My grandmother's gumbo was one of my favorite things to eat before switching to a plant-based diet. This vegan gumbo recipe has all the flavor, spice, and heartiness as hers but is made with lots of healthy plant-based ingredients. This southern-style dish is sure to be a hit at mealtime.
One of the things I love most about this vegan gumbo is you can easily change up what’s in it. This dish is delicious to serve over rice, homemade bread, or for a more traditional New Orleans meal with cornbread or hush puppies.
Vegan gumbo may cost a little more per serving, but it is a great meal for a dinner party or any time you want to splurge on meals.
Why This Recipe Works
An entire meal in a bowl. It’s got lots of veggies and plant-based protein so it’s substantial enough for a full meal.
Satisfying and comforting. A New Orleans comfort food original for a perfect simple meal.
Easy to make in batches. Make a double batch and pack it up so you have multiple meals in the future.
Great flavor and spice. Really exquisite with just enough spice to taste like an authentic gumbo.
Southern food classic. If you grew up eating meals like this one, now you can enjoy it even while eating plant-based.
How to Make Vegan Gumbo
This easy vegan gumbo recipe is made with easy-to-find, simple ingredients. Don't worry about the long list of ingredients, you should be able to find them at your local grocery store.
Oil: An essential fat to make the roux - any plant oil will work.
Flour: The thickener for the roux contributes to the thick gravy-like broth in this vegan gumbo.
Veggies: The combination of yellow onion, green bell pepper, and celery is essential to all cajun cuisine. For more color, I’ve also thrown in some red bell pepper as well.
Garlic: Fresh garlic is my top choice for this vegan gumbo.
Spices: Cajun seasoning, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper, and bay leaves give this vegan gumbo a bold flavor.
Canned tomatoes and beans: Fire-roasted tomatoes, kidney beans, and white beans for flavor and protein.
Vegetable broth: Make a more flavorful broth than using water alone.
Liquid smoke: Just a touch to add some smokiness usually found in gumbo.
Mushrooms: Not typically found in gumbo, however the tender texture of mushrooms make this dish feel more substantial.
Veggie sausages: Adding vegan sausage is optional but I find it really makes it more authentic.
How To Make This Recipe
1) To get started, heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
2) When hot, add flour and stir constantly until it starts to turn light brown. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
3) Add onion, garlic, celery, peppers, Cajun seasoning, paprika, and cayenne to the flour mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
4) Add tomatoes, broth, liquid smoke, and bay leaves. Stir and bring to a rumbling boil.
5) Turn down the heat. Add beans, mushrooms, and sausage (if using), cover, and let simmer for 25 minutes.
Don’t let the roux or veggies burn. Stirring frequently helps to keep everything moving around to prevent burning.
Spiciness. Adjust to your taste by changing the amount of cayenne pepper. There may also be some spice in the cajun seasoning and smoked paprika but don’t pack as much of a punch as the cayenne.
Serve hot. Gumbo definitely is a dish served piping hot. As it sits and cools down it will thicken up more. You want it to be slightly thick but not overly thick like gravy.
Does gumbo always have okra?
While okra is often found in some gumbo recipes due to its availability and popularity in the south, it's not an essential ingredient. I prefer to leave it out of my recipe since so many people aren't fans of okra.
Should gumbo be thick or soupy?
Gumbo should be slightly thick and a little bit soupy, kind of in-between the two. You can easily adjust it to your desired preference by adding more liquid or thickening it more with some additional flour.
Okra gumbo: If you are a fan of okra you can add 1-2 cups along with the tomatoes.
Other veggies: For an authentic cajun gumbo, it should include the addition of celery, onions, and bell peppers but you can feel free to add other veggies as desired. Squash, eggplant, and greens would all work well in a veggie gumbo.
Gluten-free: To make a gluten-free gumbo, use a gluten-free flour blend as a replacement. If it doesn’t thicken properly you can thicken it with one tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water. Add the cornstarch slurry in the last five minutes of cooking.
How to Store
Leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for up to three months.
Reheat: Return vegan gumbo to a saucepan and heat over medium until heated through. Add water as needed to thin out the gumbo as it will thicken in the fridge.
Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.