Leslie's Okra Gumbo Recipe: A Holiday Tradition Full of Flavor

On Christmas Eve, we gather at my parent’s house for gumbo. It’s been a long tradition. Making gumbo is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not a quick and easy dish, but when done right, it is so, so good.

Here are some rules before you begin:

Contrary to what some popular TV chefs say, tomatoes, carrots and the like do not belong in gumbo. This is not vegetable soup, it’s gumbo!

With the exception of the aforementioned rule, gumbo is very versatile. You can add almost any protein or withhold. My dad has a shellfish allergy. I make two gumbos. A poor man’s gumbo – without seafood and another with seafood.
Okra is a great thickening agent and adds tremendous flavor. Don’t be afraid of it.

However, I understand people have strong feelings about okra. You can still make a delicious gumbo without it.

My measurements are not exact. Use your gut.
Gumbo is always better the next day. If possible, make the gumbo the day before you want to serve it.

Let’s begin!


Leslie's Okra Gumbo Recipe




1 cup of cooking oil

1 cup of floor



cooking oil, a few tablespoons, maybe 4

2 pounds of shrimp shells

Large onion

2 large carrots

4 celery stalks

2 scallions

Garlic bulbs

Tablespoon of peppercorns

2 bay leaves

A pinch or two of salt

A pinch or two of pepper

2 cups of dry white wine

4 – 6 cups of water



 1 Large finely chopped onion

Garlic bulbs

1 cup of finely chopped green peppers

1 cup of chopped celery

1lb of chicken wing parts

Cooking oil

1lb of chopped okra

Smoke sausage

Crawfish tails


Lump crabmeat



Sweet potatoes (optional)




Make Stock

  1. Rough chop onions, carrots, garlic, scallions and celery in large pieces. Set aside

  2. In a large stew pot add cooking oil. Coat the pot over a medium heat.

  3. Add shrimp shells and stir.

  4. Add veggies, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves and pepper and stir. Make sure they are well coated in oil.

  5. Add wine to the veggie and shells mixture and stir.

  6. Slowly add water. It should be enough to fill the pot.

  7. Bring to a boil.

  8. Let simmer for 30 minutes

  9. Strain veggie mixture from the pot. Discard veggies.

Make Roux

  1. Add cooking oil and flour to fry pan on medium heat

  2. Stir continually until the mixture turns a muddy brown.

  3. Set aside. (Tip: Roux cooks quickly and you can burn it EASY. Trust me. If this happens, throw it away and start again.)

Make Gumbo

  1. Season chicken with salt, pepper or your favorite spices.

  2. In a fry pan, add cooking oil.

  3. Sear chicken until it has a light brown color and remove from pan.

  4. Remove excess oil from pan. Leave about 2 tablespoons.

  5. Finely chop onions, garlic, green peppers

  6. Add chopped veggies to the pan.   Cook for a couple of minutes.

  7. Chop okra. (Tip: I buy flash-frozen chopped okra. Thaw it. Don’t cook it when you are thawing it)

  8. Add veggies, okra and chicken to stock bring to a racing boil.

  9. Lower the temperature and slowly add roux until you reach your desired consistency.

  10. Let mixture simmer and add seasoning to taste.

  11. Season shrimp, oysters and crawfish tails

  12. Add seafood and sausage when chicken is tender. Remove pot from heat and place lid on the pot. (Tip: You can overcook your seafood and sausage when you add it too soon.)


Cook rice. Serve over rice

Yams (sweet potatoes) are served with gumbo in certain areas of Louisiana.  My mom bakes whole sweet potatoes and serves them with her gumbo.  I didn’t understand why she ate sweet potatoes with her gumbo for a long time.  Now I get it; it is the sweet-savoy combination.

Add Filé and/or hot sauce for additional flavor.

Serve with a full-body white wine.  My favorite is a Garenche Blanc or Pinot Noir.


Wine Pairing Recommendations:

While gumbo is delicious on its own, explore the world of wine pairings for an extra special touch!


2022 Clementine Carter Grenache Blanc, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County, CA

2018 Indigené Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, Monterey, CA

2021 Garenne Sancerre Blanc, Loire Vallley

2021 Chosen Family Willamette Valley Pinot Noir


Enjoy! I hope you create happy memories when you serve this dish. Happy Holidays from Vino 301 Wine Concierge and The Wine Concierge Fam Members!

Tag us on Facebook or Instagram @‌thewineconciergeclub with pictures of your gumbo and wine pairing! #gumbo #holidaytradition


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