New Orleans features some of the best music, entertainment, and food in the entire United States, so compiling a list of my favorite New Orleans recipes wasn’t an easy task.
There are just so many fantastic recipes to choose from. There’s the obvious (but still delicious) stuff like gumbo, jambalaya, rice, beignets, and pralines.
However, those aren’t the only things New Orleans chefs continually get right.
Even “plain” food, such as cornbread, fried okra, and biscuits, tastes better in New Orleans.
It took me quite some time, but I was finally able to narrow down a list of 25 of my favorite New Orleans/Cajun recipes.
You could call them “the best of the best,” I suppose.
What are your thoughts on NOLA cuisine? Which dishes are your favorites?
You’ve never had gumbo until you’ve had New Orleans gumbo, and that’s just a fact. NOLA chefs make gumbo like no one else in the world.
This recipe is probably the best one I’ve found for authentic New Orleans gumbo.
The chicken is tender, the sausage is juicy and flavorful, and the shrimp adds just the right amount of umami flavor.
Plus, there are plenty of veggies, herbs, and seasonings for you to enjoy, as well. This gumbo recipe is tough to beat.
People often get jambalaya and gumbo confused, but the two are actually very different.
Gumbo is more like a stew, whereas jambalaya is a thick, hearty rice dish.
The two do share similar ingredients: peppers, onions, sausage, chicken, shrimp, and more.
Both are also extremely filling and full of spice and flavor. Jambalaya is just a little less soupy.
3. Dirty Rice
First of all, the dirty rice you can buy in a box is not Louisiana-style dirty rice. For one thing, it’s missing the beef, pork sausage, and veggies.
Second of all, this recipe for dirty rice is the stuff! It takes only 30 minutes to make, requires minimal hands-on work, and tastes so good.
Primarily served as a side dish, this dirty rice could easily be a meal in and of itself.
For me, this dish is entirely about the spices and sauce. The shrimp is totally secondary.
It could just as well be pork, beef, or chicken under all that sauce, and I’d still love it just as much.
Both the spice mixture (paprika, ancho chili powder, cumin, sugar, and salt) and the sauce (butter, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and water) are perfectly scrumptious.
I love food, and I’ve discovered many great combinations of ingredients over the years, but those particular ingredients taste superb together.
They make the shrimp spicy, smoky, savory, and just a touch salty.
Plus, garlic and butter make everything taste better. Trust me on this: The meat doesn’t matter in this dish.
Authentic New Orleans-style red beans and rice takes about an hour to make, but it’s super yummy and well worth the time it takes you to prepare it.
It’s earthy and herby, and it has precisely the correct amount of heat.
Whether you add the sausage or leave it out, this is one dish you won’t want to miss.
A great muffuletta has four key components: good bread, crisp and zesty olive salad, tender meat, and the perfect selection of cheeses.
This recipe gets it exactly right. Everything from the top of the sandwich to the bottom is a grade-A quality muffuletta ingredient.
It leaves nothing out and doesn’t add any unnecessary stuff.
Plus, if you pre-make your olive salad, you can pull the whole sandwich together in just 10 minutes.
Typically, we think of beignets as sweet, deep-fried desserts. These crawfish beignets are nothing of the sort.
They’re deep-fried, but that’s where the resemblance to sweet beignets ends.
These are crunchy seafood goodness, and every bite is packed with onions, shrimp, crawfish, and cayenne pepper.
The Cajun dipping sauce is tart and zesty, and it complements the beignets flawlessly.
These potatoes are buttery and full of garlic flavor, and they’re some of the tastiest you’ll ever eat.
Plus, they require only seven ingredients (two of which are salt and pepper) and are ready in just 30 minutes.
They have crispy skins, but their insides are soft and tender. I like to add some diced scallions to mine, as well.
9. Fried Okra
It may sound crazy, but the closest I’ve come to replicating NOLA-style okra is with this copycat recipe for Cracker Barrel’s fried okra.
The breading is thick and well-seasoned, and the okra is fresh and crisp.
It makes the perfect side dish or a tasty mid-day snack that you can eat on the go.
10. Corn Maque Choux
This spicy, creamy corn dish is a staple at most Mardi Gras celebrations, but with this recipe, you can make it in the comfort of your own home.
All you’ll need is corn, butter, onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, Cajun seasoning, salt, and heavy cream.
