Instant Pot Shrimp Jambalaya

A piece of sausage rests on a fork inside a bowl of jambalaya. Whole green onions lay alongside the bowl.
Recipe At-A-Glance
Paleo, Gluten-Free35 minutes
In about half an hour, you can have spicy, flavorful Instant Pot Shrimp Jambalaya on your dinner table! This set-it-and-forget-it recipe is a great option for weeknight dinners. It's easy to make paleo or Whole30-compliant by swapping in cauliflower rice!

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You’d never guess that my Canadian husband would be a lover of all things Cajun food, but he is! While I grew up eating jambalaya, étouffée, gumbo, and red beans and rice, my husband’s first exposure to the glorious flavors of Cajun or Creole cooking didn’t happen until he immigrated to the U.S. back in 2007. But it was love at first bite! And now, every time I ask him what he wants on our weekly dinner menu, I always get, “something Cajun, please!”

Even though I’m a Midwestern girl, my family’s food culture leans pretty heavily on Southern food traditions—including Cajun and Creole cooking—so I’m no stranger to the holy trinity (the green pepper, celery, and onion base that makes up most Cajun and Creole dishes). I am proud to say that I can make a mean pot of jambalaya—or in this case, a mean Instant Pot of jambalaya. And my Cajun-loving husband agrees!

An Instant Pot holds paleo shrimp jambalaya. A silver spoon sits inside the pot.

What is jambalaya?

If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating a bowl of jambalaya, let’s start off with a little bit of education! Jambalaya is a Louisiana cuisine dish made up of meat, vegetables, stock, and rice. For meat, jambalaya usually consists of andouille sausage, some sort of seafood (crawfish and shrimp are both common), and sometimes a third meat (chicken or pork). The meat is combined with green peppers, celery, onion, stock seasoning, and rice. The Creole version of Jambalaya adds tomatoes to the base—we do that here in this recipe (this is sometimes called “red jambalaya”), while the Cajun version of jambalaya tends to be tomato-less (called “brown jambalaya”).

A piece of sausage rests on a fork inside a bowl of jambalaya.

What’s the difference between jambalaya and gumbo?

While jambalaya and gumbo have similar flavor profiles, there are a few major differences. A big difference is how it’s served—gumbo is a thinner stew served over top of rice, whereas jambalaya is a thick dish that has rice cooked into it. Gumbo tends to include vegetables that you won’t usually find in jambalaya—like okra. Gumbo also has a slightly different flavor profile thanks to the use of a roux and filé powder for flavoring. Overall, jambalaya is one of the quickest and simplest Cajun/Creole dishes to make, especially compared to more complicated dishes like étouffée. And we make it even quicker thanks to the Instant Pot!

How do you make shrimp jambalaya?

Making jambalaya is a breeze! Let me walk you through the steps:

  1. Sear the andouille sausage so it gets a nice brown color.
  2. Sauté the holy trinity—bell pepper, onion, celery, and we add garlic, too!
  3. Add in Cajun seasoning (my favorite is Slap Ya Mama!), herbs, rice, and chicken broth.
  4. Cook until the rice is tender.
  5. Add in the cooked shrimp.
  6. Serve topped with sliced green onions.

Peppers, celery, onion, sausage, bay leaves, garlic, and spices prepped in an Instant Pot.

What kind of sausage do you use in jambalaya?

You’ll want to track down andouille sausage for your batch of jambalaya! You can purchase pork or chicken andouille sausages from most major supermarkets. In a pinch, you can use spicy Italian sausages, but you’re really way better off tracking down andouille.

What kind of rice should you use for jambalaya?

You really can’t mess jambalaya up—so any kind of rice will do the trick here. I prefer long-grain white rice, but if you want to use brown rice, you can easily do that with just a few tweaks to your cooking time, which we’ve noted in the recipe below.

Shrimp and sausage jambalaya topped with scallions

Can you make this jambalaya gluten-free, paleo, or Whole30-compliant?

It’s easy peasy to make this dish grain-free by just swapping out the rice for cauliflower rice instead! You do need to reduce the stock (since cauliflower rice doesn’t absorb the same way regular rice does). Make sure to check the notes section of the recipe for a full how-to.

