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24 November, 2016

Picking the Best Rice for Jambalaya And Other Ingredients

Posted in : Uncategorized on by : shirleyfisher

Meta: Jambalaya is a traditional rice, vegetable and meat dish in New Orleans. But what is really the best rice for jambalaya and what other ingredients can be included into it?

There’s the song Jambalaya, then there’s the dish. Jambalaya is a traditional complete dish in New Orleans which is composed of vegetables, meat and rice. It is popular mainly because it’s a great comfort food that has all the nutrients you need – carbohydrates from rice; protein from the meat and vitamins from the vegetables.

It is also flexible that you can cook it with what you have in your kitchen, swap with different types of meat and vegetables and use different types of rice. And, because Jambalaya is flexible that way, it is also fairly inexpensive.


Jambalaya closely resembles the Spanish dish Paella and is often referred as a close cousin to gumbo.

One of the most common questions when it comes to cooking this dish is what is the best rice for Jambalaya?

You can basically use any type of rice but each type will yield different results.

  • Short grain white rice has a round-shaped fat grain. This type of rice grain has higher amount of starch so it tends to stick together when cooked.
  • Long grain white rice has longer and slimmer grain. It also contains lesser amount of starch so the grains tend to separate when cooked.
  • Medium grain white rice is right at the middle when it comes to amount of starch and length of grain.

In the traditional Jambalaya recipe in New Orleans, long grain rice is often the rice of choice. It does not create a mushy result as short grains do. The texture is also soft enough to complement the rest of the ingredients.

Long grain white rice is a popular option, but you may want to consider black and brown rice as they are considered “whole grains” and carry more nutritional benefits than the milled white rice.

If you don’t have long grain rice, using Jasmine or Basmati rice is acceptable. You should just stay away from short grains, parboiled rice and instant cook rice as they will not produce the same delicious results and lack the nutrients of traditional rice.


Choice of Meat

Apart from rice, you also need to decide on the meat you want to use on your Jambalaya. Smoked sausage is a staple in the traditional recipe, but there are also variations that use chicken and pork on Jambalaya. You may even use shrimp and other types of seafood if desired.

Choice of Vegetable

In Jambalaya, there’s what they call the holy trinity of vegetables: green bell pepper, celery and white onion. These three must be present in your Jambalaya, although you can incorporate other vegetables like carrots, parsley and dried herbs into the dish.


Jambalaya is usually a one-pot recipe if rice is not cooked separately, making it a perfect dish for potlucks or weeknight dinners. Your choice of rice and other ingredients will have an overall impact to the resulting dish both in flavor and texture, but you are always welcome to experiment until you’ve found ones that best suit your taste.