Chicken Gumbo

Chicken Gumbo is one of the South’s favorite recipes during Mardis Gras. Gumbo is made with a wide variety of meats like chicken, ham, bacon, oysters, crab, shrimp, and beef.

This chicken gumbo is a perfect gumbo soup recipe to try if you have never had this famous soup before.

a bowl of chicken gumbo soup and bread on a cutting board

There are many different types of gumbos, but perhaps the most popular varieties are seafood and chicken. This recipe retains a traditional chicken gumbo flavor while modernizing the old-school version slightly to appeal to modern tastes and cooking styles. As a bonus, there is no need to spend all day over the hot stove since this chicken gumbo soup takes less than an hour to make! So, if you love gumbo or even if you never tried it before, this is an excellent place to get your Cajun fix.

Exploring the Holy Trinity of Cajun and Creole Cooking

When it comes to cooking in Lousianna, three ingredients are so important that they have earned the nickname, the Holy Trinity. These essential ingredients are onions, bell peppers, and celery. While the importance of these vegetables in regional dishes ranging from étouffée to gumbo has a long history, the term only popped up in the early 1980s and is most likely created by Paul Prudhomme. He was a celebrity chef and owner of K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans. Prudhomme was in large part responsible for spreading knowledge of classic New Orleans dishes to the rest of the US through multiple cookbooks and media appearances.

The Holy Trinity’s importance in Cajun and Creole cooking is thanks to the large number of French descendants who ended up settling in Lousiana. French cuisine depends on mirepoix, which is onions, carrots, and celery, as a backbone of many recipes. But carrots tended not to grow well in the local area while bell peppers did, so the new arrivals substituted bell peppers for carrots in classic French recipes.

How to Thicken Gumbo Recipes

The most significant difference between traditional chicken gumbo and this recipe is the use of a thickening agent. Like many local specialties across the country, folks have their preferred way of preparing them. In Lousiana, there are three primary thickeners people generally view as acceptable to use in gumbo recipes. These thickeners are roux, file, and okra. Some gumbo recipes have up to two of these thickeners, but most include roux.

Roux is flour cooked in fat. There are different types of roux according to their color. In Creole cooking, the cooking style centered around New Orleans, the perfect roux color is similar to copper. Out in the countryside, Creoles prefer cooking the roux longer until it develops a dark reddish-brown hue. The problem with cooking roux is that it is extremely easy to burn and make your gumbo bitter.

The next thicken agent is okra, famous for its unique taste and slimy consistency. Okra is actually a fruit, but it is used as a vegetable. Some people despise it, but it is a common ingredient in gumbos. There are several ways to help reduce the dreaded sliminess of okra, from soaking it in vinegar to precooking okra over high heat before adding it to the gumbo.

The third type of thickener is filé powder. Filé powder comes from dried sassafras leaves and is more likely to show up in the rural Creole gumbos. Cooks don’t cook with filé powder but stir it into the pot once removed from the heat.

Summing up the thickening of gumbo you can use two of these three methods.

  • Roux – Roux is likely the most well-known way to thicken gumbo. The roux is a paste of flour and fat that has been browned. How dark you like to prepare your roux is all up to you.
  • Okra – the original gumbo thickener.
  • File Powder – is made from ground sassafras leaves. File is generally added at the end of the cooking process. It is believed file became a thickener in gumbo when okra was not in season.

Why do they call it gumbo?

Gumbo inherited its came from the country of origin. In many West African languages, the word “gombo,” translates to “okra.” In the earliest recipes, okra was one of the main ingredients, but the United States is the melting pot so the recipe changed over the years.

What is the difference between gumbo and jambalaya?

Gumbo is a soup that is served with rice, jambalaya is a rice dish. Many restaurants and many home cooks will serve plain rice with Gumbo, and allow the person being served to add as much or as little rice as they desire in their gumbo.

Jambalaya is a hearty rice dish. If you have ever had Paella, it is a dish that is similar as rice is the main ingredient, yes, the ingredients overlap because there may be smoked sausage, peppers, onions, bits of chicken, and so much more. One is more of a soup, and the other is a hearty rice dish.

What is traditionally served with gumbo?

