Classic Chicken Gumbo Recipe

Classic chicken gumbo with okra and tomatoes

The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel

  • Total: 85 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
467 Calories
20g Fat
42g Carbs
31g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 467
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 25%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 71mg 24%
Sodium 942mg 41%
Total Carbohydrate 42g 15%
Dietary Fiber 9g 32%
Protein 31g
Calcium 159mg 12%
*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.

Ingredients

  • 2 onions (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 ribs celery (about 1/2 cup chopped)
  • 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 okra (sliced, 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)
  • Garnish: fresh parsley (chopped)
  • Garnish: fresh green onions (chopped)
  • Optional: filé powder (for serving)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic chicken gumbo ingredients
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  2. Peel and chop the onions.

    Chopped onion
    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.

    Diced bell pepper
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  4. Chop the celery. Set the vegetables aside.

    Chopped celery
    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.

    Roux ingredients 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 cooking in roux in a pot
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  7. Slowly add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly.

    Vegetables and chicken broth in a pot
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel 
  8. Add the diced tomatoes, okra, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, cayenne, and bay leaf; bring to a boil.

    Spices and okra added to soup pot
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  9. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

    Gumbo 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 pot
    The Spruce Eats / Teena Agnel
  11. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.

    Cut chicken
    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 added to gumbo 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.

    Classic chicken gumbo with rice
    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.