Slow Cooker Jambalaya is a spicy, flavorful, and easy dinner that includes a trio of chicken, andouille sausage, and shrimp. Using my adaptation of a traditional jambalaya recipe, try a mix of delicious ingredients and homemade Creole seasoning that can simmer away all day in the slow cooker. Simply mix in seafood and rice at the end and enjoy!
What is jambalaya?
Jambalaya is an all-in-one rice dish that is full of meats, veggies, and spices. It originates from Louisiana but its influences come from settlers and immigrants from practically all over the world! Typically, in the US, there are two main variations of jambalaya – Creole and Cajun.
Jambalaya recipes are very adaptable and specific to local preferences or traditions. Most of the time, jambalaya containing tomatoes and seafood will be Creole-inspired, and jambalaya containing pork or other game meats will stem from Cajun favorites.
What’s To Love About Slow Cooker Jambalaya
From a meal-prep perspective, jambalaya includes everything for a complete meal! You can add all the ingredients at the beginning, except the shrimp and rice, and set it to simmer away most of the day. Slow cooker jambalaya is a great option for a hearty family meal packed with flavor and it might be a little different than your typical meat and rice dish.
Jambalaya can be adapted to include meat and veggie preferences as well as varying spice levels. It is a great option when you want to use odds and ends to bring together in a cohesive dish.
It is important to note that this recipe is a slow cooker, family-friendly adaptation and not intended to be an authentic jambalaya recipe. Those who have been raised on traditional family recipes will surely have their own take and tips and tricks for cooking. That’s totally fine!
Slow cooker jambalaya is a great entrance recipe if you want to try the flavors of Creole and Cajun cooking but don’t have the time or ingredients to prepare an authentic recipe. Even better, it only takes about 10 minutes of prep time!
Jambalaya is a flexible recipe so you can use what you have on hand or make some easy swaps according to your preferences! The ingredients that I chose result in a somewhat spicy dish, but mild enough that my kids still love it!
- Chicken breasts – Dice up some boneless skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. I don’t recommend using boneless skinless chicken thighs due to flavor and added grease.
- Andouille sausage – Andouille sausage is a coarsely chopped, spicy variety that is typically made from pork. You can find different varieties at your grocery store such as Cajun-style, hickory-smoked, or even chicken andouille sausage (this is what I used for this recipe).
- Onion – Dice one small onion. Yellow or white onions are preferred.
- Green pepper – Also, dice one small green pepper.
- Homemade Creole seasoning – Use this tasty homemade mix for an amazing flavor that ties the whole recipe together.
- Canned crushed tomatoes – These create a flavorful base that is absorbed into the rice. I used regular, but fire-roasted are another variety that could add a little smokiness.
- Chicken broth – Regular chicken broth works, but I prefer to use bone broth because of its added nutritional benefits and rich taste.
- Raw shrimp – Use fresh or frozen tail-off shrimp for an easy addition in the final hour of cooking. Be sure to use raw shrimp!
- Cooked rice – Rice can sometimes be tricky to cook in the slow cooker along with other ingredients. I like to make the rice separately and stir it in right before serving or use precooked rice pouches. If you buy a 90-second microwavable pouch, you can just add the rice straight to the slow cooker and it will heat sufficiently in the hot soup mixture.
How To Make Jambalaya In The Slow Cooker
It really doesn’t get much easier than this!
- Start by adding all ingredients except the shrimp and rice to the slow cooker, and stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
- About 60 minutes prior to the finish time on low (or 30 minutes on high), add thawed shrimp to the slow cooker and let heat through.
- Finally, stir in 2 cups of cooked rice or cauliflower rice or serve as desired.
Recipe Substitutions and Variations
Jambalaya is so easy to customize to create your own family’s version of the recipe.
- Meats – Here you can change up the flavor profile in so many ways! Swap out the chicken for pork or vegan sausage or leave out either the shrimp or the chicken if desired. You could also add tofu instead of chicken or shrimp for a vegan or vegetarian option (be sure to also swap chicken broth for vegetable broth).
- Rice – White rice, brown rice, or even cauliflower rice! You CAN also cook the rice in the slow cooker, but some don’t love the way it turns out. Cook your rice option in whatever method is the simplest for your meal prep.
- Seasoning – Add more Creole seasoning for deeper flavor or just some more cayenne pepper to make it even spicier. To make this less spicy, reduce some of the seasoning at the beginning and choose a milder sausage.
- The “Holy Trinity” of veggies – In traditional jambalaya recipes, you will find the “Holy Trinity” of onion, bell pepper, and celery. Since this is my take on jambalaya, I left out the celery since I don’t care for it in the dish. You can absolutely add in some finely chopped celery or even other veggies like finely chopped carrots or other colorful peppers.
What To Serve With Jambalaya
A side of cornbread would be a fantastic option to serve with jambalaya. Get as fancy as you’d like by making cornbread in a cast-iron skillet or as muffins and include jalapeños, green chiles, or a mix of cheeses. Many southern meals from Louisiana also include some type of sauteed or steamed greens – try Sautéed Green Beans with Garlic or simple collard greens!
Storing and Reheating
Completely cool the jambalaya then store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet on the stove.
To prep this recipe ahead for the freezer, add all ingredients (except shrimp and cooked rice) to a freezer-safe container or zipper bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw before cooking and follow cooking directions as written.
Slow Cooker Jambalaya FAQs
- What is the difference between jambalaya and gumbo? Gumbo and jambalaya use some similar ingredients but jambalaya is cooked as a rice dish and gumbo is a thick stew without rice. Gumbo also includes a signature ingredient – okra!
- What is the best rice for jambalaya? Usually, white rice is the best for jambalaya since it maintains a fluffier texture. This is great for soaking up all the flavorful broth and tomato base. However, you can choose any rice variety and any cooking method that works for you – I like to use 90-second pouches to stir right in at the end.
- What is the Holy Trinity of jambalaya? Cajun and Creole cuisine often includes the term “holy trinity” to refer to onion, bell pepper, and celery. I left out the celery in this recipe due to preference, but feel free to include it!
- Can you omit the shrimp from this recipe? Yes, you can omit the shrimp or any other meat you choose. A combination of meats is what makes this such a hearty and flavorful dish, but you can swap meats based on what you have on hand and prefer. Scallops and crawfish are other seafood choices you might find in jambalaya recipes.
Slow Cooker Jambalaya
- Slow Cooker
- 12 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts diced
- 14 oz Andouille sausage diced
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 green pepper diced
- 2 teaspoons homemade Creole seasoning
- 24 oz canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 12 oz raw shrimp tail-off
- 2 cups cooked rice or cauliflower rice
- Add all ingredients (except shrimp and rice) to slow cooker and stir to combine
- Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours
- About 60 minutes prior to finish time on low (or 30 minutes on high), add thawed shrimp to the slow cooker and let heat through
- Stir in 2 cups cooked rice or cauliflower rice or serve as desired
- Cool jambalaya then store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet on the stove.
- To prep ahead for the freezer, combine all ingredients (except shrimp and cooked rice) in a freezer container or bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw before cooking and follow cooking directions as written.
- Feel free to adjust the meats and use only 2 of the 3 by increasing the amounts of each.
- Swap cooked rice for cauliflower rice for a low-carb, veggie option!