In my opinion, there are two types of jambalaya—Cajun and Creole. The main difference is that in the Creole version, the rice is cooked in a tomato-y sauce that might include shrimp along with meat and sausage. The Cajun approach is more rustic. I prefer the way the chicken and sausage flavor blend into the rice in this Cajun version, creating a robust meaty flavor. Searing and caramelizing the meat and onions individually prior to simmering everything together develops not just color but a deeply browned taste.–Donald Link

A cast-iron pot of Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya with a wooden spoon resting inside.

Cajun Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

4.93 / 14 votes
This chicken and sausage jambalaya is, honestly, the best version of this Cajun classic we’ve ever had. It’s made with a whole roasted chicken, smoked sausage, peppers, celery, onions, rice, and spice mix and feeds a crowd.
David Leite
Servings6 to 8 servings
Calories579 kcal
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time3 hours
Total Time4 hours


  • One (3- to 4- pound) chicken, roasted
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 2 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium onions, 1 quartered and 1 diced small
  • 10 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Donnie’s Spice Mix
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • 2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed


  • Remove all the meat from the chicken and discard the skin. Shred or chop the chicken. Save all the juice and fat from the roasting pan (or store container, if you're relying on a rotisserie chicken) in a separate container. Refrigerate both until needed.

  • Trim and dice or mince the bell peppers, jalapeno, scallions, celery, and garlic, reserving the trimmings. Place the chicken carcass, quartered onion, and vegetable trimmings in a large pot. Add the cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 1 hour, skimming any foam from the surface as necessary. Strain the broth and discard the solids. You should have about 6 cups of stock.

  • Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and sear until it starts to color, turning as necessary. Parts of the sausage will begin to stick to the pan. When there is a goodly sausage-y coating stuck to the pan, pour in 1/4 cup of the chicken stock and cook, stirring and scraping the skillet, until it comes loose. Let this simmer gently until all of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the sausage to a plate.

  • Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the butter, and heat until it melts. Add the diced onion and cook until it starts to stick to the pan, about 5 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the chicken stock and let this reduce until the skillet is dry (or au sec, as they say in French kitchens). Continue to cook until the onion turns a nice, deep, brown color, about 5 more minutes.
  • At this point the onion will start to stick to the pan again. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and simmer. When the stock has almost completely evaporated, add the bell peppers, jalapeños, scallions, celery, garlic, the 1 tablespoon of the spice mix, salt, bay leaves, oregano, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring often, for 10 more minutes, until things start to stick to the darn skillet again. Deglaze with another 1/4 cup stock and reduce again until the skillet runs dry.
  • Add the shredded chicken, 1 cup stock, and the defatted juices from the chicken and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.

  • Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large, heavy-bottomed pot and add the sausage, rice, and the remaining 4 cups stock to the pot and stir well. You want the mixture to have plenty of room so the rice will cook evenly. Heat, covered, over low heat for 40 minutes.

  • Remove the pot from the stovetop and keep covered for 10 minutes while it rests. If the rice seems a little unevenly cooked, leave the lid on a little longer and it will even out. When the jambalaya is done, transfer it to a casserole dish and serve. (If you leave it in the pot it cooked in, the jambalaya will continue to cook and become dry.)
Real Cajun

Adapted From

Real Cajun

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 579 kcalCarbohydrates: 60 gProtein: 18 gFat: 29 gSaturated Fat: 10 gMonounsaturated Fat: 12 gTrans Fat: 0.2 gCholesterol: 69 mgSodium: 1692 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 3 g

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

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Recipe © 2009 Donald Link. Photo © 2009 Chris Granger. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is it, folks. This is EXACTLY what jambalaya should taste like. It’s rare that I think a recipe is perfect, but this chicken and sausage jambalaya recipe has all the flavors spot-on.

