Cajun Prawn Jambalaya

Cajun Prawn Jambalaya with Chorizo, and Homemade Cajun Seasoning

This Cajun Prawn Jambalaya includes all the symbolic flavours of the American South combined into a simple one-pot dinner recipe.

What is a Jambalaya?

Jambalaya originates from Cajun and Creole cuisine. Rice makes up the main component and takes influences from French, Spanish, and African cuisines. In fact, it’s so similar to a Spanish paella that some falsely believe its name to be a cross between jamon, meaning ham in Spanish, and paella, the famous Spanish rice dish.

In its simplest form jambalaya is a mix of meat or fish, vegetables and rice cooked together. It draws comparisons to other southern-type rice dishes of the Americas such as gumbo. The difference is Gumbo’s use of okra and a powder made from dried ground sassafras leaves, called file powder.

Cajun Prawn Jambalaya with Andouille or Chorizo?

Traditionally, jambalaya uses Andouille sausage, a French smoked sausage, but chorizo is often easier to find and provides a similar smokiness. However, chorizo is often spicier than andouille sausages. While Puritans may hate the idea of using a Spanish sausage in this Cajun prawn jambalaya and still labelling it a jambalaya, chorizo is almost always available while andouille is not.

The two sausages are actually very different in colour with chorizo being bright red, while andouille tends to be a lighter greyish pink. Typical andouille is made from the digestive tract of a single pig. It’s seasoned with garlic, peppers, and herbs, and then smoked twice. Chorizo, on the other hand, is made from cured ground pork and spices, most notably paprika.

Prawns Used in this Cajun Prawn Jambalaya

While traditional Louisiana Jambalaya uses crayfish, this recipe calls for prawns. The ingredients list calls for peeled prawns for ease, but they can be either fresh or frozen. Just ensure to fully defrost the prawns before cooking if using frozen prawns.

Cajun Seasonings

Every Cajun seasoning recipe is different and varies considerably from brand or person to person. This Cajun prawn jambalaya recipe features a homemade Cajun seasoning, a recipe which I’ll upload soon.  Typically, cayenne pepper makes up the predominant flavouring giving the seasoning an intense heat.

A Cajun sofrito of onion, celery, and green peppers forms the base of this Cajun prawn jambalaya. Sofrito refers to the base vegetable mix used in Mediterranean and Latin American cuisine. Aromatic vegetables are cut into small pieces, and sauteed in oil, but this recipe uses a little oil with the rendered fat from the chorizo.

‘Toro Rice vs Long Grain Rice

In Louisiana, locals use a specially grown long-grain rice called “Toro.” However, this rice is almost impossible to find in the UK. Fortunately, there are plenty of suitable long-grain rice options to use even if they don’t have the tenderness and softness of medium-grain rice as some claim.

It’s important to wash the rice under a cold tap until the water runs clear, thus rinsing the rive of any excess starch. This step will help keep the grains separated and prevent them from turning sticky, resulting in fluffy grains of rice.

How to Cook Cajun Prawn Jambalaya

To make the Cajun prawn jambalaya, we need to cook the prawns in a little olive oil. Cooking the prawns in batches will help maintain the temperature of the pan and ensure the prawns cook evenly and colour nicely. Next, the chorizo and the Cajun sofrito will give the dish an intense red colour before the Cajun seasoning adds spice.

Frying the rice is essential here as it ensures the grains are coated evenly coated in the spices and helps season the dish. The stock and tomatoes add both flavour and liquid which is essential in cooking rice. Add the liquid to the dish cold and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce it to a simmer, and cover until the rice is almost tender. Adding the sweetcorn for the last 5 minutes while the rice finishes cooking will prevent either from overcooking.

Cajun Prawn Jambalaya with Chorizo, and Homemade Cajun Seasoning

Cajun Prawn Jambalaya

This Cajun Prawn Jambalaya includes all the symbolicflavours of the American South combined into a simple one-pot dinner recipe.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cajun and Creole
Servings 4


  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 400 g Peeled Prawns Defrosted if frozen.
  • 120 g Chorizo
  • 1 White Onion Finely Diced
  • 3 Sticks of Celery Finely Diced
  • 2 Green Peppers Finely Diced
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Garlic Cloves Crushed
  • 1 Tbsp Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 450 ml Chicken Stock
  • 300 g Long Grain Rice.
  • 140 g Tinned Sweetcorn Drained
  • Salt / Pepper to taste.
  • 3 Spring Onions Chopped, to serve.
  • 1 Green Chilli to serve.
  • Fresh Parsley chopped to serve.


  • Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
  • Season the prawns with salt and pepper, then fry in batches until browned, remove and set aside.
  • Heat the other half of the oil and add the chorizo cubes. Cook until the chorizo is crispy.
  • Add the onions, peppers, celery, and bay leaf to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic and Cajun seasoning, then cook for another minute.
  • Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat it in all the spice mixture. Stir in the tomatoes and prawns. Add the stock, and then bring to the boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the rice is just cooked, and tender.
  • Add the sweetcorn and cover the pan again. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt, and pepper and serve topped with the spring’s onions, and fresh parsley.
Keyword chorizo, prawns, rice, southern, Spicy, Summer, weeknight

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