This easy Vegetable Jambalaya has amazing flavor with a bit of spice. I’ve got simple tips for creating satisfying vegetarian dishes to make all the difference!
Vegetarian | Vegan | Gluten Free
I won’t name any names, but someone in my house recently made a joke about how there wasn’t any meat in my jambalaya. I’m no fledgling when it comes to vegetarian jokes and comments. I hear them pretty regularly.
It can certainly be challenging to satisfy everyone when feeding a mix of carnivores, omnivores, vegetarians, vegans…you know what I mean.
Then, a dish like this happens. Jokes fly, eyes roll, spoons enter mouths, then…hmmm. Vegetarian bliss.
I’ve been often asked how I get so much flavor in my vegetarian dishes without adding any meat. There’s nothing really complex about these tips, but I do think that dishes with lots of layers of flavor and spices are the easiest to vegetarian-ize.
How To Create Lots of Flavor When Cooking Vegetarian Dishes
- Bump up your spices by adding a bit more than maybe you usually would and use a variety of spices. Combining different paprikas, for example, like a sweet paprika paired with a bit of hot smoked paprika can build flavors. Find spices that work well together instead of just using one spice.
- When cooking with spices, be sure to add them to your oil in the pan, before adding any liquids. This gives the spices a chance to get a bit toasty and releases their oils.
- Use a variety of herbs like thyme, bay leaf and sage. Adding woody herbs, like those, at the beginning of cooking creates a lot of flavor, but I like to add just a bit more at the end of cooking. That’s a good time to sprinkle some tender green herbs in too!
- Unless you’re on a low sodium diet for health reasons, don’t skimp on salt. That doesn’t mean to over-salt your dishes, but add pinches as you go and taste test with each addition. I always love a pinch of flakey sea salt to finish a dish.
- Look for ingredients that add a bit of umami, like a sharp cheese, or nutritional yeast, or soy sauce, tamari or miso. Mushrooms, like shiitake, can add lots of deep umami flavor.
- When cooking vegetarian dishes, I find that adding additional healthy fats to your dish creates a richer and more satisfying taste and texture. I love drizzling some fruity extra-virgin olive oil over the top just before serving. Play around with other healthy, plant-based oils too. A drizzle of nut oils, like sesame or walnut oil can add lots of flavor. Also, try flavored oils, like basil oil, lemon oil or truffle oil. Finishing oils like those are delicious!
This colorful jambalaya is a perfect example of getting the most flavor out of plant-based foods. I use most of those tips in this recipe. I’d love to hear your own tips for creating lots of flavor!
What I love about this veggie jambalaya is how easy and versatile it is. This recipe can work with any vegetables you have in the fridge. The addition of black-eyed peas adds some protein, iron, fiber and folate. You can certainly use any beans you have in the cupboard or add some cubed tofu as well.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion sliced
- 2 stalks celery cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 2 medium carrots cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 medium red bell pepper sliced
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 15- ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 1/4 cups white rice
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 15- ounce can black-eyed peas drained and rinsed
- 8- ounces frozen cut okra
- hot pepper sauce
- handful chopped celery leaves or fresh parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch skillet or braiser over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes or until the onions become a bit soft. Add the red pepper and continue to cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir to coat and add the tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice. Stir to coat. Add the vegetable broth and stir.
- Cover the pot, increase the heat a bit and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the rice covered for 10 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas and okra just over the top of the rice and cover. Cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the okra is tender and the rice is cooked. Remove from the heat, keeping the pot covered and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
- Stir and fluff the rice with a large fork. Top with your favorite hot sauce and a handful of chopped celery leaves or parsley.
Recipe was ok. Cook time for me was a lot longer than what was posted on here. I also double the spices and still found it a bitt boring. What I may do next time is add andouille sausage to this (i know its a veggie dish) just feels like it needs more…. With this said I am making this for just my hubby and I and we like our food super flavorfull, this recipe maybe good for kids :)
Thanks for your feedback, Elizabeth! That’s interesting that it wasn’t super flavorful for you. But absolutely, add additional spices to suit your tastebuds! I’d just warn other reader to start with what the recipe calls for before doing that…as I’ve said in the recipe notes, spices vary in intensity, depending on their age, type and origin. You can always add more, but it’s difficult to correct overdoing it.
