Can You Freeze Jambalaya?

Originating from South Louisiana, jambalaya is a Creole creation that consists of meat, fish, and vegetables based on rice. It’s a fiery, exotic dish for many but is packed full of flavour and texture and is a timeless family classic in certain parts of the US.

Often made in a large pan and served up to the whole family, you will probably find yourself with some leftovers that are too good to go to waste. So, you’re probably wondering, is it safe to freeze jambalaya? Let’s take a look now.

The Quick Answer

Yes, you can freeze jambalaya. Jambalaya can be frozen for around 3 months. Begin by divvying it up into suitable portions and then placing it in a freezer-safe container. Providing your jambalaya is protected from freezer burn, it will freeze well.

How to Freeze Jambalaya

With lots of variations to jambalaya, it’s good to know that all recipes of this popular southern dish can be frozen and preserved for future enjoyment.

Whether fish or meat-based (or both!), you should follow the steps below to ensure your jambalaya is well preserved in the freezer: 

  1. Cool
    After cooking your jambalaya, you will need to allow it to cool to room temperature before preparing it for the freezer. To speed this process up, remove it from the pan you used for cooking and place it in a room-temperature dish. 
  2. Split Into Portions
    We recommend splitting your jambalaya into portion sizes before freezing it, as this makes your life easier at the defrosting stage. Determining suitable portion sizes is totally up to you; just make sure you split the ingredients equally, so you don’t have too much meat/fish/rice in one serving and too little in another. 
  3. Place in Freezer-Safe Containers
    Place each portion of jambalaya in a freezer-safe container, leaving around one inch of space at the top before sealing. 
  4. Label and Freeze
    Write the date that you prepared the jambalaya, as well as its use-by date, on the top of the box before transferring it to the freezer. Remember, you can freeze jambalaya for around three months. 

3 Tips for Freezing Jambalaya

Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing jambalaya to have the best results:

  • Leave out the Shrimp – If you know in advance you’re going to freeze your jambalaya leftovers, it’s best to leave out shrimp. This is because it tends to go chewy when it has been frozen. You can always fry a fresh batch of shrimp to add to the leftovers if you don’t think you can go without! 
  • Reheat on the Stovetop – Although there are several ways of reheating jambalaya (the microwave and oven also work), reheating it on the stovetop produces the best results. If you choose to add fresh shrimp to your leftovers, for instance, you can add the defrosted jambalaya to the cooking shrimp, ensuring you get the full flavour burst provided by the shellfish. 
  • Store in the Fridge Before Freezing – If you think you might use your leftover jambalaya within 3-4 days, you can store it in the fridge before you think about freezing it. This saves you from having to worry about freezing and then defrosting your jambalaya, which reduces the risk of ruining its texture. 

How Long Can You Freeze Jambalaya?

You can freeze jambalaya for around three months. 

Leaving it for any longer than this can cause it to go stale once it has been defrosted, and some of the ingredients will taste far from fresh. Be sure to note the use-by date on the lid of your jambalaya before freezing it, so you know when you need to use it.

You Can Freeze Jambalaya for up to 3 Months

How Do You Defrost Jambalaya?

Because jambalaya usually contains meat and shellfish, you should defrost it in the fridge. You should never defrost meat or fish on the countertop, as harmful bacteria will grow, and this could cause a stomach upset.

It’s best not to reheat jambalaya straight from frozen, either, as this might cause the rice to go mushy. The night before you plan to enjoy your leftovers, remove your jambalaya from the freezer and place it in the fridge. 

Can You Refreeze Jambalaya?

You should only freeze jambalaya once. The variety of ingredients and the changing moisture content of the freezing and defrosting processes can ruin the texture of your jambalaya.

The main reason for freezing jambalaya in portions is to ensure you only need to defrost what you actually need at any given time, reducing the risk of wastage and keeping your jambalaya nice and fresh. 

Does Jambalaya Freeze Well?

Providing you leave the shrimp out, jambalaya freezes extremely well. You will find that freezing it for around three months retains much of its taste and flavour, and with the exception of shrimp, the meat and fish that is often included will be nice and moist once it has been thawed.

As such, you have no excuse to let your delicious homemade batch of jambalaya go to waste, as it will freeze perfectly well for up to three months. 

Related FAQs

If you’ve still got questions about freezing jambalaya or jambalaya in general, then these may help:

Can You Freeze Gumbo?

Yes, gumbo can be frozen. Generally speaking, a gumbo without seafood can be frozen in airtight containers for around 6 months. If the gumbo contains shellfish or seafood then this should be reduced to a maximum of 3 months. 

Is It Safe to Freeze Rice Dishes?

This is a common fear when freezing foods: Is it really safe to freeze rice-based dishes? Yes, it is! The main thing to bear in mind is how the rice was cooled down and then stored. It should not be left out at room temperature for an extended period of time. 

As soon as it has cooled, get it frozen. 

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