45 of Our Very Best Cajun Recipes

published Feb 10, 2023
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gumbo in a bowl with jasmine rice and a spoon
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne; Prop Styling; Anne Eastman

Cajun food sparks joy. Not only is Cajun food next-level flavorsome, but it also hosts an endless assortment of dishes that vary in savory or sweet characteristics.

What’s the difference between Cajun and Creole food, you might ask? There are actually many qualities that set the two Louisiana-native cuisines apart. Generally, though, Creole cooking is characterized by tomato-based sauces and a heavy use of tomatoes, while Cajun cooking builds sauces on a simple roux made of flour.

While the Mardi Gras holiday is a great excuse to dive into bowls of jambalaya, chomp into a po’ boy sandwich, or go for a round or two of a Southern-style cocktail, our hope is that these recipes will encourage you to lean on Cajun and Cajun-inspired dishes whenever the craving strikes.

If you’ve ever wanted to teleport to your favorite restaurant in Louisiana, then you owe it to yourself to try at least one of our 45 very best Cajun recipes.

Easy Cajun One-Pot Meals

Have little to no interest in dirtying more than one dish? You’re in luck. Many Cajun recipes — from gumbo and jambalaya to certain rice and pasta dishes — call for dumping all the ingredients into one big pot. Get ready to be extremely satisfied.

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Gumbo

There are different versions of gumbo, but the Cajun style features a dark stew made with a roux base, the holy trinity of vegetables (bell peppers, onions, celery), and proteins ranging from andouille sausage to chicken to seafood.

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Jambalaya
This jambalaya is packed with rich, deep flavors, and stars smoky andouille sausage and juicy chicken thighs.
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Crawfish Étouffée
Save this simple and extra-flavorful recipe because you’ll want to make it every week.
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Dirty Rice
The classic Cajun dish that goes well with just about anything.
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Shrimp Etouffée

A nutty dark roux, shrimp stock, slow-cooked vegetables, a hit of spice, and tender shrimp — all you need to serve dinner is a bowl of buttery rice.

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Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
With an Instant Pot, the most time-consuming part of making red beans (pre-soaking overnight) can be skipped entirely.
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One-Pot Creamy Cajun Chicken & Rice
A stovetop chicken and rice casserole with a creamy Cajun sauce.
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Smoky Cajun Shrimp Orzo
Plump orzo pasta and shrimp are cooked in a smoky tomato broth spiked with Cajun spices.
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Slow Cooker Jambalaya

A great hands-off way to make the Louisiana classic for a big day of entertaining.

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Vegetarian Gumbo

Homemade mushroom stock, beans, okra, and tofu are the keys to a delicious vegetarian take on the Cajun stew.

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Cajun Chicken Pasta

Packed with chicken rubbed with Cajun seasoning, this cheesy and smoky Southern-inspired twist closely resembles the beloved dish at Chili's.

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Red Jambalaya Fried Rice

Two cozy favorites that aren't typically regarded as a dynamic duo meet in this East-meets-South dish that's meaty, tangy-sweet, and easy enough to pull off for dinner.

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Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Take weekend (and weeknight) dinners up a notch with a minimalist creamy pasta rich on big, smoky, spicy Cajun flavor. You'll be deeply satisfied by the chewy al-dente penne against the crunchy shrimp and snap of andouille sausage.

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Cajun Meat and Seafood Dishes

These recipes are for those of you who love to feast on super-savory and succulent Cajun meat and seafood dishes. Why not take a stab at making your own crab cakes or a fish po’ boy? A few nifty tricks mean that you can bite into a juicy Cajun-spiced chicken sandwich in no time. With these recipes, it really couldn’t be easier.

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Seafood Boil

Take a page from Cajun cooking and prepare this delectable and easy seafood boil the next time you need to entertain a big crowd. Everyone is guaranteed to be satisfied by the flavorful medley of seafood, sausage, and vegetables.

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Baked Crab Cakes

With minimal breading and filler ingredients, the spotlight in these crab cakes is on the sweet and tender seafood. Baking takes the stress out of preparation.

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Shrimp Po' Boy

Thanks to crispy fried shrimp and a tangy, zesty remoulade sauce, our shrimp po' boy sandwich is packed with texture and a huge amount of Cajun flavor.

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3-Ingredient Oven-Baked Cajun Chicken Breasts

These oven-baked chicken breasts are super savory and slightly smoky with bold Cajun flavor, not to mention they come together using only three ingredients.

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Grilled Red Snapper

Make this simple grilled fish with any type of grilled vegetable and call it dinner.

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Air Fryer Chicken Sandwich

This spicy fried chicken sandwich gets its classic deep-fried and juicy flavor from our favorite new-school kitchen appliance.

