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Midwest meets big easy in this pot of comfort food goodness. Wisconsin Style Jambalaya is packed with tender chicken, shrimp, and sausage for a hearty 30-minute meal.

Wisconsin Style Jambalaya in a Dutch oven.

Creole jambalaya dates from the 1800s and comes straight from the French Quarter of New Orleans. Spanish cooks wanted to make paella, but couldn’t afford the steep price of saffron, so they added tomatoes to the rice instead.

Cajun jambalaya never calls for tomatoes, but Creole renditions are spiked with tomatoes for even more punchy flavor.

So is jambalaya a soup? Not exactly, but some folks like adding more liquid so it eats more like a stew. Jambalaya, like gumbo, is in a category of its own. But one thing I know for sure: This Midwest-meets-Louisiana 30-minute meal is in a class of its own based on how delicious it is eaten fresh from the stovetop or as leftovers.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Wisconsin-Style Jambalaya Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for Wisconsin-Style Jambalaya.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Onion, celery, and red bell pepper: It just wouldn’t be jambalaya, or nearly any traditional savory Louisiana recipe without this trio, often referred to as the “holy trinity.”
  • Chicken broth: You’ll need 1 ½ cups of store-bought or homemade chicken broth. If the rice needs more liquid as it cooks, feel free to add in a splash more.
  • Lager or beer: Wisconsinites love their beer, most likely because Milwaukee is full of German immigrants. For even more flavorful rice for this homemade jambalaya recipe, I like to cook the grains in beer and broth to infuse even more flavor. Any light, golden ale or lager you have handy (such as Coors, Miller, Schlitz, Negra Modelo, Budweiser) will do trick.
  • Cooked chicken: Any kind of cooked chicken, either dark or white meat. Leftover rotisserie chicken works great. Gently poaching chicken is an easy way to pre-cook chicken for this jambalaya recipe as well.
  • Shrimp: I call for raw fresh shrimp (or frozen shrimp, thawed overnight in the refrigerator) rather than cooked shrimp. The latter can get tough and rubbery after a second time over heat. Don’t worry—shrimp cook really fast! If your shrimp don’t come peeled and deveined already, here’s how to clean shrimp.
  • Hillshire Farm CheddarWurst® Sausage: My secret ingredient. Typically sold in a pack of links, this sausage is what puts the Wisconsin in this jambalaya recipe. It tastes a lot like a Polish sausage, but has small, delightful bits of cheese running throughout that get ooey-gooey once heated.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until simmering. Add onion, celery, and bell peppers and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes.
Vegetables being cooked in a Dutch oven.
  1. Stir in the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add diced tomatoes and juice, tomato paste, broth, rice, lager, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
Wisconsin Style Jambalaya being cooked in a Dutch oven.
  1. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken, shrimp, and CheddarWurst®. Cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes longer, until chicken, shrimp, and sausage are heated through and rice is softened.
Wisconsin Style Jambalaya being cooked in a Dutch oven.
  1. Remove CheddarWurst® and slice; return to pot. Remove and discard bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with Tabasco sauce.
Wisconsin Style Jambalaya being cooked in a Dutch oven.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: My Wisconsin Style Jambalaya recipe makes eight generous 1 1/2-cup portions of the meat, seafood, and rice blend. Just add a beer (for all over 21) and you have one majorly satisfying 30-minute meal.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Wisconsin Style Jambalaya in a white serving bowl.

Recipe FAQs

How can I garnish this jambalaya recipe?

In addition to the Tabasco sauce, consider chopped scallions and minced fresh thyme.

After I master this jambalaya recipe, what other Creole and Cajun dishes should I try?

If you enjoy this Wisconsin Style Jambalaya, keep the New Orleans-themed feast going with Red Beans and Rice, Sheet Pan Clam Bake, One-Pot Cajun Pasta, Crab Cakes with Remoulade, and Shrimp Creole.

How is jambalaya different from étouffée, gumbo, and paella?

