You won’t believe how easy it is to make Slow Cooker Jambalaya! Melt in your mouth chicken, smoky sausage and buttery shrimp mixed with a medley of tender vegetables and hot rice in a rich, spicy sauce.
This is my very favorite recipe for jambalaya – it’s so meaty! You cook it hot and fast in a slow cooker instead of the typical stovetop method, adding shrimp and rice at the end. It’s a wonderful way to feed a group (up to 10 people as a main dish) and if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, it’s just as delicious the next day.
Jambalaya originated in Louisiana, often associated with New Orleans, and has roots in French, Spanish and West African cuisine. There are a couple of distinct ways to make it: Creole jambalaya (like the recipe I'm sharing), and Cajun jambalaya. Both start with the 'holy trinity' of onions, green peppers, and celery; the primary difference is that the Cajun version has no tomatoes.
Jambalaya typically does not include the okra or filé powder that is common in Gumbo. Otherwise the two are similar in their vegetables and seasonings, meats, sausages, and seafoods.
Tips for perfect jambalaya every time
Note that it’s important to brown the chicken, sausage and vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker. I’ve tried to skip this step and the flavor is just not the same.
I've called for 'hot cooked rice' instead of uncooked rice, because I prefer to cook the rice separately. It's easy to end up with undercooked or overcooked rice when it's added raw. Cooking rice on its own ensures a reliable texture in the final dish. The style of rice is up to you. I like to use a long grain brown rice, but white rice is also delicious.
The spice level here is mild to medium - mostly depending on your choice of sausage and Creole seasoning (or Cajun Seasoning). But you can always kick up the spice with hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper.
Make this easy jambalaya recipe once, and I bet you’ll come back to it again and again. It’s fantastic and entirely reliable!
Don't miss these other southern favorites!
- Shrimp Creole (An easy recipe for the Louisiana classic.)
- Brabant Potatoes (Crispy potatoes in a buttery garlic sauce - need I say more?)
- Fried Green Tomatoes (Ultra crunchy outside and tender inside, these are irresistible!)
- Skillet Cornbread (My tried and true recipe - this one is a must try, I promise.)
- Crab Cakes (These are ALL about the crab.)
- Remoulade Sauce (A spicy, tangy sauce that's perfect for dipping.)
How to make slow cooker jambalaya
Step 1: Brown chicken and sausage in two batches, transferring each to slow cooker.
Step 2: Add vegetables to skillet; cook and stir until softened. Transfer to slow cooker.
Step 3: To meat and vegetable mixture in slow cooker add tomatoes, Creole seasoning, smoked paprika and salt; stir to combine. Cook on High for 4 hours.
Step 4: During last 15 minutes of cooking time, stir in shrimp.
Step 5: Once shrimp has cooked through, stir in hot cooked rice. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce (or cayenne pepper). Serve.
Slow Cooker Jambalaya
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs quartered and patted dry (recipe note #1)
- 12 ounces andouille sausage or other smoked sausage, cut into ½-inch thick rounds
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 ribs celery diced
- 1 large green bell pepper diced
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and coarsely chopped
- 14 ½ ounce diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning or Cajun seasoning (recipe note #2)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 pound shrimp shelled and deveined
- 5 cups hot cooked rice (recipe note #2)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper, to taste
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 2 teaspoons of oil and swirl to coat. Add half of the chicken and sausage; cook and stir until browned on all sides, but not cooked through. Transfer to 6-quart slow cooker; repeat with remaining chicken and sausage. (Add more oil if needed for the second batch).
- Return skillet to stove over medium-high heat. When hot, add 2 teaspoons of oil along with garlic, onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook and stir, scraping up any browned bits until vegetables are softened. Transfer to chicken and sausage mixture in slow cooker.
- To mixture in slow cooker add tomatoes, Creole seasoning, smoked paprika, and salt. Stir mixture to combine and set slow cooker to High; cook for 4 hours.
- In the last 15 minutes of cooking, stir in shrimp. Once shrimp is cooked through stir in hot cooked rice. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper. Serve.
- If you don't like chicken thighs, you can substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but they won't be as juicy.
- I've used both Creole and Cajun seasoning blends for this and either work well. Cajun seasoning tends to be spicier and Creole seasoning more herbaceous.
- Note that you'll want hot cooked rice ready when the meat mixture in the slow cooker is finished cooking. I like to use long grain, brown rice, but white rice is also great.