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A list of the essential ingredients for Cajun cooking - all you need to get started!
This post contains affiliate links.
Guys, seriously. This is one of the most delicious cuisines. Rich decadence engulfed in spice with a somewhat rustic feel. If you've ever been to New Orleans, you know what I mean.
One of my favorite things about Cajun food is the seafood. So. Much. Seafood. I adore it.
And not to mention Mardi Gras is right around the corner (February 18). Now me personally, that is just too much crowd and craziness. I will do everything humanly possible to not be in New Orleans during February. But if you like a party, Mardi Gras is just that.
New Orleans is a beautiful place if you've never been. Beautiful and filled with delicious, delicious food. So much history. And did I mention the delicious food?
So I hope you guys are now excited for Cajun food month. I know I am. I've been cooking up a storm to get these recipes just right.
The essential ingredients for Cajun cooking
But before we get into February, let's chat a bit about the essential ingredients for Cajun cooking. Unlike many cuisines, the list of essential ingredients for Cajun cooking is not long, and the ingredients are all quite easy to find.
Reminder - these ingredients below include affiliate links. If you purchase the ingredient through the link, I receive a small commission from Amazon. This commission helps me keep this site up and running.
My go-to premade Creole/Cajun seasoning. There are some sites out there that recommend making your own seasoning, and I'm not against that, but as you all know I'm always looking to save time. Perhaps someday when I'm retired and can devote more time to cooking and blogging, but that day is not today.
Not only do I use this stuff in my Cajun recipes, but I use it on pretty much everything. It's delicious. And salty, which is part of the reason I like it. It provides SO MUCH FLAVOR.
If you're gonna cook Cajun, you've got to get some Louisiana hot sauce. Over the years, I've tried so many different versions, but I keep coming back to this tried and true one. Plus, it's dirt cheap and can be found in just about any grocery store. Or here on Amazon.
No, not the kind that makes you money (or loses you money), but the kind of delicious slow cooked broths that add depth and flavor to your dishes. Now this is one area that I do recommend making your own.
But if you're really set on buying your stock, I use Better Than Bouillon on occasion when I run out of stock. They have a variety of different stock bases to include chicken, turkey, beef, ham, lobster, garlic, vegetable, mushroom, fish, clam and chili. I haven't tried every one of them, but have tried quite a few and they are a pretty good backup to homemade.
Red beans and rice. Need I say more? This is a staple of Cajun and Creole cuisine. Get you some beans in that pantry.
Rice is served with oh so many Cajun dishes. Just plain old white rice. It's also used to make jambalaya and red beans and rice. Plus, obviously, white rice is so incredibly versatile and I believe you should always be fully stocked. So stock up!
Obviously you're not going out right now to buy a bunch of seafood. But I just wanted to point out that seafood has a huge part in Cajun cuisine. So be ready. Get excited.
Cajun cuisine uses a lot of fish, shrimp, crawfish (crayfish), crab and oysters. All the good stuff guys.
This is one of my favorite parts guys. Andouille sausage is amazing. It's a smoked sausage, typically made with pork and delicious, delicious spices. Wait did I say delicious? It adds so much flavor to dishes, I absolutely LOVE it. You should be able to find it in most stores. However, I have this really nice Ralph's down the street that does not carry it for some reason. I have to go to the not-so-nice Albertsons to get it. Is that important to this post? Probably not....
The cornerstone of Cajun cooking. Many recipes call for a base of roux. Not sure what roux is? Well its' simple - it's basically flour and butter or oil cooked over medium/low heat until it starts to brown. Now some recipes call for light brown roux, and some for a dark roux. I'm just going to say it. Making roux is a pain in the ass. But it's worth it. So worth it.
Lighter roux(s???) are used mainly as a thickening agent as they tend to have less flavor. The darker roux(s - what is the plural??) have more flavor, tend to be thinner, and are used mainly as a flavoring agent in Cajun cooking. The longer a roux cooks, the more intense the flavor becomes. BUT, be careful not to burn it because then it's ruined. And you have to start all over again. And that sucks.
Learn how to make a roux here. The best part is it can be made ahead and frozen for future use.
Now, you can buy roux in a jar, but I have never tried it before and cannot attest to whether it is good or not. But if you're really short on time or just don't feel like making your own, below are a couple options. But know you will not get the same flavor as a homemade roux.
So guys, I think we're ready now. So gather your ingredients and get ready for February - we're going to eat so much delicious food!
Want to get an early start on Cajun cooking? Check out these recipes: