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Low-Carb Jambalaya with Homemade Jerk Spice

Low-Carb Jambalaya with Homemade Jerk Spice
Home » Southern cooking » Jambalaya with DIY jerk seasoning

Jambalaya, the popular cajun stew, lends itself perfectly to low carb modifications without losing any of its deep, robust flavor.

The rice is really the only ingredient in this popular dish that prevents it from being low carb. Using cauliflower rice solves that problem, making a stew that can be relished by any food critic, regardless of dietary lifestyle.

Low carb jambalaya in a skillet
Low-carb jambalaya in a skillet

Jump to: RECIPE | What is Sofrito? | Ingredients & Substitutions | Illustrated Step-by-Step Homemade Jerk Seasoning Blend

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What is Jambalaya?

Jambalaya is a popular Louisiana-origin dish of Spanish, West African, and French influence, consisting of meat (usually smoked sausage), seafood (usually shrimp), and vegetables mixed with rice and seasoned with a cajun spice blend or, in this case, a jerk seasoning blend. 

The Sofrito:

Jambalaya starts with a “sofrito”. Sofrito is a base made of finely diced vegetables sautéed in oil until fragrant and is commonly used in Spanish, Italian, and Latin American cooking.

In Cajun cooking, sofrito is generally made up of finely diced onion, celery, and sweet bell peppers. The vegetables are sautéed with some olive oil until tender and aromatic and then combined with cajun spices and perhaps herbs.

Ingredients for sofrito: onion, celery and sweet bell peppers.
Sofrito: onion, celery and sweet bell peppers

Ingredients & Substitutions

Like many stews or soups, low-carb Jambalaya can be easily modified. If you are vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and exclude the meat. If you are following the Pesco Mediterranean diet, exclude the sausage and replace it with more shrimp.

If you hate seafood, include chicken and sausage but leave out the shrimp.

There isn’t any dairy or gluten if that is a sensitive area for you.

Just be sure to include the sofrito and the jerk or cajun spice blends as the base and let your creativity and tastes range from there!

Ingredients for low carb jambalaya
Ingredients: cauliflower rice, onion, jerk seasoning, olive oil, celery, bell peppers, garlic, paprika, andouile sausage, can diced tomatoes, chicken broth, shrimp

Making Jambalaya a Low-Carb Recipe

When I worked as a low-carb diet coach, I was constantly on a quest to offer people alternative ideas for defining “comfort food. Jambalaya is one of those dishes that works well as a comfort food.

The mouthwatering flavors from low-carb jambalaya start with a sofrito, made of vegetables, spices, and herbs. This gives the jambalaya a robust flavor profile, and it can easily be modified to individual tastes.

This sofrito melts into the rest of the jambalaya ingredients, enhancing the flavor and also providing a creamy texture.

Cauliflower rice stands in for white rice in the low-carb version, keeping the integrity of the jambalaya’s texture without losing any flavor.

The ingredients and cooking methods are also compliant with the Pesco Mediterranean diet, which is the “diet” I continue to follow for health and sustained fat and weight loss.

Seafood and fish are an integral part of the Pesco Mediterranean Diet. This article will fill you in on the details of the Pesco Mediterranean Diet to see if it might be something you want to try.

See this post to learn more about the similarities and differences between Low Carb, Slow Carb, and Keto diets.

Bowl of cauliflower rice on blue towel with side of parsley.
Bowl of cauliflower rice

This low-carb comfort food is not your bone broth with a tin of sardines, that’s for sure.

Tip: Serve this robust stew garnished with parsley and green onions, with white beans and pickles alongside.

Illustrated Step by Step

Chopped onions carmelizing in skillet
Step #3: Caramelize onions in oil for about 5- minutes, or until golden brown.
Sofrito of peppers, onion and celery cooking in skillet.
Step #4: Add spices, peppers, and celery to the onion mixture and simmer until soft (about 5 minutes). *Note: rice is not added yet, even though it shows up in this photo).
Sausage and sofrito (peppers, onion and celery) cooking in red dutch oven.
Step #5: Add the sausage to the pot and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Then add tomatoes, chicken broth, and cauliflower rice and heat to blend.
Large skillet of sausage, sofrito, uncooked shrimp and cauliflower rice.
Step #6: Add the frozen shrimp to the pot and cover. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until ingredients are heated through and the shrimp has turned pink
Finished jambalaya in large pot with sausage, shrimp, sofrito and cauliflower rice
Step #7: Test for seasoning and add more salt or Cajun seasoning if desired.
Low carb jambalaya in a skillet
Step #8: Serve low carb jambalaya in bowls with an extra small plate to discard shrimp shells

Homemade Jerk Seasoning Blend

For making your own jerk seasoning spice blend, whisk together the following ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (or other spicy powdered pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed chile pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

More Recipes Using Jerk Seasoning

Jicama and tomatillo slaw
Jicama and tomatillo slaw

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Low Carb Jambalaya

Low carb jambalaya in a skillet
A low carb version of jambalaya using cauliflower rice, frozen shrimp, andouille sausage and a Caribbean jerk spice blend. Replace sausage with additional shrimp for a Pesco Mediterranean meal.
4.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 5
Calories 388


  • 12 – 16 ounces cauliflower rice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 3 teaspoon jerk seasoning divided (see notes for DIY blend)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 cups bell peppers chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika smoked or regular
  • 12 ounces andouille sausage sliced into coins
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes Rotel tomatoes with chile peppers is good
  • ½ cup chicken broth more if you want a soup
  • 12 ounces shrimp medium, frozen


  • Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
    Empty bag of cauliflower rice onto a sheet pan and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp jerk (or cajun) spice. Mix together with your hands and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
    Remove from oven after 10 min. and set aside.
    3 tablespoons olive oil, 12 – 16 ounces cauliflower rice, 3 teaspoon jerk seasoning
  • In a dutch oven or large pot, sauté the chopped onion in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil for 2-3 minutes over med-high heat (until it starts to become translucent).
    Add the chopped celery and peppers to the pot and sauté everything together for another 5-7 minutes until soft and thoroughly mixed together (this is the sofrito).
    3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 onion, 2 stalks celery, 2 cups bell peppers
  • Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon paprika and 1 tsp Jamaican Jerk seasoning (or seasoning of your choice) to the pot of sofrito and stir for about 1 minute to blend flavors.
    4 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon paprika, 3 teaspoon jerk seasoning
  • Add the sausage coins to the pot for 2-4 minutes to cook through (they will turn pink). (Or replace with additional shrimp in the next step if adhering to Pesco Mediterranean diet).
    Then add the tomatoes and the chicken broth and heat all the way through, stirring everything together as it cooks. If you want the stew to be more of a soup, add additional chicken broth.
    Taste for salt and seasoning.
    12 ounces andouille sausage, 28 ounces diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Add the shrimp and cauliflower rice, cover the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp is no longer pink.
    12 ounces shrimp
  • Serve garnished with parsley or green onions. White beans and pickles are good side dishes.
    Serve in large bowls with an extra empty plate to discard the shrimp tails.


DIY jerk seasoning blend – Combine all ingredients below and whisk together:
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed chile pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
For a more classic Cajun spice blend:
    • 2 tablespoons garlic powder.
    • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (or oregano)
    • 2 tablespoons paprika.
    • 2 tablespoons salt.
    • 1 tablespoon black pepper.
    • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper.
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder.
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Calories: 388kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 17gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 771mgPotassium: 962mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 2705IUVitamin C: 129mgCalcium: 101mgIron: 4mg
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