From what I can tell it has something to do with the type of roux and vegetables used and maybe whether it should be considered more of a soup or a main course.

Are these hard and fast definitions or more a matter of interpretation? Does whether it is more Cajun vs Creole influenced make a difference?

  • I've never used a roux for jambalaya, nor do I remember seeing one in the recipes I've looked at. Still, there are probably a thousand variations on that dish... Jun 4, 2018 at 20:40

3 Answers 3


Gumbo is a stew/soup, etouffee involves a roux to make it more of a sauce served over rice as a vehicle, and jambalaya is a one-pot meal with rice as an integral part of the dish--sort of like a cajun paella. All three tend to have shellfish where as gumbo and jambalaya tend to also have sausage (etouffee usually doesn't have sausage that I've seen).


The origin of the word ‘gumbo’ is okra. I don’t remember the whole story, but Gumbo IS okra soup. Jambalaya is a rice dish. Creole is a tomato based dish. I think the most important thing is that these dishes are rustic and can have almost ANYTHING in them from expensive cuts of protein to straight up vegetables. All are spicy but not necessarily ‘hot’.


Shellfish are usually in all three but chicken and spicy sausage are frequently the alternative protein and make a great dish. The sausage is an important component and is normally a cajun or creole sausage that has been smoked. Any smoked, spicy sausage will work. There are few hard and fast rules in Creole and Cajun cuisine...IMHO.

  • 2
    This answer confuses me. Shellfish are high in protein.
    – Cindy
    Jun 2, 2018 at 14:41
  • Sorry, @Cindy. Note I edited my comment to read "frequently the alternative protein".
    – Sundown
    Jun 4, 2018 at 6:25

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