To many people, the word “jambalaya” probably brings to mind a kind of generic spiciness. Oh, those poor people.
There is so much more to jambalaya – and indeed to Cajun and Creole food in general – that blatant spiciness.
What is really at the heart of this classic Louisiana dish is a complexity and depth of flavor that comes from combining tried and true ingredients and forming them into a stew made with love.
Yes, actual love.
And sure, there can be a bit of heat. But there is so much more.
Brought forth from the French quarter of New Orleans, this classic medley of flavors is as American as apple pie. You can taste the French, Spanish, and West African influences all in one Dutch oven.
The smoky and garlicky andouille, “the trinity” and the chicken, the crawfish and tomatoes – all nestled in the loving arms of the rice.
If America truly is a melting pot, then a lovingly-made bowl of jambalaya tastes like America. Spicy. Complicated. Friendly. Assertive.
But with all the complexity of flavor in this delicious melting pot, how do we decide what to serve with jambalaya?
Whether it’s traditional Cajun and Creole side dishes, twists on classics, more adventurous pairings, or simply contrasting with cooler, brighter dishes, jambalaya truly gets along beautifully with other flavors.
This is in part because of its complex depth of flavors, not in spite of it. There are many flavors that you can tie back into your side dishes.
Do you want to put some extra garlic in your sautéed greens? The andouille’s spicy bite straight-up encourages it.
Tempted to toss some extra celery into that salad and finish it with fresh thyme leaves? Jambalaya’s aromatics and spices are practically begging you to do it.
So, don’t fear. Jambalaya wants to help.
And searching out what to eat with jambalaya is about to get simpler than you thought. Read on for some amazing ideas.
What Goes with Jambalaya: Our Delish List
There are so many things going on in each bite – a veritable New Orleans jazz symphony – that it might seem daunting when trying to nail down what goes with jambalaya.
There’s no need to panic, though. We’ve got you covered!
1. Cajun Maque Choux Pasta Salad
Jambalaya’s complex and rich flavors play perfectly with tangy and creamy salads loaded with veggies.
Think of the “Cajun trinity” minus the celery, with the addition of bacon.
Yes, smoky bacon!
And then toss some corn in there for sweetness, followed by a ton of fresh herbs. Add some almonds crunch. And, voila!
Cajun pasta perfection. You could go crazy and switch out the elbow pasta for farfalle or campanelle.
Erica has the recipe for the salad that jambalaya daydreams about here: ericasrecipes.com
2. Buttermilk Cornbread
Crumbly moist cornbread is a fantastic side for jambalaya. It’s buttery, sweet, and savory.
How could lightly spicy and smoky jambalaya resist that?
We like our cornbread a little on the sweet side, but if you prefer it to be a little more savory, just tweak the amount of sugar.
It’s all good.
Throw this bread into the oven while you put the finishing touches on your jambalaya, and prepare to have a table filled with sweet and spicy goodness.
Grab the recipe from Sam at Sugar Spun Run here: sugarspunrun.com
3. Sauteed Swiss Chard and Onions
Jambalaya has complex flavors going on, so it loves to be paired with clean and simple flavors that simply let it shine.
And Swiss chard with onion totally fits the bill.
This sauté is a little garlicky and has a bit of sweetness from balsamic vinegar.
Also, this gorgeous green side dish is pretty healthy too. So you can feel virtuous while you mumble, “mmmm, nom nom, mmmm,” under your breath.
How cool is that?
Katie has a sumptuous and colorful version over at Healthy Seasonal Recipes. Check it out here: healthyseasonalrecipes.com
4. Baked Okra
Even though we think of okra with gumbo, it’s fun to have it land in – or near – other stews.
And okra is the perfect accompaniment to jambalaya.
This recipe is so forgiving that you can use fresh or frozen okra. No sweat.
Also, no muss, no fuss, and it’s still perfectly crispy.
Heck, it’s so good that there’s a hot rumor you don’t even need to salt it! (What the what?)
So, grab some okra, and preheat the oven.
We’re going to get our fried okra on.
Check out Charlie Andrew’s recipe below.
