Green Gumbo

A traditional Louisiana gumbo served during Lent that is based on loads of greens such as collards, kale, turnip greens and spinach.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 2 hours
  • Yield: Serves 10-12


  • 1 cup peanut oil, lard or other vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (see below)
  • 1 ham hock (optional)
  • 10 cups water
  • 3 pounds assorted greens (i.e. kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, spinach, chard, parsley, dandelion greens, beet greens), chopped (about 14 cups)
  • Salt
  • 1 pound smoked andouille sausage (optional)
  • File powder to taste (optional)

Cajun Spice Blend

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


1 Make the roux: Start the gumbo by making a roux, which will add a lot of flavor and thicken the gumbo. Heat the cup of peanut oil or lard (both are traditional roux ingredients) over medium heat for a minute or two and then stir in the flour. Mix so there are no lumps.

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Cook the roux over medium-low heat until it is the color of chocolate. It is your choice how dark you let your roux go. The darker it is, the better, but once the roux gets dark it can burn easily, so you must stir constantly and keep and eye on it.

2 Heat water to a simmer: While the roux is cooking, bring the 10 cups of water to a simmer.

3 Add onions, celery, green pepper, then garlic to roux: When the roux is dark enough, mix in the chopped onions, celery and green pepper and turn the heat to medium. Let this cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften. Add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes.

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4 Add bay leaves, spice, hot water: Add the bay leaves, the Cajun spice and slowly stir in the hot water. The roux will seize up at first, but keep stirring and it will all come together in a silky broth.

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5 Add ham hock, greens, cover and simmer: Add the ham hock and all the greens. Taste for salt, but remember the ham hock will be salty, so let the broth be a little under-salted for now. If you want to add more Cajun spice, do so now. Cover the pot and simmer gently for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

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6 Remove meat from ham hock bones, chop and return to pot: Check the ham hock. If the meat is falling off the bone, remove it, discard the bones, chop the meat and return it to the pot. If the hock is not ready, keep simmering the gumbo; ham hocks don't always cook at the same rate.

7 Add andouille sausage: Once the hock is ready, add the andouille sausage and cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve with file powder at the table.

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  • Burk

    I make a quick stock with the ham hock, bay leaves and trimmings from the onion and celery – just simmer for 30 mins to an hour, then use the stock instead of water. Great flavor, and the ham hock is sure to be tender. Works great for red beans, too.

  • Paul

    What? No okra? How can it be a gumbo without okra?

    Many, many gumbos lack okra. ~Hank

  • Jerry

    Looks amazing. I’m definitely a fan of using manteca (lard) for sauteing and I love the hock and sausage mix. I do kind of agree with Paul though; It’s not often that you see a gumbo recipe without okra. Is it a traditional omission, or was there no fresh okra available?

    LOTS of traditional gumbos do not have okra. As a general rule, okra is more of a Creole thing, and it omitted in many Cajun gumbos. ~Hank

    • Henry

      That’s correct. Okra, or gumbo, came to the Caribbean and the U.S. sometime in the 1700s, probably brought by slaves from West Africa, and was introduced to Western Europe soon after. Here in Louisiana, the Créoles (French/African/Indian) learned from slaves the use of okra (gumbo) to thicken soups and stews which is now an essential in Créole Gumbo. The Acadians, or Cajuns, adapted the vegetable for their own soups.

  • Keron

    When I make a vegetartian gumbo, I always add a little liquid smoke. It helps replace some of the flavor from the smoked meat, and adds depth. This is a great and versatile recipe!

  • avis

    Hank you are correct about the okra. Gumbos can either be okra based or filé based but not generally both.

    “Jambalaya and crawfish pie and filé gumbo, ‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my
    ma cher amio…”

    Ohmigawd! LOVE that song! Sonofagun we’ll have big fun, on the Bayou! ~Hank

  • Sue Z.

    Wherz da rice, Sha?