Where can I find the recipes url?
Hi Candi! You should be able to find the url in the bar at the top of your screen. Hope that answers your question!
Hi, quick question. Does any kind of white rice work for this recipe? It looks delicious! Can’t wait to try. TY!
Thanks so much, Judy and that’s a great question! You can certainly use another rice in this dish, but I’d avoid overly starchy rices, like arborio. Those will create a thicker end result. If you use brown rice, just be aware that you’ll need to add more liquid and will need to extend cooking time quite a bit. Hope that helps!
Yes it does. Thanks so much!
My pleasure! :)
This is a great receipt and it worked really well in my Instapot. It is very flavorful and you really don’t miss the meat. I love the use of okra in this dish to such a nice variation. Thanks for the recipes.
I really do appreciate you sharing your experience with the Instapot, Lori! So happy to hear it worked well and that you enjoyed it!
Wow wow wow! This was simply delicious! I added some sautéed mushrooms (sautéed separately in butter/oil), aubergine and zucchini! The smoked Paprika made all the difference! Adding this one to my “favorites”. Thank you!
Oh my goodness…Sara! This makes me so happy! Love your additions…adding your favorite veggies makes this even better! And I agree about the smoked paprika…one of my favorite spices!
Just made this on Sunday. I just used what I had on hand. Patty Pan squash, carrots, zucchini, onions, green onions(at the end) bell pepper, eggplant, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower & corn & beans. I am sure I have forgotten something. I am a diehard Cajun cook and never made jambalaya without the andouille or tasso BUT I have to say this was delicious. My grown kids loved it. I did add a little turmeric and a few other spices on hand as well. Lots of garlic. The smoked paprika set it off and gave it the smoky flavor. I will be looking for some other brands. Is there a particular brand you like to use? Next time I will definitely add the okra. Glad a stumbled on your site.
Michelle, this is such a sweet compliment! Thank you so much for taking the time to share that. As far as smoked paprika, I really love Mas Portell Hot Smoked Paprika. It’s quite spicy, so start with smaller quantities and add more if you like it spicy! :)
This looks so good! I’m making this tonight. Question: is it ok to cook the rice beforehand, and then add it later?
I’m glad to hear it, Triana! I wouldn’t cook the rice separately. It won’t develop much flavor that way.
Hello from a new veg! I have loved dabbling in veggie dishes for about 20 years now after realizing meat was causing my husband’s gout attacks. Being an RN peeked my interest in nutrition. I finally made the leap to vegetarian/ sometimes vegan. This recipe is amazing! I used 1/2 red rice and 1/2 white basmati. The smoked paprika goes perfectly. Taking this dish to vegan friends today. Thankyou and I can’t wait to try more of your recipes. PS. My husband still eats meat but much less. He loves this dish!
I’m so happy to hear you and your husband enjoyed this, Virginia! Congrats on your new path! I know you’ll find so many great vegetarian and vegan recipes that are so tasty. I think there’s never been a better time to go plant based. Thanks a bunch for putting a huge smile on my face today! xo
Our vegan friends loved this recipe! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes 👍😀
I’m so happy to hear your friends enjoyed this, Virginia! I hope you find some more recipes to love here! xo
Thank you for giving us this opportunity for experimenting some more vegetarian dishes at our India Vegetarian Restaurant. We will try your recipe with our Indian spices in it. Our customers would love it. Credit would be all yours.
What is the nutritional info on this recipe?
My family loved this! I added a whole package of chopped tempeh with the red peppers because we are athletes who need lots of protein. I also used a 12 oz package of okra and that was just fine.
That’s awesome, JB! So glad you and your family enjoyed it! xo
Kathleen S. Gallagher
I just signed in to receive your recipes; thank you. I want to make the Jambalaya but don’t have Okra for vegetable outside of canned which I can use, what other vegetable might work well if not Okra? thank you.
Hi Kathleen! Welcome! I’m so happy to hear you signed up! No worries if you don’t have okra. You can either just leave it out or you can substitute with green beans, cut asparagus or even cubed zucchini. Add them early on enough to get them fully cooked. I hope you love this! :)
Maywah out of NYC has some great fake meats, love their salmon and chicken! Bet they’d be great in this! Check their site, but read the ingredients before ordering!