A warning: occasionally both andouille and Cajun seasoning blends will have gluten-containing ingredients, so make sure to double-check your packages to make sure they are gluten- and grain-free.

Andouille will also frequently include added sugar—the sausage I get from a local farm doesn’t, but most of the ones in my regular supermarket have added sugar. Check your labels if it’s important for you to avoid added sugar!

Can you make shrimp jambalaya ahead of time? How can it be reheated?

You absolutely can make jambalaya in advance. In fact, like most Cajun dishes, jambalaya is much tastier on the second day! Cook the entire dish ahead of time, and then reheat in the microwave or on the stove until warmed through.

A piece of sausage rests on a fork inside a black bowl of shrimp jambalaya. The bowl is on a white napkin on a teal background.

What if you don’t have an Instant Pot? How can you make this on the stove?

No Instant pot? No problem! The method for cooking this dish is the same in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop—your cooking time just gets a bit longer. We’ve included instructions for stovetop preparation in the recipe card. Enjoy!

 
A piece of sausage rests on a fork inside a bowl of jambalaya. Whole green onions lay alongside the bowl.

Instant Pot Shrimp Jambalaya Recipe

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

This Cajun dish is a speedy weeknight dinner! In about half an hour, you can have spicy, flavorful Instant Pot Shrimp Jambalaya on your dinner table.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced into 1/2” coins
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 4 large ribs celery, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (more or less to taste, see notes)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, cooked
  • 4 green onions, sliced

Instructions

Instant Pot Directions

  1. Turn the Instant Pot to “Sauté” and set for 30 minutes. Let heat until it beeps, and then add half the andouille sausage pieces. Brown sausage, stirring occasionally until seared on all sides (no need to cook through), about 8 minutes. Remove from Instant Pot, and then repeat with remaining sausage. Set sausage aside.
  2. Add the avocado oil (if your sausage released a lot of fat, you might not need to add the oil). Then add the celery, bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Cook until just tender and flavorful, about 6 minutes. Turn off Sauté mode.
  3. Add the sausage pieces, chicken stock, diced tomatoes, rice, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, smoked paprika, and thyme. Seal the Instant Pot, and set on the “Rice” setting for 12 minutes. When cooking time is up, manually release the pressure.
  4. Add in the cooked shrimp, then serve the jambalaya topped with the green onions.

Stovetop Directions

  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half the andouille sausage pieces. Brown sausage, stirring occasionally until seared on all sides (no need to cook through), about 8 minutes. Remove from the pot, and then repeat with the remaining sausage. Set sausage aside.
  2. Add the avocado oil (if your sausage released a lot of fat, you might not need to add the oil). Then add the celery, bell pepper, onion, and garlic.  Cook until just tender and flavorful, about 6 minutes. 
  3. Add the sausage pieces, chicken stock, diced tomatoes, rice, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, smoked paprika, and thyme.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and simmer with lid ajar, stirring occasionally for 20-25 minutes, or until the veggies are tender and the rice is soft.
  4. Add in the cooked shrimp, then serve the jambalaya topped with the green onions.

Notes

  • The spice and sodium levels of Cajun seasonings vary wildly. I tested this recipe using 1 tablespoon of Slap Ya Mama! with great results. If you use another brand, start with 1 teaspoon, and then add more as needed at the end. You can always add more!
  • To use brown rice instead of white rice, set your Instant Pot to the Rice setting for 22 minutes, or cook on the stovetop for 30-35 minutes, or until the rice is soft.
  • To use cauliflower rice (from fresh or frozen), reduce the amount of stock to 1 cup, then set your Instant Pot to the Rice setting for 5 minutes, or cook on the stovetop for 15-18 minutes (until the other veggies are tender). 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 348Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 1647mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 23g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

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2 Responses
  1. Liz

    This sounds great, but unless I’m missing something, the recipe never tells you when to add in the browned sausage. I’m guessing you add it at the chicken stock stage & let it simmer, since it may not be cooked through during the browning stage? Or do you just warm it up with the cooked shrimp? Thanks!

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