What is the Difference Between Jambalaya and Gumbo?

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Gumbo and Jambalaya are terms that may be used interchangeably by those who aren’t so familiar with these dishes but they are in fact extremely different. Both are popularized by New Orleans or Louisiana Creole cuisine and pack a lot of heat. The main difference between jambalaya vs gumbo is the addition of rice while cooking.

What is Gumbo?

Gumbo is a dish that boasts a tasty broth that is thickened by either a dark roux, okra, or ground sassafras leaves. According to experts, this dish was invented in Southern Louisiana back in the 1700’s. This dish features a mixture of vegetables, such as celery, onions, paprika, black peppercorns, garlic and spices and bell peppers. The protein in this dish could be meat or shellfish.

One of the most significant aspects of gumbo is the amount of time in which it is cooked. In order to help the stew come together, most cooks simmer gumbo for three hours at the minimum. Some of the ingredients that are a bit more delicate such as seafood aren’t added until the last minute.

What is Jambalaya?

Jambalaya originated from the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is a stew that is first made by sauteeing meat and vegetables, which include celery, onions, and peppers. Meat such as chicken or sausage is used for its protein content. Stock and rice are added, which is then simmered for an hour. Jambalaya is one of those dishes that shouldn’t be stirred, unlike a lot of stews. Many cooks would say that you’d only have to stir it a handful of times. Creole jambalaya may include tomatoes, but Cajun does not. Some versions may include Duck, Beef, or Seafood.

What Exactly is the Difference?

The easiest way to tell the difference between the two dishes is the addition of rice in the process of cooking. Gumbo is a thick stew that is served with rice, separately -- and Jambalaya is a stew that is cooked with rice. Both of these dishes can have the same dishes, spices, and vegetables -- but you’ll easily see the difference because of the rice.

Both of these dishes are incredibly flavorful and showcases the culture of New Orleans. Both of them have long cooking times to ensure that all the flavors come together. Be sure not to confuse these dishes from other southern favorites!

1 comment

  • Evelyn Turner

    Coming from a long line of generations of Creole/italian/native American women, this has been one of my grandmother Lillian —the Creole —enjoyed sharing with the families. Today my mother —the native American —carried on the traditions… Using cubes of beef as the protein in the dish. Today, I too serve the dish with my children.

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