The recipe calls for a roasted chicken, which apparently you can do any way you want. I used a chicken I had “roasted” on the grill. That meant I didn’t have any pan drippings, but I did have a flavorful smoked chicken. The sausage I used was a smoked pork sausage that I bought at one of the many butcher shops near Breaux Bridge, La., that sells boudin, sausage, and other specialty meats. I stock up every time I pass through. I think it’s important that you use a smoked sausage here.

My chicken broth was pretty standard, made from a few vegetable scraps and your chicken carcass after you’ve picked the meat off. The technique of reducing the stock as you cook the vegetables is the key to making this dish taste rich and flavorful. The end result here is a very meaty, delicious chicken and sausage jambalaya that tastes just as it should. Which is damn good.

While the recipe calls for this to be made in a skillet and then a larger pot, it can be made all in one pot if you use a very large cast iron or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. But I am talking BIG here.

This chicken and sausage jambalaya recipe is worth the effort. Little did I know that one of my guests is a jambalaya enthusiast. Everyone really loved this jambalaya. It had a perfect balance of heat and depth. It was full of flavor but not overpowering. The rice had a silken feel but still maintained some bite to it. My jambalaya enthusiast said he would order it in a restaurant and asked if he could take some of the leftovers home with him. It was all delicious.

For convenience sake, I picked up a roasted chicken and made the stock a day in advance. While the stock simmered, I prepped the vegetables for the next day. The next day’s cooking was a breeze. This was nice because I decided to serve this to company coming for dinner that evening.

The only thing I might do when I make it again is roast the chicken carcass before I make the stock.

This, my friends, is as good a jambalaya as I’ve had. The recipe is an afternoon project, and I assure you, it’s worth every minute. When I made this, I had hopes of taking it to work for my buddies a couple of days later…a nice thought, but it was so good, of course it never made it out of my house.

I’ve never had jambalaya before, so I have nothing to compare this recipe with as to its authenticity, but the taste was stupendous. The spice mix is what I think really makes this dish shine. Along with everything else, it produces a wonderful multitude of rich, hearty, comforting flavors and textures that left everyone sated.

This chicken and sausage jambalaya recipe requires a fair amount of preparation and work, but it’s worth the effort. I used a store-bought rotisserie chicken for simplicity and a chicken andouille sausage instead of pork. I don’t care for green peppers, so I added yellow instead. And I made an addition, which I don’t think is traditional, of peas at the end of cooking, just because I cannot seem to have rice dishes without peas. I will make this again, most certainly as a fall and winter dish, and for any potluck I attend.

The layers of flavor created by the continual cooking down of the liquid in this chicken and sausage jambalaya are amazing. The house smelled really good. This is quite an involved recipe. Also, the spice mix is very “hot,” so you may need to make an adjustment if you have children eating this dish.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Yes it does, lol. I appreciate the time 🙂 I’m so excited you responded. I actually made this again last week. I didn’t know you responded because I saved the original post to my phone so it does not show current posts. It’s only my bf and myself, so there is a bunch of leftover but they never last more then the second day. I have been raving about this jambalaya to my coworkers and this time I shared some with a coworker. Thank you again for the recipe and the clear directions.

  2. 5 stars
    I made this recipe today for my boyfriend and I. It was delicious ! I made mine with sausage and shrimp cuz i forgot to buy a prepared chicken. I almost made the same mistake as another commentor and added the full cup of spice mix! I did cook the rice separately and mixed it into the jambalaya just cuz we were already starving and didnt want to wait another 40 for the rice to cook with the mixture. The end result was “amazing” and “excellent” so says my bf. Thank you for this recipe. Next time i will make it exactly as written.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the jambalaya, keke. I changed the directions to make it crystal clear that you add only 1 tablespoon of the spice mix. Tell me: Does it read better?

