Gumbo vs Jambalaya: What’s the Difference?

Gumbo vs Jambalaya: What’s the Difference?

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If you’re from Louisiana or have ever visited the state, then you know that there’s nothing quite like a bowl of gumbo or jambalaya. These two dishes are staples in Cajun cuisine and can be found on just about every restaurant menu in the region. But what’s the difference between gumbo and jambalaya? Gumbo vs Jambalaya? Which one is better? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at these two dishes and find out!

Gumbo vs Jambalaya: What's the Difference?

Difference Between Cajun and Creole?

This can seem confusing, many people don’t understand the difference between Cajun and creole. Cajun is actually a style of cooking, while Creole refers to the people of New Orleans who are descendants of French and Spanish settlers. Creole cuisine is known for its use of tomatoes, whereas Cajun cuisine relies more on herbs and spices.

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Now that we know a little bit about the difference between Cajun and Creole, let’s take a closer look at gumbo vs jambalaya.

What is Gumbo?

Gumbo and jambalaya are both considered to be Cajun dishes, but there’s a slight difference between the two. Gumbo is actually a type of soup or stew that originated in Louisiana. It’s made with a roux (a mixture of flour and oil) that is cooked for long periods of time to create a rich, dark brown color. The roux is then used to thicken the broth.

Gumbo is a rice-based dish, and it’s often served over white rice with meat, seafood, or vegetables mixed in. It also contains filé powder, which is made from ground sassafras leaves.

Gumbo gets its name from the African word “kiambo,” meaning okra, because gumbo typically contains this vegetable. The dish probably evolved from the French dish called bouillabaisse.

You can find a good recipe here: Check it out

What is Jambalaya?

Jambalaya is a rice dish that is popular in Louisiana. It is made with chicken, sausage, and shrimp, but can also include other meats or vegetables. Jambalaya is typically cooked in one pot on the stovetop and does not require any additional thickening agents like roux.

There are a lot of different recipes here: Check it out

What is the Difference Between Gumbo and Jambalaya
This Jambalaya is ready to serve a crowd – see how the rice is mixed in to it?

Gumbo vs Jambalaya

What’s the Difference?

So, what’s the difference between gumbo and jambalaya? Gumbo is a stew that typically includes chicken, sausage, seafood, or any other type of meat or vegetables. Jambalaya, on the other hand, is more like a rice dish with gravy. It usually contains chicken, sausage, and shrimp, but can also include other meats or vegetables. Gumbo is served over rice, while jambalaya is served as-is without any sides.

If we look at the Ingredients

Gumbo is made with vegetables like celery, okra, green pepper, onions, thickened, and meat stock. You will find different varieties of meat in different regions, including crawfish, sausage, ham, chicken, and shrimp. It is thickened with okra, file powder, or roux.

Jambalaya on the other side is a mix of vegetables and meat with stock and rice. Usually, it includes chicken, smoked sausage, ham, shrimp, or crawfish. Cajun jambalaya doesn’t include tomatoes, while Creole jambalaya does. Beef and duck are also used in some versions of this dish.

As Far as Nutritional Information

Usually, traditional jambalaya and gumbo include ingredients that are high in sodium and calories. However, there are a few healthier choices. Instead of white rice, you can use brown rice, you can use walnut or sesame oil, and saturated fat.

A cup of Gumbo with meat and rice has:

  • Calories: 193
  • Calories from fat: 68
  • Fat:56g
  • Saturated Fat:61g
  • Protein:71g
  • Carbohydrates:2g
  • Sodium: 908mg

A cup of Jambalaya with meat and rice has:

  • Calories: 393
  • Calories from fat: 191
  • Fat:2g
  • Saturated Fat:18g
  • Protein:11g
  • Carbohydrates:72g
  • Sodium: 478mg

Comparison Chart

If you area visual person, as I am, this might help you see the two more clearly:

Types of Gumbo

There are a lot of variations of gumbo. These are the most common ones:

  • Cajun gumbo – Dark, burnt roux. Okra is usually used as a roux and is mixed with sausage, seafood, duck, or chicken as fowl. Fowl is not deboned generally, and bell pepper, celery, and onions are not strained out of the dish. Green onions and parsley are used as toppings. This dish is most common in southwestern Louisiana.
  • Creole gumbo – Tomatoes and seafood used as thickeners. This dish is not as spicy as Cajun gumbo since the cayenne pepper is not used too much.
  • Gumbo z’herbes – A gumbo without meat made from mustard greens, spinach, and turnips. This dish is very time consuming to make and this is why it’s not very popular.

Types of Jambalaya

Jambalaya variations that you will find the most:

  • Creole jambalaya – also known as red jambalaya. Ingredients include celery, onions, peppers, sausage or chicken or seafood. Tomatoes are added to the dish for that red color which gives this dish its uniqueness.
  • Cajun jambalaya – also known as brown jambalaya. Ingredients include seafood or meat, onions, bell peppers, and celery. Tomatoes aren’t added to this dish, which is resulting in the brown color and why it’s different from Creole jambalaya.
  • White jambalaya – A dish that you can make pretty quickly, where the vegetables and meat are cooked separately from the rice. Rice is cooked in a savory stock at the same time. You should add the rice to the vegetables and meat minutes before serving. This is why this dish is called white jambalaya.

These are only a few variations of these tasty dishes. You can find recipes for much more, but make sure not to miss these ones!

gumbo dished up and ready to serve
Just look at this beautiful gumbo that is dished up and ready to serve

Which One is Better?

So which one is better? That’s up for you to decide! Gumbo has a thicker broth and usually includes seafood or other types of meat, while jambalaya is less thick and contains chicken and sausage. Jambalaya also tends to be spicier than gumbo. However, both dishes are absolutely delicious and definitely worth trying!

Now that you know the Difference between Gumbo and Jambalaya, what is your favorite?

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