Cajun Gumbo

  • PrepTime: 1 Hrs 15 Mins
  • CookTime: 3 Hrs
  • TotalTime: 4 Hrs 15 Mins


  1. 1 cup duck fat, or canola or grapeseed oil
  2. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 2 large Spanish onions, chopped
  4. 3 medium green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  5. 5 stalks celery, ends trimmed and chopped
  6. 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
  7. 8 cups (2 quarts) chicken stock
  8. 1 tablespoon canola oil
  9. 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  10. 1 pound smoked andouille sausage, sliced about 1/4-inch thick
  11. 1 (1/4-pound) crab knuckle, or 1/2 pound crab meat (not jumbo lump)
  12. 2 dried bay leaves
  13. 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  14. 1 pound okra, caps trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  15. 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  16. 1/2 teaspoon gumbo filé powder
  17. Kosher salt, to taste
  18. Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  19. Cooked white rice, for serving
  20. Thinly-sliced scallions, for serving
  21. Hot sauce, for serving


  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Melt duck fat in a large pot on medium heat, then whisk in the flour. Continue cooking on medium heat, whisking frequently, until the roux is dark brown, the color of milk chocolate, but not black or burned. This will take about 18 to 20 minutes, depending on your flame.
  3. When you reach the desired color, immediately add the trinity—the diced onions, green pepper, and celery—plus the garlic. Using a wooden spoon, stir the trinity into the roux, making sure it is evenly distributed, season with a few pinches of salt and black pepper. The roux will look dry at first, cook the trinity in the roux, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften and the roux looks moist, about 10 minutes.
  4. Gradually stir in the chicken stock, dissolving the roux and preventing lumps, turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the pot to a boil.
  5. While you’re waiting for the pot to boil, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add the tablespoon of oil to the pan.
  6. Place the thighs skin-side down in the pan and sear until the skin is a deep golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Flip the thighs and sear the bone side for 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Remove the thighs from the pan and add to the pot, leaving the fat in the pan and keeping the sauté pan on medium-high heat.
  8. Add the sliced andouille to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is browned in places and the edges are curling, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  9. Turn off the heat, then use a spatula to scrape the andouille and any accumulated fat into the pot. Add the crab knuckle and give the contents a good stir to combine. If the ingredients are not covered by the stock, add 1 to 2 cups water to just cover.
  10. Raise the heat under the pot and bring its contents to a full boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and add the bay leaves and dried thyme. Skim any fat and foam that accumulates on the surface and simmer for one hour.
  11. Carefully remove the chicken thighs to a large plate. When the chicken has cooled a bit, discard the skin, bones, and cartilage, shred the meat, and return it to the simmering pot.
  12. Add the okra and Worcestershire sauce and continue simmering the gumbo for another hour on low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking or burning.
  13. Remove the crab knuckle and pick out any remaining meat. Stir the crab meat into the gumbo to distribute and then discard the shell. Stir in the filé powder, taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 5 minutes, then turn off the heat.
  14. To serve, place about 1/2 cup cooked rice into serving bowls and ladle the gumbo on top of the rice. Garnish with sliced scallions and add a few dashes of hot sauce to taste.


  1. Gumbo is better the next day, so feel free to make ahead and keep refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to serve. 
  2. The roux can be made as early as four days ahead of time. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  3. Chop your veggies—onion, green bell pepper, and celery—up to two or three days ahead, and keep refrigerated in airtight containers or bags.
  4. Crab knuckle is the body base the legs are attached to on king crab. It's sold by the pound and is usually already broken apart. If you have difficulty finding it, substitute with 1/2 pound crab meat (not jumbo lump, which has thin cartilage) and stir it in at the end.
  5. Use chicken sausage instead of andouille sausage.
  6. The type of fat used in the roux is likely to be different; hunting is common in rural Cajun country, so animal fat in cooking is more common than in the city.
  7. Creole gumbo is typically seafood/shellfish based, and may have some Tasso ham or andouille sausage for flavor, while Cajun gumbo has andouille and chicken or other fowl with the occasional shellfish thrown in.
  8. Creole gumbo also frequently uses tomato, which is largely considered blasphemous in the making of Cajun gumbo.
  9. Creole gumbo tends to be thinner and is more of a soup while Cajun gumbo is a bit thicker and eats more like a stew.