We are vegetarians and I ended up to to this recipe accidentally. But the minute I saw the presentation and the colors of the dish, cannot resist anymore. I keep trying new dishes. Seems to be an easy and amazingly nutritious. Thanks for the recipe.
I’m so happy you found your way here, Neeru! I hope you find some recipes that you love! This one is a favorite of mine. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you get a chance to make it! Thanks for your kind words! :)
Five stars each for nutrition, flavor, color, comfort, and ease! It fits a modern pattern, like Bittman doubling the ratio of sauce/veggies to the pasta. It seems there’s no limit to how much you can pump up rice and beans with veggies, and yet variations can be so different. (My black beans and rice recipe evolved to include the same veggies and grape tomatoes sliced in half, garlic, coriander, cumin and chili powder, all on top of rice. Similarly, dirty rice—mine has sausage and liver but no beans—uses the trinity of celery, onion and pepper, with Cajun spices and garlic, and cold, cooked rice stirred in at the end. Third, NY Times Slow-Baked Beans With Kale, which has bread crumbs to complete the bean protein, many of the same veggies, and French spices.) I love your cutting the veggies in larger pieces! It adds internal variation to a one pot meal and speeds the prep. I’ve done your recipe with the vegetable broth and with just water instead, and can’t tell the difference, given the great veggies and spices. Rough calc: about 320 calories at 6 servings—nearly half from the rice, a quarter from the oil, and a sixth from the beans.
Thank you so much, John. I’m really flattered to hear you’ve been enjoying this recipe and love how you get the idea of augmenting a dish to intensify flavors and to find pleasure in what you’ve cooked. Sounds like you truly love cooking…that’s wonderful! Your black beans and rice recipe sounds delicious! I’m going to have to try that! I really appreciate your feedback…thanks again!
When I cook these dishes I always cut ingredients in SMALLER pieces as it dramatically speeds up cooking time Many of us don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking when there are easier ways to make dishes thus encouraging us to cook more. Many times these recipes seem too difficult for many and there are so many ways to reduce both prep & cook time.
Thanks for sharing your tips, Mary!
Made this tonight and it is a winner. Had to omit the hot stuff. Some family members can not tolerate the spice. I did cook with brown rice added 3 1/2 cups of vegetable broth. Cook time was about another 20 minutes or so. Also added 2 ears of corn. Took it off the cob and added with the black eyed peas. If it was up to me I would have added chipotle powder. Excellent recipe. Nice job.
Love the brown rice and corn you added, Chris! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for your kind words…this just put a huge smile on my face! :)
I can’t get okra right now. I decided I’d use eggplant. How should I prepare it?
Eggplant would be delicious in this, Aija! I would cut it in cubes and add it with the red peppers. I would increase the sauté time from 3 minutes to maybe 5 or 6 to give the eggplant a bit more time to soften. I’d love to hear how it turns out!
I’m thinking of making this for dinner. Would it be too hot for my kiddos? Also, if so how can I turn down the heat without losing too much flavor?
Yay! So glad you’ll being making this, Stacey! It’s hard to say if this is too hot for kids…some kids (like mine) reeeally like some heat! That said…this can be pretty spicy depending on what brand hot smoked paprika you use. If you’re unsure, I’d cut down the hot smoked paprika to 1/2 teaspoon…or even less if you don’t want heat. Substitute whatever amount your not using with an equal quantity of sweet smoked paprika (or sometimes just called smoked paprika). I’d love to hear how you make out with it! :)
Does this dish travel well? Could I make it in the morning and take to a thanksgiving dinner and reheat it?
It absolutely does, Nancy! I often do make this ahead of time. I usually sprinkle a bit of veggie broth over the top before reheating just to prevent the dish drying out too much. Hope you love it…and Happy Thanksgiving! :)
This dish looks amazing! Do you add cooked rice to the skillet or should it be raw?
Thanks so much, Meg! Be sure to add uncooked rice to the skillet and cook it with all of the other ingredients. It absorbs all of that flavor and is amazing! Hope you get a chance to make it…I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Hi! Super excited about this.
