The older I get, the more I appreciate a cozy, comforting bowl or soup or stew like this slow cooker gumbo.
Paleo, Whole30, low carb, and keto-friendly, this crockpot gumbo simmers away all day to create a perfect amalgamation of spicy veggies, chicken thighs, and hot Italian sausage. One big bowl of this Louisiana classic, and you'll be glad you've got a whole crock of leftovers ready to go for the next day!
How to make slow cooker gumbo
Like all slow cooker recipes, this should be pretty easy, right?!
I agree 100%.
Still, this gumbo recipe is a little more involved than a simple "throw it in the crock and turn it on" recipe.
First, you'll chop up all your veggies to get them prepped, make the Creole seasoning, and cut up the sausage and chicken.
You can put the chicken thighs in whole and shred them before serving, if you'd like, but I find pieces of chicken more appealing in this recipe. Up to you, though!
Once all that's ready to go, you'll make a roux. More on that later.
THEN all you have to do is dump everything in the crockpot and let it do it's thing.
Pretty easy, right?
If you want to add shrimp to this gumbo, simple add the shelled, deviened, pre-cooked shrimp to the crockpot for 15-20 minutes before serving. Add them too early, and the shrimp will overcook and become tough.
What's the difference between gumbo and jambalaya?
Gumbo and jambalaya are the two well-known staples of Creole food, so it's understandable to mix the two up! The two have similar flavors and ingredients, but how they're made is different.
Gumbo is more of a stew, often served over rice (but you can skip the rice if that floats your boat).
Jambalaya, on the other hand, is a rice-based dish. It incorporates the rice into the cooking process instead of being served as an "extra."
What is roux?
Anyone who has made gumbo will tell you that it all starts with a roux. But what the heck is that?
Traditionally, a roux is a mixture of butter and flour that's used as a base for sauces and some stews. It helps to thicken mixtures, creating a dense creaminess. If you've ever had béchamel sauce, you've had a sauce started with a roux!
Most roux is made with a 1 to 1 ratio of butter and flour. Keeping it easy!
How to make paleo roux
Obviously, to keep roux free of wheat, we need a substitution for the wheat flour in a traditional roux.
Enter cassava flour!
Cassava flour is one of my favorite wheat substitutes because you can alllmost substitute 1 to 1 with similar results. So cassava flour and ghee (clarified butter) will make the base for a paleo roux.
To start a roux, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cassava flour and whisk to combine. Keep whisking while the mixture cooks.
After a few minutes, the mixture should be light in color and puffed up slightly. This is a light roux, and the perfect place to stop for béchamel sauce, light gravies, and some thick soups.
But for this slow cooker gumbo, we'll keep cooking the roux for another 5-10 minutes, still whisking. The roux will turn into a light caramel color — brown roux, great for gravies. A few minute longer, and the roux will deepen into a chocolate color. That's what we want, for fullness of flavor!
Typically, roux has the most thickening power the lighter it is. The goal of our dark brown roux is not necessarily to thicken the gumbo into a thick sauce, but to add flavor with just a little thickening!
More low carb slow cooker recipes
This Whole30 and keto slow cooker gumbo requires little prep for a flavorful, spicy meal! If you'd like to add shrimp, toss it in for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking. Serve with white rice, cauliflower rice, or enjoy as is.
For the Gumbo:
- 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ⅓ cup cassava flour
- 2 medium white onions, diced
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 green bell peppers, diced
- 1 package (12 ounces) hot Italian sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
- ¼ cup Creole seasoning (see below)
- 6 cups chicken broth, divided
- 1 32-oz can crushed tomatoes (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
For the Creole Seasoning:
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- Heat ghee and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cassava flour, whisking constantly, to make a roux. Continue to whisk for about 15 minutes, until roux turns to a chocolate brown color, lowering heat as necessary to prevent burning. Slowly whisk in about half the broth, then transfer to the slow cooker crock.
- Add remaining tablespoon olive oil, onion, celery, and green pepper to the same skillet. Cook for 3 minutes or until softened. Transfer to the slow cooker crock. Add the sausage, chicken thighs, Creole seasoning, remaining broth, and (optionally) tomatoes. Stir to combine. Finally, add the bay leaf on top.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 6 ½ hours or on HIGH for 3 ½ to 4 hours. Remove bay leaf before serving.
- Serve over cauliflower rice, white rice, or as-is in a bowl. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze for up to 2 months.
Keywords: slow cooker, paleo, keto, Whole30, gumbo