Chicken Gumbo with Andouille Sausage

A classic spicy chicken and andouille sausage gumbo with okra.

I include a recipe for my own Cajun spice blend, but you can use a commercial spice blend if you want. A word on the andouille sausage: try your best to find it. We've found it in regular supermarkets, and it comes fresh or smoked. Either is good. It can be spicy, however, so if you are sensitive to spicy foods, lower the amount of cayenne in the recipe and use a mild Italian sausage.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours
  • Yield: Serves 10-12.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 pound bacon, diced
  • 2-3 pounds chicken thighs, skin on
  • Salt
  • 1-2 pounds andouille sausage
  • 1/2 cup peanut or other vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/2 to 1 pound okra, sliced into discs
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Cajun spice mix

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 Tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano

Method

1 Cook the diced bacon until crispy in a large stew pot set over medium heat. Remove the bacon and set aside; you'll add it back in when you serve your gumbo.

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2 Once the bacon is cooked, set the chicken thighs skin side down in the bacon fat to crisp. Salt the meat side, which will be facing up in the pot. Cook the chicken, without moving, for at least 4-5 minutes before trying to turn the chicken over. Brown the other side of the chicken thighs. Incidentally, you start with skin side down to render some fat, which you will need for the roux.

3 Remove the browned chicken thighs and set aside. Brown the sausages in the fat, remove and set aside.

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4 If you want, measure how much fat is in the pot; it should be about 1/2 cup. Or, do what I do and add 1/2 cup peanut oil to the pot. Let this heat up a minute or two, then stir in 1 cup flour. Stir this almost constantly for the first few minutes, then every couple minutes or so thereafter. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook this roux until it turns dark. How dark? I like my roux the color of coffee with just a tiny bit of cream. You can go all the way to chocolate brown, but be careful! If you burn your roux you will need to start over and make it again. This whole process can take 30 minutes.

5 While you are stirring and cooking the roux, bring the chicken stock and water to a boil in a separate pot.

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6 Add to the roux the onion, green pepper and celery and mix well. Let this cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, stir again and cook for another 2 minutes. Mix in the tomato paste.

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7 Using a large ladle, add the hot chicken stock to the gumbo. It will sizzle and seize up as the roux absorbs the liquid. Keep adding more stock, stirring all the time and scraping the bottom of the pot, to incorporate all the stock and all the roux. You might not need all 2 quarts, but add enough to make the gumbo slightly more watery than you want it to be at the end — remember you are going to cook this down for several hours. Stir in half the Cajun spice mix, taste the gumbo, and add more if you want.

8 Lower the heat to medium-low and add back the chicken thighs. Now you can either eat the skin while it's still crispy, or toss it into the gumbo and chop it fine later. I tend to do half-and-half. Simmer this gently, stirring from time to time, until the meat wants to fall off the bones of the chicken, about 90 minutes. Remove the chicken and let it cool a bit.

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9 While the chicken is cooling, cut the andouille sausage into thick discs and drop them in the gumbo. Add the okra. Pick the chicken meat from the bones and chop it roughly. Add it back to the gumbo. At this point you can cook the gumbo for another hour, or up to several more hours, depending on how cooked down you want the final stew to be.

10 When you are ready to eat, add the green onions, parsley and bacon and stir well. Serve over rice, or with good French bread.

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Comments

  1. Amanda

    I absolutely love gumbo and jambalaya! The one time I made gumbo, I used frozen okra and the whole thing turned slimy. It still tasted good, but was not pretty to look at. Is that problem just as common with fresh okra? Or is there a method to avoid sliminess?
    This recipe definitely incorporates everything I love about Cajun cooking. Thanks Hank and Elise! I will definitely be trying this on a coming weekend if I can find a way to avoid slime. :-)

    Sorry Amanda, okra is, well… slimy. You can leave it out and use file powder as another thickener — put the file in right at the end of cooking. File (Fee-lay) is available at larger grocery stores or in places like Cost Plus World Market. ~Hank

    • g white

      FIf you take your okra an put it in a pan with no oil and keep stiring it
      till the slime goes away then add to gumbo it wont be slimey

    • James

      This might be a little late to help Amanda but here’s how I take a lot of the slim effect out of okra. First pre-heat oven to 250 degrees add okra to lightly oiled baking sheet or foil lined pan and place in oven for approx. 30 min. but keep an eye on okra every 10 min. or so, your looking to dehydrate the okra slightly to reduce the slimy effect and still have the taste and some thickening effect on the gumbo, toss okra if needed and try not to brown if possible.

