Welcome in the spice and comfort of Louisiana cooking with our Creole-inspired Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo with okra. This soulful dish has been rated one of our best recipes of 2017, so add it to your dinner menu this week!
Gumbo is the official state cuisine of Louisiana and has become world famous for a very good reason: it is a completely unique pairing of flavors. With an unusual name like gumbo, you may be wondering, “What exactly is it and where did it come from?” We’re excited to answer all your questions and walk you through the steps of cooking your own shrimp and sausage gumbo.
Gumbo is a Louisiana original dish that is a melting pot of cherished cuisines from the Choctaw tribe, West African slaves, and French immigrants. It’s fun name come from one of two key ingredients: the Bantu word “ki ngombo” which means okra, or the Choctaw word “kombo” for ground sassafras leaves. Traditional gumbo combines okra, filé seasoning (made from sassafras leaves), meat, seafood, and roux (flour that has been browned in oil or fat like in French cuisine).
“Delicious! So much flavor for only 20 minutes [of cooking]. Husband gave two spoons up.”
— Lara M.
A wonderful thing about gumbo is that it has a flexibility that brings it to kitchens across all social classes. It has a few key elements of flavor, but really whatever ingredients you have on hand can be used and measurements don’t have to be exact. For instance, we don’t use filé powder in our gumbo recipe, since we prefer our pantry spices to have multiple purposes and not just for gumbo. Besides, a quick roux and okra provide the thickening imperative to this stew.
This flexibility is good news for anyone on a budget or with dietary restrictions! Try replacing meat with pinto beans and extra veggies (like mushrooms or various greens like in gumbo z’herbes), so vegetarians and anyone cooking on a budget can enjoy gumbo just like everyone else. And while gumbo is traditionally served on rice, our Paleo gumbo recipe is served over riced cauliflower.
One of the most distinct elements of gumbo is its delicious spices. Its mouthwatering fragrance wafts in the air, leaving cheer and satisfaction in its wake. Our praised recipe uses Cajun seasoning to give each bite a surge of flavor. The most common Cajun seasonings blend the spicy heat of cayenne pepper with salt, garlic, paprika, and often other herbs and spices.
To build layers of spice, we use the pungent andouille sausage in our dish. But, if your heat tolerance is on the lower end of the spectrum, it’s easy to use a mild pre-cooked sausage instead. If you are more on the fiery side of life, you can always use more Cajun spices or drizzle on some hot sauce for extra flare.
While this spiced stew gently simmers away, set the table outside, put some Louisiana zydeco tunes on, and enjoy the April breeze as the weather starts to warm.
- Shrimp is an essential part of our gumbo that adds the subtle flavor of seafood. You can always defrost frozen shrimp the day before, but if you forget, check out our video on quickly defrosting shrimp below.
- Preparing your onions, bell peppers, okra, and sausage can be done 4 days ahead of time. For best storing practices and efficient prepping, put the onions and bell peppers in one container and the okra and sausage together in a second container. For tips on slicing onions and dicing bell peppers, see our how-to videos below!
Prepping Frozen Shrimp
Watch how we defrost frozen shrimp when we need it for tonight's dinner.
How to Chop & Dice an Onion
Learning how to dice an onion correctly will save you so much time in the kitchen.
How to Chop and Dice Peppers
Learn how to chop and dice red peppers to use for sautes, stir-fries, salads, and more.
- To cook your rice, using a rice cooker is a great idea because you can push a button, walk away, and not think about it again until you hear the “ding” of ready rice. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you can always use a saucepan – a small, round pot with tall sides that mirror a rice cooker.
- When you cook our gumbo stew, a Dutch oven is the way to go. Since this thick-walled equipment is perfect for the slow cooking of stews and casseroles, it’s a must for every kitchen.
For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools
- Rice, brown uncooked - 2/3 cup
- Shrimp, peeled and deveined - 8 oz
- Onions, medium - 1, diced
- Bell peppers, green - 1, diced
- Bell peppers, red - 1, diced
- Okra, fresh or frozen - 10 oz, stems removed and sliced (sub fresh or frozen green beans)
- Sausage, andouille (cooked) - 8 oz, sliced (sub any pre-cooked sausage)
- Tomatoes, diced and preferably fire-roasted (14 oz / 397 g) - 1 can, drained
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
- Butter - 1 Tbsp
- Flour - 3 Tbsp
- Stock, any type - 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 cup
- Paprika - 1 tsp
- Cajun seasoning - 2 tsp
- Bay leaves - 1
- Limes - 1, wedges
- Hot sauce (opt) - for serving
- Shrimp – Defrost, rinse, and pat dry.
- Onions / Bell peppers / Okra / Sausage – Prep as directed. Store onions and bell peppers in one container. Store okra and sausage together in a second container. (Can be done up to 4 days ahead)
- Diced tomatoes – Drain.
- Rice – Fill a saucepan or rice cooker with rice, water (use 2:1 ratio for water to rice), and some salt. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once water boils, stir, lower heat to a low-medium, and cover. Rice is done when it’s absorbed all the water, ~45 minutes for brown rice. If it’s not done, leave the cover on until all water has been absorbed. Take cover off to release steam and fluff with a wooden spoon after 5 minutes.
- While rice is cooking, heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and butter. Once heated / melted, add flour and stir to mix. Cook until amber brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Stir in first part of stock and then onions, bell peppers, paprika and Cajun seasoning with a sprinkle of salt. Cook until aromatic and softened, ~3 minutes.
- Add sausage, tomatoes, okra, second part of stock and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Fold in shrimp and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes until shrimp are pink and cooked through.
- While gumbo simmers, slice limes into wedges.
- Season gumbo to taste with salt, pepper, more of the spices or your favorite hot sauce. Enjoy over rice with lime wedges on the side.
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