This green gumbo recipe, aka "gumbo z'herbes", is a Louisiana classic Creole gumbo made with mixed greens like kale, collards, beet greens, mustard, chard, you name it. One of my favorites.
Green Gumbo Recipe (Gumbo Z'Herbes)
We're cooking up a classic gumbo you may not have heard of in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen tonight, my friends. It's called "Gumbo Z'Herbes", or Green Gumbo.
You may have had a good bowl of Cajun or Creole gumbo before, but you may not be familiar with this particular version of the recipe.
What is Gumbo Z'Herbes (Green Gumbo)?
Green gumbo (aka "gumbo z'herbes") is a delicious gumbo recipe made with a mixture of greens, like collard greens, beet greens, kale, and others. It is traditionally a vegetarian dish served during lent, made on Holy Thursday and served on Catholic Good Friday, though you can easily add smoked andouille sausage or ham if you'd like.
It's a hearty dish, like any other gumbo, that starts with a roux, then includes the Cajun holy trinity of vegetables, along with lots of satisfying greens.
It's roots lie in French, African, and possibly German cuisine, though it was made famous by Leah Chase in New Orleans in the 1960s, where she cooked up large batches at Dooky Chase's restaurant.
According to a number of New Orleans locals, it isn't as well-known as I originally thought, with some refusing to even call it a "gumbo", though the flavors are absolutely mouthwatering.
I love to make mine with a mixture of greens, and you can really change it up based on what's available to you, along with smoked ham and andouille sausage.
I think you're going to love this one as much as we do!
Let's talk about how to make green gumbo, shall we?
Green Gumbo (Gumbo Z'Herbes) Ingredients
- Peanut Oil. Or use vegetable oil.
- All-Purpose Flour.
- Cajun Holy Trinity. Bell pepper, onion, celery + garlic. I like to add in some jalapenos or serranos for some extra heat for mine, which is totally optional.
- Cajun Seasonings. Use your favorite Cajun Seasoning Recipe, or use a Creole seasoning blend.
- Meats. Andouille sausage or other smoked sausage and smoked ham or ham hock. These are optional. Omit for a vegetarian version of the dish, which is more traditional.
- Vegetable Stock. You can use chicken stock for non-vegetarian.
- Mixed Greens. Use your favorites, such as collard greens, kale, mustard greens, turnip, chard, dandelion, beet greens, spinach, or others.
- Bay Leaves.
- For Serving. Filé powder (for thickening, if desired), cooked white rice.
How to Make Green Gumbo (Gumbo Z'Herbes)
Make the Roux. Add peanut oil to a large pot and heat to medium heat. Add flour and stir. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, constantly stirring, until the roux browns to the color of chocolate. I prefer a nice dark roux.
It is important to stir constantly to not burn the roux.
Add the Holy Trinity. Add peppers, onion and celery. Stir and cook about 5 minutes.
Meats and Seasonings. Add garlic, andouille, smoked ham (if using), and Cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring, another minute.
Stock and Greens. Stir in the vegetable stock and the chopped greens, then bay leaves.
Simmer the Gumbo. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 90 minutes, or until the greens are very tender.
The greens will soften up and will mingle with that hearty, wonderful roux and you will not have a better pot of flavor anywhere. Right on your own stovetop.
Serve it Up! Remove from heat and stir in file powder (if using). Serve over white rice if preferred, or straight into a bowl.
Boom! Done! I do hope you enjoy your Gumbo Z'Herbes! Let me know how it turns out for you! Serve it with potato salad, which some people enjoy in Louisiana! So good!
Recipe Tips & Notes
The key here, as with any gumbo, is the roux. You must learn to make the roux. A good roux is cooked slowly and stirred-stirred-stirred. People who grow up with Cajun and Creole cuisine learn this from a very early age.
It involves standing at the stove for a good 20 minutes to up to an hour or longer, depending on how much roux you're making, stirring, stirring, stirring, until your roux browns nicely.
It's good when it turns the color of peanut butter or a copper penny, but you can keep going and cook it until it turns a dark chocolate brown. Try it as many ways as you'd like to see which depth of color and flavor you prefer.
Learn more about How to Make a Roux.
Adjusting the Heat Factor
Cajun and Creole cuisine, particularly gumbo, aren't meant to be HOT. It is SPICY for sure, which means it includes a lot of spice and seasonings, but as a chilihead, I like to bring in a little bit of heat to please my own palate.
So, when working with the ingredients - bell peppers, onion, and celery are traditional with Cajun and Creole cooking - I like to include jalapeno peppers as well, or some other hotter peppers, depending on my mood.
That's it, my friends! I hope you enjoy my gumbo z herbes recipe! So good! Let me know how you enjoy it.
Check Out My Other Gumbo Recipes
If you love gumbo, check out some of my other gumbo recipes.
If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you'll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don't forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I'll be sure to share! Thanks! -- Mike H.
Gumbo Z’Herbes Recipe (Green Gumbo)
- 3/4 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 large green bell pepper chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers chopped (optional, for spicy - use serranos for spicier)
- 1 large white onion chopped
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (or to taste)
- 8 ounces andouille sliced into ¼ inch slices (optional)
- 8 ounces smoked ham diced (optional)
- 6 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock for non-vegetarian
- 2 pounds mixed greens – collards, mustard, turnip, chard, dandelion, etc.
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon file powder or to taste (for serving, if desired)
- Cooked white rice for serving, if desired
- Add peanut oil to a large pot and heat to medium heat. Add flour and stir. Cook for 20-30 minutes, constantly stirring, until the roux browns to the color of chocolate. I prefer a nice dark roux.
- Add peppers, onion and celery. Stir and cook about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, andouille, smoked ham (if using), and Cajun seasoning. Cook another minute, stirring.
- Stir in the vegetable stock and the chopped greens, then bay leaves. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 90 minutes, or until the greens are very tender.
- Remove from heat and stir in file powder (if using)
- Serve over white rice if preferred, or straight into a bowl.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 11/2/22 to include new information and photos. It was originally published on 3/15/17.