Shrimp and Crawfish Jambalaya

Jambalaya is a quintessential New Orleans dish that reflects the diversity of the city’s cultural influences. The dish is a cousin of the Spanish rice dish paella, with which it shares many ingredients. The main difference is that a traditional paella includes saffron, which was mostly unavailable in the New World. Tomatoes, however, were readily available and were used to color and flavor the dish that ultimately became known as Creole-style jambalaya.

The name, though, is most likely derived from the Provençal French word jambalaya, meaning a mishmash. Taken together, the combination of Spanish and French culinary input—along with the skills of the local cooks and the bounty of wonderful local ingredients—can all rightly be said to have creatively influenced this beloved New Orleans classic.

This version features tasty shrimp and succulent crawfish tails (available precooked, shelled, and ready for use in the freezer section) and makes enough delicious jambalaya to feed a crowd. It’s perfect for holiday parties, special events, buffet suppers, etc. It’s specially seasoned with a touch of smoked paprika to give it a hint of the cooked-over-an-open-fire flavor of traditional Spanish paella. If smoked paprika is unavailable, just use additional sweet paprika.


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, or bacon fat
  • 8 ounces spicy sausage, such as andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
  • (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 cups converted rice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 12 ounces cooked crawfish
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion, green parts only, optional


  1.  In a very large skillet or pot, lightly brown the sausage in the oil over medium heat.

  2. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, garlic, thyme, basil, and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

  3. Stir in both cans of tomatoes (with their juice), chicken stock, water, and both paprikas. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  4. Stir in the rice and transfer the contents of the pot to a large roasting pan lightly coated with cooking spray (a disposable foil roasting pan is fine; be sure to support the underside with a baking sheet when lifting.) Cover with foil and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

  5. Saute the shrimp in the butter until the shrimp are just barely opaque. Stir in the crawfish tails (and any fat) and sauté until the tails are just heated through.

  6. Stir the shrimp, crawfish tails, and parsley into the jambalaya. Taste and add salt if needed (celery salt is a good choice.) Re-cover with foil and return the pan to the oven for an additional 7 to 10 minutes if serving immediately. If the jambalaya will be reheated and served at a later time, skip this step.

  7. Sprinkle with the scallion tops, if desired, and serve.

Shrimp and Crawfish Jambalaya

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