  2. Kathi Riley Smith

    During a cooking stint at K-Pauls, I was taught to cook the roux until its the color of the cast iron pan. The art is to do this without burning it! Also contrary to popular belief, gumbo is not really thickened by the addition of the roux. Roux is more for flavoring gumbo and the end result should be quite brothy, mostly thickened by the ingredients rather than the roux-at least as far as Paul Prudhomme is concerned.

    You are right about a dark roux: Once they are that dark — something I do only occasionally — they lose most of their thickening power. But a lighter roux like the one we used will still retain some thickening strength. ~Hank

  3. Emiko

    Looks delicious! Chicken and Andouille sausage are now on the shopping list. I hope chicken Andouille will do, since that is all I can ever find. I have a quick question about the oil for the roux. Is the half cup of peanut oil in addition to or instead of the rendered fat? Thanks!

    The peanut oil is in addition to the rendered fat. ~Hank

  4. Shannon

    Yum. I love to make my “healthy” version with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and smoked turkey sausage. Also, rather than rendering fat, I just use canola oil for my roux. No okra or tomato paste, just a dash a file at the table with rice and cornbread. Can’t wait for some cooler weather to make this!

  5. kathy

    One of the common ways of adding okra to gumbos down here is to add the okra with the onions, celery, etc., then add the stock. Follow the rest of Hank’s directions, except in step 9 you are only adding the sausage. Sometimes, (if I have a lot of time), I will brown the sausage before adding the vegetables, remove the sausage and add it back at the end with the chicken so that the okra and veggies are “invisible”, but the meat is still intact. If the meats cook as long as is necessary to fully cook down the veggies, they might disintegrate.

    Good tip. I do that sometimes when I want a really cooked-down gumbo. Usually in winter. ~Hank

  6. Christina

    A comment about “slimy” okra. Okra doesn’t have to be slimy. To see how to prepare it in a non-slimy way, see:

    http://www.touregypt.net/recipes/bamya1.htm

    which I found from:

    http://www.organicallycooked.com/2007/09/bamies-ladys-fingers-okra-gumbo.html

    Another technique is to fry the okra in (olive) oil so that they crisp up (no flour), drain them on a paper towel and then add them to whatever stew you’re cooking. When I was in Athens with my then-fiance now-husband, we were going to go to the National Museum, but the smell of my aunt cooking chicken and okra stew kept us home, and we missed the museum. She was the one I learned this trick from, and oh my goodness it was worth missing the museum over…

    • Sharice

      That’s exactly what I do. Fry the okra, drain the oil and set aside. ‘It reduces the slimy effect okra can have and really helps to thicken the gumbo without needing file powder.

  7. Janice

    Great recipe but skip the okra. It turns slimy when cooked and detracts from the great flavor of the gumbo. Chicken and sausage gumbo is a winter staple in Louisiana. If you can make a roux, the rest is just like making soup.

    Ha! I know quite a few Louisianans who would dispute the idea that okra detracts from the flavor of the gumbo! But, you are right, there are plenty of versions that leave it out. All are good. ;-) ~Hank

  8. Ray

    You can replace the andouille with a smoked beef-pork mixed sausage.If you are unsure how to make a proper roux check with your grocery store and see if they carry it or can order it.Roux is the sort of thing where pratice makes perfect.

  9. tommy2rs

    You can dry fry or oven roast (no breading or cornmeal) fresh sliced okra to kill the slime. Just don’t overdo it or the okra won’t “come back” while boiling. It’s a lot of extra trouble but it does allow slime haters to enjoy okra in gumbo. And from years of personal experience, NEVER walk away from roux while it’s browning. It never works out well no matter how quick you are….lol.

  10. Lee Legrand

    Can a different oil be used besides peanut or vegetable oil? Would olive oil work well with the recipe or coconut oil?

