When I was growing up, one of my favorite meals was my grandmother’s gumbo. I was born and raised in southern Louisiana, so authentic Cajun gumbo was a staple in our household. My grandmother made the best gumbo (in my humble opinion) – whether it was sausage gumbo, seafood gumbo, chicken gumbo, okra gumbo, or a combination of those.

Now, as a mother myself, I’ve been experimenting with re-creating recipes inspired by my grandmother’s home cooking, with my own “vegan” or “pescatarian” twist. Add in my love of all things Crock-Pot, and you’ve got this delicious Crock-Pot “cheater” gumbo!

If you’re well-versed in Cajun cooking, you’ll know all about the “holy trinity” – onions, bell peppers, and celery. This is the foundation for many dishes in the region, and this gumbo recipe wouldn’t be the same without it.

(Other recipes that call for the “holy trinity” include etouffee and jambalaya… but we’ll save those for another day.)

One of my favorite ingredients in this gumbo is okra. Okra is a contested ingredient in our household, though. My husband HATES okra, and it’s one of my all-time favorites. I’ve even started growing okra from seed in our backyard garden!

If you’re like my husband and detest okra, that’s okay. Just omit it. If you feel kind of “meh” about okra, only put a little bit. Can’t find fresh okra? Frozen okra will work, too! But be warned: if you’re a texture person, if you use a ton of okra, your gumbo may turn out a bit gooey.

A few notes on other ingredients I used:

  • For this gumbo, I used my homemade vegetable broth. If you don’t have homemade broth on-hand (or don’t have time to make your own), you can always use store-bought broth. Buy vegetable or seafood broth to keep this gumbo pescatarian-friendly, or you can use chicken or beef broth if you don’t have any dietary restrictions.
  • You can use any type of Cajun seasoning you’d like, but my favorite hands-down is Tony Chachere’s. It’s a staple in any Southern kitchen. (You can find it in most supermarkets nationwide.)
  • For the sausage, I used Field Roast Italian Sausage (vegan) from my local Sprout’s Farmers Market. If you’re not vegan/vegetarian, you can always use real sausage (I recommend andouille – authentically Cajun!).
  • I also added shrimp to this gumbo, but if you’re staying plant-based, you can omit it altogether. This recipe tastes great without it.

Crock-Pot “Cheater” Gumbo

Total Time: 10 minutes prep, 6-8 hours in Crockpot
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. avocado or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium bell peppers, chopped
  • 12 oz. chopped sausage of choice (I used Field Roast Italian Sausage)
  • 16 oz. frozen pre-cooked shrimp, peeled and tails off
  • 12 oz. fresh or frozen okra, sliced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (I used homemade)
  • 1 tbsp. Cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere’s)
  • Cooked rice, for serving

Instructions:

  1. Heat your oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onion until translucent (5 minutes). Add the garlic and celery, and saute for 3-5 minutes longer.
  2. Combine the okra, sauteed vegetables, bell peppers, sausage, tomatoes, vegetable broth, and Cajun seasoning to your Crock-Pot.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. About 20 minutes before serving, add your frozen shrimp. Let cook for 20 more minutes, or until shrimp are fully cooked.
  5. Ladle the gumbo into bowls, then add a scoop of rice. Enjoy!