Simple New Orleans Jambalaya Recipe

Have you wanted to learn how to make a traditional New Orleans Jambalaya but were intimidated by the Cajun seasonings? Today’s easy jambalaya recipe incorporates one of our favorite local staples, and it’s on the table in about 35 minutes!

need a simple recipe for New Orleans Jambalaya? Check out how many of us locals make it and love the dish!

New Orleans has a lot of traditional foods that both tourists and locals enjoy eating year round. However, during Mardi Gras season, traditional dishes are served in full force.

I began working with my friends at Zatarain’s over four years ago, after meeting the brand at a conference. After Hurricane Katrina, Zatarain’s warehouse and facility remained unharmed, so they teamed up with many local chefs, locals, and even their employees to volunteer to feed thousands of people who had lost everything. Since then, they continue to be one of New Orleans’ most beloved brands and I’m thrilled to partner with them to show you how many of us (locals) make delicious and easy jambalaya at home.
For local kids (and adults) the first Mardi Gras treat that comes to mind is King Cake; notably because of its festive colors and limited availability.

Need a simple recipe for New Orleans Jambalaya? Check out how many of us locals make it and love the dish!

However, our visitors remember many other things about the local cuisine, with jambalaya being at the top of the list; along with gumbo, shrimp etouffee, dirty rice, po-boys, and many more.

Mardi Gras is not a one-day celebration. For weeks leading up to the big day, Fat Tuesday, locals and visitors enjoy a huge range of festivities. One of the more notable things are the beads thrown from the floats in the many parades.

Then, there are the parties. From formal balls and masquerades to shrimp boils and backyard festivities, we always celebrate with delicious food like the jambalaya recipe you’ll find below. Jambalaya is a must and an entertaining staple for us locals year round.
When I came to Lousiana and had jambalaya for the first time, it reminded me of my beloved paella that my family makes in Spain at nearly all our gatherings; except the New Orleans version has a southern twist of added heat!

Need a simple recipe for New Orleans Jambalaya? Check out how many of us locals make it and love the dish!

There is no doubt that paella was the inspiration for this Southern dish with all the Spanish history in New Orleans. I felt right at home when eating this meal, and now I nearly always serve it at our gatherings and make it at home for my family. My husband is a southerner after all, and Zatarain’s Jambalaya is something he grew up with!

One of the reasons most of us locals use Zatarain’s New Orleans Style Jambalaya Rice Mix to make our family’s jambalaya is because there is minimal prep required, the seasoning is perfect every time, and all you have to do is add meat. Of course, we locals enhance our jambalaya mix with many different things. Ask 100 locals what they do to their Zatarain’s rice mix and you will get 100 different answers.

Need a simple recipe for New Orleans Jambalaya? Check out how many of us locals make it and love the dish!

Going to parades is not a one-hour affair, it’s an all day event. After a long day of watching parades and grabbing beads with family and friends, there is nothing better than a warm hearty meal to eat when everyone comes back into the house. Although Louisiana is not known for its cold weather, Mardi Gras always falls in our coldest weeks of the year.

A good Jambalaya holds the heat, both in temperature and in spice; making it the perfect meal for a long day out in the cold. It’s the perfect dish to celebrate the day!


Absolutely! Frozen shrimp will perform the same as fresh shrimp in any recipe. However, I highly recommend thawing them first, since frozen shrimp tend to hold a lot of water and will make your dish runny.


The best way to defrost shrimp is to let it thaw overnight in the fridge. For a quick thaw, take the shrimp out o fthe package, place them in a strainer, and run cold water into the bowl while the excess water goes down the drain.

From freezer to pan, frozen shrimp should be ready to cook in about 10 to 15 minutes.

I do not recommend thawing out shrimp in the microwave. The microwave will cook your shrimp and make them chewy.

What is your favorite New Orleans dish? Have you tried any New Orleans Recipes that your family loves?

Need a simple recipe for New Orleans Jambalaya? Check out how many of us locals make it and love the dish!

Simple New Orleans Jambalaya Recipe

Need a simple recipe for New Orleans Jambalaya? Check out how many of us locals make it and love the dish!
  • Author: Laura Fuentes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


  • 1 pound smoked sausage, sliced diagonally
  • 1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 boxes Zatarains Original Jambalaya mix
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I use olive oil)
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 green onions, sliced


  1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté sausage until browned, for about 3 minutes stirring frequently. Add in diced tomatoes, rice and seasoning mix, olive oil, and stir.
  2. Add in 2 ½ cups of water to the large pan or pot and stir to combine. Bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes, open the lid and place shrimp on top. Cover and cook, for an additional 5-7 minutes, until rice is tender.

From time to time, I work with awesome companies to develop recipes for this website. Today’s post was brought to you by Zatarain’s. All opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that encourage my creativity.

5 thoughts on “Simple New Orleans Jambalaya Recipe”

  1. Lisa says:

    I visited New Orleans with a friend 7 years ago. We visited the New Orleans School of Cooking and learned how to prepare Gumbo, Etouffee, Jambalaya and bread pudding. We also dined out, enjoying red beans and rice and po’ boys. I need to dig out my recipes and have a Mardi Gras celebration with my kids!

  2. Stacy says:

    I used to live in New Orleans (and have been visiting my whole life because I had family there) and love New Orleans dishes.

    I recently took the plunge and made beignets from scratch and I’ve had them nearly every day for a month! 🙂

    I made this jambalaya and plan to make it again as soon as I get more shrimp and sausage.

    PS – Your recipe directions don’t mention when to add in the can of diced tomatoes. (I figured out it was during the 1st step with everything else.)

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      Thanks so much for pointing it out Stacy! I revised the recipe to make it more clear. Thank you!

  3. Penelope says:

    Hi Laura,
    Where did you find the yambalaya mix? I’ve been looking around with no luck. Thanks for sharing this, your 30 minute recipes are a savior in my house.

    1. Laura Fuentes says:

      Penelope, you’ll find Zaratains Jambalaya in most grocery stores by the boxed rice and mixes. This is what it looks like -check it out on amazon. Enjoy!

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