9 Essential Gumbo Recipes to Treat Every Day Like It's Mardi Gras

Gumbo is a year-round dish. Warming in the winter, appropriately spicy in the summer, it's hard to get enough of it. However, there is no better time to simmer a pot of this spicy cajun soup than for Mardi Gras. Actually, there may actually not be a more perfect dish to celebrate this holiday.

How is gumbo the culinary expression of Mardi Gras? Well, first you have to understand the etymology of the holiday itself. In French, Mardi Gras literally means "fat Tuesday," which is why you'll often hear the terms used interchangeably in English. However, this name evolved from a much older term for the annual, pre-lenten revelry: "Boeuf Gras," or fatted calf.

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The name became Mardi Gras when this festival was transported from France to the New World in 1699. When Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived 60 miles south of New Orleans, he named the plot of land "Pointe du Mardi Gras". Coincidentally, his christening of the town occurred just at the eve of the traditional "Boeuf Gras." Thus, the celebration became known as Mardi Gras. It wasn't until 1875, however, that the "Mardi Gras Act," was passed making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in Louisiana, which it still is today.

Gumbo comes into this celebration because it quickly became a regional specialty that was delicious, versatile, and could be made in large quantities. Essentially, it became a popular dish for large gatherings for the exact same reason it remains popular today. So keep history alive and this year celebrate Mardi Gras with gumbo. Here are 9 classic recipes for you to choose from.

1. New Orleans Style Gumbo

new orleans Gumbo
Tastes Better From Scratch

Of course for Mardi Gras you need an authentic recipe. Good thing, this cajun gumbo is the classic surf n' turf combination at its finest. Loaded with luscious shrimp and spicy andouille, you're going to need to drink plenty of beer to keep your mouth cool.

Get the recipe here.

2. Seafood Gumbo

Leite's Culinaria

Stuffed to the gills with crab and shrimp, this gumbo literally screams to be accompanied by a beer. Good thing the recipe calls for 6 of them!

Get the recipe here.

3. Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Jessica Gavin

Taste the extravagant culture of New Orleans in this pot of gumbo. Chicken and sausage are tossed in to a dark brown roux to give this soup a deeply complex and toasty flavor that you're going to find yourself addicted to.

Get the recipe here.

4. Cajun Gumbo

Bacon My Broccoli

Everyone claims that they know the best recipe for gumbo. But this one may actually be in the running. It contains the holy trinity (the celery, the onions, and the bell pepper), and the recipe carefully explains how to make the perfect roux.

Curious to see how this stacks up against your experience? Serve this at your party and tally up the votes for best gumbo.

Get the recipe here.

5. Chicken, Shrimp, and Okra Gumbo

chicken shrimp orka gumbo
Immaculate Bites

Rich enough to feed your soul, this gumbo also won't break the bank. So if you're celebrating on a budget, this recipe will use up your odds and ends without leaving a hole in your wallet.

Get the recipe here.

6. Chicken-Tasso-Andouille Sausage Gumbo

My Recipes

What is tasso and why is it in gumbo? Good question. Think of it like spicy, smoked bacon. Now as for why it belongs in this dish, I'm sure you don't need an explanation. You're probably already excited to put it in your chicken-andouille soup.

Get the recipe here.

7. Green Gumbo (Gumbo z'herbes)

green gumbo

If you're looking for a vegetarian option, here is the answer to your plea. Loaded with veggies and spiced to perfection, this gumbo is no less authentic than the others. In fact, this is a traditional Lenten dish from Louisiana's Catholic communities. 

Get the recipe here.

8. Shrimp, Duck, and Andouille Gumbo

Hostess at Heart

Want to show off for your guests and give them a little something unexpected in their cajun soup? Try duck. You'll find that the gamey meat goes exceptionally well with a dark roux and some rice.

Get the recipe here.

9. Paleo Gumbo

paleo gumbo
Kit's Costal

Need to skip out on the carbs? Gumbo is one of those dishes that can easily shift into paleo gear and be just as delicious. You just have to know the right substitutes to get that roux just right!

Get the recipe here.

Read More: 12 Classic NOLA Recipes to Get You in the Mardi Gras Spirit

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