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Slow Cooker Jambalaya

This Slow Cooker Cajun Jambalaya recipe is a true standout, offering a comforting, warming, and delicious blend of chicken, sausage, shrimp, and aromatics that tastes as if you’ve spent the whole day cooking. However, it’s our little secret that this is an incredibly easy recipe, with the slow cooker doing all the heavy lifting for you!

Top view of slow cooker cajun jambalaya.


 

I absolutely love Jambalaya, especially for its big, bold Cajun flavors that scream New Orleans! The complex tomato sauce is enriched with onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, all brought together with an amazing blend of spices, including a generous helping of Cajun seasoning. The addition of smoked sausage adds so much flavor, truly embodying the spirit of the dish. And, by prepping this creole dish in your crockpot, most of the work is done for you, so all you have to do is sit back and soak in the rich, vibrant tastes of this beloved classic.

Why We Love This Slow Cooker Jambalaya Recipe

  • Easy: Thanks to the slow-cooker, it’s mostly a ‘set it and forget it’ kind of deal. You get to chill while your crockpot does the heavy lifting.
  • You Do You: Whether you’re all about chicken, sausage, or shrimp, this recipe lets you mix it up. Not feeling the shrimp or sausage? Just add more chicken. It’s all good.
  • Creole Meets Cajun: It’s got that Creole vibe with the tomatoes but hits you with the Cajun flavors thanks to the spices, sausage, and shrimp. Plus, the essential trio of onion, celery, and green pepper really brings it all together.

What Is Jambalaya?

Jambalaya is a traditional dish from Louisiana, celebrated for its bold and spicy flavors. It’s a one-pot meal that combines rice with a variety of proteins, such as chicken, smoked sausage, and shrimp, seasoned with Cajun or Creole seasoning. The dish also features the “holy trinity” of onion, bell pepper, and celery, making it a staple of New Orleans cuisine.

Side shot of Jambalaya in a slow cooker studded with shrimp and garnished with green onions

What You’ll Need

Gather your ingredients for this crockpot jambalaya from the grocery store to start creating a flavorful dish that’s both easy to prepare and packed with taste. This recipe brings the heart of Nawlins to your kitchen with just a few simple steps.

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: Cut these into 1-inch cubes. Chicken breasts can be a leaner substitute, but they cook quicker.
  • Andouille sausage: Kielbasa or chorizo make good substitutes. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper if you use kielbasa. If you want something lighter, turkey sausage is a great choice.
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes can be used, but you may need to adjust for liquid and acidity.
  • Yellow Onion: White onions can substitute for a slightly different flavor profile.
  • Green and Red Bell Peppers: The peppers offer a sweet flavor; yellow or orange peppers can also be used for a milder taste.
  • Celery Ribs: A part of the “holy trinity,” celery adds a slightly peppery flavor but fennel can be an alternative.
  • Fresh Garlic Cloves
  • Low-Sodium Chicken Broth: Feel free to use regular chicken stock. Vegetable broth will also work.
  • Tomato Paste
  • Oregano, Paprika, Cayenne, Thyme, Bay Leaf, and Cajun Seasoning: These spices and seasonings are critical to the dish’s distinctive flavors.
  • Frozen Shrimp: While many traditional recipes include shrimp as part of the protein mix, jambalaya is very versatile and can be made with whatever proteins are available.
  • Rice: I like long grain rice, but you can also use Jasmine rice or whatever cooked rice you have on hand.
  • Parsley: Chop finely and use it for garnish.

How To Make Jambalaya In The Slow Cooker

This is one of my favorite slow cooker recipes because making traditional Jambalaya in a crock pot is a total game-changer. It’s an easy, laid-back way to cook up this hearty favorite without slaving over the stove.

  1. Prepare the Ingredients: Cube the chicken and slice the sausage into ½ inch rounds. Dice the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Finely chop the garlic or put it through a garlic press.
  2. Add Ingredients to the Slow Cooker: Add all of the ingredients, in the order listed on the recipe, to the slow cooker except rice and shrimp. Cover and cook on Low for 3 to 3 ½ hours, or until the chicken reaches and internal temperature of 165°F. Please use an Instant Read Food Thermometer.
  3. Add Shrimp and Prepare Rice: Add the frozen shrimp to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes longer, until the shrimp are cooked through. In the meantime, prepare rice according to package directions.
  4. Serve: Stir the rice in the Jambalaya and enjoy!

