Gumbo is a quintessential Louisiana dish, known for its rich, thick stew and robust flavors. For many gumbo lovers, the combination of shrimp, sausages, and other ingredients combine perfectly, creating a delectable taste that is unforgettable.
When serving this iconic comfort food, it’s important to pair it with sides that can stand up to and complement its bold personality.
The right accompaniments should provide contrasting textures and flavors to create a well-rounded meal.
Garlic bread, potato salad, rice, hush puppies, cheese grits, and collard greens are all fitting choices for traditional Southern sides.
Or lighten things up a bit with a fresh salad, coleslaw, or pickled vegetables.
Making a final choice will depend on many different factors, including what you’re in the mood to make, what ingredients you have on hand, any food allergies or sensitivities that might exist in your guests, and more.
Here are 20 sides that will give you an idea of what to serve with gumbo, so your event can be a true success.
This garlicky French bread pairs perfectly with a variety of different dishes, including gumbo. Whenever I make a huge pot of gumbo, I make sure there’s bread as a side to sop up the gumbo “gravy”.
This easy-to-make side dish only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and doesn’t require any fancy ingredients.
Simply grab a loaf of premade French bread from the store, and mix softened butter with garlic salt, dried parsley, and a generous amount of parmesan cheese for irresistible cheesy goodness.
Spread the mixture over the sliced bread and pop it in the oven until it turns golden brown.
This delicious garlic French bread not only adds immense flavors that further enhance the taste of the gumbo, but the crispness of the bread is perfect and provides a great texture that makes eating the gumbo with this side especially memorable.
I made gumbo for a group of friends from work and served it with this garlic French bread, and my friends loved it so much that they refer to me as a gourmet cook.
2. Potato Salad
There aren’t many people who don’t like the tangy goodness of potato salad.
While many people associate eating potato salad with barbecue during the summer months, potato salad pairs wonderfully with other entrées, including gumbo.
There are many reasons why potato salad is such a great side when you’re wondering what goes with gumbo.
Gumbo and potato salad are both Southern dishes, and many people agree that Southern dishes are the best.
One tip to achieve that perfect texture is to let the potatoes get nice and soft, almost to the point where they partially mash when mixed. This creates a thickness that just clings to every forkful.
What’s great is that potato salad generally tastes better the second day. So, if you can, prepare it ahead of time and let those flavors really come together. If you’re short on time, make sure to let it chill in the fridge as long as you can before serving.
3. Jasmine Rice
Jasmine rice is another excellent side to pair with gumbo. While any rice goes well with gumbo, jasmine rice goes exceptionally well.
This jasmine rice is something even I, notorious for getting rice wrong, manage to cook perfectly. Trust me, it comes out light and fluffy every time.
If my husband can do it without fail, so can you. It’s the perfect pairing for a hearty dish like gumbo without being too heavy.
To get it right, remember that the water to rice ratio is crucial. Too much or too little water can wreck your rice. But stick to the measurements, 1 1/4 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice and you’ll be set.
One great tip is to use the smallest burner on your stove to keep the heat low during simmering. This helps prevent burning or undercooking.
Jasmine rice has a subtly fragrant aroma that goes so well with gumbo. It’s light, not too filling, and a breeze to make.
Cornbread is another southern side that goes well with gumbo.
However, not just any cornbread recipe will do, as my Trader Joe’s copycat recipe is the absolute best. It’s the perfect combination of buttery goodness that you’re likely to enjoy as much as I do.
And if you’ve experienced dry, bland cornbread before and felt like you were chewing on the Sahara, this recipe’s going to change your game. It’s moist, slightly sweet, and if you bake it in a cast iron skillet, you’ll get a lovely crunchy top that’s hard to resist.
So, instead of settling for a box of store-bought cornbread mix because it’s easy to make, you should be aware that this recipe is nearly as easy to make.
All you do is mix the ingredients and bake until golden brown, and you’ve got yourself a perfect side if you’re looking for what to have with gumbo.
Crumble your cornbread right into the gumbo for an all-in-one meal, or enjoy it on the side to sop up all the flavors
I have loved collard greens ever since I was a little girl and my grandmother used to grow collards in her backyard, then cook us a big pot of them every time she harvested them.
These leafy greens are not only packed with nutrients like iron, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K, but they also add a lovely, savory complement to your gumbo.
