Making Jambalaya doesn’t have to be time-consuming thanks to this quick and easy jambalaya recipe. We’re going to be using several shortcuts to help you get dinner on the table quickly without sacrificing flavor.
Best of all, jambalaya cooks up in one pot which makes cleaning up a cinch.
How to Make Jambalaya in 30 Minutes
For this jambalaya recipe, I used as many time-saving shortcuts as possible. If you don’t have the same ingredients on hand or have them in a different form, I’ll make notes about substitutions and the changes in cook times. Jambalaya can be pretty versatile!
Let’s dive into what ingredients I used to make this truly a 30-minute meal. I’ll also go into what other options you have.
Olive oil – My personal choice. You can use another cooking oil or butter if you need to. Just don’t use an oil meant for flavoring oil like truffle or sesame.
Onion – Use frozen, diced onions to save prep time and cook time.
Green Bell Pepper – Use frozen, diced, green bell pepper for the same reasons.
Chicken – Using the white meat from a cooked rotisserie chicken saves a lot of time. You can shred it by hand ahead of time or have one of your kids shred it while you prepare the other ingredients.
Make sure to buy a plain, cooked chicken or one with mild, minimal flavors. Lemon pepper or garlic flavors will probably be ok. BBQ chicken or a spicy flavor will be overpowering in this jambalaya recipe.
If you’re using raw chicken, you’ll need to dice it first and cook it for longer. See the notes in the recipe card.
Sausage – Authentic jambalaya calls for andouille sausage. It’s pre-cooked, smoked, and quick to cut up so it doesn’t take much time to prepare it for the pot.
Garlic – I used minced garlic in a jar to save the time it would take to peel and mince it myself. Normally, jarred garlic is found in the produce section of the grocery store.
Tomatoes – A 15oz can of crushed tomatoes is all you really need but I like a few tomato chunks in my jambalaya. I ended up using a can of fire-roasted, diced tomatoes (undrained) and added some crushed tomatoes to create enough liquid for the recipe.
You could also use tomato paste thinned out with water in a pinch. Just make sure you have around 15 ounces total so that the rice will cook. It’s better to have slightly soupy jambalaya than to make it so dry that the rice ends up hard.
Chicken stock – Use a low-sodium recipe if you’re using canned or boxed broth. If you’re using bullion cubes to make broth, water it down so it’s less salty. The same advice applies to my personal favorite method which is using Better Than Bullion.
I no longer store broth in my kitchen because Better Than Bullion frees up the space and tastes much better than using bullion cubes.
Whichever you choose, know that the other ingredients in this recipe contain a good bit of sodium. So if you use full sodium broth. your final dish is going to be too salty.
Rice – Use a long-grain variety. Short grain sticky rice is one of my great loves but it’s not for jambalaya!
Creole seasoning – Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning is the way to go here. If you don’t have access to it you can make your own blend of salt, red pepper, black pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder.
Shrimp – Purchase large, peeled, deveined shrimp from the freezer section at your grocery store and thaw it in the fridge before using.
Of course, you can use fresh shrimp or frozen shrimp with the peel on too, but you’ll spend extra time peeling them.
If you forgot to thaw the shrimp in the fridge the night before, you’re in luck. Shrimp thaws very quickly.
Place the shrimp in a bowl of cool water (warm water will start to cook them) and they’ll be thawed in about 20 minutes.
Celery – Authentic jambalaya contains celery. However, I’m not a fan of the flavor so I omitted it. If you like celery in your recipe and need to save time, use frozen diced celery. Kroger even makes a Cajun Style Mirepoix Blend with ALL THREE veggies. A bag and a half of that would really be a time-saver.
In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add frozen onions and frozen peppers (celery too if you are using it) and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. If you are using fresh vegetables instead of frozen, you’ll need to cook them longer until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in shredded, cooked chicken and Italian seasoning. Stir until warmed through and fragrant.
Stir in sausage, garlic, and crushed tomatoes and mix well.
Add broth, rice, and creole seasoning and stir.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot with a fitted lid. Cook 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
Remove the pot from the heat and add the shrimp. Stir it slowly but continuously for about 3 minutes until the shrimp is pink.
Don’t overcook the shrimp or it will be rubbery. Shrimp cooks very quickly and will continue to cook a little even as you’re dishing it up to serve.
This is what jambalaya looks like when it’s finished. It’s thick and most of the liquid is absorbed.