    LOL. It’s off camera! ~Hank

  • Shannon

    Looks interestingly delicious. Although I will say, I’m Louisiana born and raised my whole life 43 yrs now and I’ve never heard of nor seen this. Must be a regional thing. I may have to try it sometime though.

    • Henry

      Try it, you will fall in love if you enjoy greens. My mother-in-law, from Iberia Parish, fixes this for me and can’t get enough with a nice chunk of cornbread. I use mustards, collards, turnips and kale when I make it.

  • Gordon A.

    Gumbo typically has okra or file or both. So the admixture of file makes this gumbo. If you don’t add that, well, if it tastes good then….

    Signed: a cajun.

  • MariaElena

    What is file powder? Recipe looks delicious!

    File (fee-lay) is powdered sassafras leaf. You can get it in places like Whole Foods… or anywhere in the Gulf States. ;-) ~Hank

  • Shannon

    Sounds delish. I make a chicken and sausage gumbo on cold nights…takes me back to the days when I lived in NOLA. I always get my roux to a dark coffee color…mmmmmm. Patience is a virtue.

    For those okra lovers – it was rare to come across a gumbo in NOLA that had okra in it. Usually only as lagniappe when it needed to be used up in the kitchen.

  • Brazos

    This may be sacrilegious but I saw it on Alton Brown’s Good Eats show. A shortcut to the roux is to mix the oil and flour and bake (with lid on) in a 350 deg oven, stirring every thirty minutes till it has the right color. I use a cast iron dutch oven. Perfect every time. While it’s in the oven I get all my prep work done.

    • Kris

      No… Not sacrilegious. I do this all the time. It’s a lot of time and work to keep stirring that roux on the stove. If you leave it too long it will burn. So I throw mine in the oven in the low 300’s and stir every 20 mins or so. I get all my prep work done that way too and is a big help.

  • againstthegrain

    I’ve got gobs of CSA greens, a ham hock in the freezer, the file, even the lard, and can get the andouille sausage easily enough, but I need to figure out how to best make a decent gluten-free roux. I’ve got a number of GF ingredients that will thicken, but no idea if they will develop a good roux-like flavor. Anyone have a good GF roux suggestion?

    I don’t, but you should know that not all gumbos have roux. Gumbo has three traditional thickeners: a roux, file and okra. If you use 2 of the 3 you should be in good shape. ~Hank

  • Christine

    I made a similar gumbo a month or so back! It was delicious, but goodness washing all those greens took forever and a day. I used arugula, turnip, mustard, kale and parsley greens…and next time I get a craving, I’m definitely looking for prewashed!


  • Ring

    Mmm…I made this yesterday and it was delicious! I used okra instead of file to thicken it (and to squeeze more veggies in) and it tastes even better the next day. Thanks for the recipe!

  • emily

    Hmmmm. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but after following the recipe, I had a LOT of grease… Is that normal? It seemed really excessive and in fact when I went to taste the flavor to see if I should add more cajun spices, all I tasted was grease. I ended up ladeling out a bunch of it.

    I wonder if it was from the ham hock? Is there a particular one I should have looked for? I picked up “smoked ham hocks” at the grocery store, but haven’t ever cooked with it before. Thoughts, ideas? Suggestions? Many thanks!!

    One possibility was that your stock or water was not hot when you added it to the roux. That can cause the roux to break, and grease will rise to the top of the gumbo. This happened to me a lot before I figured out that the water needed to be hot. ~Hank

  • Henry

    This is awesome. I used mustard greens, chard, and kale, and it was fantastic. I also appreciated the proportions for Cajun seasoning, as the only kinds I can find around here have tons of salt and MSG in them. Thank you!

  • Doris

    This recipe is sooooo good! I made this the other evening and surprisingly my boyfriend liked it too (he does not like veggies, lol)!

