This vegan jambalaya is quick and easy to make, full of spice and flavour and a great one-pot meal. Beans and mushrooms stand in for shrimp and sausage for a totally plant-based, gluten-free and oil-free version of Southern comfort food that’s just as good as the original!
- The best vegan jambalaya
- What is jambalaya?
- Cajun or Creole Jambalaya?
- Does jambalaya need a roux?
- Ingredients you’ll need
- How to make vegan jambalaya?
- Recipe variations and substitutions
- What to serve with it
- Wanna see how easy it is to make this vegan jambalaya? Watch the video!
- Vegan Jambalaya
The best vegan jambalaya
I love spice so this easy vegan jambalaya recipe is one that’s in regular rotation at my house!
Two whole tablespoons of Tabasco sauce go in and of course more on the table to sprinkle over and get it extra spicy. Perfect!
Add to that a delicious combination of herbs and smoky spices in a tomato-y broth and you’ve got a simple one-pot dish with cheap ingredients that’s packed with flavour and great for a weeknight dinner.
This vegan jambalaya recipe is a great base for adding in whatever veggies and meat substitutes you like.
I don’t use store-bought meat analogues because they’re expensive and I’m a vegan on a budget so I added kidney beans and mushrooms to give more substance to this plant-based dish.
However, if you want to add a bit of “meaty” texture to your vegan jambalaya, feel free to peruse my round-up of vegan recipes for meat lovers for some ideas for homemade meat substitutes and sausages that you can prepare for a fraction of the price of store-bought versions.
What is jambalaya?
Jambalaya is a very popular rice dish that originated in Louisiana.
The exact origins of jambalaya are unclear but the dish has influences from Spanish, African, French, Native American and Caribbean ingredients and cooking techniques.
Recipes vary from cook to cook and can include various types of meat such as chicken, pork, sausage or seafood.
In addition to meat, jambalaya always starts with a sofrito; a mix of finely diced onion, peppers and celery that act as the flavour base.
The vegetables, meat, rice, and broth are cooked together in one pot to make a broth-y rice dish that’s hearty, economical and easy to adapt to your taste and special diet.
Cajun or Creole Jambalaya?
This vegan jambalaya recipe is based on Creole jambalaya recipes from New Orleans.
Creole jambalaya is also called “red jambalaya” because it includes tomatoes whereas Cajun recipes are called “brown jambalaya” because they get their colour from the browned bits at the bottom of the pan.
In Creole recipes, the ingredients are added to the pot to cook one by one and layer the flavours, whereas in Cajun recipes, everything is added to the pot at the same time to cook together.
Jambalaya seasoning is a bit different whether you’re making a Creole or Cajun recipe. Creole jambalaya has more dried herbs such as oregano, thyme, bay and parsley.
Does jambalaya need a roux?
No, it is not typical to make a roux for jambalaya.
Roux generally serves to thicken a stew or soup. It is common in gumbo, which has a thick stew-like consistency.
Jambalaya is a rice dish and the starches that are released from the rice as it cooks also thickens the liquid into a sauce.
That said, some cooks do like to start their jambalaya with a roux for a bit of added flavour and you may come across some early historical recipes calling for a roux.
Ingredients you’ll need
Jambalaya has always been an economical dish that has adapted itself to whatever ingredients are available. Nowadays, meat is expensive so this vegan version using mushrooms and beans is even more economical and easy to make that it’s meaty counterpart.
Onion, bell peppers, celery: These three ingredients are known as the “Holy Trinity” in Creole and Cajun cooking. The form the flavour base of jambalaya. I use a mix of both red and green pepper but you can use just one type if that’s all you have.
Garlic: Also adds flavour to the base.
Mushrooms: The first of two meat substitutes in the recipe is mushrooms. I used white button mushrooms but cremini or even diced oyster mushrooms will work.
Crushed tomatoes: Since this is a Creole-style jambalaya, we add tomatoes.
Vegetable stock: You can use homemade or store-bought vegetable stock. Make sure it’s one that you like the flavour of!
Spices and seasonings: Oregano, basil, thyme, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, and salt. All of these seasonings are what gives jambalaya it’s characteristic flavour. Definitely don’t omit the smoked paprika since that’s what replaces the smoky flavour of andouille sausage.
Tabasco sauce: I love my jambalaya to be spicy but feel free to adjust this to your spice tolerance.
Soy sauce: This is an unusual ingredient that I add to a lot of typically meat-heavy recipes. It adds umami and an extra layer of flavour that salt alone won’t replicate.
Rice: Jambalaya is traditionally made with long grain white rice. Long grain rice holds its shape and doesn’t clump together when using this cooking technique.
Beans: This is the second of my meat substitutes. This vegan jambalaya recipe calls for kidney beans but I have also made it with white beans and chickpeas. Feel free to substitute with whatever bean you like.
Garnishes: Something green needs to go on top whether it’s chopped green onion, parsley or cilantro.
How to make vegan jambalaya?
The great thing about jambalaya is that it’s an easy one-pot meal! Start by having all your vegetables chopped and the spices prepared and ready to go in the pan.
