9 Best Cajun Side Dishes

red beans and rice in a bowl
Photo: Esther Alston

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.

01 of 09

Cajun Corn and Bacon Maque Choux

Cajun Corn and Bacon Maque Choux topped with parsley

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.

02 of 09


jambalaya with a slice of cornbread

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.

03 of 09

Fried Okra

Fried Okra slices
Gem Smith

Dredged in cornmeal, fried okra turns crispy when fried. In other words, it's not slimy like stewed okra. If you have an air fryer, you can also try this easy recipe.

04 of 09

Southern Dirty Rice

rice with ground meat
Clift Alexander

"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."

05 of 09

Mom's Cajun Hush Puppies

three hush puppy balls on a white plate
Jeffrey Marquez

These deep-fried cornmeal balls walk the line between appetizer and side. Serve them with anything from catfish to etouffee. Just don't fill up on them first!

06 of 09

Southern-Style Crowder Peas

Crowder peas over rice

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.

07 of 09

Stuffed Mirlitons (Chayote Squash) Casserole

mirlitons stuffed with shrimp and topped with cheese
Jessica Pierce Faucheaux

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.

08 of 09

Authentic, No Shortcuts, Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

red beans and rice in a bowl
Esther Alston

Red beans and rice can pass for a main dish, but don't hesitate to serve a small bowl of this filling side with more meat (Creolized Stuffed Chicken Breasts, perhaps?) or a shrimp po' boy.

09 of 09

Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

potato salad with eggs in a bowl

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.

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