One of the great chameleons of American cuisine, no two gumbo recipes are exactly the same. Whether thickened with a Creole tomato-and-okra base, a rich Cajun dark roux, earthy filé powder, or some combination of the three, the classic stew remains one of Louisiana’s most well-known dishes—and one of the world’s most versatile comfort foods.
Our favorite gumbo recipes vary wildly. Once the “holy trinity”—that essential mix of celery, green bell pepper, and onion—has been diced, all sorts of other ingredients can be added to the pot. Smoked turkey and andouille sausage yield a classic country gumbo, while goose and foie gras combine in an elegant version from New Orleans. Seafood gumbo, made with crab legs, prawns, crawfish, or oysters, is popular primarily along the Gulf Coast, while gumbo z’herbes, a restorative vegetarian iteration defined by its mix of fresh greens, is traditionally enjoyed during the Catholic period of Lent.
Despite their many humble ingredients, each of these versions is equally extraordinary. Once you’ve made your selection, take a minute to go over our quick gumbo tips, and remember: Whichever formula you choose, gumbo is a labor of love. Besides the holy trinity, the only essential ingredient is time, necessary for creating the depth of flavor elemental to any great gumbo.