Sauté: So to make this vegan jambalaya, in a large saucepan or a pot like a Dutch oven, you’ll start by sautéing off the obligatory base of bell peppers, celery, onion and garlic.
I’ve written this recipe to be oil-free but you can sauté the veggies in a couple tablespoons of oil if you prefer.
Once these vegetables are tender, push them to the sides of the pan.
Fry: Add the mushrooms to the middle of the pan and fry them until they’re browned.
Dump: Dump in the seasonings, rice, beans, tomatoes and stock.
I like to wait to add the salt at the end so that I can add it to taste.
Different brands of vegetable stock have different sodium contents so it’s easier to determine how much salt to add after the rice is cooked.
Cook: Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
Let it all simmer for round about 15-20 minutes or so.
I like to give it a stir once or twice as it cooks to make sure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Serve: Once the rice is cooked through it’s best to serve the jambalaya right away when it’s still got a bit of a sauce to it (at least that’s how I like it).
Once you take it off the heat, the rice will continue to absorb the remaining liquid so get it out of the pot and onto the plate as soon as possible!
Sprinkle over some chopped green onion, parsley or cilantro and you’re good to go.
Like I said, be sure to put the Tabasco sauce on the table for those (like me) who like their vegan jambalaya extra spicy!
Recipe variations and substitutions
Rice: I’ve used long grain white rice for this recipe, but I have also made jambalaya successfully with brown rice, which you can do if you’re looking for a whole foods, plant-based vegan jambalaya recipe.
You may need to add more liquid and another 15 – 20 minutes to the cooking time for brown rice.
Seasonings: You can forgo the individual spices and seasonings for a store-bought Creole seasoning mix.
Protein: Swap out the mushrooms for additional beans. You can also use white beans and chickpeas in place of, or in addition to, the kidney beans.
Nowadays, it’s pretty easy to find vegan sausage products which can be used as a 1:1 replacement for non-vegan sausages. There’s even some vegan shrimp products if you want to make a seafood jambalaya.
Tofu or seitan, especially if you can find the smoked variety, can be used in place of the mushrooms or beans.
To make vegan jambalaya in the Instant Pot, first sauté the vegetables, then brown the mushrooms. Dump in the remaining ingredients, close the lid and pressure cook for 4 minutes. Allow natural release for 10 minutes. Open the lid and season to taste.
Yes, you can make jambalaya in a slow cooker. You will need to find a recipe specifically written for the slow cooker. Most slow cooker jambalaya recipes cook the vegetables, seasonings and broth for several hours before adding the rice to cook for a final 30 minutes.
This vegan jambalaya recipe doesn’t contain any vegan meat products, which usually contain gluten. Just be sure to use tamari as a seasoning instead of soy sauce.
This vegan jambalaya recipe has 331 calories per serving.
White long grain rice is the best type of rice for jambalaya but basmati and jasmine rice will work as well.
What to serve with it
A big bowl of vegan jambalaya is great on its own but there are a number of side dishes you can prepare to eat along side it if you like.
- Vegan cornbread
- Garlic bread
- Grilled corn on the cob
- Tofu salad
- Potato salad
- Avocado pasta salad
- Vegan jalapeño cheddar biscuits
- Tossed green salad
- Fried green tomatoes
- Collard greens
- Baked beans
Wanna see how easy it is to make this vegan jambalaya? Watch the video!
- 1 onion diced - $0.14
- 4 cloves of garlic minced - $0.16
- 1 stalk of celery diced - $0.18
- ½ red pepper diced - $0.43
- ½ green pepper diced - $0.37
- 20 button mushrooms quartered - $1.15
- 1 can (400 grams / 14 oz) crushed tomatoes - $0.45
- 4 cups (1 litre) vegetable stock - $1.80
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano - $0.06
- 1 teaspoon dried basil - $0.06
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme - $0.06
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika - $0.12
- 2 teaspoons smoky paprika - $0.24
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper - $0.03
- 2 bay leaves - $0.30
- 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce adjust to taste - $2.24
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce or gf tamari - $0.10
- Pepper to taste - $0.03
- 2 cups (400 grams) uncooked long grain white rice (can sub brown rice) - $0.30
- 1 ½ cups (50 grams) cooked kidney beans - $0.50
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste - $0.03
- A handful of fresh chopped parsley, green onion or cilantro - $0.20
- Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add a splash of water (you can use a couple tablespoons of oil if you prefer). Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, adding more water as necessary. Add the celery and peppers and sauté until just beginning to soften.
- Push the vegetables to the side of the pan and add the mushrooms. Saute until browned then add the crushed tomatoes, vegetable stock, herbs, spices and sauces (except the salt), rice and beans. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer gently, giving it a stir from time to time, until the rice is cooked and the liquid is mostly absorbed – 15 to 20 minutes (for brown rice it needs about 40 minutes).
- Once the rice is tender add salt if necessary. Serve the jambalaya immediately with fresh chopped herbs sprinkled on top and more Tabasco sauce on the side for those who like it really spicy.