Preparing Classic Chicken Gumbo Recipe

his 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.

“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


  • 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


  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic chicken gumbo ingredients
  2. Peel and chop the onions.

    Chopped onion
  3. Cut the bell pepper in half lengthwise; remove the seeds and stem. Cut the pepper into 1/4-inch dice.

    Diced bell pepper
  4. Chop the celery. Set the vegetables aside.

    Chopped celery
  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
  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
  7. Slowly add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly.

    Vegetables and chicken broth in a pot
  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
  9. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

    Gumbo simmering in a pot
  10. Meanwhile, cook the rice following the package directions. Set aside and keep warm.

    Cooked white rice in a pot
  11. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.

    Cut chicken
  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
  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

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