New Orleans gumbo, with some fresh baked bread

New Orleans Gumbo (Adaptable and Packed With Flavour + Recipe)

One of the best things of travelling is discovering new foods. So when travelling to New Orleans we had the chance to really learn how to make New Orleans gumbo, a dish I had never heard of before travelling to New Orleans, but which is now a regular in our meal planning.

No idea what gumbo is? I would say it’s a soup, with lots of flavour, proteins and vegetables. But it’s not just a soup, it’s one of which one bowl is enough for a good fullfilling dinner and one with a great in-depth flavour.

In a previous post we’ve discussed how to make a dark roux. This is an essential step for making gumbo. No gumbo without this dark roux, it provides so much flavour. If you haven’t checked that post out, look at it first before diving into the gumbo from this recipe.

New Orleans gumbo itself is a very flexible meal. I guess that, just like any soupy food, it used to be one of those dishes where you would add whatever you still had lying around in your pantry. So, even though I’ll give a recipe below, be creative and add whatever you like, but do not skip the dark roux!

Secret ingredients

I learned to make gumbo at the New Orleans School of Cooking. It was a great course and we had a lot of fun, seeing and learning how to cook, Of course, a touristy cooking school, wouldn’t be a tourist cooking school if there wasn’t some sort of souvenir shop.

secret ingredients for gumbo from New Orleans

And of course, during the course they had used several ‘special’ ingredients which would be essential for making a good gumbo. So, like any good tourist would do, we bought the two ‘critical’ ingredients for making gumbo. And, truth be told, we’ve used them ever since and do help in making a great gumbo. In the recipe below I’ve mentioned some substitutes so you can still make a good gumbo, without ever visiting New Orleans.

If you happen to have something similar to the two ingredients shown above, feel free to use those. Use only a few drops of the crab, shrimp and crawfish boil and use quite a bit (at least 2 tbsp) of powders.

New Orleans Gumbo recipe

A quick reminder, I’ve got a separate extensive analysis of a dark roux.

New Orleans gumbo, with some fresh baked bread

New Orleans Gumbo - flexible & packed with flavour

Yield: 3-4 liter
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes


  • dark roux (from my dark roux post, make approx 160g)
  • 200g chicken meat (I prefer thigh meat)
  • 50g dry sausage (take any type you like with a strong flavour)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 liter of stock (or water)
  • 3-4 dried slices of garlic
  • salt, onion & garlic powder, paprika powder, herbs as preferred (I admit, I use a spice mix instead of all the separate spices, it's called Joe's stuff, but mainly consists of the ingredients mentioned above)
  • 3 spring onions
  • 100g of shrimps


  1. Brown chicken meat and sausage.
  2. Make a dark roux (in a clean pan). Once it has the correct colour, add the onions, celery and green pepper, stir quickly. The mixture will be pretty hot, so make sure it doesn't burn here.
  3. Add garlic and leave to cook/bake for a little longer.
  4. Add the meats to the vegetables and roux and the stock or water. Add enough to assure that all vegetables and meat are covered with liquid. Feel free to add a little more if you'd prefer a more soup like gumbo.
  5. Add the dried garlic and season to taste.
  6. Leave to cook for at least another 45 minutes on a low heat. Taste to see whether seasoning is enough. The roux itself will have a lot of flavour, so it generally doesn't require too much seasoning.
  7. You can take it from the fire now and just leave to serve and reheat later or you can add the sliced spring onions and the raw shrimps and leave it to cook until the shrimp is fully cooked. Eat straightaway, I personally think it tastes best if the shrimp hasn't been cooked for too long.

The nice thing is, it’s ‘just’ a soup and as with soups, you can vary as much as you like! Feel free to add other meats, seafood, vegetables, whatever you like and is available around  you.


  1. There is an ingrediant called “Gumbo File.” Is it part of your secret ingrediants? if not, you may want to add it next time. I made my 1st gumbo around 1965, and was introduced to it by a NOrleans chef. I believe the distinctive flavor is from the file. I use neckbones and crab, as well as your ingrediants.
    Real gumbo is poured atop a spoon of rice, but some folks use too much.
    Thanks for good article.

    • Hi Marty,

      I just looked file up and no, I haven’t used gumbo file yet. It sounds like it can contribute greatly to get a more in-depth flavour. I’ll have to try it for sure!
      Also, smart to use bones and crab, I imagine they contribute a ton of flavour!

      Thank you for coming by 🙂

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