Stop fretting about what to serve with gumbo – I have all the answers for you right here! My list of fantastic side dishes will work really with your savory soup-and-rice meal.
Gumbo is a Southern staple that has been around for nearly 300 years. It’s thought that the name came when slaves were brought from West Africa to colonial Louisiana – their Central Bantu dialect uses the term “ki ngombo” for okra, from which “gumbo” is derived.
Roux, a flour and oil mixture that dates back as early as the 14th century in France, gives gumbo its thick, silky texture and characteristic color. So some theories suggest that gumbo is actually a descendant of a French bouillabaisse rather than an African okra stew.
However, this could just be a reflection of how French culture has influenced Creole cuisine’s development. And whatever the origins, there’s no denying that gumbo soups are well-known for their delicious flavors and thick textures.
So when you’re next making your favorite gumbo, try one of these classic sides. There’s something for everyone here with recipes including cornbread, white rice, quinoa, green or potato salad, corn on the cob, and dishes including bell peppers and tasty Cajun seasoning.
01. Potato Salad
Keep your side dishes simple and serve your gumbo with a classic but tasty potato salad. All you need to do in this recipe is cook the potatoes, mix the dressing, and combine the two.
Add some hard-boiled eggs for extra protein. And you can easily double or triple the quantities if you’re serving your gumbo to a large party.
02. White Rice
Soak up the lovely juices and flavors from your seafood gumbo with a simple white rice side dish. This recipe handily tells you how to get perfect results whether you’re cooking the rice on your stove, in an instant pot, or in a rice cooker.
You need to rinse your rice before cooking it, whichever method you’ve chosen. And for more flavorful white rice, use half broth or a little butter or oil.
03. Fried Okra
If you can’t get enough of this soft, yummy veg that you’ve already got in your seafood or chicken and sausage gumbo, create a delicious side dish with some more okra! By frying it you get some different textures to add to your soup and rice meal.
Deep fry your okra in some vegetable oil and it’ll turn a lovely golden brown color and crisp up nicely. Or you can cut down on the amount of oil needed by using an air fryer.
Don’t opt for a pre-made cornbread bought at your local store. With just some basic ingredients from your cupboard, you can make your own version at home to serve with your gumbo stews.
You can dip pieces of this cornbread into your meal, or sprinkle bits over the top – a bit like croutons in a soup. Reduce the sugar content if you prefer a less sweet bread, and choose wholewheat flour over all-purpose for a slightly healthier side dish.
05. French Bread
Once you’ve mastered this bread – comfortingly soft on the inside and yet crunchy on the outside – you can serve it with all your gumbo recipes, and much more. It’s ideal for any stew or soup meals you like to create.
Try and give your dough enough time to rise in a warm place, as this will give you the optimum results. Plus, make more than one loaf at once and keep the extras in your freezer for up to 3 months.
06. Fresh Salad
A spicy gumbo would work really well with this fresh, simple green salad. It’ll balance out the heat of your meal and is a great side dish when you want something lighter to serve with gumbo in the summertime.
The basic ingredients are cucumber, tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, and onions, but feel free to add whatever fresh vegetables you like – such as raw broccoli, peas, or zucchini. And use your favorite herbs to add more flavor and some seeds to add a touch of crunch.
07. Crab Cakes
Tender, juicy, and with a crispy outer coating, these crab cakes are one of those side dishes that are the perfect accompaniment for your tasty seafood gumbo. Especially if you’re a pescetarian and love your meals to be fish-based!
Source the best quality crab meat that you can – fresh, jumbo lump is the recommended type, and avoid canned varieties. And use an ice cream scoop to shape your patties, so this way they’ll be the same size and will cook evenly
08. Cheese Bread
Create something that the kids will love at your next family dinner. These cheesy puffs have a fluffy texture, a gooey inside and are also low in carbs and gluten-free.
A blender makes light work of the batter making, so you can have these bread bites ready in just about 30 minutes. Add some cheese that contains a little chili if you want a spicier version.
09. Corn on the Cob
Get your taste buds tingling with this simple but effective side dish. The humble corn on the cob is elevated to a yummy offering with the addition of Cajun seasonings and a creamy dressing.
You can bake your corn in the oven, or grill it if you want to add some smoked, charred flavors. Some crumbled feta cheese on top will work as the perfect combination to your gumbo meal, adding some extra saltiness and soft textures.
10. Hush Puppies
These popular savory cornmeal balls will give your friends and family a delicious meal when served alongside a fish or chicken gumbo. The batter is easy to make and the hush puppies take only a few minutes to cook in a deep fryer.
Use an oil with a neutral taste, such as vegetable oil, so you don’t get any flavors overpowering your gumbo dish. And you can easily reheat these croquettes in the oven or toaster whenever you’re ready to eat.
