This New Orleans Chicken Gumbo recipe is one of the best bowls of gumbos you’re going to eat -with the exception of the one my mother-in-law makes.
Living in New Orleans for the last 20 years has taught me to distinguish a good bowl of gumbo from a mediocre one and making a roux was practically a requirement for marrying my southern husband.
After many years of stirring the pot, I’m not only going to share with you my best gumbo recipe but also everything you need to know to make a great roux for your gumbo (the starter) step-by-step.
Gumbo is a staple dish in Louisiana and if you’ve never had it the best way to describe it would be a rich stew seasoned with Creole flavors and various meats or seafood.
My hope is that this chicken gumbo recipe will bring you back to New Orleans or give you a taste of this delicious meal that makes a regular appearance in my home.
Authentic Louisiana Gumbo
From a gorgeous brown roux to the Creole seasonings, ‘holy trinity vegetables’, and gumbo file added at the end, this chicken gumbo has every element to qualify as an authentic Louisiana gumbo.
Right down to the rich and complex flavor that will have you going back for a second bowl.
The reason I classify this recipe as “easy” is because the ingredients and the method are basic and with my step-by-step directions and even a video, you’ll be able to make the best bowl of gumbo ever.
The most important part is the roux, the starter or base, for your gumbo and I even explain in detail everything that’s involved. Yes, it does require some love and patience, about 20 minutes to make, and 100% worth it.
Note: some committed Louisianians will spend a solid hour stirring the roux over low heat until it turns into a luxurious, dark color and more power to them.
Here’s everything you need to make this authentic New Orleans gumbo:
- vegetable oil: makes a rich, brown roux in under 25 minutes without burning. Keep reading to see other fat options to make roux.
- all-purpose flour: flour is a MUST for the roux. You need equal parts fat and flour.
- aromatic vegetables: chopped onions, bell pepper, and celery are known as the ‘holy trinity’ vegetables. They are essential for gumbo and many other Cajun and Creole recipes.
- garlic: adds more flavor.
- andouille or smoked sausage: andouille is a smoked pork sausage with Cajun seasonings, but you could also use whatever smoked sausage is available near you. Can be omitted but then, it’s not authentic without sausage. Every gumbo has it.
- shredded chicken: never raw, always start with cooked shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken, breasts, or even roasted turkey leftovers.
- Cajun seasoning: a blend of spices and herbs that’s essential for gumbo. You can find it at the grocery store or on amazon.
- chicken broth: since this is a chicken gumbo, stick with chicken broth or stock.
- bay leaves: optional, but they do add flavor.
- gumbo file: a ground powder used to thicken and flavor the gumbo (near the spices or on amazon).
This gumbo recipe does not include okra, mostly due to availability issues outside of New Orleans and because my family does not like the slimy texture it has once cooked down. Although, I did add a note in the recipe card about how much and when to add it if you enjoy it.
You’ll be able to print the recipe and all the measurements below in the recipe card.
Related: My recipe for Gluten-Free Gumbo
What is the Secret Ingredient in Gumbo?
A good roux is the secret ingredient for gumbo. A combination of equal parts fat and flour, the roux is the essence of the entire dish and defines how flavorful your gumbo will be.
It’s simple to make but it does require some tending to for it to achieve that deep brown color and thick consistency that will yield a rich broth that coats every ingredient in the gumbo.
How to Make Chicken Gumbo
Grab those ingredients and let’s make homemade chicken and sausage gumbo!
- Make a roux
In a large Dutch oven or pot, combine the oil then the flour. Stir them slowly and constantly over medium heat for 15 to 25 minutes or until the roux has thickened and has a copper brown color. More roux details and troubleshooting below.
*If you have a cast-iron pot, use it!
- Add the veggies
Toss in the bell peppers, onion, celery, and garlic and stir into the roux. Cook for 5 minutes until the veggies have softened and fragrant.
- Add the meat and seasonings
Add the sausage, shredded chicken, and seasonings to the roux, making sure they get coated.
Pour in the broth, stir, and add the bay leaves. Stir until the roux is incorporated into the broth.
- Turn up the heat
Bring the heat to medium-high and bring the gumbo to a boil before reducing the heat to low. Cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours (if you’re short on time, 1-hour minimum).
- Final touches
Turn off the heat and before serving, you’ll want to skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Add the filé powder (with the heat turned off) and stir it into the gumbo, if using.
- Grab a bowl
Scoop some cooked rice into your bowl and top with a generous ladle of homemade gumbo. You’re going to love this!
See the color progression of the roux and every step to making this delicious gumbo in my recipe video below.
The Perfect Gumbo Roux
The perfect gumbo roux is made with flour and fat, usually in the form of a neutral oil, butter, or lard. The two ingredients are cooked down to a copper penny deep brown color and silky smooth thick texture.