5. Grilled Corn on the Cob
Grilled corn is one of the purest joys of summer.
The aroma is so intoxicating that it’s nearly moonshine-esque.
Don’t sniff and drive, folks!
Now, picture that perfectly grilled corn on the side of a steaming bowl of jambalaya. The sweet corn plays off the smoky and spicy stew, to create a plethora of flavors.
You see where we’re going with this right?
It’s the perfect summer meal.
Invite your friends over, and they’ll love you forever. Heck, the next time you need to move they’ll volunteer to help you lug furniture up several flights of stairs.
They’ll volunteer to drive you to the airport when it’s raining.
They’ll dog-sit Fluffy for you when you’re out of town.
The combination is just that good.
Check out BBQMyWay’s recipe below.
6. Cheddar Biscuits
Jambalaya loves, loves, loves a little bread product on the side.
And we were thinking some mildly flavored cheddar biscuits might make the perfect marriage with our favorite Cajun main dish.
Fluffy biscuits, with a tiny bit of garlic?
What could be better than that?
The answer to that query is, “Not much.”
Throw these into a basket with some linen napkins and call it a day.
Sit back, relax, and dip your biscuits into the jambalaya.
Grab the link from Amanda at I Am Baker here: iambaker.net
7. Ham and White Beans
Andouille is one of the main ingredients in jambalaya, and it’s loaded with garlic, spices – and of course – pork.
This means that when we contemplated what would be a wonderful side for the stew, we thought about some other types of pork.
And we decided on going old school, with a ham bone.
Mmm. Pork bone goodness.
And how delicious would it be combined with white beans, thyme, onions, and garlic?
The answer: Very, very, very delicious.
Get ready to get your pork n’ beans on by grabbing Jodie and Blaine’s recipe over at Two Lucky Spoons: twoluckyspoons.com
8. Barbecued Shrimp
Bright buttery shrimp always seem like the perfect side dish to – well – any main dish.
But, they especially pair incredibly well with complex and smoky jambalaya.
You can go with some basic grilled shrimp, or prepare it like this…
Let’s let our imaginations run a little wild – and add a lot of Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and lemon to the mix.
Well. My, my, my.
That fantasy escalated quickly.
Now, let’s make it a reality by melting the butter base in a pot, and start assembling that sauce for the shrimp!
Christin over at Spicy Southern Kitchen will walk you through all the tempting details here: spicysouthernkitchen.com/new-orleans-style-bbq-shrimp/
9. AU Gratin Potatoes
When it’s time to think about side dishes, sometimes we like something that’s a total contrast to the main course.
And when it comes to smoky, spicy, and tomatoey jambalaya, what would be on the opposite end of that spectrum?
Well, how about rich, creamy, velvety, cheesy, au gratin potatoes?
Sign us up!
You can make these ahead, and just pop them in the oven before serving up the stew.
A table is full of happiness and joy when it’s holding up jambalaya and au gratin potatoes.
Grab Julia’s recipe here: happyfoodstube.com
10. Crispy Garlic Bread
Cheesy garlic bread.
Really, does much more need to be said?
We all love it, and a main dish is always happiest when it’s served alongside this crunchy, buttery, and cheesy treat.
The garlic plays well with the andouille to create a seamless partnership of flavor. And the sharp parmesan makes the tomatoes happy.
You can get this in the oven just before plating the jambalaya for maximum oven-to-table timing.
Anna’s recipe is here: crunchycreamysweet.com
11. Loaded Hush Puppies
Corn and jambalaya inherently adore each other. There’s just something about the sweetness of corn and the smoky garlic andouille that brings everyone to the table.
So, with that in mind – we thought about the classic Southern staple of hush puppies.
They’re loaded with cornmeal, and buttermilk, and they’re fried to fluffy, golden perfection.
Go ahead and dunk these little corn fritters into that Cajun stew.
Go on and dunk ‘em.
You know you want to.
Grab Amy’s recipe over at House of Nash Eats: houseofnasheats.com
12. Softest Dinner Rolls
These soft crescent dinner rolls live up to their given name, “amazing.”