About how many servings does this recipe yield?
This serves between 4 and 6 servings, Casey. Hope you love it!
We found this recipe when we were looking for something quick and to use all the vegetables we had sitting around. We used brown rice and just about every vegetable you could think of. We used mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, scallions, kale, garlic. We used a few different spices but used all you had listed. The only thing I forgot was that brown rice cooks longer so therefore I should have used a little more broth. But we just cooked it until rice was where we wanted and there was just less juice. We all loved. Half of us are strictly vegetarian and the other half eat chicken and fish. We totally recommend this. Thanks for the idea.
You and I are cooking soulmates, Coleen! I like to use whatever I’ve got on hand too. Recipes like this, especially, are great for cleaning out the fridge! I love your adaptations. Yeah, if you make this again with the brown rice (such a great idea) either use a bit more broth or you can always add a bit while cooking. So happy to hear you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for sharing!
Awesome recipe I’m so eager to try!
What brand of smoked paprika did you use??
I’m so glad you’ll be making this, Elise! I love Mas Portel, a hot smoked paprika from Spain. It’s got a good amount of heat and flavor, which I like. If you have trouble finding that specific brand, just be sure to look for the words, “Pimentón de la Vera” on the container. Those are some of the best paprikas from Spain. Hope that helps!
Hi, I’m gonna make this for a vegetarian friend soon, any suggestions on what else to serve with this? Thanks!
You are a sweet friend, Amely! I usually make a big salad alongside this dish. I like to incorporate some similar flavors, so I’ll usually add some tangy olives, maybe some spicy pickled peppers and some cubes of cheese, like Manchego, into the salad. Hope you love it!
Hi! If I want to make this with quinoa, what should I do differently?
Very excited to try this!!
I’ve never tried this with quinoa, Aspacia, but I’d love to hear your results! Since quinoa cooks much faster than rice, I’d probably sautée the veggies a bit longer before adding the rest of the ingredients. I’d also cut the carrots smaller and add the okra with the tomatoes to make sure they cook properly. Hope that helps and that you love it!
I loosely followed the directions, instead of rice I used couscous, cuban style black beans, and fire roasted corn. It turned out delicious!! I will give my mom and others this recipe. Thank you for sharing!!
I love that you used couscous, Olivia! Your version sounds delicious…I’m going to try it! Thank YOU for sharing! :)
Made this last night for my husband, turned out great! I added Cajun seasoning and made the black eyed peas in the instant pot. Thank you for the great recipe!
I’m so happy to hear that, Angie! Love that you made your black eyed peas in the instant pot…I need to use mine more! Thanks for sharing!
Hi- looks lovely! Could I sub with brown rice? :)
Absolutely, Ella! Brown rice would be wonderful! Your cook time will be a bit longer, so your veggies will be a bit more tender, but I personally love it that way! :) I’d love to hear how it works for you!
Hi! Plan on trying this tonight, and i’m very excited!
If using raw okra, is there any difference to how i should go about adding it?
Hi Chandler! Well, by now you’ve probably made this already, but to answer your question…if you prefer your okra really tender, go ahead and add it with the tomatoes. Otherwise, you can follow the recipe and add the okra with the black eyed peas just over the top of the rice. Hope that helps and that you enjoyed the jambalaya!
What is the serving size in ounces?
Sorry, Ginger. I can’t provide that type of information. There are some great online tools that will give you nutrition information by just plugging in the recipe’s url. Hope that helps!
I made this recipe last night and the flavors were so amazing and different from anything I’ve ever made before. My only problem is that even though I followed the recipe exactly, the rice came out hard. I’m glad my boyfriend didn’t mind the crunchy rice and ate the whole thing! But, wondering what I did wrong or what I can do next time to prevent this from happening!
So happy to hear you and your boyfriend enjoyed this, Kim! Hard rice could be a result of not enough liquid, not enough cooking time or cooking with too much heat. If you know your measurements are correct, be sure your heat is reduced to low while simmering the next time you try this. If your heat is too high, the liquid evaporates too quickly before it gets a chance to cook the rice. I’d love to know how that works out for you!
Thank you! I will try again soon.
