9 Best Cajun Side Dishes
The mark of a good Cajun side? It's flavorful and substantial enough to stand up to rich main dishes like gumbo, Chicken Fricassee, and blackened catfish. In fact, a handful of classic Cajun sides dishes double as mains. Here, you'll find the kind of home-style recipes that fill Cajun Country's community cookbooks. Our list includes red beans and rice, maque choux, and the surprising side dish that sometimes replaces rice in gumbo.
Cajun Corn and Bacon Maque Choux
The French coined the name maque choux, which seems to be an interpretation of a Native American dish and its name. And while choux translates to cabbage, this old-school corn side dish doesn't include it. It does, however, include bacon.
A one-pot dish of rice, meat or seafood, and vegetables, jambalaya resembles Spanish paella. In fact, Spain's presence in Louisiana, as well as French and West African cooking, influenced this dish. Red, tomatoey versions are more Creole; brown versions are more Cajun. If you're not sure how to serve such a meaty side, start with blackened fish.
Southern Dirty Rice
"Traditional dirty rice is a beautiful (ugly!) thing, and this is it," reviewer Shannon Clayton Flanagan Rating writes. "So good. Be prepared to give out your recipe. I do add celery and bell pepper with the onion (aka the Trinity of Cajun and Creole cooking). I would say that if you are squeamish about the gizzards and livers, try it once this traditional way and see if it changes your mind."
Mom's Cajun Hush Puppies
Southern-Style Crowder Peas
Also called field peas or purple hull peas, crowder peas look and taste similar to black-eyed peas. In this versatile side, mild crowder peas take on the flavors of onions, peppers, bacon, and ham.
Stuffed Mirlitons (Chayote Squash) Casserole
Louisiana recipe books often include recipes for mirliton or chayote, a squash native to Central America. Stuff it with shrimp, crabmeat, bread crumbs, and the vegetable trinity for a restaurant-worthy side dish.
Authentic, No Shortcuts, Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
Old-Fashioned Potato Salad
Some Cajun families eat gumbo with potato salad instead of rice. This recipe's simple ingredients won't compete with your homemade gumbo's hard-earned flavor. We suggest omitting the relish or replacing it with green bell pepper.