If you want to have a taste of New Orleans in a bowl, try Gumbo. With its thick, flavorful, and warm stew-like soup, different types of proteins, and a lot of vegetables, Gumbo will surely satisfy your tummy and your taste buds.
Traditionally, Gumbo is served with plain white rice for plenty of good reasons. This chewy and moldy flavored starch helps balance out the dish’s richness and keeps you feeling for longer. However, this classic duo can get a bit boring over time.
Good news: There are more side dish options to level up your gumbo game.
- The Must-try Starchy Sides To Serve with Gumbo
- The Highly Recommended Fiber-rich Sides To Serve with Gumbo
- Top Seafood Pairings To Serve with Gumbo
- Best Desserts and Drinks to End Your Gumbo With
- The Bottom Line
What to serve with Gumbo? Here are the best side dishes that we’ve tried:
The Must-try Starchy Sides To Serve with Gumbo
Let’s face it: starchy sides would be the best pairing for the thick and savory gumbo stew.
And while rice is the ultimate starchy side to serve with Gumbo, we’ve come across a few more alternatives that you may want to try. These are as follows:
1. Hush Puppies
What would go well with the thick and delicious soup of Gumbo? A soft yet chewy and sweet starchy side, of course! With that said, you should try serving Gumbo with another Southern favorite—hush puppies! (*)
Hushpuppies are made from frying a batter mix containing cornmeal, water, and eggs. The result is a light and flaky golden round fritter that is crispy on the outside and delectably soft on the inside.
Pro Tip: On their own, hush puppies have a mild savory flavor. Before serving, you can take it up a notch by drizzling either chili or honey or both.
Of course, cornbread is at the top of our list as this sweet and crumbly Southern pastry will provide your rich and flavorful Gumbo with the excellent contrast it needs.
Not only that, this spongy bread can soak up all the sauce’s wonderful goodness!
And you know what the best part is? You can easily make this using your Instant Pot for a more convenient and efficient cooking experience!
Pro Tip: Don’t get us wrong. We love the classic cornbread version, but we also enjoy adding a bit of zest to it. We often make ours with both chilly and cheese for a creamy and spicy twist!
If it isn’t your cup of tea, you can also try adding Jalapeños to its batter before cooking.
3. Cheese bread
Go for cheese bread if you wish to make your sides cheesy and simple. We already know that bread goes oh so well with Gumbo, but did you know what else pairs well? Cheese! You can get both from cheese bread.
Pro Tip: Tear a cheese bread and dunk a small piece into your soup. You’re welcome!
The Highly Recommended Fiber-rich Sides To Serve with Gumbo
Do you want to make your Gumbo meal more nutritious? If so, you can serve it with any of these fantastic vegetable side dishes:
4. Creole Okra
Truth is, Okra is one of the vegetables that many people don’t like. But, if you’re one of them, Southern cooking will change your mind.
Aside from the fact that Okra is good for your health, it’s pretty versatile and is commonly used as a delicious way to thicken the sauce of Louisianian dishes. (*)
If your Gumbo doesn’t contain okra, you may want to turn it into a side dish. The Creole Okra features onions, tomatoes, green bell peppers, and okra which are simmered in a blend of seasonings and tomato juice.
This simple vegetable dish provides Gumbo with a fruity twist to create a sweet-and-salty combination we all love.
5. Corn on the Cob
If Okra is not for you, go for corn on a cob instead. This high-fiber side dish will also give your meal a mildly sweet flavor.
Boiling is an easier and faster way to cook corn, but if you want to make it special, we highly suggest grilling it and then slathering it with lots of butter.
Pro Tip: To boost the corn’s mild flavor, you can sprinkle it with Cajun or Mexican spice mix.
6. Baked Beans
Another food item that can give you both the fiber and sweet taste you need is beans. (*)
We love baked beans because it complements Gumbo’s creamy texture.
You also can use either dried beans (soaked overnight) or canned beans. Plus, you can make prepping even easier by cooking baked beans in your slow cooker.
Pro Tip: We suggest topping your baked beans with onions and bacon bits for a sweet-and-salty combination.
Aside from starch, what are your other options for balancing the Gumbo’s richness? Of course, our go-to option would be a creamy and refreshing dressing just like coleslaw has!
