Crockpot Chicken Jambalaya

The goal of a slow cooker meal is to save time, which is why I don’t understand a lot of these recipes that require 30 minutes of prep work. Brown the meat, chop the veggies, reduce the broth. I need recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, like Slow Cooker Chicken Jambalaya.

overhead of chicken jambalaya in a brown serving dish with fresh veggies


 

Jambalaya is a New Orleans favorite and the authentic versions come from family recipes handed down generation to generation with secret spice blends and a splash of voodoo magic. Ours is not that recipe… yes it starts with the holy trinity and adds Creole seasoning, this is the easy recipe of a classic.

Chicken Jambalaya… Updated

This slow cooker jambalaya recipe quickly became a family favorite after making it years ago. It originally posted on November 14th, 2014- WOW! And while we’ve received so much positive feedback about the recipe, we also heard our readers and their inconsistent results regarding the rice.

Either it was too mushy, didn’t cook or overcooked. We tested it ourselves and found that in order for it to work, it needed to be very specific brands. In an effort to make sure everyone experiences delicious jambalaya, we altered the recipe.

metal spoon holding sausage, shrimp and rice

But taking out dry rice also meant changing the liquids which would now have no place to absorb too, which changed the ratio of seasoning and so on and do on.

Turns out okra and kale also turned some folks off- I loved it! So now there is a whole new, but totally foolproof recipe for jamalaba in the crockpot that adds cooked rice last. Making it separately was the only way to ensure the perfect grain.

Ingredients

While the ingredient list looks a little long, have no fear. Most are the spice blend which you can simplify by using a premade creole or Cajun spice blend. I do caution to taste test these first. Some are spicy, while other sway to the side of salty. Making your own means you can customize these flavors to find the perfect one for you.

ingredients for crockpot jambalaya in a slow cooker bowl
  • Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp– Proteins are one of the easiest ways to customize your homemade jambalaya recipe… and also a great way to clean out the odds and ends from the freezer! We used chicken breasts, andouille sausage and shrimp, but really as long as the total amount is around 2 pounds, it will be just fine. Add meats that needs to cook, or add flavor like the precooked sausage, at the beginning, and cooked items at the end. I buy cooked shrimp (fresh or frozen) to save myself time.
  • Canned diced tomatoes & juice– The juice will marry with other liquids from the veggies to make a fragrant broth. I used plain petite diced tomatoes.
  • Fresh garlic– nothing will ever compare to fresh garlic. The jarred stuff is great for saving time, but has a sweet flavor opposed to pungent garlic.
  • Yellow onion– Yellow and white onions pack the most onion-y flavor.
  • Fresh celery- Another item amount that can easily be changed. Throwing in one more rib won’t hurt it and omitting it altogether won’t either.
  • Bell pepper- I’m all for color, so I use any color of bell pepper I can find. Green bell peppers are the cheapest, but be mindful that red, yellow and orange bell peppers are generally slightly sweeter than green.
  • Bay leaves- One of the most omitted ingredients in cooking isn’t because people don’t like the flavor, they just don’t have them on hand. Dried bay leaves add warmth, depth and peppery notes to any sauce. Dried are actually less bitter than fresh. Just make sure to fish it out before serving because digesting a bay leaf causes issues.
  • Cooked white or brown rice– aw, the culprit that forced us to change the whole recipe! This is one of my time-saving recipes, so I used 2 packets of 90-second rice. Use leftovers or make it from scratch and use white rice or brown rice, short or long grained rice. If making it from scratch, use chicken broth instead of water to give it more flavor. Soaking in the natural vegetable broth will also give plain rice a nice punch.
  • Shrimp- Our previous version didn’t have seafood, but we love shrimp, so it got added. It it is optional. Size and amount is up to you.
  • Seasonings– This list looks long, but it is fairly basic. Use our custom blend of bold spices or a heaping tablespoon of premade Creole or Cajun seasoning. Taste it before hand so you know how spicy and salty it is and can adjust accordingly.

Check out our variations below- like adding kale or okra!

angle of chicken jambalaya in a brown serving dish

How to Make Crockpot Jambalaya

The magic of this dish is a low heat for a long time. Since the proteins are cooking in liquid, they stay super tender and take-on the flavor of your custom broth. When the rice is added, even though it is already cooked, it still has some capacity to absorb the seasoning. Some might even argue this makes it better for leftovers.

  1. Combine the chicken, sausage, tomatoes (with juice), garlic onion, celery, bell pepper, bay leaves and seasoning blend in the slow cooker and give it a few good stirs.
  2. I cooked mine on high for 3 hours, but you can easily do low for 6 and it should be fine. Ideally the celery will still have a slight snap.
  3. When you are just about ready to serve, remove the bay leaves and add the cooked rice and shrimp, stirring again ro warm thoroughly, about 15 minutes. Alternately, you can just spoon the meat and veggie blend over a bed of rice. I like it more like a stew or soup, so I stir it in. The starches also help to thicken the veggie broth.
  4. This version was garnished with snipped parsley, but chopped green onions and or a splash of hot sauce are also welcome.