Recipe Tips And Variations

  • Brown Your Meats First: For an extra layer of flavor, consider browning the chicken and sausage in a skillet before adding them to the slow cooker. This step adds depth to the dish with a richer taste.
  • Cut chicken evenly: Try to keep the sizes of your chicken cubes and sausage slices consistent so that they cook evenly and don’t dry out.
  • Don’t Overcook the Shrimp: Add the shrimp towards the end of cooking to avoid overcooking. Shrimp cook quickly, and adding them too early can make them rubbery.
  • Rice on the Side: Cooking the rice separately and stirring it in just before serving prevents it from becoming mushy and overcooked. Plus, it allows each person to customize their rice-to-jambalaya ratio.
  • Adjust Heat to Taste: Cajun seasoning can vary in heat. Start with a smaller amount and adjust upwards to ensure the dish has just the right level of spice for your taste.
  • Use white wine if you like: Replace ½ a cup of the chicken broth with white wine for even more depth of flavor.
Top view of jambalaya in a slow cooker with rice mixed through it.

Serving Suggestions

Serving this delicious recipe of Jambalaya, especially during Mardi Gras, calls for some complementary sides that can elevate the meal into one of your favorite recipes. Hot cooked rice is a must-have. Pair it with fresh corn on the cob, or a side of skillet cornbread, to add a touch of comfort to the meal. To balance the hearty texture, go for a classic green salad, or dive into the crisp freshness of a Cucumber Salad. Additionally, serving cut veggies like cucumber slices tossed in homemade ranch dressing, can introduce a cool, creamy contrast to the spiciness of the dish.

How To Store Leftovers

  • To store, transfer leftovers to an airtight container and keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or freeze for 2 months.
  • To reheat, thaw the jambalaya in the refrigerator (if frozen). Reheat slowly over low heat in a covered skillet until just heated through.

More Cajun Recipes

side shot of Jambalaya in a slow cooker studded with shrimp and garnished with green onions

Slow Cooker Jambalaya Recipe

Katerina | Diethood
This easy slow cooker jambalaya is an authentic Cajun classic featuring chicken, shrimp, and andouille sausage simmered in a spicy, tomato-based sauce with rice.
4.92 from 23 votes
Servings : 8 people
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes (you can also use chicken breasts, but check for doneness a bit sooner)
  • 12 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, if you like your food spicier, use 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound raw frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 cups cooked rice
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • sliced green onions, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Add all ingredients, except shrimp and rice, to a slow cooker, in the order listed.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 3 hours to 3 ½ hours, or until chicken is cooked through.
  • Remove cover and stir in the shrimp; continue to cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until shrimp is cooked through.
  • Add cooked rice and stir through.
  • Remove bay leaf.
  • Garnish jambalaya with parsley and green onions.
  • Serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 421 kcal | Carbohydrates: 32 g | Protein: 36 g | Fat: 16 g | Saturated Fat: 5 g | Cholesterol: 232 mg | Sodium: 941 mg | Potassium: 794 mg | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 5 g | Vitamin A: 1929 IU | Vitamin C: 50 mg | Calcium: 134 mg | Iron: 3 mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American/Southern
Keyword: authentic jambalaya, best jambalaya recipe, chicken recipes, shrimp recipes, slow cooker
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51 comments on “Slow Cooker Jambalaya”

    1. That’s wonderful news! It sounds like the meal was a hit. Preparing it again “soon” sounds like a great plan to keep the family happy! 🙂 Thank YOU! 🙂

  1. Hi, I’m not sure if I misunderstood or what went wrong, but I cooked this recipe on LOW as you stated, and I could tell at 3 hours that it wasn’t even close to being done. Vegetables were completely uncooked, chicken breast wasn’t done. I’ve ended up having to throw it all in a pot on the stove to simmer.

    When you say “low”, do you actually mean the low setting in the crockpot which usually is for 8-10 hours? Or do you mean “high” which is typically 4-6 hours?

    1. Hi!

      I’m sorry to hear that the recipe didn’t turn out. I was indeed referring to the low setting on the crockpot, which is typically for 6 to 8 hours. However, for this particular recipe, 3 to 4 hours on low should generally be sufficient for cubed chicken and diced vegetables to cook thoroughly. It’s possible that variations in crockpot models or the size of the chicken and vegetable pieces could affect cooking times. If the ingredients still seem undercooked, you might need to extend the cooking time until they reach the desired doneness. I hope this helps, and please feel free to reach out if you have any more questions!

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