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Lechon Po' Boy
This Filipino-Cajun po' boy consists of aromatic fork-tender lechon pork served on French rolls with lettuce, cucumber, and tomato salad.
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Oyster Dressing

Oyster dressing is a take on the classic turkey stuffing made instead with succulent gulf oysters, veggies, chicken broth, and crusty day-old bread.

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Cajun Dinner Side Dishes

Whether you’re in search of a dipping sauce or feel inspired to cook a big pot of rice and beans, look no further than this list of epic Cajun side dishes.

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Smothered Cabbage and Potatoes

This incredibly simple Southern classic celebrates two of winter’s staple vegetables — cabbage and potatoes — and is full of flavor from crisp bacon and Cajun seasoning.

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Red Beans & Rice

Fall-apart red beans with fluffy rice is a true staple of Cajun cooking, and proof that it doesn’t take a lot to feed the soul.

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Southern-Style Grits
Made from stone-ground grits and slow cooked to perfection, Southern grits are some of the creamiest, dreamiest grits on the planet.
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Cajun Stuffed Plantains
These flavor-packed plantains are stuffed with a mix of shrimp, crab, beef, cheese, and seasonings.
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Remoulade
Creamy, tart, and a tad bit spicy, remoulade is tartar’s amped-up sister sauce.
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Air Fryer Okra

These crispy bites are best served alongside remoulade sauce for dunking.

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Cajun Seasoning

Seasoning plays a big part in Cajun cooking and this recipe creates enough spice blend for you to give any dinner some Cajun flair.

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Succotash
A big platter of succotash is a celebration of all the vibrant vegetables coming into season: sweet corn, baby lima beans, ripe red tomatoes, and tender okra.
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Boudin Balls
Boudin balls are Louisiana’s version of a snacking sausage that somehow fits an entire meal in one casing. Each fried ball is stuffed with boiled pork, liver, rice, veggies, and Cajun aromatics.
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Drinks for Cajun Dinners

A Cajun meal big on smoke and spice could certainly use a refreshing beverage.

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Mardi Gras Milk Punch

Southerners rarely shy away from a little nip before breakfast, and this milk punch is the perfect way to start off your meal — not too sweet, not too boozy. Sip it with a savory breakfast casserole or a homemade king cake and get the party started.

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Rum Runner
This classic rum cocktail is sweet, pleasantly sour, and super refreshing.
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The Original Hurricane

This year, for Mardi Gras, do yourself a favor and try this true-to-original version of the classic New Orleans cocktail which only contains three ingredients: dark rum, passion fruit syrup, and lemon juice.

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Taylor Bird Sazerac

A beautiful drink in its simplicity and exactness, the Sazerac tells the unique story of New Orleans through its ingredients: the French absinthe, the American rye, the Louisiana sugar, and the Caribbean bitters.

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Bloody Mary

The zingy tomato-based cocktail is quite easy to fashion up at home.

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Cajun Desserts

From sleep-on-a-cloud pillowy beignets to desserts soaked in booze, there are endless ways to end a Cajun meal with a little sweet treat.

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Air Fryer Beignets

Pull out your air fryer and make these pillowy beignets piled high with powdered sugar quicker than you can say Big Easy.

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Bourbon Pecan Pie
A splash of bourbon is the star of this indulgent pecan pie from legendary chef Alexander Smalls.
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Bananas Foster

Liqeur is crucial in this classic New Orleans dessert, where it is used to ignite banana slices, amplifying flavor and texture.

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“New School” Sweet Potato Pie

This pie is a new-fangled riff on the beloved sweet potato pies found in bakeries all over the Crescent City. It evens comes with two pie preparations: a baked pie or a crustless, spoonable custard.

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King Cake

King cakes are made all around the world under different names in celebration of such holidays as Epiphany, but they're in a class of their own in New Orleans. If you've never sliced into a doughy, pretty-spiraled King cake and admired the cinnamony layers, you need to make this recipe right away.

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Classic Southern Pralines

You make these candy-like cookies entirely on the stovetop by boiling a mixture of chopped pecans and two kinds of sugar.

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Sweet Bread Pudding

The best bread pudding is as simple as making a very good (and very easy) custard and pouring it over the right bread.

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The Best Blackberry Cobbler
A step-by-step recipe for making blackberry cobbler topped with flaky biscuits.
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Heavenly Hash Bars

New Orleans folks know a thing or two about the good life (and great food) and these “heavenly” treats are definitely no exception. They're packed with marshmallows and almonds and chocolate in each and every bite.

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Bananas Foster French Toast

Thick slices of classic French toast are topped with a velvety caramel sauce inspired by bananas Foster. The sauce is laced with cinnamon and spiked with dark rum, and true to the name includes plenty of soft, extra-sweet caramelized bananas and nutty pecans. It's the ultimate way to eat dessert for breakfast.

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