Delicious Gumbo Recipes for Mardi Gras or Anytime You Need a Bowl of Comfort Food
Of the many delicious dishes and treats that hail from New Orleans and the Cajun South (hello, jambalaya and beignets!), gumbo might just be the most popular. But what is gumbo? Whether it's new to you or just never learned what was in that steamy bowl of goodness, it's a thick soup usually filled with veggies and a combination of seafood or meat. The term gumbo is derived from a West African word for okra, which is usually in the pot and acts as a natural thickener. Grab your soup pot and get ready to make one of our Test Kitchen's fabulous gumbo recipes. You'll find seafood, sausage, and even vegetarian gumbo here to make for your at-home Mardi Gras (aka Fat Tuesday) and Carnival festivities.
Andouille and Shrimp Gumbo
The first step to making any gumbo recipe that tastes worthy of a Louisiana kitchen is achieving a dark roux (more tips on that here). After that flour and fat combo is nicely dark and thick, those fresh veggies, andouille sausage, and shrimp all come to the party. Serve your gumbo over hot cooked rice and dig in.
Test Kitchen Tip: The more authentic gumbo recipes like this one call for filé, or gumbo filé powder ($9, The Spice House), which is a sassafras tree leaf powder that acts as a thickener plus adds a distinctive earthy flavor. You can find it in most larger grocery stores and in specialty spice shops.
Pressure Cooker Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
This gumbo recipe is perfect for your busy schedule. Once you've whipped up the roux using the sauté setting of your handy Instant Pot ($90, Target) simply toss in the remaining ingredients and pressure cook for just 8 minutes. We can bet you'll love this one-pot meal so much, it will be on the menu for more than just Mardi Gras season.
Cajun-Seasoned Vegetarian Gumbo
It's not too often you find a flavorful plant-based, vegetarian version of a traditionally meat-filled recipe like gumbo, but our Test Kitchen pulled it off. The smoky Cajun seasoning ($5, World Market), protein-rich black beans, and colorful vegetables make this vegetarian gumbo complex and rich. Plus, this set-and-forget slow cooker meal makes it easy to tote to your next get-together or to plan dinner ahead on a busy day.
Chicken Chorizo Gumbo
Spicy and dark as a night on the bayou, this Cajun gumbo recipe combines Spanish chorizo sausage, chicken, and okra for a classic stew so rich it'll feed your body and soul. A touch of smoked paprika lends a bold, distinctive flavor to this traditional Louisiana dish. If you've got time, utilize the slow cooker ($65, Wayfair) directions and let the flavors meld together all day.
This meat- and seafood-rich gumbo wraps all the flavors of bayou country into a flaky, pastry-topped comfort food package. This easy variation on gumbo mixes sausage and shrimp with tender veggies for a mild stew. Serve it up in a large baking dish ($16, OXO) and watch the whole family enjoy every last bite.
Southern Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Mix the rice along with the Cajun sausage and veggies and you've got this delicious make-ahead gumbo dish. The recipe calls for prepping most ingredients the night before a Fat Tuesday feast. All you'll have to do is combine the ingredients and heat prior to serving. This hearty gumbo will also work wonders as a creative dish to serve on game day.
Craving more Cajun-inspired food? Give one of our traditional or creative takes on Mardi Gras recipes a try this season.