Rice and sausage in a jambalaya.

The Beauty of a Jambalaya

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Jambalaya has been a favorite Cajun dish for a long time. It originated from France and Spain and is similar to the Spanish dish Paella. Jambalaya made its way to New Orleans first before the Cajun’s embraced it as one of their beloved rice dishes.

Rice and sausage in a jambalaya.

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Is Jambalaya Creole Or Cajun?

This dish consists of vegetables, rice, stock, meat, and/or seafood. The creole dish of jambalaya in New Orleans has the addition of tomatoes where it gets the name “red jambalaya”. The Cajun’s omitted the tomatoes, therefore earning its name the “brown jambalaya.” The reason for this is that fresh tomatoes weren’t easy to come by unless they were in season. The country people of Acadiana used what they had on hand, and with the abundance of rice, jambalaya quickly became a favorite dish of theirs.

A plate of jambalaya and butter beans.

As a teenager, I remember one particular Easter Sunday at the Trahan camp where we had our annual family gathering. Some of the men were standing under the oak trees around a large black pot stirring a jambalaya with a boat paddle over an open fire. This is how the Cajuns fed large groups of people and I was delighted to experience it once again.

Momma explained to me that it’s not easy to cook over an open, unregulated flame. Often the rice would scorch so they would place slices of white bread over the jambalaya before serving to absorb the burnt taste. You know how awful that smell and taste is?  You never forget it! I tried this trick once in my own kitchen after overcooking a rice dish and to my surprise, it worked! No one complained about me burning the rice that day!

The beauty of this dish is that it’s fast, easy, and can be inexpensively made using ingredients you may already have in your kitchen. There is no wrong or right way to fix jambalaya as long as you stay with the 4 base ingredient.

Jambalaya can easily be made in the Instant Pot. Just use the saute setting to cook the vegetables and brown the meat then cook for 15 minutes on high after adding the rest of the ingredients.

Using What You Have

With the jambalaya’s flexibility in the choices of the main ingredients, it’s always a win-win situation at our house. I used to pick up a box of jambalaya mix on my way home from work for a quick dinner. I don’t know what I was thinking! By the time I went to the store and had gotten home to prepare it, I could have already had the vegetables chopped and the meat browning in the pot while using whatever ingredients I had in my kitchen. It would have saved time and money.

Mama always starts hers with the Cajun trinity of chopped onions, celery and bell peppers. Are you surprised we’re not beginning with a roux? If you’re one who is timid about making a roux you will find this Cajun dish a breeze to prepare.

Momma also likes to add cut up pork steaks plus sausage for the meat in her jambalaya. Very simple and oh, so satisfying!

The recipe I am sharing with you today calls for smoked sausage and ground venison. We have the advantage of an abundance of deer living here in Ashley County, Arkansas. You can substitute ground beef for the venison or whatever meat and/or seafood you desire. It’s your choice so don’t be afraid to try different combinations. Use what’s in your own kitchen.

After the meat is browned and the vegetables are sauteed, add the broth, rice, and seasonings then cook on low heat until the rice is done. See, I told you it’s easy!

Here’s the jambalaya:

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Rice and sausage in a jambalaya.

The Beauty of a Jambalaya

This traditional Cajun rice dish begins with the classic vegetable trinity and can be made with many combinations of meat and/or seafood. It’s delicious, hearty, and super easy.

  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x



8 ounces smoked sausage, sliced

1 onion, chopped (or 1 cup green onion tops)

1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup red, orange, and yellow sweet mini peppers

1/2 cup celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 pound ground beef (or whatever meat and/or seafood you choose)

1 cup of rice

2 1/2 cups beef broth

1 teaspoon Slap Ya Mama (or salt and pepper to taste)


Brown the sausage in a large dutch oven. Remove from pot and set aside. Add vegetables to Dutch oven and cook for about 5 minutes. Add ground meat and brown with the vegetables continually stirring. Add browned sausage, rice, broth, and seasonings. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer on low heat for 25 minutes. Check it while it’s cooking to adjust the heat, so the rice doesn’t scorch.


Jambalaya can easily be made in the Instant Pot. Just use the saute setting to cook the vegetables and brown the meat then cook for 15 minutes on high after adding the rest of the ingredients.

  • Author: Louisiana Woman
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Main Dishes
  • Cuisine: Cajun

Keywords: jambalaya

Rice and sausage in a jambalaya.

Here are some more rice recipes on the blog, Eggplant Rice Dressing, Rice Dressing, and Va Vite Red Beans and Rice.

I hope you make many different combinations of this recipe for your friends and family to enjoy. I know that since I’ve had to brush up on my jambalaya skills, our family will see it more on our table. Enjoy!

“If you don’t see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner.”  

Zig Ziglar

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  1. Our Louisiana friends brought their huge iron pot with them when they moved from South LA to NW AR. Each year he cooked jambalaya at the church for everybody in the community. Many mountain folks had never eaten it. They usually came back for seconds! His recipe “Jambalaya for a Hundred” is in our church cookbook.

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