On my first trip to New Orleans, I was determined to try as many Cajun recipes as my stomach would handle – and it can handle a lot!
I spent the entire week eating my way around the Big Easy and came home happy as a clam.
The Cajun people settled in the bayou lands of southern Louisiana a few hundred years ago, and they’ve been wowing people with their incredible cuisine ever since.
Cajun recipes are a heavenly mix of French and Southern, making them strong, hearty, and loaded with flavor.
No doubt you’ve tried jambalaya, and I bet you’ve had a bowl of gumbo, but have you ever had Boudin balls? How about Cajun shrimp and grits?
This list of 25 outstanding cajun recipes is the easiest way to dip your toes into this unique and incredible cuisine.
1. Authentic New Orleans Gumbo
I’m pretty sure we stepped off the plane and made a beeline for the nearest restaurant on our first trip to New Orleans.
I just couldn’t wait to try all the fantastic food, and gumbo was at the top of my list.
This incredible stew is made up of a dark roux, lots of vegetables, chicken, sausage, and shrimp. The dark roux is the secret to the depth of flavor.
It can be made by cooking your roux down, continuously stirring until it looks like chocolate pudding.
I like mine with a generous helping of cornbread, but you could use any kind of bread to mop up the leftovers.
2. Cajun Chicken Pasta
We’ve all seen Cajun seasoning before, and maybe you’re wondering what that actually means.
Cajun seasoning is a blend of paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, some herbs, salt, and pepper.
I’ve seen the herbs vary from recipe to recipe, but it’s relatively straightforward if you want to make your own.
I just love the combination of smoky sausage with juicy chicken, and you can never go wrong with extra cheese!
3. Red Beans and Rice
Red beans and rice is known in New Orleans as Monday night dinner. That’s the night they eat this dish and do laundry.
But don’t worry, you can eat it whenever you like!
The trick to getting this dish nice and thick is to mash some of the beans on the side of the pot before you serve the meal.
And if you really want to punch up the smoky flavor, be sure to add the sausage in the pot early.
For the most authentic feel, open up a beer and load up the washer!
4. Cajun Shrimp and Grits
If you’ve ever had grits and decided you hate them, you must not have had the right kind.
I promise; follow this recipe, and you’ll be wondering how you went so long without them.
The grits’ creamy flavor is pretty tasty on its own, but throw in some spiced Cajun shrimp, and you’ll fight for seconds.
If grits aren’t your thing, try the shrimp with a dish of rice or cheesy polenta.
Jambalaya is a beautiful rice dish based on Spanish, French, and certain African cuisines.
In fact, they’re so close; I once started to make paella and ended up with jambalaya.
Like many Cajun dishes, this starts with the classic base of yellow onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic.
Throw in some spices, extra pepper, and smoky sausage, and you’ll have such a hearty and colorful dinner.
It’s most traditionally served with rice and contains sausage, chicken, and shrimp.
I think the trio is exactly what this dish needs, but you can switch it out with ease.
6. Smothered Chicken
This recipe gets its name from the fact that the chicken is absolutely smothered in creamy gravy.
Every bite is better than the last, and this one-pot meal is worth every calorie.
Did I mention the bacon? Yeah, this is chicken and gravy and bacon. Between the bacon grease and chicken juices, you know that sauce will be something special.
Serve this with cornbread, biscuits, or even mashed potatoes.
7. Louisiana Deviled Crab Cakes
One bite of these, and you’ll throw out your old recipe. Crabmeat has terrific texture and not a lot of flavor, but in this recipe, it gets elevated by some fantastic additions.
From sour cream and mustard to Worcestershire sauce and cayenne, there’s no doubt these little cakes will pack a flavor punch.
They make an excellent starter or can be served for dinner with a zesty side salad.
8. Smothered Cabbage and Potatoes
If you’re on the lookout for a cheap, filling, delicious side dish, this one’s for you!
Cabbage and potatoes are about as economical as they come, and better yet, they’re hearty, warm, and super easy to season.
You’ll cook the vegetables in chicken broth for this recipe, letting them simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the veggies are perfectly tender.
9. Cajun-Style Fried Deviled Eggs
You’ve had good deviled eggs, and you’ve had bland deviled eggs, but I bet you’ve never had crunchy, fried deviled eggs.
Seasoned with gumbo file powder – which is dried, powdered leaves of the sassafras tree – these eggs are crisp and super unique.
You can always throw in some Cajun seasoning if you want them spicy.
10. Spicy Cajun Dipping Sauce
If you’re anything like me, you have a fridge door full of condiments. I just love having a variety of sauces on hand to make a fast dinner even better.
The beauty of making your own is getting to make it exactly how you like it. We like things spicy in my house, so I go a little overboard with the hot sauce.
You can always leave that out if you’re just looking for a creamy dipping sauce that’s loaded with flavor.
I’ve used this in my burger buns, as a dip for chicken tenders, and even a dressing on my salad.
11. Cajun Shrimp Dip
This is so much more than a simple dip recipe. It’s almost a meal on its own!
Between the chunks of juicy shrimp, the peppers, and the cheese, you won’t need a main course.
Like many hot dips, this has a cream cheese base and is covered in plenty of melted cheese for optimal dipping.
But it’s the Cajun-fried shrimp that are the real show-stoppers!