In addition to the light taste of its sauce, the crunchy texture of coleslaw provides a nice contrast to Gumbo’s chewy meat and seafood.
That’s not all. It can also add a splash of color to the monotonous brown color of Gumbo.
8. Louisiana Green Salad
Let’s not forget about our greens! If you don’t like the idea of serving Gumbo with the usual green salad, you’ll love our recommendation. This Louisiana Green Salad gives off naturally sweet flavors that would perfectly complement the spicy taste of Gumbo.
We use arugula leaves and lettuce and top it off with toasted almonds and chew cranberries. Finally, we simply mix vinegar, Tabasco sauce, honey, and cinnamon to make the dressing.
Pro Tip: Make the cranberries taste extra sweet by soaking them in Port wine for a few hours.
Top Seafood Pairings To Serve with Gumbo
We already have carbohydrates and fiber, so what about proteins? We highly recommend going for seafood pairings.
You can turn your Gumbo party into a seafood feast by serving it with a few more seafood dishes like the ones below:
9. Crab Cakes (with a Delicious Sauce!)
Do you know what’s better than soft and tender crab meat? It’s no other than a mildly sweet soft, delicate crab meat with a perfectly crispy crust!
Make this side dish extra special and more flavorful by serving it with a sweet, salty, savory, and spicy Cajun sauce.
Warning: Making this for a big crowd can be pretty overwhelming, so we recommend serving this side dish only for a small get-together or a family dinner.
10. Shrimp Remoulade with Fried Green Tomatoes
Don’t get intimidated by its fancy name! The dish is simple just boiled shrimp served with a sauce made with mayonnaise, spices, and lemon juice. Just mix everything, and voila, you already have a creamy shrimp dish that’s perfect for pairing with Gumbo.
Most people would serve Shrimp Remoulade on top of arugula, but what we love is serving it on top of another Southern delight—fried green tomatoes. This simple tweak adds a crunchy texture and tangy twist to the meal.
11. Louisiana Crawfish Etouffee
You’re in for a great treat if you’re a sauce lover! This seafood and vegetable stew is similar to Gumbo’s as it uses almost the same spices and vegetables—okra, onions, peppers, celery stalks, and garlic cloves.
Pro Tip: If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll be happy to know that you can make Etouffee without meat. You can just simply skip the crawfish and use only plain vegetables.
Best Desserts and Drinks to End Your Gumbo With
And of course, we should end our delicious Gumbo meal with the best-tasting desserts. Here are the top desserts we love serving with Gumbo:
12. Lemon Pie
Since Gumbo is already rich and saucy, you’d want to eat something bright and refreshing after, and that’s what Lemon pie is for. This delicious pie features a crispy crust with a creamy and tart lemon filling that would end your meal on a brighter note.
13. Bread Pudding
If you’re a sweet tooth, bread pudding is one dessert you shouldn’t miss out on! This Southern dessert almost has the same taste like the French Toast, but creamier and sweeter.
You can make bread pudding at home by mixing vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, eggs, and milk, then pouring it on top of bread and baking it for a few minutes.
Pro Tip: For more dose of sweetness, top it off with a banana-rum sauce.
14. Lemonade (Haitian and Mango)
The best way to wash off the rich flavors of Gumbo is with a bright and citrusy drink like lemonade. Since we’re lemonade lovers, we have two lemonade favorites—the Haitian and Mango lemonade.
If you want to have a taste of the Caribbean, we recommend going for the Haitian Lemonade, which is infused with vanilla extract. On the other hand, go for mango lemonade if you want to enjoy the refreshing taste of summer.
For an excellent nightcap, we highly suggest serving Gumbo with wine. The type of wine would depend on the flavors of your Gumbo. A bottle of dry white wine pairs well with a spicy and rich Gumbo. On the other hand, a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris bottle would be perfect for a seafood Gumbo.
The Bottom Line
What to serve with Gumbo? You have plenty of choices when it comes to Gumbo side dishes. The dish’s sauciness and spiciness go well with everything, including starchy sides, vegetable and seafood dishes, and even drinks and desserts!
So what are you waiting for? Choose one (or two) from any of these sides and whip up a Gumbo meal that you won’t forget!