11. Lemon Pie
Wow your guests with an unforgettable meal by serving this tangy, light lemon pie after your delicious gumbo. The citrus and creamy flavors will help to cleanse your palettes after the savoriness of your main meal.
This yummy dessert takes just half an hour to bake in the oven. And leftovers (if there are any!) will last in your refrigerator for up to 4 days, so you can enjoy this treat on more than one occasion.
12. Mashed Potatoes
Everyone loves creamy homemade mashed potatoes, right? So when it comes to what to serve with gumbo, keep it simple with this rich, decadent side dish that you can guarantee everyone will enjoy.
Brown the butter before adding it to give your potatoes a more nutty and intense flavor. And if you fancy trying something a bit different, you can even add your own twist such as some Cajun or Italian seasoning.
13. Bread Pudding
Don’t throw leftover stale bread in the trash. Instead, use it to create a rich, sweet contrast that you and your guests can enjoy once you’ve eaten your gumbo at a dinner party – this delicious bread pudding.
Give your bread enough time to soak up all the lovely flavors from the milk mixture so that it’s really moist before you start baking. Plus, leftovers will keep in your fridge for up to 5 days and can quickly be reheated in the microwave.
14. Cauliflower Rice
For those who prefer their side dishes on the healthier, low-carb side, give this cauliflower rice a go. It makes a good alternative to white rice and you only need very few ingredients to create something filling to accompany your gumbo soup.
You can even make this rice dish in the microwave instead of on your stove if you want to save time. For extra fresh flavors, add lime slices to squeeze over the top once the rice is cooked, and add the cilantro right at the end.
15. Deviled Eggs
Combine your hot gumbo with other delicious recipes, such as these deviled eggs, if you’re serving up a table of buffet food at a holiday party or celebration. The eggs can be hard-boiled up to 3 days in advance to help you get ahead.
Add more or less of the sweet pickle relish, depending on your personal tastes. And if you don’t have a piping bag to get the filling neatly into the egg whites, you can make your own by cutting off the corner of a ziplock bag.
16. Carrot Souffle
Impress your family and friends with something a bit different. A souffle, but not for dessert, but using carrots to create as a hearty side dish to serve with gumbo at dinner time.
Simply cook the carrots until they’re very soft, and then blend in a food processor with the other ingredients. If you’re eating this in the fall, why not try adding a little pumpkin pie spice to really get yourself in the holiday spirit.
Side dishes don’t come any easier and more versatile than this one. This ratatouille recipe is friendly to those who are watching their carb intake, and/or following a keto, low-fat, or gluten-free diet.
The mixture of paprika, brown sugar, oregano, smoked paprika, and some red pepper flakes gives the perfect blend of slightly spicy, smoky flavors to pair well with your gumbo. More tomato paste can also be added if you like a thicker consistency in the sauce.
18. Creamed Corn
Enjoy the velvety, creamy goodness of this corn dish. The natural sweetness of the corn and the rich taste of this side provides a welcome contrast to the savory, spicy elements of your gumbo meal.
Canned or frozen corn works just as well as fresh in this recipe. Plus, you can make it in advance and store it in your refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in your freezer for up to 2 months.
Add some crunchy textures to your gumbo dinner with this fresh and creamy coleslaw. Perfect in the fall, you also get a little sweetness and tartness from the addition of some apples.
There’s no cooking time required, as you simply slice and shred the apples and veggies and make your dressing. You can even add some extra crunch by sprinkling some chopped nuts over the top.
Rustle up a really hearty meal by following this fried chicken recipe alongside your favorite gumbo. It’s a southern classic that tastes just as good as takeout options, but is easy enough for you to make in your own kitchen.
The recipe even tells you how to properly joint a chicken if you want to do this yourself rather than relying on the butcher. For the best results, try to marinade and coat the chicken just before you’re ready to fry it – this will give your chicken the crispest outer coating.
21. Squash Gnocchi
Try something a little different and more challenging when it comes to deciding what to serve with gumbo. Making this gnocchi from scratch will certainly awe your guests, and it takes a bit more effort but the results are worth it.
Use a potato ricer or masher, or a food processor, to really mash up the squash until you have no lumps. You can also make this in batches and freeze uncooked gnocchi, which will cook from frozen whenever you want some for dinner.
Put some vibrancy and color onto your plate with this sweet potato salad that also contains quinoa, black beans, sweetcorn, and red onions. This will give you some different flavors to balance out your gumbo dish and create a tasty meal.
The dressing for the salad is simple to prepare by whisking together olive oil, lime juice, cumin, paprika, and minced garlic. Try also to source the tajin seasoning which gives this dish an extra Mexican, spicy kick.
What to Serve with Gumbo: 22 Tasty Side Dishes
- Select one or more of your favorite recipes from our list of gumbo side dishes.
- Get to your local store and raid your cupboards to bring together all of the ingredients.
- Create the yummy dishes to serve alongside your gumbo.
- Awe your family and friends with your fantastic culinary skills.