  • Étouffée is a complex stew which always includes shellfish like shrimp or crayfish, but does not call for sausage. Jambalaya with sausage is common. Also, rice is added while cooking jambalaya, while étouffée is often served over or alongside rice.

  • Gumbo is usually a more complicated roux-thickened stew, more like a soup, typically containing either poultry and sausage or seafood, as well as filé powder and okra. Gumbo is also served over a bed of rice. Jambalaya is easy to make and is more rice-based than soup-style.

  • Jambalaya and paella are very closely related. Paella is a Spanish dish that’s cooked in a wide, shallow pan with a healthy pinch of saffron. The main differences between the two lie in the meats and spices.
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    Wisconsin style jambalaya in a Dutch oven.

    Wisconsin-Style Jambalaya

    Midwest meets big easy in this pot of comfort food goodness. Wisconsin Style Jambalaya is packed with tender chicken, shrimp, and sausage for a hearty 30-minute meal.
    5 from 3 votes
    Prep Time 10 mins
    Cook Time 20 mins
    Total Time 30 mins
    Servings 8 servings (1 ½ cups each)
    Course Main Course
    Cuisine American
    Calories 437

    Ingredients 

    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 medium onion finely chopped (see note 1)
    • 3 celery ribs finely chopped
    • 1 red bell pepper diced (about 1 cup)
    • 4 cloves garlic minced
    • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes undrained
    • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
    • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth (see note 2)
    • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
    • 12 ounces lager or beer (see note 3)
    • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
    • 4 bay leaves
    • 2 cups cooked chicken (see note 4)
    • 1/2 pounds medium raw shrimp peeled, deveined, and tails removed (see note 5)
    • 14 ounces smoked sausage with cheddar (see note 6)
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Tabasco sauce for serving (optional)

    Instructions 

    • Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until simmering. Add onion, celery, and bell peppers and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes.
    • Stir in the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add diced tomatoes and juice, tomato paste, broth, rice, lager, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
    • Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken, shrimp, and CheddarWurst®. Cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes longer, until chicken, shrimp, and sausage are heated through and rice is softened.
    • Remove CheddarWurst® and slice; return to pot. Remove and discard bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with Tabasco sauce.

    Notes

    1. Onion, celery, and red bell pepper: It just wouldn’t be jambalaya, or nearly any traditional savory Louisiana recipe without this trio, often referred to as the “holy trinity.”
    2. Chicken broth: You’ll need 1 ½ cups of store-bought or homemade chicken broth. If the rice needs more liquid as it cooks, feel free to add in a splash more.
    3. Lager or beer: Wisconsinites love their beer, most likely because Milwaukee is full of German immigrants. For even more flavorful rice for this homemade jambalaya recipe, I like to cook the grains in beer and broth to infuse even more flavor. Any light, golden ale or lager you have handy (such as Coors, Miller, Schlitz, Negra Modelo, Budweiser) will do trick.
    4. Cooked chicken: Any kind of cooked chicken, either dark or white meat. Leftover rotisserie chicken works great. Gently poaching chicken is an easy way to pre-cook chicken for this jambalaya recipe as well.
    5. Shrimp: I call for raw fresh shrimp (or frozen shrimp, thawed overnight in the refrigerator) rather than cooked shrimp. The latter can get tough and rubbery after a second time over heat. Don’t worry—shrimp cook really fast! If your shrimp don’t come peeled and deveined already, here’s how to clean shrimp.
    6. Hillshire Farm CheddarWurst® Sausage: My secret ingredient. Typically sold in a pack of links, this sausage is what puts the Wisconsin in this jambalaya recipe. It tastes a lot like a Polish sausage, but has small, delightful bits of cheese running throughout that get ooey-gooey once heated.
    7. Yield: My Wisconsin Style Jambalaya recipe makes eight generous 1 1/2-cup portions of the meat, seafood, and rice blend. Just add a beer (for all over 21) and you have one majorly satisfying 30-minute meal.
    8. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1.5cupsCalories: 437kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 22gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 801mgPotassium: 384mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 597IUVitamin C: 24mgCalcium: 50mgIron: 2mg
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    Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

    Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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