What Is Cajun Seasoning?

Valerie Goldberg

Cajun seasoning is a food flavoring blend that is popular in the Louisiana area. Acadian immigrants are credited with creating Cajun recipes. Food made with Cajun seasoning is known for being spicy. A variety of ingredients make up Cajun seasoning, including cayenne pepper, garlic, onion, black pepper, celery and white pepper.

Black pepper is often an ingredient in Cajun seasoning.
Black pepper is often an ingredient in Cajun seasoning.

When the Acadian people first settled in the Louisiana area, many of the immigrants were very poor. Rice was one of the only plentiful foods the settlers had, so they used it in almost all of their dishes. The food was bland, so the people added celery, bell peppers, onions, garlic and cayenne pepper to their meals, helping to create what later would become known as Cajun seasoning. The seasoning blend gives the region's food a distinct flavor and has made it popular with many visitors who have carried home a taste for Cajun flavors.

Jambalaya made with Cajun seasoning.
Jambalaya made with Cajun seasoning.

Jambalaya is a popular dish that calls for Cajun seasoning. Rice is used as the base for jambalaya, and other ingredients — such as shrimp, chicken, celery, peppers and tomatoes — can be added or subtracted from the recipe as desired. Classic jambalaya is extremely spicy, typically containing both chili peppers and cayenne pepper. One can easily create a less spicy version of the dish for those who enjoy their food with flavor but not a lot of heat.

Lobster in a Cajun-style roux.
Lobster in a Cajun-style roux.

Another famous food in the world of Cajun cooking is gumbo. Gumbo is a stew that starts with a roux — a carefully cooked mix of flour and fat — and adds stock, a protein source and vegetables. Shrimp, chicken, sausage or crayfish may provide protein to the dish. Cajun seasoning is prominent in gumbo, because multiple types of pepper are typically added to the recipe. Some people who like their gumbo extra spicy will even add hot sauce to their meal before consuming it.

Celery is an ingredient in Cajun seasoning.
Celery is an ingredient in Cajun seasoning.

Soy sauce, bourbon and molasses can be combined with Cajun seasoning to create a chicken marinade. Chicken should sit in the marinade for a minimum of six hours to impart the most flavor. Cajun bourbon chicken is normally cooked on a grill, and steak and shrimp also can be marinated Cajun style.

Cajun seasoning is a key ingredient in gumbo.
Cajun seasoning is a key ingredient in gumbo.

A popular Louisiana custom is the crayfish boil. This involves cooking crayfish in boiling water well seasoned with Cajun flavors. When having a crayfish boil for people with a variety of palates, it is recommend to only add a moderate amount of Cajun flavor to the pot. Spicy food lovers can always add more flavoring at the table.

Known for its spice, Cajun seasoning is popular in Louisiana cuisine.
Known for its spice, Cajun seasoning is popular in Louisiana cuisine.
Cajun seasoning usually contains chili peppers.
Cajun seasoning usually contains chili peppers.

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