This authentic shrimp and chicken gumbo recipe is easier to make than you’d think

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Chef Tanya Holland is cooking with KLG and Hoda today, demonstrating how to make shrimp and chicken gumbo, the dish you voted to see her make. She also shared a bonus recipe for sweet potato-kale hash, below. So grab your shopping list and get ready to make two delicious dishes.

Shrimp and chicken gumbo

Courtesy of "Brown Sugar Kitchen" by Chef Tanya Holland
Serves 6 to 8


My mother and her three sisters all grew up in the same household in Louisiana, but they all cook different versions of gumbo. I make a version slightly different from the one my mom makes, a tomato and okra combination with lots of shrimp and chicken. I leave out the tomatoes and add a dark roux like my aunt Maxine. She prefers a dark roux to cradle the oysters that she loves so much. Aunt Essie still lives in Shreveport and takes advantage of she-crab when it’s in season. And then there’s my aunt Martha Ray, who frankly doesn't cook much but loves to eat gumbo no matter who makes it.

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Creole Spice Mix (see below)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gumbo filé powder
  • 1 pound okra, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 2 pounds cooked chicken, shredded
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Cooked rice for serving (optional)

Creole spice mix: 

  • 3 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp herbes de Provence
  • 3 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/3 cup cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika

Gumbo: Preheat the oven to 300°F. Cut the garlic in half width-wise and put both halves on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly in the foil and roast until the garlic is tender, about 1 hour.

In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the 1 cup vegetable oil over medium-high heat until very hot and almost smoking. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is a deep caramel color, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, bell pepper, and onion and cook until the vegetables are quite soft, about 20 minutes. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins and add to the pot, along with the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and whisk in the roux. Cook until the gumbo base begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Stir in the Creole Spice Mix and the gumbo filé powder. Add the okra and cook until the okra is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken and the shrimp and cook just until the shrimp is opaque in the center, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately over rice, if desired.

To make ahead, refrigerate the gumbo in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat.

Creole spice mix: In a small bowl, stir together, the salt, herbes de Provence, cumin, cayenne, black pepper and paprika until thoroughly combined. (To make ahead, store in an airtight container up to 6 months).

Sweet potato-kale hash
Courtesy of "Brown Sugar Kitchen" by Chef Tanya Holland
Serves 4

When I was in high school and college, I dabbled with being a vegetarian, by which I mean that I ate a lot of pasta and every now and then I would sneak a piece of chicken. But then I moved to New York City, fell in love with restaurants and cooking, and my vegetarian diet fell by the wayside. This dish is one to honor my vegetarian past and my vegetarian friends and customers today. Of course, many meat eaters enjoy it too.

  • 2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper

In a large pot, cover the sweet potatoes with cold water. Season the water generously with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the sweet potatoes are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Drain.

In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the red and yellow bell peppers, kale, and green onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell peppers are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and allow the vegetables to caramelize, stirring occasionally, until well browned and crisp in places, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately. 

To make ahead, refrigerate the cooked hash in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Reheat in a sauté pan over medium heat with 1 tbsp vegetable oil.