I always looked forward to those days, because even though many of my friends disliked vegetables, to me, collard greens were too tasty to be a vegetable.
Preparing these collard greens doesn’t take too long either. You’ll want to start by removing the stems, as they can be bitter.
After washing the leaves thoroughly to remove any grit, tear or cut them into bite-sized pieces. Then in a large pot, start by sautéing onions, garlic, and a bit of red pepper flakes in a little oil before adding in chicken broth and a smoked turkey leg for that authentic Southern taste.
Simmer the greens until they are tender but not mushy – about an hour should do it.
If you’re really looking for a full-course, filling meal, you can combine the gumbo with collard greens and cornbread for an even better combination.
6. Fried Okra
If you’ve never had crispy, delectable fried okra before, you don’t know what you’re missing.
For me, a big plate of fried okra and some dipping sauce on the side is more like a meal than a side. If I’ve got an especially big appetite, or I’m craving gumbo, then I’ll fry up some okra to pair with my gumbo, which is yummy!
Frying okra turns it into what some call “southern popcorn.” It’s addictively tasty, and I can’t help but pop piece after piece into my mouth.
I prefer a lighter flour coating instead of cornmeal because it lets that fresh okra flavor shine through. Plus, it gets that perfect golden crispiness without the heaviness.
It’s quick and easy to make a batch of fried okra, and once you taste it, you will realize how it was worthwhile to take the time to fry some up.
Just remember, as you fry, don’t crowd the pan to keep that oil temperature steady.
Nothing goes better with a spicy entrée than a bit of sweetness to offset the spice.
While gumbo isn’t considered “hot,” the addition of these mouthwatering sweet potato biscuits is wonderful.
Sweet potato biscuits not only taste divine with gumbo, but they’re very versatile.
As a result, you can eat any leftover biscuits with breakfast, as a snack, or even with another bowl of gumbo the next day, if there’s any left.
Sweet potato biscuits are so easy to make that even those considered beginners in the kitchen can whip up a batch with no problem. This recipe is also quick, taking less than 1/2 hour to prep and bake!
You can use baked sweet potatoes for a richer flavor or boil them if you prefer a more traditional approach.
Just remember to make a few extra because they tend to disappear quickly.
And if by some miracle there are leftovers, store them at room temperatures for a few days or freeze them to enjoy another time. They reheat well.
This coleslaw has a slightly sweet tang that is delicious by itself, but when paired with gumbo, it’s exceptional. If you love adding a bit of crunch and freshness to your hearty dishes, serve this easy homemade coleslaw with your gumbo.
The crunchy texture of the shredded cabbage and carrots, mixed with a creamy and tangy dressing, offers a lovely contrast to the rich and spicy flavors of gumbo.
Making this coleslaw is quick and straightforward. You can have it ready in about 15 minutes.
Simply shred a small cabbage and a large carrot, then mix with dressing made from mayonnaise, granulated sugar, apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
It’s best to let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight to let the flavors meld together.
Personal tip: I’ve always found that fresh cabbage makes a world of difference in coleslaw.
While you could go for the pre-shredded, taking the time to chop your own cabbage pays off in taste and texture.
And as for the dressing, homemade is where it’s at. The store-bought versions just can’t match the flavor of a dressing you whisk up yourself.
This coleslaw isn’t just for gumbo. It pairs beautifully with BBQ dishes, makes a great topping for sandwiches, and is a hit at potlucks.
It’s versatile, loved by many, and definitely something you’ll want to add to your recipe collection
9. Hush Puppies
There’s no way you can have a truly authentic gumbo experience without serving it with a side of these hush puppies. These crispy hush puppies pair perfectly with your gumbo in so many ways.
They have a perfect crunch, they’re tasty, and you can prepare and cook them in about 20 minutes. Mix your dry ingredients, add the wet ones, and let the batter rest.
For an extra pop of flavor, don’t hesitate to toss in some corn kernels, shredded cheese, or even bits of bacon.
Don’t forget to serve them up nice and warm so they maintain that irresistible crunch.
Personally, anytime I serve gumbo, I make sure to have some white rice and loads of hush puppies on the table. They are always a hit, disappearing as fast as they come out of the fryer.
10. Cheese Grits
I grew up eating cheesy grits for breakfast, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I considered eating it with a lunch or dinner entrée.
When I first ate gumbo with a side of cheesy grits, my taste buds were in for a real treat!