    No, sadly. Both olive oil and coconut oil have such strong flavors you will throw off the gumbo. I use lard or butter a lot, though… ~Hank

  11. Liz

    I grew up in New Orleans. One hint my mother had for “slimy” okra was to brown it with the onion, etc. until it was browned and the goo is cooked away. You still have the okra flavor. You still have to use the file if you want it a little thicker.

  12. Renee

    I grew up in Southwest Louisiana and this is how I learned how to make gumbo. Two things that I do different is that I had my okra about 15 mins before I serve and I make a dry roux. With the dry roux you get the flavor of the roux but none of the oil. Its a bit faster too but you do have to have a well seasoned iron skillet and a wisk. If you see the pan smoking then you have to remove the skillet off the flame and let it cool down. A gumbo without file is like going crawfishing in the desert just not done.

    Wow, I’ve never done a dry roux before. Will have to give it a try. And yeah, in SW Louisiana, file is a must… ~Hank

  13. Heather

    I grew up in Baton Rouge. My Mama makes a “healthy roux” which is like the dry roux. She simply browns the flour on a baking sheet in the oven until the desired color. Once browned she adds it to the cast iron pot/skillet and builds it up with water instead of fat. She uses this method for any recipe calling for a roux. I believe she found this in the Healthy River Road recipes book. The River Road cookbook is a staple in Louisiana kitchens along with tabasco and Tony Chachere’s seasoning.

  14. Jeni

    Dry roux you mentioned above reminds me of peanut and flour tea that my grandparents have in China. I think we can simply toast flour in a pan/wok until it take on the desired color. good tip!! I was concerned of the fat added in the roux and was seeking alternatives.

  15. Allen Wright

    Thanks to those who posted the dry roux. I knew it was possible but didn’t have the method. I have used just about every meat that I can find in local stores to make a gumbo and all were successful except beef. It just didn’t work for some reason.
    Mom makes her’s with seafood and adds the fish at the last minute, just long enough to cook it through.

  16. Cecilia Gunther

    I moved to The States only 5 years ago after visiting on and off for about 25 years and I have never tried gumbo. Surely this is a gap in my cultural culinary education. Looks like you are going to change my ways!!!Thank you c

  17. Cindy

    when I thicken my stews, I mix a little corn starch with cold water stirring until smooth, then add to the soft boiling stew and this works everytime. I’m diffently going to try this recipe

    Yep, that will work, but corn starch thickening is not usually done in Louisiana. ~Hank

  18. Amy

    Being a NOLA native, I generally only put okra in a seafood gumbo, not a meat one. Another trick for slimy okra is to saute it first in a separate pot with a little white vinegar. Don’t ask – that’s how momma did it and her okra was always perfect. For those short on time I make a chicken and sausage gumbo using a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. I brown the sausage for the fat for the roux instead of the chicken, then pretty much proceed as you did. I may try adding bacon next time – everything is better with bacon. If I’m really short on time I use 1/2 a jar of Savoie’s Dark Roux. Yes, I cheat.

  19. Juliebelle

    No oregano… No self respecting Louisiana resident would ruin a Gumbo like that (Oregano is for Red Gravy). Suggestion to those who have never made a roux: Have all your seasoning vegetables – the trinity + lots of garlic – chopped and ready to add. Fry off your bacon and add peanut oil. If you must use vegetable oil, use canola (it works in a pinch and for folks with peanut allergies). Turn your flame to medium, Add your flour and don’t take your eyes off the roux until you reach the desired color…STIR, STIR, STIR.

    I taught my midwestern sister-in-law how to make a roux with a can of dark roast coffee open and sitting next to the stove…She kept asking “Now?, Now??, Now??…DARK – but not burned…you’ll smell burned and that’ll ruin the gumbo, start over. But when you reach that magic color, IMMEDIATELY remove the pot from the fire, add the chopped vegetables and start stiring from the bottom up – sort of like folding them into the roux. Be careful, Roux is hot like Cajun napalm…it’ll cook the vegetables some (and your hands if you’re not careful) and will then will cool down enough so as not to burn. Then proceed.