You can have it ready to serve in a little over half an hour.
11. Sweet Cornbread
This cornbread is sweet, crumbly, and delicious. All the ingredients are common pantry staples, and you can make it without any trouble.
For an extra sweet treat, add a topping of syrup, honey, or butter before serving it.
It also tastes great with savory foods like rice and beans, gumbo, or buttermilk.
If you know anything about New Orleans cuisine, then you already know what beignets are.
Sweet, deep-fried, and covered in powdered sugar, these sweet rolls put donuts to shame.
They take some time to make because the dough has to rise, but the recipe isn’t complicated, and you’ll love the results.
Some people like to serve their beignets with chocolate sauce or jams, but to me, they’re perfect just as they are – no extras needed.
13. Shrimp Po’Boy
Most of the work in these yummy sandwiches goes into preparing the creamy Cajun sauce. Luckily, even that isn’t very hard.
If your shrimp is pre-cooked, it’s just a matter of assembling.
If you have to cook the shrimp first, it’ll take you about 20 minutes to make the sandwich.
There’s not much to it – just bread, Cajun sauce, shrimp, cabbage, and seasonings – but it doesn’t need anything else to taste phenomenal.
You can’t make a po‘boy if you don’t have the correct rolls for the job.
This recipe shows you precisely how to make these warm, fluffy rolls using only six everyday ingredients.
This decadent cheese spread is creamy, crunchy, sweet, and salty all at once.
The cheese is smooth and rich, and the sugared pecans on top take it to a whole other level.
Serve it with crackers, fruit slices, or veggies.
If you’re going to make biscuits, you might as well make the best biscuits, and Popeye’s biscuits are undoubtedly the best.
Dense, flaky, and wonderfully crispy on the outside, these biscuits will quickly rise to the top of your “favorites” list.
Popeye’s is no slacker when it comes to French fries, either. I think it’s the seasoning that makes them so yummy.
Coated in chili powder, sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, oregano, paprika, turmeric, and onion powder, these fries are just too good.
Tender, juicy beef cutlets, thick tomato and herb sauce, and sauteed vegetables over a bed of warm grits – just thinking about it makes my tummy rumble.
This meal takes some time to pull together, but once you take the first bite, you’ll agree that it was worth it.
You won’t need side dishes, either. This hearty meal will fill you right up.
French bread may not look all that impressive, but it’s super tasty.
The outside is a perfect, crispy golden-brown, and the inside is dense, pillowy, and highly absorbent.
It’s the ideal bread for sopping up gumbo or dipping in garlic butter or creamy Cajun sauce.
Call it baked mac and cheese, baked spaghetti, or anything else you like. This baked dish is cheesy, creamy, and just a little bit spicy.
It’s not like most mac and cheese you’ve tried, but it’s not precisely like spaghetti either.
It’s a unique dish that’s hard to describe, but it’s excellent, nonetheless.
The name says it all with this famous New Orleans dessert. It’s a warm, flaky pie crust filled with chocolate, bourbon, and pecans.
It’s like a chocolate pie, pecan pie, and a stiff glass of bourbon, all wrapped into one delicious dessert.
Take this to a family gathering, and you’ll come home with an empty pie pan.
The Sazerac may be the “official cocktail” of New Orleans, but the hurricane is one of the most popular.
There isn’t a bar in all of NOLA that can’t make a mean hurricane, but who needs a bar when you can make it at home?!
All you’ll need is some dark and light rum, orange, passion fruit, and lime juices, grenadine, and some fruit for a garnish.
A couple of these, and you’ll be tipsy in no time.
23. Bananas Foster
You can make this delectable dessert in about 15 minutes with only seven ingredients.
The bananas are sweet and tropical, and the ice cream and dark rum sauce add even more sweetness and complexity to the already fantastic dish.
Chewy, nutty, and exceptionally sweet, pralines are a New Orleans delicacy that not everyone can get right.
However, with this recipe, you should be able to make excellent, golden-brown pralines without too much trouble.
And if you mess up the first couple of times, don’t worry about it. That just means you get to eat the “mistakes” and try again.
No list of New Orleans recipes is complete without a king cake. This light, colorful cake is a Carnival season tradition.
You’ll love the gorgeous swirl inside, and the multi-colored sugared glaze is equally attractive.
Be sure you don’t forget to add the baby! Someone in your circle of friends needs that year of good luck.
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