The flavors exploded in my mouth, and I was immediately hooked. The cheesiness and creaminess of the grits paired with the spiciness of the gumbo is excellent.
They’re straightforward to cook! In just about 15 minutes, you can whip up a batch of cheese grits to pair with your gumbo.
Remember to use quick-cooking or regular grits for the ideal creamy consistency that won’t take forever on the stove.
Add a hint of garlic powder if you’re adventurous, or keep it traditional with just butter, salt, and pepper. Fresh garlic works too, but the powder keeps things smooth and is perfect for a milder taste that won’t overpower your morning palate.
As for cheese, a sharp cheddar typically hits the spot, creating that perfect blend of comfort and sophistication on your taste buds.
Once you try making cheese grits, you’ll understand why they’re a staple in Southern cuisine.
Whether they’re served alongside eggs for breakfast or as a delightful underpinning to your gumbo at supper, you won’t regret adding this dish to your table.
And just in case there’s any left (though it’s a rarity) cheese grits reheat quite well. A bit of water, a gentle heat, or a few stirs in the microwave, and they’re almost as good as new.
Your gumbo, your cheese grits, and you – now that’s a match made in culinary heaven.
If you’ve never had pickled vegetables before, you should definitely try this recipe. Pickled vegetables provide a tangy and tasty complement to just about any meal.
A steaming bowl of spicy gumbo is no exception to this rule, as it provides the perfect amount of flavor. Your gumbo will be even more flavorful, if that’s possible, by pairing it with pickled vegetables.
To make pickled vegetables, simply grab some carrots, daikon, radishes, or red onions, whatever you prefer or have handy.
Mix water and your choice of vinegar (apple cider, distilled, or a mix of both) to create the pickling liquid. If you want, you can throw in a tablespoon of sugar for a hint of sweetness or some salt to enhance the other flavors.
These pickles can last up to three months in the fridge, so make a big jar and use them for other dishes too.
12. Corn on the Cob
A serving of buttery corn on the cob has got to be a side that can accentuate any entrée, including gumbo.
This recipe is the best way to truly bring out the flavor of the corn, so you might find yourself eating the corn by itself.
However, if you pair it with your gumbo, you will love the flavor combination. It’s quick and easy to prepare this corn on the cob, only taking about 13 minutes total.
Boil your corn in a mixture of milk and butter. You won’t believe the difference it makes. The corn ends up so rich and flavorful; you’ll find it doesn’t even need extra butter.
A little salt and pepper are all it takes to finish it off, and if you use salted butter, you might skip the salt altogether. Remember though, during the summer months, corn is often sweet enough, so you might not need to add sugar.
The corn cooks up in about 8 minutes and emerges from the pot tasting like it’s been kissed by butter itself. It’s a simple side dish that perfectly complements the complexity of gumbo.
13. Green Salad
A green salad is a delicious and healthy side that goes well with just about any meal.It also goes well with gumbo, especially this particular recipe.
The combination of the lettuce, the onion, the dressing, and the other ingredients make this salad taste amazing!
Start with mixed greens or your favorite lettuce. Toss in some sunflower seeds for a bit of crunch, and add a generous sprinkle of crumbled bacon for a smoky flavor. Adding thinly sliced red onions and peeled, sliced cucumbers bring a crisp, fresh taste to the mix.
What makes this salad really shine is the homemade dressing. Combine dijon mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and some good quality extra virgin olive oil in a jar and give it a good shake. Toss the dressing with the salad right before serving to keep everything nice and fresh.
Even though most people eat their salads prior to their entrées, you might like the flavors even better by eating the salad at the same time as your gumbo. I know I did.
14. Boudin Dip
Many people would never even consider enjoying gumbo without Boudin dip, which is a Louisiana-inspired dish.
Boudin dip is flavorful, and quick and easy to make, and it can be finished and ready to eat in about 35 minutes.
It’s creamy, and the boudin sausage packs a punch of flavor that really makes it special.
The dip comes together quickly – just mix the ingredients and bake for about half an hour. It’s a crowd-pleaser and so darn good; whenever I take it to a potluck, not a single trace is left behind!
The Cajun seasonings in Boudin sausage is what really makes this side a hit. Once you try it with your gumbo, chances are you’ll want to have them together every time.
