This Classic Cajun Vegan Jambalaya is comforting simple & so full of Creole flavor. It’s a vegan take on an authentic Cajun jambalaya recipe! In partnership with my friends at Pompeian. ❤️
Classic Cajun Vegan Jambalaya
I hope you are as excited for today’s recipe as I am. VEGAN JAMBALAYA finally makes its debut on Emilie Eats! 👏🏼
Every time I ask you guys to take a survey about your experience on EmilieEats.com and to submit your recipe ideas, vegan jambalaya is always hands-down the most requested recipe. I must appease the people!
The main reason this recipe has taken me so long to tackle is because I was scared I wasn’t going to do classic cajun jambalaya justice. I absolutely love making vegan Cajun recipes inspired by the meals I grew up with in Louisiana, but I want to make sure they taste authentic and just as delicious. I don’t want be that Cajun girl who posts a bland, unimpressive jambalaya…that’s kind of embarrassing.
So to ensure I brought you the absolute best, most authentic Cajun vegan jambalaya, I built my version from my grandpa’s recipe, which is unbeatable. To sum it up, there is absolutely no lack of flavor in this vegetarian jambalaya, even without the meat.
What is Jambalaya?
Okay so first off, what even is jambalaya? Well it can depend on who you ask. Creole jambalaya traditionally would include tomatoes, whereas a Cajun jambalaya would not. For this reason, a Creole jambalaya would typically have more of a red color, while Cajun jambalayas are typically brown. I’m sharing a Cajun jambalaya today because that’s what I grew up with!
At it’s core, jambalaya is a rice-based dish made with vegetables and meat, typically chicken, andouille sausage and sometimes seafood such as shrimp. Unlike gumbo, jambalaya is made by cooking the rice directly into the stew, whereas a gumbo would be thickened with a roux or okra and served over rice that had been cooked separately. Every family in Louisiana has their own way of doing things, but Cajun jambalaya nearly always starts with browning onions and/or the holy trinity: onion, celery and bell pepper. Everything gets nice and caramelized before adding in the stock and rice to simmer away.
How to Make a Vegan Version of an Authentic Cajun Jambalaya
To make sure my vegan jambalaya was ~top notch~ and just as good as the traditional stuff, I enlisted the help of my grandpa! He’s been making massive batches of jambalaya ever since I can remember for holidays, his church, and cook-offs. His recipe has probably won an award—it’s that good.
My recipe almost exactly matches the recipe that he so graciously shared with me. Here’s what I changed:
- I halved the recipe since his usually serves 8-10 people. Feel free to double my recipe to feed a crowd or freeze the leftovers!
- I took the chicken and chicken broth out and replaced them with red kidney beans and vegetable broth.
- I replaced the smoked sausage with vegan sausage! You can usually find this at Whole Foods or another health food store. I like using Italian sausage.
Everything else is identical to his ultra-popular recipe. I would say that the most important things to remember when cooking a jambalaya are to BROWN YOUR ONIONS and make sure the rice is cooked enough, but not mushy. Mom hammered in those two cooking tips for my whole childhood, and now I can share the knowledge with you.
What’s the best oil to use to brown your onions, you ask? Pompeian Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil! I’m so excited that they’re partnering with me on this vegan jambalaya because their olive oils are of the highest quality and are also accessible for most people—you can find them at stores like Walmart and Target!
You’ll want to use the Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil for this recipe since it is intended for sautéing and stir-frying. Since this recipe cooks entirely on low or medium-low, the cooking temperature won’t exceed the oil’s smoke point.
Ingredients for Vegan Jambalaya
- Pompeian Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
- Yellow onions. You’re going to need three onions for this recipe. I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me, you need them all.
- Celery. This is part of the “holy trinity” that builds the base for our vegan jambalaya.
- Green bell pepper. Also part of the “holy trinity” of vegetables that we’re sauteeing in olive oil.
- Garlic. I highly recommend using fresh garlic cloves in this vegan jambalaya recipe for the best flavor.
- Bay leaves. This is one of those ingredients that you don’t realize it’s there until its missing. Bay leaves help highlight all the bold flavors in the jambalaya.
- Vegetable broth. You can use homemade or store-bought.
- Shallots. Compared to the yellow onion we’re starting the recipe with, shallots have a milder, sweeter flavor that compliment the browned onions really well.