Rice. Preferably Lousianna grown rice, but there is always a bowl of freshly cooked white rice served with gumbo. You could be fancy and add some sliced green onions on top, but don’t forget the rice! Some people may have a light green salad, and some bread either French bread or some cornbread is recommended.

Tips For Making and Serving Chicken Gumbo Soup

  • Try adding Andouille sausage. Andouille sausage is a smoked sausage made initially in France but very popular in Cajun cooking.
  • Serve with sliced scallions and a bottle of hot sauce on the side. Try a traditional Louisana hot sauce like The Original Lousiana brand for an authentic flavor.

Watch us make other Lousiana specialties on YouTube!

I love my reader’s suggestions, and I look forward to the ways they would modify or make gumbo, so please be sure to read the comments on this blog post to hear their suggestions. I know gumbo is a dish that many people are passionate about.

Chicken Gumbo Ingredients

Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Bacon
  • Canola oil
  • Chicken broth
  • Plum tomatoes
  • Corn kernels
  • Okra
  • Green bell pepper
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Uncooked rice
  • Water
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • Black pepper
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Parsley

How to Make Gumbo with Chicken

  1. In a large pot, fry the bacon.
  2. Remove the bacon and set aside.
  3. Add oil to the bacon drippings that are in the pot.
  4. Dredge the chicken in flour and brown them in the pot.
  5. Pour the chicken broth over browned chicken and bring to a boil.
  6. Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.
  7. Taste and season before serving.

You may add the bacon to the soup if desired.

Can this gumbo recipe be made ahead? If so, how is it best stored and reheated?

Gumbo is one of those soups that taste best the second or even third day so you can make it ahead. Let us talk about how we store, freeze, and reheat our gumbo.

  • Refrigerate – keep your gumbo in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last up to 3 to 4 days.
  • Freezer – store in airtight containers or vacuum sealed bags for up to 3 months.

How to reheat gumbo the right way.

Do not reheat gumbo in the microwave, soups, and stews are best reheated on the stovetop. So place your soup into a pot, and heat on low to medium-low heat until it gets warm.

a bowl of chicken gumbo soup and a plate of salad

Love Cajun food? Try these recipes!

Check out more of my easy chicken recipes and the best soup recipes here on CopyKat!

a bowl of chicken gumbo soup and bread on a cutting board

Chicken Gumbo

You can make great chicken gumbo with this easy recipe.
4.85 from 13 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Cajun
Keyword: Chicken Gumbo
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 364kcal


  • 3 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1/2″ strips)
  • 6 strips bacon cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 6 plum tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels preferably cut from the cob
  • 1 1/2 cups okra cut into 1/2 " pieces
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup uncooked rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon parsley


  • In a large pot, fry the bacon. Remove the bacon and set aside. Add the oil to the bacon drippings that are in the pot.
  • Dredge the chicken pieces in flour and brown them in the pot. This may have to be done in several batches.
  • Pour the chicken broth over the browned chicken and bring to a boil.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Taste and season before serving.
  • You may add the bacon to the soup if desired


Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 792mg | Potassium: 1033mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 685IU | Vitamin C: 35.3mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 1.5mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Louisiana Native

    3 stars
    Aside from the obvious ingredients that no self respecting native would add or omit from a gumbo (no shrimp, chicken breasts instead of thighs, corn?! etc and the smirky wink in your response to a previous commenter) if one will be freezing this soup they should be made aware that ingredients such as celery and will become very grainy and disintegrate upon thawing leaving diners with a gritty, sandy tasteless mess.

    • Stephanie

      While I personally don’t love soups after they have been frozen, I have lots of people ask. Maybe they don’t have large families, or can’t enjoy a whole pot of soup before they get tired of it, many people do freeze soups to enjoy them later. I appreciate your comments!

  2. Jeaneau

    Hate to say this but this is not Louisiana gumbo. All gumbo’s start with a roux! All this is is a chicken soup. You would never put corn or bacon in it. Good luck and try again

    • Baltisraul

      I have a wonderful turkey gumbo recipe that is made this same way. I got it from the food section of the Times-Picayune years ago. Can’t get any more Louisiana than that!

      ” “Lamerde d’un homme est la glace d’un autre homme” as any true Arcadian would say down there!

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