                  Bingo. This poster has hit the nail on the head. From a cook's perspective, Gumbo is a dish that takes all day to prepare. Lots of long slow cooking and attention to getting the roux right. Gumbo is served lika any soup or stew with a spoonful of rice

                  Jambalaya requires a base of seafood and/or meats,trinity,tomato (for some folks), stock and rice. It can be put together in a couple of hours and ready to eat.The primary component of jambalaya is rice. It has more the consistency of risotto.

                  1. re: YourPalWill

                    I have made gumbo many times. It has never taken all day (or even half a day) and the roux is easy to get right -- you cook flour and oil slowly until it is very dark but not quite black. I use an enameled cast iron pan and it takes only about the time to drink 1-2 beers.I use the recipe from chef François le Vision.Gumbo is basically meat or seafood (often chicken or shrimp), Andouille sausage, trinity, roux and stock. Some people add Okra. Some people use a light roux, I use a "black roux". There are lots of variations.
                    If you make chicken gumbo the longest time is to cook the chicken and then let it cool so you can shred it.

                    Here is a good article on the history of gumbo

              2. Go for the's so much fun to make. Living in the Northeast, andouille is not easy to come by at the local supermarkets. Kielbasa is a good substitute.

                I do the NYTimes Sunday crossword puzzle. When a clue refers to gumbo, the answer is usually OKRA.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ChiliDude

                  I've found that kielbasa with some cajun seasoning added when it's sauteed is perfect.


                  1. re: ChiliDude

                    Go to any Wegmans, which are all over the Northeast, and they will have Andouille sausage, even their own brand which is really good.

                    1. re: ChiliDude

                      I find that Linguiça, which is pretty available in N.E., is a better substitute for Andouille since it has the coarser texture and more seasoning than most Kielbasas

                    2. Here's a good roundup of Louisiana recipes. You'll notice jambalaya (under poultry dishes) is either red (with tomatoes) or brown (without). It's a fairly dry rice dish, no extra sauce is pooling in the bottom. Gumbo is soup, and has roux, okra, or both, with or without file. I've had very thick and very thin gumbos. Usually served with rice, occasionally with a scoop of potato salad. In my limited experience, seafood gumbo is usually okra based, while chicken or duck and andouille is roux based. If you can find Hungry Celeste on the New Orleans board, she's the resident expert on gumbo and all things cajun.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jess

                        I have a very easy "jambalaya" recipe that starts with CONVERTED (not instant) rice. OK, so sue me, it's not completely authentic, but I grew up in New Orleans and I know lots of happy moms and grannys who use this instead of the "real deal" when things are hectic. I can't remember exactly, but these are the basics. This might have originated with the Campbell's soup folks, or the Uncle Ben's rice folks...I've never seen a real, printed recipe - but I watched my Mom do this dozens of time. She claimed "Aunt Toni" invented it...which I doubt.

                        1 1lb box of converted white rice (we ALWAYS use Uncle Ben's) UNCOOKED
                        1 can of beef broth (feel free to substitute homemade or the equivalent amount of the nicer stuff from the asceptic packages)
                        1 can of Campbell's french onion soup (don't laugh - this is the flavor base)
                        About 1/2 can of the Ro-tel diced tomatoes (drain some of the juice)
                        A cup or so of diced green onion
                        A pound of sausage, sliced or diced (andouille - but any good, smoky sausage that you can find will work)
                        A stick of butter (note: I use a few tablespoons of butter and about a 1/4 cup of olive oil and it's just fine).
                        a big palm full of dried parsley (maybe 1/4 cup?)
                        Garlic or garlic powder - lots if you like it, less if you don't

                        Mix this entire mess in a large, heavy, oven-proof container (I use my soup pot) that has a good lid. Put in a 375 oven for a good long while (at least one hour) until all the liquid is absorbed, the rice is completely cooked and you are ready to eat. Note that if you have to wait, this will hold in a warm oven (200?) for at least one hour with no harm at all.

                        It feeds 8 people. Don't tell anyone how you made this, because people will rave about it.

                      2. Jambalaya comes from the French and African dialects. "Jambon" is French for ham, "a la" means "with", and "Ya" is the African word for rice. So basically, jambalaya is ham with rice.