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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. 

Jambalaya served in a black ceramic bowl and photographed from the top.

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.

Slow Cooker Jambalaya Ingredients

Slow Cooker Jambalaya Ingredients in small bowls on a granite surface.
  • Olive Oil: Look for extra virgin olive oil with a fresh, fruity aroma for the best quality and flavor.
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs: Look for thighs that are uniform in size for even cooking. They should have a pink, fresh appearance without any unpleasant odor.
  • Andouille Sausage (or other smoked sausage): Choose sausage with a firm texture and a smoky aroma. The casing should be intact without any signs of shriveling or drying.
  • Onion: Look for onions that are firm, with a shiny, smooth outer skin and no visible signs of sprouting or soft spots.
  • Celery: Celery stalks should be crisp and tightly packed with fresh, green leaves. Avoid any that are limp or have yellowed leaves.
  • Green Bell Pepper: Choose peppers that are bright green, firm, and heavy for their size with smooth skin and no blemishes.
  • Garlic: Look for plump, firm bulbs with unbroken, dry skins. Avoid garlic that is soft, shriveled, or starting to sprout.
  • Diced Tomatoes (with juice): Tomatoes should be packed in their own juice rather than heavy puree or sauce, to maintain the shape of the tomato pieces in the jambalaya.
  • Creole Seasoning (or Cajun seasoning): Look for blends with a fresh aroma and vibrant color, a good sign that they haven’t lost their flavor.
  • Smoked Paprika: Select a variety that has a deep, rich color and a smoky aroma for the best potency and flavor.
  • Fine Sea Salt: Look for a natural, unrefined sea salt that is free from additives for a pure taste.
  • Shrimp: Choose fresh or frozen shrimp with a clean smell, firm flesh, and a translucent, shiny appearance.
  • Rice: Opt for long-grain rice, which holds its shape and stays separate when cooked.
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper: Choose sea salt or kosher salt for seasoning and whole black peppercorns to grind fresh for the best flavor.

Jambalaya and Gumbo: Roots and Distinctions

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. 

Distinguishing jambalaya from gumbo, another Louisiana classic, is the absence of okra or filé powder in jambalaya, which otherwise shares similar vegetables, seasonings, meats, sausages, and seafoods with gumbo.

Jambalaya served in a black ceramic bowl and photographed at an angle.

3 Tips for perfect jambalaya every time.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Don’t miss these other southern favorites!

How to make Slow Cooker Jambalaya

Brown chicken and sausage in two batches, transferring each to slow cooker.

Add vegetables to skillet; cook and stir until softened. Transfer to slow cooker.

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. During last 15 minutes of cooking time, stir in shrimp.

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

5 from 12 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Calories: 461
Servings: 10 people
Jambalaya is hearty and delicious – loaded with chicken, sausage and shrimp, and so easy to make in your slow cooker!


  • 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 1/2-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 1/2 ounce diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning or Cajun seasoning (recipe note #2)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 pound shrimp shelled and deveined
  • 5 cups hot cooked rice (recipe note #3)
  • 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 desired amount of hot cooked rice (add a little at a time to get the balance you're looking for). Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce or cayenne pepper. Serve.


  1. If you don’t like chicken thighs, you can substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but they won’t be as juicy.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


Calories: 461kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 267mg | Sodium: 894mg | Potassium: 650mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1090IU | Vitamin C: 28.4mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 3.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating


  1. David @ Spiced says:

    5 stars
    This is my kind of comfort food for sure…and using a slow cooker is a genius idea! I typically only do sausage and chicken in jambalaya, but next time I’m going to add some shrimp, too. Love it!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thanks, David! I love the added richness and umami with the shrimp.

  2. Dawn - Girl Heart Food says:

    5 stars
    Talk about hearty!! And I love that you made this in your slow cooker! This looks like the perfect kinda food after coming in from a cold day – big ol’ yum, my friend!

  3. Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says:

    5 stars
    One of our favorites Marissa! So hearty and packed with flavor. And such a great idea to make in the slow cooker!

  4. Valentina says:

    5 stars
    My son just had Jambalaya for the first time out, and now he loves it. This recipe is awesome! 🙂 ~Valentina

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      I love to hear that, Valentina! Thank you so much.