Classic Chicken Gumbo Recipe

Classic chicken gumbo with okra and tomatoes topped with white rice in a deep plate

The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 85 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
494 Calories
16g Fat
32g Carbs
54g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 494
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 21%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 139mg 46%
Sodium 796mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 54g
Vitamin C 53mg 266%
Calcium 163mg 13%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 988mg 21%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This hearty soup is a basic Creole-style chicken gumbo made with tomatoes and the essential "holy trinity" of Cajun and Creole cooking: onions, bell peppers, and celery. The gumbo is flavorful, thanks to a mix of spices, and an excellent option if you're looking for an authentic yet uncomplicated Louisiana-style soup. 

The okra is the thickener for a good Creole gumbo, but if you like filé powder, offer it at the table. Gumbo can become unpleasantly stringy if the filé is added to the soup while it is still on the heat (or when reheated). It is best sprinkled over individual servings.


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"This chicken gumbo uses only common kitchen staples and is surprisingly simple and enjoyable to make. The recipe requires a lot of stirring, so make sure everything’s prepped before you start. Considering the ingredient list, the dishes were minimal. The flavor balance is perfect and it’s hearty enough to be a one-dish meal." —Colleen Graham

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  • 2 medium onions

  • 1 green bell pepper

  • 3 ribs celery

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (or oil)

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 4 cups chicken stock (unsalted or low sodium)

  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes (with juice)

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced okra, fresh or frozen

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 cup long-grain rice

  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless chicken breasts (or boneless thighs)

  • Chopped fresh parsley, garnish

  • Chopped green onions, garnish

  • Filé powder, for serving, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for classic chicken gumbo recipe gathered
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  2. Peel and chop the onions.

    Finely chopped onion on a wooden cutting board
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  3. Cut the bell pepper in half lengthwise; remove the seeds and stem. Cut the pepper into 1/4-inch dice.

    Finely diced green bell pepper on a wooden cutting board
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  4. Chop the celery. Set the vegetables aside.

    Finely chopped celery on a wooden cutting board
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  5. For the roux, melt the shortening in a large Dutch oven over low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until medium brown—about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir the roux constantly to avoid burning. If it burns, you will have to start over.

    Flour added to melted shortening in a deep pot
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  6. Add the chopped vegetables to the roux, adjust the heat to medium-low to medium, and continue to cook, constantly stirring, until the onion is translucent.

    Chopped vegetables added to roux in a deep pot
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  7. Slowly add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly.

    Chicken stock added to chopped vegetables in a deep pot
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel 
  8. Add the diced tomatoes, okra, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, cayenne, and bay leaf; bring to a boil.

    Diced tomatoes, sliced okra, and spices added to vegetable mixture in pot
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  9. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

    Gumbo soup simmering in a pot
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  10. Meanwhile, cook the rice following the package directions. Set aside and keep warm.

    Cooked white rice in a saucepan
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  11. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.

    Boneless chicken breast cut into bite-size pieces on a wooden cutting board
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  12. Add the chicken to the soup and cook, covered, for 6 to 8 minutes longer, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings with more salt and pepper, as needed.

    Chicken cubes added to the gumbo in a deep pot
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  13. To serve, scoop a mound of rice into the center of each of the four large, shallow bowls. Ladle the soup around the rice. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and/or green onion tops, if desired.

    Chicken gumbo topped with white rice in deep plates
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

Recipe Variations

  • Spicy sausage is an ingredient in many gumbos. Feel free to add about 1/2 pound of sliced andouille sausage to the soup along with the okra and seasonings.
  • Or, if you like shrimp in gumbo, add about 8 ounces of peeled and deveined shrimp.

What Is the Difference Between Gumbo and Jambalaya?

Gumbo and jambalaya are both classic dishes of Creole and Cajun cuisine. The most obvious difference is gumbo is served with rice, while jambalaya includes the rice in the dish itself. In addition, okra is typically included in gumbo, while it is not common in jambalaya.