- Parsley. This will help brighten up the jambalaya a bit.
- Creole seasoning blend. Typically a Creole seasoning blend will include paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, white pepper, dried oregano, dried basil and dried thyme.
- Salt and pepper. Of course!
- Hot sauce. You can scale this up or down depending on your preferences.
- Brown rice. You’ll want uncooked brown rice as this will get cooked into the jambalaya.
- Vegan sausage. You can use any kind, but I like something like a vegan Italian sausage. If you can find something smoked, that would be great!
- Red kidney beans. I’m using red kidney beans in place of the chicken that would typically be in my grandpa’s jambalaya.
How to Make Vegan Jambalaya
Before you even start working on this recipe, please know that jambalaya is a labor of love. There are no shortcuts if you want all the flavor! So be patient, I promise it’s worth it 🙂
It all starts by browning your onions on LOW heat. It has to be low! They’ll cook for about 35-40 minutes until they take on a super dark brown color.
Next, add in more onion, your celery, bell pepper, garlic and bay leaves. Add about 1/4 cup of your vegetable broth and continue to cook until the veggies are browned, about 20 minutes or so. Shallots, parsley, creole seasoning, salt, pepper and your hot sauce all go in next. Give everything a stir and let it go for another 5 minutes, adding broth as needed.
Finally, add in the rice and the rest of your vegetable broth and bring everything up to a boil. Once everything is boiling, reduce the heat back down to low and let it simmer for about 45 minutes or until the rice is completely cooked and all the broth has been absorbed.
This is important! Once you decide the rice is done, put the lid back on the pot and let it sit covered for another 10 minutes. While you wait, cook up your vegan sausage in a separate skillet. Then add the cooked sausage and kidney beans into the pot with your vegan jambalaya. Give everything a good mix, then serve it with parsley and hot sauce!
More Vegan Cajun Recipes
I am so beyond excited for you to try this vegan jambalaya! There are so many rave reviews on my Cajun-style red beans & rice, so obviously y’all love Southern recipes. Let me know if you want to see more! (Ugh, I typed “y’all” in a blog post. The jambalaya is bringing out the Cajun in me.)
I have plenty of vegan Cajun recipes on the site if you’re looking for more Louisiana goodness!
- Cajun Rice and Fried Tempeh Skillet
- Cajun White Beans and Rice
- Cajun-Style Vegan Red Beans and Rice
- Vegan Po Boy
- Vegan Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Classic Cajun Vegan Jambalaya
This Classic Cajun Vegan Jambalaya is comforting simple & so full of Creole flavor. It’s a vegan take on an authentic Cajun jambalaya recipe!
- 3–4 tablespoons Pompeian Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3 medium yellow onions, chopped, divided
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
- 2–3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 3/4 cups vegetable broth, divided
- 1/4 cup shallots, chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning blend
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Hot sauce, to taste
- 2 cups uncooked brown rice
- 1/2 pound vegan sausage, sliced
- 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- In a large pot over low heat, warm olive oil.
- Add two of the chopped onions to the pot. Cook for 35-40 minutes until dark brown but not burnt, stirring occasionally.
- Add remaining onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and bay leaves; stir. Add 1/4 cup vegetable broth; cook for 20-25 more minutes until vegetables are nicely browned.
- Add shallots, parsley, Creole seasoning, salt, pepper, and hot sauce; stir. Cook for 5-7 minutes, adding a little vegetable broth if needed to cook vegetables.
- Add rice; stir. Add 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or a mix of broth and water); increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for about 40-45 minutes, or until rice is cooked completely and all liquid is gone. Stir occasionally if needed. When fully cooked, remove pot from heat but keep covered for 10 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, prepare the sausage. Warm a skillet over medium heat; add vegan sausage. Sauté until sausage is nicely browned and crispy.
- Add sausage and kidney beans to the large pot. Stir to incorporate evenly.
- Serve with fresh parsley and hot sauce!
It is very, very important to cook the onions on LOW. This will give you nicely browned onions without burning them or your pan. Classic jambalaya is a labor of love – don’t rush it!
Thanks to Pompeian for sponsoring this post! I love working with brands whose products I really love and would honestly recommend. Thank you for supporting this blog that I love oh-so-much!