    For my version, I used turnip and mustard greens, and kale, added some left over carrots and red bell peppers, and 1 lb of hot italian sausage (casing removed and meat crumbled) in addition to the andouille.

    Since I didn’t have peanut oil, I render out the fat from the sausage, spoon out the meat, and used the fat to create the roux. This will definitely be our dinner rotation! Thanks! ^_^

  • Diana

    1 cup peanut oil 1909 calories do you need that much to make a roux? I tried to compare oils and most are about the same. What do you think the calories would be for a bowl. It looks very good, but I would like some nutritional information too.

    Sorry, I don’t count calories, and providing accurate nutritional information is a lot harder than it might seem. ~Hank

  • Nancy Long

    great recipe – as for okra & roux; I’ve been known to use both. Stopped using file powder years ago, it tends to make the gumbo gummy if reheated. Like to make my gumbo’s the day before so the flavors can marry. Liked the ham stock hint. My hint is that I save shrimp shells in the freezer until I have enough and make shrimp stock and freeze that in 1-2 cup containers for seafood gumbos and anything needing a seafood stock. Thanks for all the wonderful recipes and hints

  • Sandra

    yum. I made this and it was delicious! The roux really added a lot of flavor. I didn’t use the file powder but it was already plenty thick.

  • Shari

    I have a GF pot of this on my stove right now, nearly done simmering. I just tasted it and it is heavenly! For the person asking about flours for a GF roux, I used half sorghum and half millet flours. Next time I’d like to try it with sweet potato flour.

    Also, it really is a simple recipe, it just takes a little time to make. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon. I gave my kids a big dishpan of clean water and they had fun bathing the greens while I prepped everything else.

  • Chris

    I made a version of this last winter using a link of Savoie’s smoked sausage and two smoked turkey wings. When the wings were done, I removed the meat from the bones and added it back. That mildly smoked turkey went great with the gumbo and did not generate the scum that ham hocks sometimes do.

    My experience suggests this dish is mainly a New Orleans thing. Many folks in the other parts of La have never had it or (often) heard of it.

    • Sandra

      Gumbo z’herbes is indeed a NOLA thing along wirh pickled rib tips, Creole, not Cajun, seasoning, calas, hot sausage po’ boys. Cooking in NOLA can often be identified by neighborhood even. Many NOLA and Treme specialties are unheard of outside of the city and/or neighborhood. Many dishes indigenous to NOLA are inaccurately attributed to Cajun cooking ; however, Cajun isn’t the only food with a distinct legacy in LA.

  • Jacob

    Wow, looks like a great way to use up all the greens from my garden. I’m not too familiar with celery seed though, is it supposed to be used whole or ground for the spice mix? Thanks

    Celery seeds are very tiny, so you just toss them in whole. ~Hank

  • Embee

    Too funny — I was just reading about black nightshade greens traditionally being used for this very same dish! I love the versatility of the recipe and the way it can incorporate just about any sort of available greens. Thanks so much for sharing it. I can’t wait to give it a try (sans meats) this summer with some of the wild greens that grows around here (which do not count black nightshade among their number, for the curious) and what will hopefully prove to be the bounty of my future vegetable garden. I’m imagining some rutabaga tops in with the dandelions and wondering how fireweed leaves and chickweed might be in the dish. Only one way to find out! :)

  • andrea

    I am vegan and i went shopping and am making this tonight for dinner…soo excited! However just curious i cant do okra and i do not have filé powder…will this be bad for my gumbo??

  • Beverly

    I made this green gumbo last month and it was delicious. I substituted turkey wings for the pork hocks and used mustard, turnip, and collard greens. I also fried hot water cornbread to go with it. It was so good.

  • Melissa

    I too have wondered why okra is not in the green gumbo because the African word for okra is gumbo. Maybe because it is not in season during Lent? I am from Louisiana.

