A meal for comfort: Best homemade jambalaya recipe

Photo of jambalaya
Sera Smith/Staff

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Growing up, my dad’s jambalaya was one of my favorite home-cooked meals. It’s a super easy meal full of meat, veggies and spice. Since moving to college, I’ve missed home-cooked jambalaya prepared by my dad or my older sister. Of course, there are a lot of restaurants in the Bay that sell jambalaya, but no dish has replaced the one prepared by my family. 

In an effort to crush homesickness during a monthlong quarantine-induced cooking frenzy, I made jambalaya for the first time. I didn’t add shrimp or chicken, and it was the most like the one I ate as a child. As time passed, I experimented with the recipe, reading tips online and talking to my sister about how she prepares hers. I also worked with my roommates, who provided their own ideas for the recipe. In the end, we came up with this jambalaya recipe. 


  • 3 chicken breasts 
  • Paprika (if available, use smoked paprika instead)
  • Chili powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Chili flakes 
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6-8 servings rice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 onion 
  • 1 celery stalk 
  • 3-4 carrots 
  • 6 sausages (your favorite kind)
  • 12-ounce bag frozen shrimp 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • Handful of sassafras leaves


  1. Season the chicken with some paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, chili flakes, salt and pepper. If you’re questioning if you seasoned enough, add some more.
  2. In an iron skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken with a layer of olive oil. 
  3. While the chicken cooks, steam the rice.
  4. Mince the garlic and dice your onion, celery and carrots. Be sure to cut your veggies into bite-sized pieces. 
  5. After the chicken is fully cooked, let it rest and chop it into bite-sized pieces.
  6. Chop the sausages. In the iron skillet, cook them and add the chicken when they are almost done. Add your shrimp and cook until done. 
  7. Saute your veggies with the minced garlic in a large pot. After the carrots and celery have softened, add your meat, rice and diced tomatoes to the pot.
  8. Stir the ingredients, adding the sassafras leaves and more seasonings to taste. If you like spice, add cayenne pepper and more chili flakes. Cook over medium heat until the rice is dry and everything is mixed well. 

Jambalaya is a fun recipe you can switch up with your favorite ingredients and spices if you so desire. Enjoy!

Contact Sera Smith at [email protected].