Difference Between Gumbo & Jambalaya

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A medley of carrots, onions, okra, corn and red peppers flavor gumbo.
A medley of carrots, onions, okra, corn and red peppers flavor gumbo. (Image: adlifemarketing/iStock/Getty Images)

The terms gumbo and jambalaya may be used interchangeably by the uninitiated, but the two dishes are distinctly different. Popularized by New Orleans cuisine, these two classics pack in flavor and heat, but one is a complete meal, while the other is a thickened soup that needs a side of rice added.

Gumbo vs. Jambalaya

Gumbo is a thickened broth or stew comprised of vegetables and meat or shellfish. Typically spicy and highly seasoned, gumbo is served with a side of rice that is cooked separately. Jambalaya is a complete dish, similar in makeup to paella. Along with its main ingredient, rice, jambalaya typically consists of vegetables, meat or shellfish and andouille sausage. Tomatoes are an integral ingredient in Creole jambalaya and gumbo, while the Cajun versions of the dishes do not include them.

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