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Ultimate Creole Vegan Jambalaya

Rice and beans get the royal treatment in this Creole vegan jambalaya. New Orleans flavors simmer slowly in the traditional way. Party time on your plate!

Vegan Creole Jambalaya
Perfection in a Bowl: Tender, Richly Flavored, A Hint of Heat & Crave-worthy

Creole Vegan Jambalaya Done Right

My husband and his family are from a little town on the bayou in north Louisiana. I got my degree in New Orleans, where eating beautiful food is a way of life. Converting a much-beloved, traditional dish – like jambalaya – to be vegan/meatless is no small task! Even thought we live in Colorado now, cooking jambalaya the right way matters to me.

Jambalaya is a slow dish. I have not tried to make this a fast, weeknight meal. Thankfully it’s easy to make and doesn’t require much “babysitting”. However, it takes time for the deep flavor to develop. The steps are simple. Don’t rush the onions. The flavor is worth it!

Cajun or Creole?

  • Cajun Jambalaya: No Tomatoes / Brown. The French-Acadian (Cajun) people who settled in the bayous, swamps and flatlands didn’t typically have access to tomatoes. Ingredients may be all put in the pot at the same time. This would be an easier dinner for hard-working families. A wider variety of meats may be included, based on what was available… like wild game.
  • Creole Jambalaya = Tomatoes / Red. Creole jambalaya is from the multicultural & multiracial port city of New Orleans, where fresh tomatoes were imported. Combining “upper crust” folks with refined palates, international spices and more leisure time means a more nuanced, layered flavors. Spanish influence in the city meant the dish became a substitute for their traditional paella.

Having lived in NOLA, I am partial to Creole jambalaya. So, this recipe is as close to a traditional Creole jambalaya as I can make it (without meat). All that’s missing is a beignet!

Recipe Video

Let’s Make Creole Vegan Jambalaya!

In a dutch oven, cook sliced onions over low heat for 30 minutes. Then, add aromatics and saute until soft. Add tomatoes, seasonings, rice, beans and broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Cook for 30 minutes, adding vegan sausage towards the end. Steam 10 more minutes.

Ingredients

The beautiful thing about jambalaya is that the ingredients are simple and readily available. But, how you cook makes the dish extraordinary!

Vegan Jambalaya Ingredients
Onion, white rice, celery, bell pepper, tomato, tomato paste, vegan worcestershire, bay leaves, vegan sausage, red kidney beans, creole/cajun seasoning, and hot sauce.

In Louisiana cooking, the “holy trinity” is onion, green bell pepper and celery. It’s the way to start both gumbo and jambalaya.

Cajun & Creole "Holy Trinity"

Slow & Low: Onions & Veggies

Seriously, don’t rush this. Let those onions cook slow. Give them a push and stir with a spoon every once in a while. If they seem to be drying out, add a tiny bit more oil. Don’t soak the onions though… the veggies are coming soon, and will release their flavors and liquids! I aim for 30 minutes. But, if you can hold out, at 45 minutes you start seeing beautiful browning.

Add celery and bell pepper after the onions have browned. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Celery and Bell Pepper added to Jambalaya
“Holy Trinity” of onions, peppers and celery are nicely cooked down

Savory Vegan Seasonings, Rice & Broth

Pro Tip: If the deep, complex flavor from meat is removed from a dish, you have to add flavor back in. Ever tried to adapt a meat recipe to be vegetarian and just tasted bland? The “umami” (meaty, mouth-watering flavor) was missing. In this vegan jambalaya, the umami comes from tomato paste, vegan worcestershire sauce, and the broth.

You gotta have hot sauce!

I exclusively use “Better Than Bouillon” vegetable stock concentrate base for broth. It’s a small jar with a dark paste inside. Use one teaspoon of paste per cup of hot water. It dissolves beautiful and tastes even more lovely.

Umami: What I love most about this broth is the yeast extract. It gives a rich, savory flavor (compared to broth in a carton). Also, the small jars are less packaging and easy to reuse or recycle.

I also make mushroom and wild rice soup with this broth. Wow, does it “beef” up the flavor in that dish, too!

After all of the ingredients are combined, bring the broth to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover.

Keep Cooking Slow & Low

Cook for 20 minutes on low heat with the lid sealed. Rice should be tender and liquid absorbed. [High Altitude Tip: You may need to increase this time to 25+ minutes, to ensure the rice is fully cooked].

Vegan Jambalaya after cooking on low for 20 minutes

Gently stir in red kidney beans and vegan sausage. Cover the pot again, and cook on low for 10 minutes. Then remove from heat, but keep covered. Allow pot to steam for 10 more minutes.

Have a Mardi Gras Party

Your authentic jambalaya is now ready for some green onions and a dash more hot sauce! You won’t miss the meat in this rich, savory dish.  

This is a perfect dish for an impromptu Mardi Gras party, no matter where you live. These vegan oyster mushroom po’boys at Food Republic look scrumptious. Jamie at Drive Me Hungry has a great remoulade sauce that you should make, too!

Jambalaya Inspiration & Research

I totally nerd out when it comes to food, culture & geography! If you want to learn more, my top recommendation is this HuffPost article by a Louisianan and Cajun chef. (Skip if you’re sensitive to images of cooking meat).

Creole Jamabalaya

Cajun Jambalaya

Be sweet to yourself, my friend! Happy Cooking!

Print

Mardi Gras Vegan Jambalaya

  • Author: Katie Allen
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 100
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Cajun

Description

Rice and beans get the royal treatment in this Creole vegan jambalaya. New Orleans flavors simmer slowly in the traditional way. Party time on your plate!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Tony Cacheres
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbsp vegan worcestershire (Annie’s)
  • 5 dashes Louisiana hot sauce (or, to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain rice
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (3 tsp Better Than Bouillon + 3 1/2 cups hot water)
  • 12 vegan sausage(s)
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained
  • Green onion

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in large, heavy pot over medium.
  2. Add onions. Reduce heat too low. Cook for 30-45 minutes until brown. Stirring occasionally.
  3. Add pepper & celery.
  4. Cook, stirring for 10 minutes until soft.
  5. Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, Worcestershire, hot sauce, cajun seasoning, and rice. Slowly add broth.
  6. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low.
  7. Cook for 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
  8. Stir in sausage and kidney beans.
  9. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer.
  10. Remove from heat and keep covered. Allow jambalaya to steam for 10 more minutes before serving.
  11. Garnish with green onion.


Notes

Vegetarian: This recipe is vegetarian

Vegan: This recipe is vegan

Gluten-Free: Omit vegan sausage and vegan worcestershire sauce.

Keywords: vegan jambalaya, vegetarian jambalaya, vegan creole jambalaya, vegan cajun food, vegan mardi gras food

I'm a tacotarian, a mom and pun-maker. Feeding people is my love language, and I'm passionate about helping people feel confident in being their own kind of vegan/vegetarian. I'm commonly found in the school pick-up lane, bulk buying tortilla chips and in front of the fireplace.

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