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Cajun Gumbo

The thing about a good gumbo is... you have to WANT it. The roux requires 30-40 minutes of stirring alone. It's worth it, though.

Recipe Video Here!

A truly authentic Cajun gumbo has a very important component; roux. The roux deepens the flavor of the gumbo and most importantly thickens it. The roux takes time and attention. You must stand at the stove and continually stir the roux with a flat edged spoon to make sure it doesn't break or burn. (This is like the one I use.) Once you break or burn a roux; it's done. You have to start over.

A roux can totally be made a day or two ahead of time; if you want to do this, make the roux and put it in a tightly covered glass storage container in the fridge. That cuts the cook time down from 2 hours to 1 hour the day you want to make the gumbo. I make my roux ahead of time when I'm already cooking on holidays so I can make a gumbo with the leftovers the next day.

There is debate over whether a gumbo needs both okra AND filet. I use both because I love the thickness the okra gives the gumbo and I also love the sassafras flavor of the filet. To me, a good gumbo has a little of both but it's up to you. Leaving out okra won't hurt anything but if you do, make sure to add the filet.

Any protein can be used for gumbo. My family always uses a poultry and a sausage, sometimes shrimp, rarely crab, but if we have it, we use all four. It's called a "seafood gumbo" when you start adding shellfish. Another great way to make gumbo is to use your leftover Thanksgiving or Christmas Turkey. No one really likes leftover turkey anyway, you might as well turn it into something crazy delicious so it doesn't go to waste.

Cajun Gumbo

Serves 6-8 (depending on portions)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup neutral oil (I used avocado)

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 pound sausage, cut into coins

  • 1 pound dark meat chicken, shredded

  • 2 cups raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 4 stalks celery, sliced in half moons

  • 1 large green bell pepper, large dice

  • 1 large onion, large dice

  • 8 green onions, sliced

  • 6 cloves garlic, diced

  • 8 cups chicken or seafood stock

  • 1 cup frozen okra

  • 2 Tablespoons Cajun seasoning

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped from stems

  • 1/2 tablespoon gumbo filet

  • 4 cups cooked rice

  • Green onions, for garnish


  1. Make your roux. Start by whisking your flour and oil together over very, very low heat in your soup pot. Slowly increase the heat to medium and continue to stir with a flat edged wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan to keep it from ever scorching on the bottom.

  2. Sometimes I'll lower the heat back down to low if the roux is bubbling too much; you really don't want to push a roux too fast to try and save time or it will taste burnt. You're going for toasted, not roasted. You know how nuts can taste bitter when they're toasted too dark? Same goes with a roux.

  3. You CAN stop when your roux resembles the color of peanut butter but I don't stop until it's almost the color of a good milk chocolate. The darker it is, the more bitter it can get if the heat is too high, plus it takes longer. Your call. In my opinion, you have to risk it for the biscuit!

  4. Take your roux off of the heat and place it in a glass bowl and set aside, if you leave the roux in a hot pan it will continue to cook! Be VERY careful, if you get any roux on your skin you will lose that skin. It's hot lava.

  5. Drink a beer; give your stirring arm a break. I switch off in shifts with my husband sometimes so having a helper in the kitchen for this can be clutch.

  6. Saute your sausage coins in half of the butter until they're crispy golden brown around the edges.

  7. Remove the sausage from the pan, add the rest of the butter, and sweat the vegetables down until they are translucent scent and soft. Not looking for browning.

  8. Add your sausage, shredded chicken, okra, spices, stock, and roux to the pot. Simmer covered for AT LEAST 30 minutes, longer is better. Stir occasionally and make sure to taste for seasoning. I end up adding a little honey if the roux makes it too bitter or more Cajun seasoning if it still needs a little kick.

  9. While the gumbo is simmering make your rice. I think plain rice is too boring for a gumbo so good so I make mine with a bay leaf and chicken stock.

  10. When you're happy with the thickness and flavor of the gumbo, add the shrimp. Cook just a few minutes until the shrimp is cooked through.

  11. Serve with a scoop of rice and garnish with lots of green onions.

I don't know what other cooks say but I say this can be frozen. Our family used to freeze it in gallon size ziploc bags and stack it in the freezer like bars of gold. Nowadays I use Souper Cubes so I can portion it out and it holds a lot more, more easily.

I hope you give my family's Cajun gumbo recipe a try! Like I said before, you have to really WANT it but if you make it, you'll be happy you did!

If you do try my recipe, let me know how it worked out for you! You can tag me in photos or DM me on Instagram or TikTok @LizaHomesteads.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!


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