I’ve served this with breadsticks, crunchy bread, chips, and even over nachos!
12. Cajun Corn Maque Choux
As far as side dishes go, this is one of the most colorful! Corn is such a sunny vegetable, and I love it used here as the main ingredient.
Crunchy, sweet, and hard to resist, this corn side is made even better with some Cajun seasonings, bacon, onion, and peppers.
Plus, it has some great heat mixed in from the jalapeños.
I’ve made this recipe as a side for everything from Cajun roasted chicken to a thick piece of steak. It also works wonders on fish tacos.
13. Boudin Balls
Pronounced “boo-dan,” these crunchy sausage meatballs should definitely be on your next party table.
Using sausage meat is such a great way to amp up the flavors since it’s usually already seasoned.
If that’s not enough, you’ll add some cayenne and hot sauce to the mix, too.
Though typically served as balls, I’ve made these as little patties to make frying easier, and they were a hit.
14. Authentic Cajun Dirty Rice
Don’t let the name fool you; this dish is anything but dirty! It gets the name from the brown-ish appearance, which you’ll get from the ground pork and chicken livers.
Don’t go! I promise you won’t taste them! They add richness to the dish and extra meaty flavor that can’t be missed.
15. Muffaletta Sandwiches
On my third day in New Orleans, we went out to eat, and I told the waiter to bring me something he loved… Something authentic and insanely delicious.
What came was a big, thick, juicy sandwich piled high with fresh deli meats, cheese, and spicy olive tapenade. It was so big; I had to wrap some up to bring home!
The tapenade is probably the best part of this, so if you’re an olive lover, it’s definitely for you.
The meats can be changed depending on what you have, but they’re usually some kind of Italian ham.
16. Cajun Black-Eyed Peas
Beans and peas are a fantastic way to add some extra nutrients to your meal. They’re usually pretty cheap and are so easy to season.
These black-eyed peas are cooked in chicken broth with a dash of hot sauce, some Cajun seasoning, and bay leaves.
Once they’re cooked, stir through some crumbled bacon for a meaty and easy side dish.
17. Cajun Potato Salad
How is this potato salad so much better than the others? The dressing is made up of mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, and blackened seasoning.
Blackened seasoning is pretty similar to Cajun; it’s just a little bit less spicy. It packs the same flavor punch, but the heat is pretty mild.
Served with boiled eggs and that amazing seasoning, and this potato salad will be the start of your next BBQ.
18. Hoppin’ John
Hoppin’ John, aka Carolina peas and rice, is a wonderful rice and bean dish that is slow-cooked and beautifully smoky.
The base of this dish is rice, black-eyed peas, and smoked ham.
Throw in some extra spices and the Cajun holy trinity of onion, green peppers, and celery for some real southern charm.
I like to serve my leftovers with hash browns in the morning for a super hearty start to the day.
19. How To Make Cajun Onions
I have a deep love for onions and like them in everything, especially caramelized. But I’ll also reach for extra in my burgers or salad.
These are especially tasty. Be sure to cut them nice and thick, and don’t let the pan get too hot as they will burn quickly.
The best way to cook these is to melt the butter in the pan with the Cajun spices to let them cook a little, releasing all their flavor.
Keep the heat on medium and nestle the onions into the warmed butter, allowing each side to cook for a few minutes on either side.
20. Cajun Pan Fried Brussels Sprouts
When I make Brussels sprouts, I have to add bacon and onion. They just need that extra something to get people interested.
But these might just be my new favorite! From the classic Cajun veggie base to the excellent seasoning, these will fly out of the dish!
21. Cajun Cauliflower Bites
I’ll admit I jumped on the cauliflower bandwagon, too, and went a little crazy for a while. Between the pizzas and rice, I think we all got a little bored, right?
But it’s still good for you, and it’s still pretty inexpensive, so let’s bring it back! These bites have great texture, and the Cajun seasoning is just *chef’s kiss*.
22. Oven Roasted Cajun Sweet Potato Wedges
This might be controversial, but I prefer sweet potato wedges to sweet potato fries.
Fries can be kind of hit and miss, and no matter what we do, they’re never as good at home.
The beauty of wedges is that you’ll get a great crunch with minimal effort. Plus, you’ll get more fluffy sweet potato with each bite.
These are extra tasty with some of that spicy Cajun dipping sauce!
23. Cajun Crab Dip
We definitely don’t use crab as much as we should. It’s meaty, mild, and super easy to incorporate into a lot of dishes.
I like to get mine fresh from the counter, but you can usually find it in the freezer section. In this dip, you’ll want to buy lump crab meat for the best texture.
24. Cajun Aioli
Aioli is essentially garlic mayonnaise. You can use it as a dip, spread in a sandwich, or even as a tasty baste for your roasted chicken.
This recipe takes it up a notch by incorporating Cajun seasoning and hot sauce. The spice is just right, and it makes it the perfect sauce to add to a fried fish sandwich.
25. Pineapple and Coconut Cajun Cake
This fruity little cake is light, moist, and impossible to resist.
Best made in a sheet pan, the cake itself needs just six ingredients and is full of crushed pineapple.
But’s it the crunchy pecan and coconut topping that keeps me reaching for another slice.
Be sure to pour the topping onto the cake while it’s still warm, and go ahead and poke some holes in there too!
The sweet sauce will soak in, making it even more tender.
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