Paula Deen Gumbo is a classic made from a dark roux, chicken, sausage, shrimp and the Creole holy trinity- onions, bell pepper and celery. Paula Deen's recipe is the best and is our tried and true favorite. It's served over rice and is full of flavor, hearty and will warm you up on a cold winter day.
Gumbo, a flavorful dish deeply rooted in the rich culinary traditions of Louisiana, boasts a fascinating history and an irresistible taste that has captivated food enthusiasts for generations. Its origins can be traced back to the 18th century when African, French, and Spanish influences converged in the vibrant melting pot of New Orleans. Gumbo's unique flavor profile is a testament to its diverse heritage, blending aromatic spices, hearty ingredients, and a variety of proteins such as seafood, chicken, or sausage.
The secret to gumbo's delectable allure lies in the skillful combination of a dark, roux-based sauce, known as the "holy trinity" of vegetables (onions, bell peppers, and celery), and a harmonious blend of herbs and spices. This delightful amalgamation creates a symphony of flavors that dance on the palate, delivering a soul-warming experience with every spoonful.
Whether enjoyed as a comforting meal on a chilly evening or a celebratory dish during festive gatherings, gumbo's deliciousness is an undeniable testament to the cultural fusion and culinary mastery that has made it an enduring symbol of Louisiana's vibrant gastronomic tapestry.
For another great hearty soup for winter try our tortellini sausage soup!
What You'll Love About This Recipe
- Well-developed flavor - the dark roux is made by cooking it for over 30 minutes, making it rich and deep in flavor. It's absolutely delicious and the heart of this and any good gumbo.
- Makes Great Leftovers - The flavor will continue to develop as it sits and the leftovers are so yummy! It also makes a nice large batch, so having it twice is a must.
- Great for Entertaining - it's a fun food to share with friends and loved ones. It can easily be made ahead, making the day of entertaining less stressful.
- Homemade - it's true that it's fun to eat out, and we absolutely love a yummy gumbo made at a restaurant! There is also something so special about creating a delicious dish at home, and this is one to love!
Why Is A Dark Roux So Important in Gumbo?
- The dark roux serves as a crucial foundation in gumbo, imparting depth, richness, and complexity to this iconic Louisiana dish.
- With its distinct nutty aroma and deep caramelized flavors, the dark roux elevates the taste profile of gumbo, creating a savory base that enhances the overall dining experience.
- The carefully crafted dark roux in gumbo not only adds a velvety texture but also acts as a binding agent, marrying the diverse ingredients together and amplifying the harmonious blend of flavors in every delightful spoonful.
- shrimp - shrimp is staple for gumbo and a must in any gumbo recipe. For this recipe I like to use small shrimp that are cooked and detailed and deveined.
- sausage - This is delicious with a good andouille or kielbasa sausage or I have even used some precooked chicken apple sausages in a pinch.
- chicken - boneless skinless chicken breasts are what I prefer to use in this recipe. Other cuts of chicken can be used if desired.
- Worcestershire sauce -the Worcestershire sauce adds a great umami flavor and is a little salty. It ties everything together and is an essential part to gumbo.
- olive/avocado/vegetable oil - I usually use avocado oil, but you can use any type of cooking oil. We don't recommend coconut oil due to it's low smoke point.
- minced garlic - We highly recommend minced or fresh garlic. They add so much more flavor than garlic powder and it's worth it.
- green onion - green onion has it's own unique flavor, which is essential for this recipe
- celery - part of the Creole holy trinity and a very important part of this recipe. The celery adds a nice texture and subtle flavor throughout.
- yellow onion - another component of the Creole holy trinity is onions. Onions add so much flavor to any dish and a classic yellow onion is perfect in this recipe.
- green bell pepper - the third and final part of the Creole holy trinity, the green bell pepper has a great flavor and texture that is essential for gumbo.
- parsley - fresh parsley tastes a lot different than dried parsley. We highly recommend the use of fresh parsley to really make the most of this dish.
- stewed tomatoes - canned stewed tomatoes are the perfect addition to make this well rounded and delicious.
- butter - I used salted, but you can certainly use unsalted-it won't make a big difference. This will be used to make the dark roux- another essential part of any classic gumbo.
- flour - regular, all purpose flour. This will also we used to make the dark roux. Dark roux adds such a deep delicious flavor!
- better than bouillon- you can use beef bouillon or even some beef bone broth in place of the better than bouillon.
See recipe card for quantities.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven pot over medium/ medium high heat. Season the chicken breasts with a little salt and pepper then cook in the oil until browned on both sides then remove.
Next cook the sausage until browned then remove.
How to make roux for gumbo:
Add the butter then sprinkle the flour over the oil/butter and whisk together. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. It should be a nice dark roux and thicken up. Giving it the time it needs is important for getting the best flavor. Keep making the roux: Turn the heat down to low then add the garlic, onion, bell pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. It's important to keep it from sticking to the bottom.
