The Cajun Holy Trinity consists of bell pepper, onion, and celery, and makes up the base of much of Cajun and Creole cuisine. It is the area's version of the French mirepoix.
People ask me quite frequently, as a Cajun and Creole food lover and cook - what is the Cajun Holy Trinity?
The short answer is this: The Cajun Holy Trinity is a mix of three ingredients - green bell peppers, onions and celery.
Together, these three simple ingredients form the base of Cajun and Creole cuisine. On their own they might not seem like much, but together they are a veritable powerhouse of flavor and help to make Louisiana cooking what it is.
But it's much more than that.
What is the Cajun Holy Trinity?
The French have the mirepoix – carrots, onion and celery – and French cuisine has heavily influenced Cajun and Creole cooking. When the French landed in Louisiana, they quickly found that carrots do not grow well in the Louisiana soil, so replaced them with bell peppers.
So, the Cajun Holy Trinity consists of bell peppers, onion and celery.
It is essential for numerous popular dishes that originate from Louisiana, including gumbo, fricassee, jambalaya, etouffee and so much more.
See my recipes below to which the holy trinity are essential.
The Cajun Holy Trinity is also often called "the holy trinity" or "the holy trinity of Cajun cooking".
History of the Cajun Holy Trinity
After the Acadians and French Catholics were sent packing from Canada by the British, they traveled and settled in Louisiana in and around New Orleans. Interestingly, the word “Cajun” is actually slang for "Acadian" as pronounced by the English-speaking locals of Louisiana, and hence, the term "Cajun" was born.
They quickly discovered that the local soil didn't allow for growing carrots, which comprises the original French Mirepoix - carrots, onions and celery - so replaced them with bell peppers, which are much easier to grow in the area.
This is how the Cajun Holy Trinity was born.
When chopped and cooked in oil, butter, or lard, their amazing flavor combination is released.
Even though Cajun cuisine has been cooking with the holy trinity for generations, the terms "holy trinity" wasn't actually coined until chef Paul Prudhomme used it in the last 1970s or early 1980s, to highlight its importance in local cuisine.
Cajun Holy Trinity Vs. French Mirepoix
The very simple comparison is that French Mirepoix consists of onions, celery and carrots, whereas the Cajun Holy Trinity consists of onions, celery and bell peppers.
Both form the base of their cuisine, but they also different in ratio.
The Cajun Holy Trinity Ratio
The holy trinity of Cajun cooking typically uses a 1:1:1 ratio of bell peppers to onions to celery. This differs from the French Mirepoix, which typically uses a ratio of 1:2:1 of carrots to onions to celery.
Garlic is also sometimes added as well, which I personally love. When garlic is added, it is called "with the Pope".
Making the Cajun Holy Trinity
To make the Cajun Holy Trinity, measure out your bell pepper, onion and celery, then chop them finely with a knife.
As an enhancement, garlic is often used as well. From there, you are free to include other ingredients and seasonings as your recipe calls for.
It is as simple as that.
Cooking with the Holy Trinity
The onions, celery and bell pepper are typically cooked in oil or butter in a pan until softened. After this, you can proceed with the recipe as written.
However, it is also often cooked into a roux, which is a slurry of either butter or oil and flour. The roux is cooked until a specific color is achieved, after which the holy trinity is added to cook. Then, a stock is added to thicken it up.
Check Out Some of My Cajun and Creole Recipes
All of these recipes require the Cajun Holy Trinity. Time to get cooking!
- Cajun Red Beans and Rice with Andouille
- Cajun Pasta with Shrimp and Smoked Andouille
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta with Red Sauce
- Cajun Shrimp Stuffed Poblano Peppers
- Crawfish Etouffee
- Creole Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
- Seafood Gumbo
- Shrimp Creole
- Shrimp Etouffee
- Shrimp and Grits
- Cajun Shrimp
- Seriously Awesome Jambalaya
- Cajun Corn Maque Coux
- Hoppin’ John
- Cajun and Creole Recipes
Check out my Foodie Trip to New Orleans or my post on Gumbo Vs. Jambalaya: What's the Difference?
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. 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.
Tammy Jarrett says
Mike, once again you have come through for me - no one ever tells me what the proper ratio is for the veggies in the holy trinity! Have you tried prepping the holy trinity and freezing it? If so, how did that go for you? Any recommendations?
I have a "shrink wrapper" and was considering dicing the veggies up, shrink wrapping them, and freezing them in perhaps 1 cup portions of HT per package. Or maybe I should skip the shrink wrapping and just put it all in a gallon ziplock bag, hoping I can get out the amount needed for any given recipe.
Your thoughts on this matter are much appreciated!
Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness says
Tammy, yes, you can easily freeze it as you need. I've done both. I have chopped and frozen individual portions, and also froze big batches and used it as I needed it. I would just say to use it within 6 months or so. Let me know if this works for you.