They’re soft and supple and full of buttery flavor.
And you know that they would be ridiculously good sopping up a little jambalaya gravy.
They also come together in a snap. Not to mention they’re adorable.
So, what are we all waiting for? Let’s get some warm water, yeast, milk – and a lot of butter – together into a standing mixer and get this party started!
Grab Jaclyn’s recipe here: cookingclassy.com
13. Simple Green Salad
We love, love, love a good green salad. Especially when combined with a hot (spice level, and temperature) stew.
It’s crisp, it’s cooling, it’s flavorful, and it makes the table look a little bit like a work of art.
And this one is particularly good because it’s loaded with creamy avocado and tangy goat cheese.
Now picture how fantastic that would taste after a spoonful of jambalaya.
Grab Emily’s recipe at on My Everyday Table here: myeverydaytable.com
14. Black Eyed Peas
When we think of classic pairings, we think of jambalaya and black-eyed peas.
Salty, savory, beans infused with the flavor of ham or bacon make the perfect side to smoky and spicy jambalaya.
This side dish is a Southern classic for a reason. It’s inexpensive and flavorful, and comforting to boot.
And while we all have our preferred method of pulling the dish together, this is a fun recipe because Robyn over at Ad A Pinch lays out three – count ‘em three – different ways of making black-eyed peas. Grab the differing techniques and ingredients here: addapinch.com
15. Cucumber Tomato Salad
Sometimes simplicity is the best. And having a side that’s effortlessly cooling, bright, tangy, and beautiful is as simple as it gets.
The cucumber, tomatoes, and fresh dill are the perfect team to cheer on the complex flavors of the jambalaya.
And then when they luxuriate in an apple cider vinaigrette, the salad elevates the stew to a stratospheric level.
Bring this couple to the table and watch everyone cheer.
Grab Amy’s recipe from Belly Full at the link: bellyfull.net
What to Serve with Jambalaya: Rounding it All Out
Everything about jambalaya is just a group of harmonious flavors that are seamlessly folded into each other. This isn’t just comfort food beef stew. THIS is stew.
As such, your entire meal should do the same from appetizers to finishers.
Let the Beginning Rock
While the jambalaya is the star of the night, the appetizer course can help set a festive tone to let the main act shine even more brightly.
One fun idea is grilled oysters with a buttery garlic herb sauce. They’re stylish, elegant, and a little salty (in the best way possible).
They would be little one-bite wonders!
And don’t forget the remoulade sauce! Other fun sauces would be an aioli, a horseradish cream, or a simple Russian dressing.
Also, a real classic appetizer is deviled eggs. They could be dressed up with a little creole seasoning, and herbs.
They’re bright and sunny, and they make an effortlessly fun presentation.
For dessert ideas, bread pudding with a bourbon sauce would be a hearty and sweet end to a flavorful and savory dinner. Just think of the buttery, boozy sauce on soft bready custard. Who wouldn’t love that?
Banana pudding is another fun option, it’s sweet and creamy – and makes a gorgeous presentation.
Pour ‘Em, and Drink ‘Em
While a good pilsner is the perfect pairing for jambalaya, don’t overlook wine!
There are many excellent vino blends to choose from. Think of bubbly and light prosecco sips between bites of the stew.
How about a pink rosé? The sweetness will pair perfectly with the rich flavors of jambalaya.
All in all, jambalaya lends itself to many amazing things. From salads to macaroni and cheese, from creamy potatoes to sweet desserts, and finally to bright and bubbly wines.
All that’s left to do is dig in and enjoy!
What to Serve with Jambalaya
- Pasta Salad
- Buttermilk Cornbread
- Chard & Onions
- Baked Okra
- Corn on the Cob
- Cheddar Biscuits
- Ham & White Beans
- Barbecued Shrimp
- Gratin Potatoes
- Garlic Bread
- Hush Puppies
- Dinner Rolls
- Green Salad
- Black Eyed Peas
- Tomato Salad
- Choose your desired Jambalaya side dish recipe.
- Gather and organize needed ingredients.
- Create a tasty Jambalaya side to complete your meal!