Gumbo is a dish born and bred here in the US. It’s a very popular stew that hails from Louisiana and it is very easy to see why the state is proud to declare it their official state cuisine!
Gumbo is a very rich stew that combines a lot of different vegetables and meat options including chicken, turkey, shrimp and crab.
It is certainly delicious, but a stew so aromatic and strong in flavors often needs a side dish to accompany it.
But what should you choose?
We have brought together 10 of our favorite side dishes that would complement a traditional gumbo stew perfectly so you can have a belly-filling meal with a variety of tastes and textures.
Have a look at our list and pick one or two to serve up alongside your next gumbo meal!
This is the side dish everyone instantly associates with gumbo: white rice!
Traditionally, white rice will always be served alongside gumbo. Although it is not a part of the gumbo recipe, it is very rare that you will be served gumbo without a small portion of white rice alongside it.
White rice is not the only side that pairs well with gumbo, but it is the one you will see the most frequently.
This is because the rice does an amazing job of soaking up the juices from the gumbo stew so it tastes delicious.
You don’t always need to serve white rice with gumbo but if you are trying gumbo stew out for the first time, then you can try it out with the classic white rice side!
Another well known food from the southern states, southern style biscuits are a staple side dish served with a lot of southern dishes including gumbo.
They are a soft and fluffy version of bread, baked and served to help soak up sauces and gravies that often drown a lot of meals.
While there are also recipes to make sweeter versions, most southern style biscuits are baked to be eaten with savory flavors.
And it works incredibly well! Soft buttermilk biscuits are easy to make and are a great side dish to use to mop up the leftover juices of the gumbo.
Because of this, biscuits can taste a little plain on their own which is why they are best enjoyed dipped in gumbo.
Hush puppies are a delicious yet small side dish that also originates from the United States. They are basically round balls of batter made from cornmeal that is then deep fried to perfection.
Despite their plain appearance, these savory balls of fried batter are incredibly light and fluffy on the inside.
It is their texture that is their winning quality as they do not have much flavor other than a slight saltiness, but that is why hush puppies often accompany more flavorful meals like fish or gumbo.
Personally, I like to sprinkle a few hush puppies in my gumbo and stir them around until soaked, then eat them like stew dumplings.
This way, they absorb the flavor of the gumbo but still remain light and fluffy to enjoy.
Another well known American food, cornbread is so versatile that you can eat it either as a dessert or as a side dish as it is delicately sweet.
Light and fluffy just like hush puppies, cornbread is better enjoyed when kept on a separate plate from your gumbo – otherwise it just dissolves into a mush.
Scoop up some cornbread with your spoon then use the same spoon to add a bit of gumbo to it before eating.
This way, you can still enjoy the crumbly texture of the cornbread paired with the delicious flavors of the gumbo. It’s a match truly made in Heaven!
Corn on the cob is a staple side dish in American culture. It is often served up during picnics or barbecues, but its sweetness and buttery texture makes it a perfect side dish to go alongside a bowl full of gumbo.
Although you can not really go dipping your corn on the cob into your gumbo, the sweetness of the corn complements the multiple flavors from the gumbo so well.
If you really want to get creative, you can even make your corn on the cobs with a sprinkle of cheese for even more intense flavors!
Overall, gumbo is a stew that is sure to spoil your taste buds with lots of different tastes and flavors – so why not spoil them even more with some classic corn on the cob?
When it comes to side dishes, everyone instantly thinks of salads. But salads are a mixture of a lot of different vegetables and ingredients, meaning that every recipe is different.
So which one mixes the best ingredients together to make the ideal salad side dish to complement a bowl of traditional gumbo?
Personally, this recipe for a southern-style sweet potato salad is the best choice for a gumbo accompanying salad.
It blends a lot of flavors together masterfully, including ingredients like mayonnaise, cajun seasoning, sweet potatoes, corn and avocado. Each bite is a burst of flavor in your mouth, so you need to give this recipe a try!
Crab cakes are the most popular variety of fishcake in the whole United States. Savory and crunchy, it is easy to see why they are eaten by the masses as both a snack, a leftover treat or as a side dish with stews and soups.
This makes crab cakes an ideal side for gumbo as it can mop up the leftover juices from the stew or they can be enjoyed in between each spoonful of gumbo.
The use of seafood like crab also pairs well with the seafood used in the gumbo, so it is clear that these two dishes were made to be enjoyed together.
Another type of salad that compliments gumbo incredibly well is a traditional southern style tomato salad.
Best enjoyed in the summer when temperatures are soaring, this salad is very refreshing as it contains plenty of light and juicy ingredients – including plenty of tomatoes.
There are also plenty of other flavors available in this delicious melody, including goat cheese and mint!
It only takes a few minutes to mix all the ingredients together so if you are looking for a side dish you can whip up in ten minutes, then give this recipe a try!
If you don’t want to deal with the mess and fuss that comes with eating corn on the cob, then why not try out some creamed corn instead?
Creamed corn keeps all the sweetness that comes with corn on the cob, but makes it far more creamier and easier to eat.
This recipe also adds in extra seasonings and spices like nutmeg and cayenne pepper to give this version of cream corn a little extra kick!
It’s delicious and creamy, making it an ideal side dish to serve alongside a bowl full of gumbo!
And finally, we have another potato-based side dish: cajun fries!
Serving gumbo with a side dish like fries may be considered blasphemy by some, but fries are a great alternative to other carbohydrate sides.
Some chefs find it easier and simpler to make something they are already very familiar with making, so if you are looking for a side dish that is quick and easy – then cajun fries is the side dish for you!
They are also great for soaking up the juices of the gumbo stew so you can leave behind a clean and empty dish.
Adding cajun seasoning also makes these fries stand out against others, bringing a kick of spice to your gumbo dinner.
And those are 10 unique side dishes that you can try serving alongside a traditional Louisiana gumbo!
We have included a lot of sides that also originate from the southern states as they all pair amazingly well with gumbo, as well as some wacky and original pairings like with the cajun fries or corn on the cob.
While they don’t sound like they should work in theory, they really do in practice!
Don’t believe us? Why not try it out yourself?
It’s time to grab your apron and start cooking!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Gumbo A Stew Or A Soup?
Gumbo is classed as a stew as it is made from strongly flavored stock, a thickener, meat and vegetables.
Although some gumbo recipes do not always contain a thickener, traditional gumbo recipes include thickeners like okra or file powder. Thus, gumbo is classed as a stew and not a soup.
What Is The Difference Between Gumbo And Jambalaya?
Jambalaya is often confused with gumbo as both contain rice but they are very different.
Gumbo is cooked separately and sometimes served with rice. Meanwhile, jambalaya is a rice dish that is cooked with the rice mixed in the pot.
And so, you can have gumbo without rice but not jambalaya without rice.
What Is Gumbo Made From?
Every gumbo recipe is unique and every chef can alter its recipe to suit their own personal tastes.
However, traditional gumbo recipes include main ingredients such as stock, roux, okra, file powder, some form of meat or shellfish, then a mixture of vegetables like celery, onions and bell peppers.