A big pot of Healthy Slow Cooker Gumbo with chicken, sausage, and shrimp is a nourishing, cozy and satisfying way to end the day. Packed with flavor, the southern Crock Pot favorite is such an easy way to get a family dinner on the table!
Full of protein and veggies, this comforting meal is the perfect answer to a busy day. The chicken, shrimp, and sausage provide plenty of filling flavor, and when you serve it with rice, even your kids are sure to love it. The fact that it’s a healthy slow cooker gumbo is just an added bonus!
What's the difference between Gumbo and Jambalaya?
Gumbo is a traditional stew popular in Louisiana. It's actually the state's official cuisine! Gumbo is typically made with a roux-based stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and what Louisianians call the "Holy Trinity" of vegetables (celery, bell peppers, and onions).
Jambalaya, a similar dish that also originated in Louisiana, is a combination of meat, vegetables and rice. The meat almost always includes smoked sausage, along with some other meat or seafood like chicken or shrimp.
While there are similar ingredients and flavor profiles in these two meals, there are a couple of significant differences:
- Gumbo is more like a soup, which is served over a small amount of rice that has been cooked in a separate pan.
- Jambalaya is thicker rice-based meal, and the rice is cooked in the same pot as the meat and vegetables.
HOW TO MAKE SLOW COOKER GUMBO:
Gumbo is a great option for the slow cooker, because the soup can simmer for hours and the flavors just get better as it sits on your counter.
First, let's talk about the slow cooker gumbo roux that I use in this recipe. A dark roux is a hallmark of a traditional gumbo, and it's simply a combination of equal parts flour and fat cooked together and used to thicken sauces.
We're changing it up a bit here today, though! I learned this simple trick for making a "roux" for the slow cooker from Southern Living magazine years ago, and I've been using it to thicken and flavor my slow cooker gumbo ever since. Instead of mixing flour and fat in a skillet, you simply sprinkle flour in a cast iron (or other oven-proof) skillet and toast the flour in a 400-degree oven for about 10-15 minutes, stirring halfway through. It will be golden brown and flavorful when it's done.
Allow the toasted flour to cool for about 10 minutes, and then whisk in the chicken broth until smooth. This is your "roux" for the slow cooker gumbo -- minus the fat! Trust me -- it works very well to give your gumbo that smoky, toasted flavor and to thicken up the broth.
While the flour roasts in the oven, brown your smoked turkey sausage in a Dutch oven for about 5 minutes. This gives the sausage great flavor and texture, which will offer even more layers of flavor to your slow cooker gumbo!
Place the uncooked chicken thighs (or chicken breasts) in the bottom of the Crock Pot, and then add the browned sausage on top.
The vegetables and seasoning go in next...
and the "roux" is poured over top. Give it all a stir and put on the lid.
How long does it take gumbo to cook?
Cook the slow cooker gumbo on HIGH for 2 ½ - 3 hours (or on LOW for 6-8 hours). If you're using chicken breasts instead of thighs, you will likely need to err on the longer side of the cooking time (about 3-4 hours on HIGH or 7 hours on LOW).
At the end of the cooking time, you will stir in the shrimp and half of the green onions.
Buying a pack of these frozen peeled and deveined shrimp is a favorite shortcut -- just dump them straight into the pot!
The shrimp only requires about 15-20 more minutes in the slow cooker, so this ensures that it doesn't get overcooked and tough. Chop (or shred) the chicken, and serve with rice!
- This gumbo freezes very well (without the rice), so package any leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, simply thaw in the refrigerator overnight and gently reheat the gumbo on the stovetop over low heat until warm.
- I kept this gumbo very mild to appeal to my kids, but if you like a spicy gumbo, feel free to add more Creole seasoning and/or hot sauce!
- Serve the gumbo with your favorite cooked rice, or with cauliflower rice for a lighter option!
This slow cooker shrimp, sausage, and chicken gumbo is a hearty and filling way to feed your family or to entertain guests. It's full of delicious, rich flavor, while still keeping your body healthy and happy!
Looking for other healthy slow cooker recipes? Try these favorites:
- Slow Cooker Turkey Sloppy Joes
- 5-Ingredient Crispy Slow Cooker Carnitas
- Easy Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken
Healthy Slow Cooker Gumbo
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 13 oz. turkey kielbasa sausage sliced into rounds
- 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (can substitute with boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, NOT drained
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 2 celery ribs chopped
- 4 garlic cloves chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning or more, to taste
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 12 oz. peeled and deveined raw shrimp
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped divided
- Rice (or cauliflower rice), chopped fresh parsley, and hot sauce for serving
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle flour in a cast iron skillet or other oven-proof skillet. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring halfway through. Cool 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook sausage in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until browned.
- Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place chicken in the bottom of the slow cooker; add browned sausage, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning, and thyme.
- Whisk together browned flour and chicken broth until smooth. Pour into slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on HIGH for 2 ½ - 3 hours (or on LOW for 6-8 hours). If you're using chicken breasts instead of the thighs, you will likely need to err on the longer side of the cooking timeframes (about 3-4 hours on HIGH or 7 hours on LOW).
- Stir in shrimp and half of the green onions. Cover and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes (or just until shrimp turns pink), stirring once. Discard bay leaves. Remove chicken from the pot; chop or shred, and return to the pot. Taste and season with salt and pepper or hot sauce, to taste. Serve over rice (or over cauliflower rice) and garnish with remaining green onions and fresh parsley, if desired.
This post was originally published in January, 2014. It was updated in October, 2018.