15. Deviled Eggs
Whenever we had a family gathering that my aunt would attend, I knew the food would be great because she never failed to bring her famous deviled eggs.
Regardless of what was being served with the deviled eggs, these eggs were somehow magical and enhanced the taste of everything.
Truffle deviled eggs might sound fancy, but they are surprisingly simple and quick to make. You just need a dozen hard-boiled eggs, some creme fraiche, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, white truffle oil, sugar, vinegar, and black truffle salt.
These eggs are quick to prepare and bring a gourmet touch that complements gumbo without overshadowing it.
16. Fruit Salad
If you’re in the mood for a light but sweet dessert after devouring your gumbo, this fruit salad would be a great choice.
Preparing this fruit salad is as breezy as a summer day. It won’t take you more than a few minutes to chop the fruit and toss it together with sugar and lemon juice.
You could opt to eat the fruit salad as is or top it with ice cream, whipped cream, yogurt, or even pudding.
It doesn’t matter how you decide to eat the fruit salad, because chances are your sweet tooth will be completely satisfied.
And hey, for a real treat, try it over a scoop of vanilla ice cream—you can thank me later.
Beignets are another New Orleans’ inspired southern food, which makes them perfect to enjoy after a bowl of filling gumbo.
If you’re not familiar with beignets, a beignet is a piece of fried dough in the shape of a square that’s covered with powdered sugar.
Many people prefer having their beignets warm, but you can eat yours any way you desire.
If you’ve never made them, don’t worry. The preparation isn’t complicated. You’ll need to mix the dough and let it chill for a bit, but you can do this up to a day ahead.
When ready, just roll, cut, and fry them briefly. It’s a fun process, especially if you have kids or friends around to join in.
I once made these after a gumbo night, and they brought smiles to everyone’s faces. We dusted the beignets with sugar in a paper bag – shaking them like we were making some magic. They were a hit!
Beignets are best served warm, and they are more delightful with coffee. From start to finish, you can have them ready in under three hours, but the actual cooking time is just minutes.
18. Sweet Potato Pie
There aren’t many people that don’t like sweet potato pie, and there’s a good reason for this: sweet potato pie, if made from this recipe, is a perfectly sweet dessert with a hint of vanilla that balances the taste wonderfully.
Many people like adding whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to their sweet potato pie, but this pie is so flavorful the way it is that adding anything else is unnecessary.
The ingredients list is short, and you probably have most of them in your kitchen already.
The pie has a mild sweetness, depending on the natural flavor of sweet potatoes, contrasted with a buttery crust. This means it can complement your gumbo without overpowering it.
You can make it ahead of time, which is excellent if you’re preparing multiple dishes. When it’s pie time, you can serve it plain or get a little fancy with homemade whipped cream, ice cream, or even salted caramel sauce.
This Southern beverage is as refreshing as it is sweet, and if you ever wonder what to drink with gumbo, you should grab a glass of it.
It’s quick and easy to brew some black tea, add sugar, ice, and a bit of lemon, and you’re ready to quench your thirst while you enjoy your delectable gumbo.
20. Abita Beer (a local Louisiana brew)
If you’re in the mood for an alcoholic beverage to enjoy with your gumbo, look no further than Abita beer.
This local Louisiana brew that originated in the same place that gumbo did, is perfect to pair with your meal. The taste of the beer will help bring out the flavor of your gumbo, which is likely already full of wonderful flavor.
What to Serve With Gumbo
- Garlic French Bread
- Potato Salad
- Jasmine Rice
- Cornbread Trader Joe’s Copycat
- Collard Greens
- Fried Okra
- Sweet Potato Biscuits
- Hush Puppies
- Cheese Grits
- Pickled Vegetables
- Corn on the Cob
- Green Salad
- Boudin Dip
- Deviled Eggs
- Fruit Salad
- Sweet Potato Pie
- Sweet Iced Tea
- Abita Beer a local Louisiana brew
- Pick a side dish.
- Pick a drink.
- End with a dessert.
My name is Beth, Elizabeth Evelyn to be exact. A native Tennessean, I was born in the South.
I am the author behind Local Milk Blog.
Local milk is a journal devoted to home cookery, travel, family, and slow living—to being present & finding sustenance of every kind.
It’s about nesting abroad & finding the exotic in the everyday.
Most of all it’s about the perfection of imperfections and seeing the beauty of everyday, mundane life.