We have not tried this recipe in the Instant Pot yet.

cooked jambalaya in a slow cooker with an oven mitt and produce

Variations

  • Okra is another under used vegetable. Popular in the south, okra can get slimy with a weird texture when overcooked, but adding it precut, chopped and frozen.
  • As stated above, this recipe for jambalaya has been changed from the original version, which included kale too. I liked it as another convenient way to get my family to pack in the veggies, but apparently it was a turnoff for others, so we kept it more traditional with the option to add. When you add the rice, fold in 1/2-3/4 cup of massaged chopped kale. It will break down in that short amount of time. Massaging it helps to break up fibers, much like tenderizing beef, making it easier to chew and digest.
  • Make it HOT! Add more crushed red pepper flakes, aleppo chile flakes, cayenne pepper or hot sauce.
  • Swap proteins. Like so many of our dishes here, we encourage you to try different proteins. We exclusively use chicken breasts (or chicken thighs), even in the sausage, but pork, beef or even tofu are great swaps as long as the total weight equals the same. Even try mixing for more flavor sophistication. Smoked sausage will give, of course, a smoky essence.
angle serving dish with shrimp, chicken, sausage and veggies

Make Ahead & Leftovers

Slow cooker jambalaya is an excellent make-ahead dish whether you are serving it to your family or bringing it to a potluck or sick friend. In fact, my husband might tell you it tastes better the next day because the starchy rice has more time to soak it all up.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove. Microwave is actually preferably in this situation.

While we haven’t personally tried to freeze this recipe, there are no indicators that it wouldn’t freeze and thaw well. If you give it s shot, please come back and let us know how it was.

chicken jambalaya for pinterest recipe

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close up of jambalaya with text overlay
overhead of crockpot jambalaya in a serving dish

Crockpot Chicken Jambalaya Recipe

4.73 from 11 votes
Crockpot Jambalaya is loaded with chicken, sausage, shrimp, veggies, rice and zesty Creole seasoning for the perfect Creole comfort food.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

Jambalaya:

Seasoning:

Instructions

  • In the slow cooker, combine the chicken, sausage, tomatoes (with juice), garlic onion, celery, bell pepper and bay leaves.
  • If using a pre-made cajun or creole seasoning, add a heaping 1 tablespoon and omit seasoning blend, or make seasoning blend in a small bowl using all of the dry ingredients. Blend well and add to the chicken mixture.
  • Cover and cook on high heat for 3 hours. Remove lid, stir well and remove the bay leaves. Add the cooked rice and shrimp, stirring again ro warm thoroughly.
  • Allow to continue cooking for 10-15 minutes on the "warm" setting or turn totally off with the lid on. Serve hot.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!

Notes

Please note that this recipe has changed considerably since it originally posted. While many found success in making it the original way, with dry rice, others were not. After extensie recipe testing, we were not able to get consistent results with different brands of rice and slow cookers, so we changed the recipe. If you are looking for the original recipe, it is posted below.  Please note there was an error and it was to cook for 4 hours on high, 6 on low. 
old chicken jambalaya recipe 

Nutrition

Calories: 402 kcal, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Protein: 19 g, Fat: 12 g, Saturated Fat: 4 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 56 mg, Sodium: 792 mg, Potassium: 544 mg, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 4 g, Vitamin A: 1026 IU, Vitamin C: 42 mg, Calcium: 58 mg, Iron: 2 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 402
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: Creole
Keyword: chicken jambalaya, slow cooker jambalaya
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. This looks really amazing and I’m going to try it tonight, but your instructions are questionable. Add chicken through canned tomatoes???? What???? And you completely left out the sausage and other veggies in the instructions. So I guess I’m going to do it how I feel is best. But for future reference I recommend being a tiny bit more explanatory when it comes to instructions?? I will update when we’ve eaten tonight but it really looks amazing. 🥰🥰

    1. Hi christina, we sent you an email too- but “Chicken THROUGH canned tomatoes” typically means all of the other ingredients listed between the two on the recipe list. We didn’t forget anything. It is perfectly acceptable way to write a recipe, even though you seem to not like it. We did update this recipe today, so if you are looking for the original it is below in the recipe card. People were having trouble with the rice cooking, so we changed it up a bit.

  2. I’m sure this normally taste great in a crockpot. However, rice was mush. Went ahead and made recipe before reading other comments and a little google search told me not to use rice in a crockpot… skip rice and chicken broth for crockpot.. make rice separate

    1. 5 stars
      Hi Leslie, I’ll recipe test this again, but we’ve never had any issues. Did you use instant rice instead of regular cooking rice?

  3. I made the jambalaya minus the okra and kale and loved the flavor. Only problem the rice turned into mush. Cooked about 6 hours on low. Maybe my crockpot temp runs hot!

    1. Hi Karen, thank you for dropping me a note. I’m so sorry your rice was mushy. There are a couple of different variables with rice. Temperture is certainly an issue AND the amount of water your vegetables had in them is another. Adding just a little more (which I tend to do because I like things veggi-licous) can also create more liquid since in a crock pot the moisture can’t escape, it results in mushy rice. Try cooking it for a little less and adding another tablespoons of rice next time and you should be good to go.

  4. 5 stars
    You know, this would be great at a Super Bowl party! Make it up, cooks while the game is on. Then, when guests are hungry they can come in and get some to nosh on. Great recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    I love jambalaya and in a slow cooker with minimal prep work and I’m in!! Love the addition of the okra and kale too…bumping up the nutritional factor!

  6. I love jambalaya and can’t wait to try your recipe…especially because it’s made in the slow cooker!

  7. This looks so delicious with those wonderful flavours. I never tried such a recipe before but now I will! Thank you!