You can add an optional garnish if you like before serving. Fresh Italian parsley, chives, chopped basil leaves, or green onions are good suggestions.
What to Serve with Jambalaya
Jambalaya really is a whole meal in one pot. You’ve got meat, veggies, and grain in there as it is. But if you want to serve something with it for dinner, I suggest a good salad to provide extra greens.
You can, but you’ll sacrifice the texture of the cooked rice and shrimp. Some people don’t mind and others do. If you do decide to freeze this jambalaya recipe, make sure to cool it completely first. Then, leave the shrimp out and add them when you’re reheating.
They are quite similar in flavor and ingredients. In Jambalaya, the rice is cooked with the rest of the ingredients and served all together. The consistency is thick and there’s almost no liquid left after cooking it.
By contrast, gumbo is served over rice that has been prepared separately and has more of a soupy texture.
This jambalaya is medium-spicy due to the use of creole seasoning and andouille sausage. If you need a milder taste, you can make your own seasoning blend and omit all or most of the ground red pepper. Using a different type of smoked sausage that’s less spicy can help too. Try kielbasa.
Jambalaya is high in calories, fat, and sodium which disqualifies it as a health food. That’s also what makes it filling, delicious, comforting, and hearty though!
It’s likely better than a burger and fries from the drive-through but you’ll want to enjoy it in moderation if you’re concerned about weight gain or heart health.
Crock Pot Jambalaya
With just a few easy modifications, this can be a Crock Pot Jambalaya recipe! Here’s what to do:
- Add onion, bell pepper, chicken, Italian seasoning, sausage, garlic, crushed tomatoes, and a splash of broth to the slow cooker.
- Cook on low for up to 4 hours. Note: If you’re using a rotisserie chicken, the goal here is just to get the ingredients warmed and melded. If you’re using raw, diced chicken breasts, be sure to cook the jambalaya in the Crock Pot on low for 4-5 hours or high for 2.5-3 to ensure the chicken is cooked.
- While the jambalaya is cooking, prepare the rice separately according to package directions. You can cook the rice in broth for more flavor or just prepare it with water to reduce sodium.
- After the cooking time is over, turn off the Crock Pot and immediately add the shrimp. Stir to combine and replace the lid. The heat and moisture will cook the shrimp within a few minutes.
- Stir in the separately cooked rice until combined then garnish and serve.
Instant Pot Jambalaya
If you want to make Jambalaya in your Instant Pot, it’s even easier than the slow cooker recipe.
- Use the saute function to heat the oil in the pressure cooker pot and follow the regular recipe’s stovetop instructions until you’re ready to add the rice.
- Turn off the saute setting and add broth, rice, and creole seasoning. Stir well making sure to scrape up anything that might have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Seal the lid and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.
- Do a “quick release” and open the lid as soon as it’s safe to do so. We don’t want steam burns!
- Add the shrimp, stir to combine, and replace the lid.
- Allow the heat from the other ingredients and the residual heat from the pot to cook the shrimp. This should only take 3-5 minutes.
- Garnish and serve.
- You can reduce the amount of meat and make up the difference with more vegetables. This is a good option to reduce fat, calories, and sodium.
- Omit one of the meats entirely if one isn’t to your liking.
- Try a different type of smoked sausage instead of andouille. It won’t be as authentic but sometimes you need something less spicy, more affordable, or what’s available to you. As long as it’s smoked and precooked it will be fine. Kielbasa or a smoked meat sausage that you’ll find in the lunchmeat section with the andouille and kielbasa will work.
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup onion frozen, diced
- 1 cup green bell pepper frozen, diced
- 1 rotisserie chicken shredded
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 lb andouille sausage
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 15 oz crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 2 tsp Tony Chachere creole seasoning
- 1 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.
- Add frozen onions and frozen peppers and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. (See notes if you are using fresh instead of frozen.)
- Stir in shredded, cooked chicken and Italian seasoning. Stir until warmed through and fragrant.
- Stir in sausage, garlic, and crushed tomatoes and mix well.
- Add broth, rice, and creole seasoning and stir.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot with a fitted lid.
- Cook 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add the shrimp. Stir it slowly but continuously for about 3 minutes until the shrimp is pink. Don't overcook!
- Optional: Top the jambalaya with a garnish of fresh Italian parsley, chives, chopped basil leaves, or green onion before serving.
Looking for the web story version of this recipe? Find it here.