This Cajun jambalaya recipe is made with vegan sausage, kidney beans and brown rice. This spicy take on the Louisiana classic is packed full of flavor and takes no time at all to make from scratch.
As much as I try to improve my cooking, I still find myself often reverting to just chucking a bunch of ingredients into a pot and letting them do their magic.
It all started when I was at university and I was given a rice cooker as a going away present. When it came to dinner, I threw in vegetables, meat, and stock cubes with the rice, and I’d just let it cook. Yes, I know. Really simple. But it worked!
I think what’s great about this type of cooking is that, besides the fact that it suits someone as lazy as me, recipes can easily be scaled up or down in size to suit the number of people you’re cooking for. They also make for brilliant leftovers.
I am always looking out for one-pot recipes, and I’m really glad I came across this amazing cajun vegan jambalaya recipe.
I should say at this point, I’m not actually vegan. However, I love finding ways to limit my meat and dairy intake, and I love it when recipes like this find creative ways to replace what would normally be a meat ingredients.
This recipe manages to take comforting staples like kidney beans, onions and rice, and blend them with cayenne and paprika. It matches together beautifully.
Brown vs. Red Jambalaya
Brown jambalaya, also called Cajun jambalaya, gets its brown color from the earthy ingredients that make up this hyper traditional dish, which only uses Cajun pantry ingredients. The traditional preparation method dumps all ingredients in the pot at once and cooks. Red, or Creole, jambalaya gets its vibrant color thanks to the addition of tomatoes. The preparation is different as ingredients are added in layers to slowly build up flavor.
Long Grain Rice
Traditional long-grain rice, which is what Louisiana Cajuns and Creoles had access to, is the best rice for jambalaya. This tough rice retains its texture and shape even when it is cooked. You can substitute other long-grain rice such as basmati, but short-grain rice will be too mushy.
If you want to make your vegan jambalaya low-carb or keto-friendly, you can substitute cauliflower rice for regular rice. Cauliflower rice has a similar texture and taste to regular rice and it absorbs the saucy flavors of jambalaya just as well without upping the calorie count.
The best beans for jambalaya are red beans such as kidney beans, which are staples in other Cajun or Creole dishes. These beans are robust enough to hold their shape during jambalaya’s long cooking time but tender enough to blend with the rice.
Show patience with this recipe. Yes it is really simple to put together, but you will need to let it do its thing and allow all the ingredients to cook together at a low heat. This will allow all the beautiful flavors of the onion, cayenne and paprika to work together and permeate the vegan sausage.
Also be sure to allow the rice to cook properly. This will allow it to soak up the broth water, and also absorb the flavors of the other ingredients.
If you would prefer to have meat in this recipe, then just swap out the vegan sausage for your choice of chorizo, or regular pork sausage.
Also, I have vegetable broth listed in this recipe, but this can also be changed to chicken broth.
How to Thicken Jambalaya
If your jambalaya is too watery, whisk tomato juice and cornstarch together, then stir into the jambalaya until the mixture is thickened.
Why Is My Jambalaya Mushy?
Jambalaya usually becomes mushy if you stir it too much, which breaks down the rice. There is no way to salvage jambalaya once it is mushy (although the dish is still edible), but you can prevent it by not stirring.
Why Is My Jambalaya Rice Crunchy?
If your jambalaya rice is crunchy, it is probably undercooked. To fix this, add more broth and cook the jambalaya in a covered skillet (without peeking) until the rice is tender.
Why Is My Jambalaya Dry?
Jambalaya can be dry if the ratio of liquid to rice is off. To salvage dry jambalaya, add a few splashes of broth or oil and cook until the liquid evaporates and combines with the other ingredients.
Why Is My Jambalaya Sticky?
Jambalaya rice becomes sticky if it stops boiling during the cooking process, which stops it from cooking properly. To prevent sticky rice for your jambalaya, let it cook continuously and do not stop the process.
Side Dish Ideas
Not sure what to serve this recipe with? Here are some of my favorite jambalaya side dishes to serve with your bowl of Cajun rice.
Stewed black beans are famous in Latin American cuisine, but are also a traditional side at many Southern US tables. They’re smooth and sweet, contrasting beautifully with the jambalaya’s spice. Find out how to cook black beans with our easy guide and recipe.
Cornbread is a staple in Louisiana cuisines, so is naturally perfect alongside jambalaya. It’s light and fluffy so not too filling, plus it’s superb at soaking up any leftover stew from your plate!
While traditional recipes contain dairy, it’s easy to make cornbread without buttermilk by swapping in baking soda, plant milk, and sugar.
For a classic vegetable side, look no further than roasted okra. If you know Cajun cuisine, you’ll be more than familiar with okra. The versatile finger-like vegetable can be served soft and creamy but for jambalaya, it’s best roasted to just crispy. It contrasts well with the rice and vegan sausage beautifully.
It’s also a great jambalaya side because it’s quick and easy to throw together. Simply trim the okra, sprinkle with olive oil and cayenne pepper, and roast for 15-20 minutes.
If you want to complete the Cajun experience, why not include a classic Cajun dessert? Some favorites are beignets, old-fashioned Cajun cake, and pumpkin tarte à la bouille. Each one combines classic Louisiana and Southern American dishes, with a Cajun twist.
Store leftover jambalaya in an air-tight container. In the fridge, it can keep for three to four days. In the freezer, it can stay for even longer, up to six months.
The best way to reheat jambalaya is in a pan on the stovetop. Put the jambalaya in a pan and bring the pan up to a medium heat. As the jambalaya heats up, add splashes of water or broth to prevent the rice from drying out.
Cajun Vegan Jambalaya
- ½ lb vegan sausage sliced
- 15 oz red kidney beans drained and washed
- 3 yellow onions chopped
- 2 cups uncooked brown rice
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 3 bay leaves
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 ½ cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup shallots chopped
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- hot sauce to taste
- Add olive oil to a large saucepan or pot over a low heat. Then add two of the chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes or until the onions have browned (be sure not to burn). Make sure that the heat is very low so that the onions turn a lovely brown color without burning.
- Stir in the remaining chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic and bay leaves. Add ½ cup of the vegetable broth, cook for 20-30 minutes.
- Stir in the hot sauce, parsley, shallots, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring and adding a little more vegetable broth.
- Stir in the rice. Add 4 more cups of vegetable broth and turn up the heat to bring the mix to the boil. Cover and reduce the heat back to low, leaving it to simmer for 40 minutes or until all the rice has cooked and the liquid has disappeared. Stir occasionally.
- Once cooked, remove from heat and keep covered for 10 minutes.
- Warm a skillet over a medium heat and a little olive oil and the vegan sausage. Sauté until the sausage has browned and turned a little crisp.
- Add the sausage and kidney beans to the main pot and stir to mix it in evenly.
- Serve up with parsley and your choice of hot sauce!
Is jambalaya the same as paella?
Despite both being rice-based pan dishes, jambalaya and paella are strikingly different. Jambalaya uses long-grain rice while paella uses short-grain bomba rice from Eastern Spain. Furthermore, jambalaya is either brown or red (depending on if the recipe is Cajun or Creole) while paella is a brilliant yellow color due to its use of La Mancha saffron.