When we hear “New Orleans,” we think gumbo. This New Orleans gumbo recipe is our take on a Creole soup-and-rice-dish that has been slow-cooking and simmering for nearly 300 years. A major immigration port through the 19th century, New Orleans is a melting pot of African, French, French-Canadian, Spanish, and Italian cultures (among many others!), and no dish more perfectly symbolizes their influence quite like gumbo.
Like the city in which it originated, gumbo is a literal melting pot steeped in the culinary traditions each of the cultures that have influenced it. It starts with onion, celery, and bell pepper – a Creole mirepoix – and is seasoned with staple Creole ingredients, like roux, okra, and Cajun spices.
Invite the bold flavors of the Big Easy into your kitchen with this easy New Orleans gumbo recipe!
The History of New Orleans Gumbo: A Melting Pot of Flavor
No one ethnic group dominated during Louisiana’s colonial period, so the exact origins of gumbo are speculative at best. There are a few different theories.
Culinary historians generally agree that the word gumbo derives from ki ngombo, the term for okra in the Central Bantu dialect of West Africa, the homeland of many of the slaves brought to colonial Louisiana. Okra stew served with rice was a staple dish, and okra is used as a thickening agent in many gumbo recipes.
Most gumbos (like this recipe) achieve their thickness partly from roux, a mixture of flour and oil French cooks have used since as early as the 14th century. This French cooking technique supports the theory that gumbo may have derived from French bouillabaisse, a seafood stew that originated in the Provence region of southeastern France that borders the Mediterranean Sea.
Another theory contests that gumbo might have originated among the Choctaws, the region’s indigenous people who introduced the French to ground sassafras (filé powder), which in Choctaw translates to kombo.
Then, there are the Cajuns, who emigrated in the mid-1780s from present-day Nova Scotia and settled in the bayous and prairies west of New Orleans. Creoles – those native to Louisiana, mainly free people of color and French-speaking New Orleanians of European descent – introduced gumbo to the Cajuns, who put their signature spicy spin on it.
Put your own twist on this tasty New Orleans gumbo recipe and relish its fragrance as it stews and simmers on your stovetop for hours. Yum! How’s it feel to eat 300 years of history? Watch the gumbo recipe video below, or download this free New Orleans gumbo recipe card to get started.
New Orleans Gumbo Recipe
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 rotisserie chicken, deboned and shredded
- 1 pound smoked beef sausage, halved and cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cajun seasoning, to taste
- 1/2 cup green onions, for garnish
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once warm, prepare the roux. Whisk in flour, stirring rapidly and constantly until the mixture has cooked to a golden brown, 10 to 20 minutes. Careful not to burn!
- Add onion, bell pepper, celery, chicken, and sausage to roux. Cook 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning to taste.
- Pour in chicken broth and thoroughly combine. Add bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Garnish with green onions and serve.
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