  3. Gosh, I spent soooo much time on this recipe and was so looking forward to the results. The rice did not cook thoroughly. I followed the directions exactly. Rice still crunchy after 40 minutes cooking and 10 minutes rest. Cooked 10 more minutes and rested 10 minutes–still somewhat “crunchy.” I used Mahatma long grain white rice. Why would white rice take that long to cook? The flavors were wonderful, but I’m not sure what went wrong with the rice. We ate it and I am hoping the leftovers might be more tender. If I ever make this again, I will cook the rice separately, I guess.

    1. lauratarlo, gosh, I’m at a loss here because I checked Mahatma’s website, and the cooking time is as for any long-grain white rice. I did some research, and stored rice can get old and the result is a crunchy, mealy texture when cooked. That’s really the only thing I can think of.

      1. I’ve made this recipe every Mardi Gras since you posted it, and on two occasions, the rice was still crunchy. :/ Just popping on here to see if anyone had a good rec for subbing chicken breast instead of a rotisserie chicken. It gets so shredded by the end, and I’d like to have more substantial “chunks.” Anyway, noticed this rice comment and wanted to concur!

        1. LeeAnne, thanks so much for letting us know. We didn’t experience the crunchy rice in any of our home kitchens when we made this before posting it to the site but we’ll definitely retest it to try to replicate the problem. May I ask, at the end of step 2, did you measure the chicken stock? Did you have a full 6 cups? And did you try, as suggested in the last step, to keep the lid on the jambalaya after you remove it from the heat and let it steam a little longer to let the rice more fully absorb the moisture? If you could kindly let me know, that will be helpful as we make the recipe again. As for using chunks of chicken breast, if it was me, I would buy several bone-in, skin-on breasts and remove the meat from the bone myself and chop the meat into chunks. I’d toss the skin (or give it to my dog) and make the stock using the bones. Then I’d add the chicken at the beginning of step 6. I haven’t tested this, of course, but it’s what I would do.

          1. 5 stars
            Thanks for your reply! I made this again on Sunday (a belated Mardi Gras, because our feast has way too much cooking for a Tuesday, hahaha), and good news: The jambalaya was perfect. I’m not sure what went wrong with the rice those couple times. Maybe not enough liquid. I follow the recipe directions for all the deglazing pours and then add 4 full cups at the end, rather than all the rest of the stock. Because it’s a lot—much more than 4 cups. From this last time, I easily have 3 cups unused in my fridge. (Is that odd?) And, yes, I always follow that last step about keeping the lid on, off the heat, for 10 mins. I ended up using rotisserie chicken again (two 1.5-pounders), but this time, I sliced it into large chunks—big enough for 2-3 bites. This helped immensely. There was a little shredding during the cook, of course, but the end result had lots of bite-size chicken pieces. (Previously, I kind of just shredded it into chunks, but they disintegrated into the jambalaya and became one with the rice.) Anyway, thanks for a great recipe. It is fun to bust it out once a year and fine-tune. It’s always a huge hit.

          2. Thrilled to hear you made it again so soon, LeeAnne! And that everything worked perfectly! Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know. I’m convinced that some rice just takes more liquid and longer to cook than others, and I suspect it has a lot to do with how old and dried out it may be by the time it makes it off the warehouse shelf and into our pantry. At any rate, you are so very welcome!

          3. 4 stars
            I just made this tonight. The taste is amazing, but I also have the crunchy rice even after cooking 40 minutes and letting it sit for 10 minutes without taking the lid off. I just added a little more liquid and turned it back on. Hoping I can save it because despite the crunchy rice, it has a great flavor!

          4. Kelly, hmmm. That’s odd. By any chance is the rice old? It’s long grain rice, not wild rice?

          5. It was for sure long-grain, but after I cooked it a little longer it is okay. A little mushy, but better than crunchy! Still a great flavor!

          6. Kelly, I’m so sorry about this. One last question: Did you use a slow cooker?

    2. Regarding the rice, if you add cold broth and run it at low, there won’t be enough time to cook the rice. I’d get the broth warm ahead of time, and bring it to simmer right away. 40 minutes should be plenty of time to get the rice right.