Add the worcestershire sauce, parsley and salt and pepper. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring constantly and keeping it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Your roux is now done. It should be dark and thick and rich looking. A well developed roux is pertinent for the flavor of gumbo!
Add the beef Better than Bouillon and water. Whisk until well combined. Cut chicken into bite size pieces then add the chicken and sasauge. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
Add tomatoes and okra and simmer for 1 hour more.
Add the shrimp, green onions and chopped fresh parsley and serve over rice!
Hint: Make sure to take your time with the dark roux. That's where the wonderful flavor comes from.
I know that you want to move on with your day, and you don't want to stand over a pot of food for half an hour while making the dark roux. But of all the steps, this is the most important. Developing the dark roux makes the biggest difference in flavor and texture and is the number one thing you can do to make this dish amazing.
Get creative! While gumbo has a few key foundational ingredients like dark roux, the Creole holy trinity and chicken, sausage and shrimp, there is a lot of flexibility as well! We love adding vegetables, and even using other meats on occasion. As long as you keep the core ingredients, the rest are flexible. This won't create a technically traditional dish, but it's nice to mix things up.
- Okra - instead of okra you can use file as a thickener. Add it at the very end, sprinkling it on top about 3 minutes before adding the shrimp, green onions and parsley.
- Sausage- this also tastes great with chicken sausage, or even Polish sausages in a pinch.
- Gluten Free- for gluten free use corn starch instead of flour. Use ¼ cup.
- Gumbo Soup - Leave out the okra. The okra acts as a thickener. Without the okra it will be a great soup-like texture.
- Vegetable- I added 1 zucchini, 1 summer squash and 1 red bell pepper to add some more vitamins and nutrients and it was delicious!
- Creole- Add some creole seasoning for a fun kick of flavor.
- large heavy bottom dutch oven pot- a regular large pot will work in a pinch
Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop until hot.
Store in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Reheat on the stovetop until hot.
Make sure the gumbo is actually simmering for its 45 and 60 minute time slots. If it isn't hot enough, the meat could go bad and spoil during these long stretches of time.
Cook the chicken and sausage. Make a dark roux. This will develop the flavor and texture and is the base of any good gumbo. Add the Creole Holy Trinity (onions, green bell pepper and celery) and parsley. Add the beef broth, chicken and sausage. Simmer 45 minutes. Add stewed tomatoes and okra and simmer for another hour. Stir in the shrimp and parsley and serve!
Making a dark roux is essential for good gumbo. Over medium heat melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook while stirring for 10-15 minutes until dark in color. Add the garlic, onion, bell pepper and celery and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring constantly. Add the Worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt and pepper and cook for 10 more minutes, still stirring to keep it sticking from the bottom. Your dark roux is now done!
Gumbo File, derived from dried sassafras leaves, is a key ingredient in gumbo, adding a unique aroma and thickening properties. Explore authentic Louisiana flavors by incorporating gumbo file into your recipes for delightful and aromatic creations.
A good gumbo takes about 3-4 hours to make, from start to finish. You have to cook meats, make a dark roux, and allow plenty of time for simmering and cooking.
The Creole Holy Trinity, onions, celery and green bell pepper along with tomatoes and okra go in a traditional gumbo. I like to add red bell pepper, summer squash and zucchini for a pop of more veggies.
Add shrimp at the very end! If using uncooked shrimp, add about 5 minutes before serving, while still simmering. Cook until shrimp is fully cooked then serve immediately!
Paula Deen Gumbo
- ¼ cup vegetable/ olive/ avocado oil
- 3 chicken breasts large
- 1 lb smoked sausage cut into ¼" rounds
- 5 Tablespoons butter
- ½ cup flour
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and chopped
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup worcestershire sauce
- ¼ of a large bunch of parsley stems and leaves, chopped plus more for garnish
- salt and pepper to taste
- 5 teaspoons beef Better Than Bouillon
- 4 cups hot water
- 14 oz can stewed tomatoes with juice
- 2 cups frozen sliced okra
- 4 green onions sliced white and green parts
- ½ lb. shrimp small cooked deveined
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven pot over medium/ medium high heat. Season the chicken breasts with a little salt and pepper then cook in the oil until browned on both sides then remove. Cook the sausage until browned then remove.
- Add the butter over medium heat then sprinkle the flour over the oil/butter and whisk together. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. It should be a nice dark roux and thicken up. Giving it the time it needs is important for getting the best flavor. See pictures above for guidance.
- Turn the heat down to low then add the garlic, onion, bell pepper and celery and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. It's important to keep it from sticking to the bottom.
- Add the worcestershire sauce, parsley and salt and pepper. Cook for another 10 minutes.
- Add the beef Better Than Bouillon and water. Whisk until well combined. Cut chicken into bite size pieces then add the chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and okra and simmer for 1 more hour.
- Add the shrimp, green onions and chopped fresh parsley and serve over rice!