Just made this for lunch, for a vegan friend of ours. The three of us all had seconds, it was truly full of flavor. Thank you for a great recipe!
Oh, Mary! This makes me so happy! Thanks for those kind words. I always go for seconds when I make this dish…and if I’m being honest, sometimes thirds. ;)
I cannot wait to try this, being from Haitian roots, all things creole and Louisiana is my life line. No meat in jambalaya… But I have recently changed my lifestyle and cut out meat so, I will come back and leave an unbiased comment… ;)
I love creole food, too, Chavonne! I hope you get a chance to make this and I’d love to hear your thoughts! xo
This was wonderful! Yours came out much prettier than mine, for some reason I can’t be patient enough with my rice! :)
Yay! So great to hear you enjoyed it, Lindsay! I’m sure yours was beautiful! Thanks for stopping back in!
Just made it for lunch, had to avoid beans since they dont fit in my macros. It taste amazing even without doubt so colourful. I just had to hunt down smoked paprika which was a mission.Thank you from Dubai.
This made my day, Shivangi! Glad you enjoyed it and adapted it to work for you. Isn’t smoked paprika amazing? Worth the hunt! :)
I’m not a vegetarian, but made this for a vegetarian friend for dinner last night and it was INCREDIBLE! Between the two of us, we came pretty close to polishing it off! I let her take the last bit home for lunch, but wish I had kept it. ;) Really, if I could eat something like this every day, I’d go vegetarian in a heartbeat! I can’t wait to make it again!
I love that you enjoyed this dish so much, Amy! So sweet of you to cook a vegetarian meal for your friend. Hope you find some other veggie inspired recipes to enjoy! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! xo
Two thumbs up from this Canuck! Cheated by adding two hot Italian sausages, crumbled and fried before adding onions, celery, etc.
That’s awesome, Jack! The sausages are a great idea for meat-eaters! Thanks so much for sharing that! :)
Daughter loved this recipe so much, she and BF made a large batch of it and dehydrated it to take as their main sustenance on their 4-day Long Range Traverse, at Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, Canada.
Wow! That’s awesome, Jack! You’ve got an adventurous daughter! I’m thrilled to hear that she enjoyed this so much and that it worked so well on her trek. Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know…it made my day! :)
Hello! I made this last week and Hubby and I loved it! We love okra and I had to make this as soon as I read the recipe. Delicious!
Hi, Cindy! I’m thrilled to bits that you both enjoyed this…and to hear that you love okra, too! Thanks for taking the time to let me know! :)
Hello, thank you for this recipe. I love okra, but my husband complains that it is slimy. Any tips to de-slime okra for this and other recipes, so we can both enjoy it? Thank you.
Hi Sharon! Ah…I totally get the slimy okra thing. Personally, I love it, too…slimy and all. I have to say, the okra in this dish is not so slimy. Maybe it’s luck, but it could also be because it’s being cooked with acidic tomatoes or because it’s not being cooked for very long. I don’t really know. I have heard that if you soak okra in vinegar first, it won’t be slimy, but I’ve never tried that. If anyone else has tips on “de-sliming” okra…I think Sharon’s husband will greatly appreciate it! ;)
Made this last night for mardi gras dinner. It was really delicious. We all enjoyed the smokey flavors of the hot smoked paprika. First time using it. It was impressive looking too. Very colorful. I would make this for company any day. Nice to have found your site via instagrm.
How wonderful! So glad you enjoyed this, Sharon! Yes…smoked paprika is delicious, isn’t it? Thanks so much for your kind words! :)
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
I am not a vegetarian Caroline, but I absolutely love this dish! It’s so colorful and so healthy! I honestly don’t think I’d even miss the other ingredients. Can’t wait to try!
Yes, Mary Ann! I like your attitude! ;) I will say…the meat-eaters in my family all loved it…I hope you do too!
Ran to the kitchen to make this as soon as your email came in. YUM. And gorgeous! Favorite part are the larger chunks of carrots and celery instead of the typical small dice. Will do that again. Thanks!
Laura…you are a superstar! I’m completely impressed that you made this in such a pinch and so happy to hear you enjoyed it! Yes…I was skeptical about the large bites of veggies, but found that their size adds some substance since there’s no meat involved. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment…it made my day! :)