  • Melissa

    Also okra is used as a thickener, many southerners would cook it so long it was no longer visible. Melissa

  • Aileen

    looks delicious!! Cant wait to surprise my boyfriend with this, he loves meaty stews :) is the ham hock supposed to be fresh or smoked?? I got a fresh one at the market but the comment in the recipe about the hock being salty made me wonder. Does it matter either way?
    Thanks so much for supplying us with all your wonderful recipes!
    Greetings from Germany !

  • I burn salads

    So… where in the world do you find andouille sausage? (I’m in Western Canada, if it helps). Is it similar to the andouille sausage they make in France, or something else entirely?
    Also, what is file powder?
    Also also, wondering about the strong French (from France) influence in many recipes on this blog (not this particular recipe, obviously, but a lot of others). Lots of them remind me of my French parents’ cooking. Does Elise have French origins?
    Anyway, I love this website.

    • Elise

      A different Elise (from TX, Hi y’all). Andouille is a course, smoked pork, sausage. Sometimes made from ham. I’ve made plenty of gumbos & if you cannot find andouille don’t worry. Any good quality smoked pork sausage will work. If you can find a garlic one, even better. (Andouille is awesome though, if you can find it)

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi “I burn salads”! Do a google search for “Aidells Andouille Sausage” to find. It is different than the andouille sausage they make in France. File powder is ground sassafras leaves, which is used as a thickener in many gumbos. Okra will also thicken gumbo. As for the French influence? My partner is from Provence, and he often provides inspiration for the recipes we develop. Thanks for your comment!

  • Jeremy

    I’m from south Louisiana and this is NOT a traditional Louisiana gumbo. I’m sure it is delicious but this isn’t something you would find in a Cajun kitchen. In fact, I’ve never heard of “green gumbo”. A traditional gumbo does not have “greens” or “ham” in it!

    • Tom Cottam

      Not so. There are many versions of gumbo , including green gumbo which as the author explained was and may still be prepared during lent for those who are not eating meat. Just because one has never heard of the dish does not mean that it is not “authetic.” Could mean that one has been sheltered from a culinary perspective.

    • Charlesy

      I have never heard of a Green Gumbo.

    • Shawnie

      Its called gumbo z-herbs…or green gumbo
      This is not traditional gumbo, but we do celebrate it in new Orleans..

      Just research it

    • FisbinRosie

      This absolutely is a gumbo just a different style. The queen of Creole cooking Leah Chase the owner of Dookie Chases restaurant in NO makes a recipe similar to this. It is made during Lent. Check out the recipe.

  • tess

    OMG this sounds so yummy! one thing though,dont discard the ham,save for making bone broth.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Tess, if you’ve already cooked the ham hock for a long time in the gumbo, the goodness will have cooked out of it so it won’t be useful for making bone broth.

  • Shirley

    Jeremy…my family is Creole and Gumbo Zav is authentic…I don’t know if Ms. Leah Chase is still living, but visit Dooky Chase Restaurant in New Orleans…she will validate this recipe…in fact you can google Ms leah with green gumbo and you will find her version to be similar…blessings Shirley

  • Dave

    WOW!!!!! Absolutely stunning. Minor variations: (1) All seafood: 2 lbs fresh shrimp and 1 can of crab meat; (2) instead of 10 cups of water 4 cups of the 10 were vegetable broth (needed room in fridge); (3) doubled Hank’s perfect spice. (4) greens were spinach, kale (spines removed) turnip greens, mustard greens, and collard greens. Best soup I ever made and the best think I have tasted period in a while. Will definitely be making this again and again and again. Thanks Hank!!!!


  • Kathy

    made it twice already. love this!


  • Brooklyn

    I’m excited to make this! Do you think I could allow the gumbo to simmer in the crockpot after making the roux on the stove?

  • Sandy Futch

    I have lots of sassafras trees here in Kentucky. Can’t fine File. Can’t a make my own?

  • [email protected]

    Awesome dish I had a dream of this type of soup and I made it it turned out bomb.