Discover the common spices and herbs Cajun seafood chefs use to create their Cajun dishes.

Cajun seafood

Cajun cooking first descended from the kitchens of Acadian immigrants who fled to the southern United States from Canada in the 18th century. There, they befriended the Native Americans, Spanish, and Germans in the area. This cultural collaboration produced the highly desirable Cajun cuisine, which is known for its heartiness and spicy flavor.

Whether you’re trying to recreate your favorite Cajun seafood dishes in your own kitchen or want to know what exactly is in the food you order from seafood restaurants, you’ve come to the right place. Discover the common spices and herbs Cajun seafood chefs use to create their Cajun dishes.

  1. Garlic As the one ingredient you likely already have in your kitchen, garlic is a must-have for any Cajun seafood recipe. The magic of garlic is in its ability to tie a dish’s various flavors together, creating a rich and satisfying base.
  2. Bay Leaves Just a single bay leaf can bring an entirely new world of flavor into a dish. Some may overlook the importance of bay leaves because they are often not visible in the final dish, but their flavor is undeniable. Bay leaves do not get soft during cooking, so chefs will usually remove them before serving. While you may not have a visual reminder of the bay leaf in your Cajun meal, it is integral in creating the flavors you know and love.
  3. Cayenne Pepper You likely associate cayenne peppers with their intense heat factor, but Cajun cooks value these peppers for their flavor over their heat level. The spice of cayenne peppers force you to take notice of it, but they also imbue the dish with amazing, robust flavor. Any classic Cajun dish wouldn’t be the same without the addition of cayenne pepper.
  4. File File powder is a ground herb that gives gumbo the thickness and flavor for which the dish is known. Pronounced FEE-lay, this powder comes from the dried leaves of the sassafras tree. When eating a delicious gumbo at home, families will often pass the shaker of file around the table to ensure everyone has more than enough in their dish.

Although many associate Cajun cooking with a spicy hot palate, the best Cajun cooks know that the spiciness should never detract from the masterful melding of flavors. The next time you go out to your favorite Cajun restaurant, take note of which herbs and spices are creating the wonderful flavor in your dish.