To make a good roux takes a watchful eye, and depending on how dark you want it, time. Don’t be intimidated- it’s relatively simple. In essence, if you can use a whisk, you can make a roux.
I usually put on some music or sip on some wine to keep me company since once you start, it’s important to keep whisking and stirring the roux so to prevent it from burning. The mixture should smell nutty, not burnt (think burnt toast).
How to Thicken Gumbo
There are two ways to thicken gumbo: with filé powder and okra. For the most part, people will use one or the other since using both ingredients will make the gumbo too thick and slimy.
For this recipe, I use filé powder. It gives the gumbo a darker color and earthy flavor that I prefer. It’s that taste of “New Orleans” that you loved if you’ve ever enjoyed a bowl here while visiting.
Filé powder must be added to the gumbo once the heat has been turned off. If added to a simmering pot it can sometimes turn bitter and clump.
If you use okra, you’ll add it into the roux along with the onions, celery, and bell pepper as noted in the recipe card.
What is Gumbo File?
Filé is a powder made from dried and ground sassafras leaves. It’s very popular in Cajun and Creole seasoning for its flavorful profile and thickening properties.
What to Serve with Gumbo
Gumbo is traditionally served over cooked rice. Potato salad is often served on the side.
That said, some people swear by potato salad as the base with a generous ladle of gumbo right over. Whether to serve potato salad on the side or with the gumbo, I’ll let you decide.
Success Tips for the Best Chicken Gumbo
The Best Oil for Roux
You’ll want to stick to neutral-flavored and a high smoke point oil such as vegetable or canola oil. It reduces the risk of burning your roux and helps achieve that dark brown color.
Other Fats for a Roux
Down in the bayou, duck fat, bacon fat, and even lard is used to make a roux. In a pinch, you can use butter but butter will brown and sometimes burn if the heat source is too high.
What fats not to use
I don’t recommend coconut oil or olive oil which have lower smoke points. In no way should you ever use margarine, it will be a disaster.
Gumbo Roux Color
The color of your roux depends on how long you cook it and whether you use oil or butter as your fat.
At first, the 50:50 fat and flour mixture will be white and very liquid. Keep stirring. Eventually, it will turn golden yellow, light peanut butter, caramel, almond butter, and eventually a copper dark-brown.
The darker the roux, the darker the gumbo. You’ll need to whisk/stir the flour and oil for 20 minutes minimum, depending on your heat source for a dark roux.
That said, you don’t need to cook it until dark brown to make a good gumbo. You can stop once the roux reaches a rich caramel color, around 15 minutes. The gumbo consistency won’t be as thick or rich in flavor as a dark roux, but it’s still delicious. Although you made it there already, so keep going another 5 minutes!
What texture should the roux have?
At first, the flour and oil will have a liquid consistency. I promise you that as you keep stirring, the flour will thicken, and the roux will reduce and thicken as it cooks.
How do I know if my roux is burnt?
The smell is the best indicator of a burnt roux, and it will often happen in the first ten minutes if your heat source is too high or if you used another oil other than vegetable oil.
A good roux smells nutty, slightly toasted; burnt roux smells like burnt toast.Print
A traditional New Orleans chicken gumbo recipe that’s thick and full of flavor you’re going to love. Plus, how to make the perfect roux!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
- Yield: 8
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: New Orleans
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ all-purpose flour
- ½ cup chopped onions
- ½ cup chopped celery
- ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound andouille or smoked sausage, sliced
- 1 ½ pounds boneless chicken meat, shredded
- 1 ½ tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- 2 quarts (64 oz) chicken broth or stock
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon file powder, optional
- Rice for serving
- Combine the oil and flour in a large pot over medium heat (use a cast-iron one if you have it). Stirring slowly and constantly for 15 to 20 minutes, until the roux is a copper brown color, chocolate-like, and it has thickened.
- Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic, and continue to stir for 4 to 5 minutes, until the veggies have softened.
- Add the sausage and chicken, and stir to combine. Add the seasoning and continue to fold until everything is well combined.
- Add the broth or stock and the bay leaves and slowly mix to combine, making sure the roux incorporates itself into the liquid.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high, bring the gumbo to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.
- Before serving, turn off the heat. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface and discard it. Stir in file powder for flavor and thickening, if using. Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice.
You can use vegetable oil, duck fat, bacon fat, or lard to make a roux. Margarine is not an option for this!
While not required to make a great gumbo, File powder adds that authentic New Orleans flavor and helps thicken the gumbo.
If you want to add okra to this gumbo, omit the file powder. You can add ½ cup thickly sliced okra to the pot when adding the onions, celery, and pepper so it can cook down with the vegetables.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 299
- Sugar: 1.7 g
- Sodium: 822.6 mg
- Fat: 17.5 g
- Saturated Fat: 12.1 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 10.2 g
- Fiber: 0.9 g
- Protein: 24.9 g
- Cholesterol: 74.7 mg