    Another of my “secrets” is that I use homemade broth and the “piece de resistance” some wine – whatever you have so long as it’s good stuff. I’m known all over 3 southern states and Alaska for my gumbo. If you want to have a “slap ya mama” good gumbo…get somebody to smoke a turkey then use the carcass to make broth and the meat stripped off the carcas goes in the gumbo. So rich and good… Julie

    Hey Julie, just as you have never heard of oregano in a gumbo (I’ve had several with oregano near Houma, actually) I have never heard of a gumbo with wine. So you see? Gumbo is a dish of a thousand faces! Ain’t that cool? ~Hank

  20. Carl

    This looks tasty! How much of the file should I use if I’m skipping the okra? Not familiar with it.

    I add a couple tablespoons to the gumbo right before I serve it, then put the file on the table so people can add more if they want. ~Hank

  21. shorthand

    Hey Hank, I am from Bayou Dularge, just south of Houma (can’t believe you know where that is). I use bay leaf and thyme, but never heard of using oregano in gumbo. My recipe is very, very close to Julie’s. Like Tommy I oven roast my okra before using it in gumbo, which works really well, but I only use okra in seafood gumbos. Okra is for seafood and file is for chicken and sausage. Cheers!

    Hey there, thanks for the tip on the okra and seafood connection! ~Hank

  22. Snippets of Thyme

    Yes!! As a bonafide cajun I always peer at gumbo attempts with one eye closed. But…this is a bonafide gumbo. Beautiful job! We ate gumbo every Christmas Eve when I was growing up. If you ate your share, you could look under your plate, and there was money!

  23. JP

    I made this in Sunday, and while it was cooking I was thinking, there is no way this would be worth spending 4 hrs on. Well, about 4 hrs later when we sat down to eat…OH MY GOD! It was sooooo good! I am glad I was patient to cook for that long (I have a 3 mo old baby and look for things that dont need constant stirring, etc). It was totally worth it.
    I did cheat a little bit though, used prosciutto instead of bacon and took the skin off of the chicken thighs because it has the most fat. Maybe it would have been even better with those! Thanks for sharing such an awesome recipe!

  24. Jennifer

    I made this Gumbo Saturday as we experienced Hurricane Irene. We had no power but I have a gas stove so it was no problem. My husband said it was one of the best things I have ever cooked! I was a little nervous when making the roux because all I had for light was my propane lantern but it came out perfect! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  25. Andrew

    When you add the 1/2 cup of peanut oil, are you adding it to the fat in the pan or are you draining it first?

    You add it to the pan. ~Hank

  26. Nancy

    This, in a word, is DELICIOUS! I followed the recipe to a T and didn’t need any peanut oil. I’m thinking, tho, that I probably babied the roux a bit because it took more than a half hour to cook but I took it off when it was the color of black coffee with just a tad of cream. Not serving it tonight… going to wait until tomorrow and serve it with some shrimp over rice for a truly decadent New Orleans-type feast. We had gumbo in NO and this, I’m sure, will be as good as any we had there. But as it is, I’ll be dreaming about it. Just hope I don’t sleep walk. :) Thanks, Hank and Elise!! :)

  27. trevo

    so im about half way through the recipe. just put chicken in. i started at 1pm and it now 442pm, im hoping ill be done by 630 for my family. a few problems came up. and by a few i mean it happen more than once. THE ROUX. it burned on me 3 times and i basically ran out of oil on the fourth/final try and only had a little over half a cup of oil eft. on the laft try i babied that roux like it was a child. i put a chair in the kitchen, put my timer on 30 minutes and whisked that bad boy every 2 minutes making sure it didnt burn.
    by the end of the 30 the roux had a peanut butter color and since time was running out i was satisfied with it. put my cellery and stuff in and thought i f’ed up since it was clumpy. added stock and everything came together. playing wait game now. thks

  28. mari

    wondering if i can use a different sausage in place of andouille that wont take away the flavor? i cant seem to find andouille here in asia as much as i have looked everywhere?

    Yeah, I bet andouille would tough to find in Asia. Substitute with any spicy smoked sausage you can find. ~Hank

  29. Charles Dunn

    I would like to use chicken breasts instead of thighs. Would I follow the same thigh cooking procedure using breasts, or should I do something different? Thanks from Nashville!

    I would not put the breast meat into the gumbo until about 20-30 minutes before cooking time. That would keep the meat moist. ~Hank