Cajun vs Creole Food: What’s the difference?

If you aren’t from Louisiana, it can be confusing to understand the difference between Creole and Cajun food. It can’t be too different…right? Well, much like many things in Louisiana, not everything is what it seems to be.

In short, Creole dishes are considered by some to be “city food”, while Cajun dishes are referred to as “country food.” But in order to really get to know the two cooking styles, you have to get to know the person behind the apron. Most of Louisiana’s talented chefs learned how to cook from their parents and grandparents, all while also acquiring unique stories and history behind the cuisines.

While the food itself has plenty of similarities, the culture behind the cuisine is distinctly different. Thanks to Louisiana Travel, visitors to Louisiana can learn the true difference between Cajun and Creole Food.

Cajun Food

The word “Cajun” actually originates from the French term “les Acadians”, which was used to describe French colonists that had settled in the Acadia region of Canada. The Acadia region now consists of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.

During the British Conquest of Acadia in the early 1700s, the Acadians were removed from their homeland in an event known as the Le Grand Derangement (which means the Great Upheaval). Most of the Acadians who were forcibly removed eventually settled in what is now known as Acadiana – a swampy region of Louisiana. Four unique regions of south Louisiana were settled by the Cajuns, all with different resources and influences. These regions are Lafourche and Teche (the levees and bayous), Attakapas Indian land (the prairies), Atchafalaya Basin (swamplands), and New Orleans area and Houma (coastal marshes).

The Acadians combined the flatlands, bayous, and the wild game of South Louisiana to create an entirely unique local cuisine. Many of the current Acadiana residents have Native American, German, French, or Italian roots and live a life extremely influenced by Cajun culture.

Because of the early settlers’ lack of access to modern-day luxuries, like fridges, the Cajuns had to learn how to utilize every part of their slaughtered animals. Boudin, a Cajun sausage consisting of pork meat, rice, and seasoning, also often contains pig liver for flavoring. Tasso and Andouille are two other types of Cajun pork products.

Cajun food is famous for its flavoring with seasonings like cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, file, parsley, garlic, and so many more. Most Cajun dishes also begin with the “holy trinity of Cajun cuisine”, onion, celery, and bell peppers.

Creole Food

The term “Creole” was coined to describe the population born to early settlers in French colonial Louisiana, mainly in New Orleans. Creoles mostly consisted of descendants from the upper French and Spanish class that ruled over the city in the 18th century. Over time, “Creole” was also used to include native-born African slaves and free people of color. “French Creole” was used to describe someone of European ancestry that was born in the colony, and “Louisiana Creole” was used to describe someone of mixed racial ancestry.

Much like its creators, Creole cuisine is a mixture of the many cultures of Louisiana, including Spanish, Italian, African, German, Caribbean, Portuguese, and Native American. Compared to Cajun food, Creole food is considered to be higher-brow and typically contains many ingredients and takes time to prepare. Creole dishes also tend to have more variety because of easy access to exotic ingredients and spices.

If you want to see for yourself the difference between Cajun and Creole dishes, the only place to find true recipes is in Louisiana (or in the kitchen of a Louisiana native).

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Chicken, Sausage, and Shrimp Gumbo

The leaves are falling and the weather is finally cooling off, which means it’s finally fall, and we have the perfect fall dinner recipe for you! Gumbo is a hearty stew the fills up rumbling bellies with a medley of meat or shellfish, okra, onions, peppers, celery, and Creole or Cajun seasoning. A trademark Louisianan food, Gumbo is easily a famous and well-loved dish amongst Louisiana residents (so much so that it was named the official Louisiana state food!).

It’s thought the dish originated at the beginning of the 19th century and is rooted in the history of West Africans and Choctaws. Throughout its long history, the recipe has helped form a Louisianan culture and has been created in vast ways, gracing the tables of those from all economic statuses.

This chicken, sausage, and shrimp gumbo recipe from Savor the Flavor is guaranteed to bring both the flavor and Louisiana culture straight to your table.

This recipe makes about 9 cups of gumbo and takes approximately 3 hours to make from start to finish (including prep time).


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken breasts
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • 12 ounces Cajun-style Andouille sausage, cut in round pieces
  • 6 pieces smoked bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup lard (fat)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 5 cups seafood or shrimp stock
  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen sliced okra
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 seedless lemon
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (to garnish)
  • Cooked rice


Step One: The Meat

First, heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat, then transfer chicken breast pieces to olive oil. Brown chicken pieces. Once they’re browned, remove from heat and place on a plate. When chicken is cool, shred with a fork.

In the same pot, add sausage and (already smoked) bacon. Cook until the sausage is browned, then remove from heat and place on paper towel-lined plate until cool.

Step Two: The Roux

Using a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, hit lard over medium heat, then whisk in the flour, stirring constantly until the roux turns a deep copper (penny colored). For step by step instructions on how to make the roux and different tips and tricks, click here.

Step Three: The Gumbo

Using a heavy-bottomed pan, transfer roux and add celery, onion, and green pepper. Over medium heat, stir until vegetables are softened, then add garlic and cook until fragrant. Next, pour in the seafood stock and shredded chicken and the sausage and bacon combination. Stir until combined, then add in the sliced okra, fresh thyme, bay leaves, and half of a seedless lemon.

Cover and bring gumbo to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for about a half-hour.

Now, you’ll remove the lemon and add the shrimp, hot sauce, and salt and pepper. Stir until combined then allow to cook for about 5 more minutes. Taste and add seasoning based on preference.

Garnish with parsley and serve over a bed of hot rice. Enjoy!

Quick tip: Gumbo is even better the next day! Make sure to store leftovers refrigerated in a sealed container for ultimate freshness.

For more delicious recipes, click here.