Jambalaya vs. Paella – What’s The Difference?

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One of the most famous one-pan dishes includes Jambalaya and paella. For those folks who love the flavor of Spanish dishes and how beautifully they are, seasoned Jambalaya and paella are the most common options. However, they look similar; they are unique.

To someone who has not tasted them before, they may look similar; however, they aren’t. So, one asks what the difference between Jambalaya and paella is? Jambalaya primarily belongs from Louisiana, while on the other hand, paella originates from Spain.

Both are cooked in distinct ways containing various spices that greatly modify the overall flavor. It is really important to understand what exactly sets them apart when it comes to getting a specific taste. Jambalaya and paella are two dishes that stand out with a distinctive twist.


Jambalaya is a rice dish that primarily originated from Spanish African and French cuisine. Similar to paella, it is typically a one-pan dish. It is made from ingredients like chicken, sausage, rice and vegetables.

These vegetables are very popular in Cajun cooking and include onions, green pepper and celery. Jambalaya has two main types one is Creole while the other is Cajun. Creole jambalaya, also commonly called the red Jambalaya, has vegetables as its base.

Ingredients included in this Jambalaya are sausages, chicken, shrimp, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Further ahead, it is served with rice and broth. It is left to cook for about an hour, and as a result, a distinct taste of this Jambalaya is obtained.

The other type of Jambalaya is called Cajun. It is the type that does not have tomatoes. Unlike the creole jambalaya, Cajun has a more brown color to it. The meat is left to be caramelized at the bottom before any other ingredients are added.

After this, special vegetables are added and later served with broth or rice. The caramelized meat adds a brown color to the entire dish. Cajun jambalaya is primarily found in Louisiana, while Cajun jambalaya has originated from New Orleans.

The basic difference between both of these jambalayas is the use of tomatoes. Creole has tomatoes as an ingredient, while Cajun does not have tomatoes. This leads to Creole having a red tint while Cajun has more of a brown tint.

Nutritional Facts

In a one plate serving of about 2 cups of Jambalaya includes:

  • Total Calories 768
  • Total Fat 36g
  • Saturated Fat 9.3g
  • Trans Fat 0.2g
  • Cholesterol 146mg
  • Sodium 2524mg
  • Potassium 831mg
  • Carbohydrates 73g
  • Dietary Fibers 2g
  • Sugars 3.6g
  • Protein 35g

Health Benefits

One of the most primary ingredients in Jambalaya is chicken; now, as we all know, chicken is lean meat and has a lot of protein yet little or no fat. For those folks who are looking to lose some weight yet keep a spicy diet, then Jambalaya is the go-to option.

Jambalaya, made of seafood, is loaded with omega-3. This is the kind of vitamin that is not naturally present in our body. Omega-3 is known to boost immunity, maintain healthy hair and skin and prevent various heart-related diseases.

With rice being a primary ingredient in Jambalaya, it is known to prevent diabetes. Studies have shown that having rice in your diet will help prevent diabetes. Moreover, rice being an anti-oxidant will overall leave a positive impact on your health.


Paella is a traditional dish that originated in Spain. It is cooked in a big pan, commonly called paellera. While the traditional recipe is from Valencia, folks who love food enjoy paella made from various recipes.

Typically, paella includes ingredients like meat, rice, seafood and various vegetables. Different recipes use different types of meat or seafood; however, one common thing is saffron, which gives paella its unique color and flavor.

Paella has now become a primary part of Spanish cuisine. Paella has two main kinds one is Valenciana while the other is marisco. Paella Valenciana, also considered the original paella, is about 250 years old.

It was traditionally cooked on an open fire and had chicken pork, and sometimes rabbit. Traditionally Valenciana does not have chorizo and is known in the Spanish language as ‘Arroz con costs which translates to ‘rice with other things.’

The other paella is called paella de marisco, also commonly known as seafood paella. It has basic ingredients such as prawns, clams and mussels. It has its roots in Catalonia but now is typically available in Spain.

Like the other paella, marisco is also cooked in a large pan called a paellera. There are numerous recipes available to cook a seafood paella, but most include broth made of shrimp, heads onion and garlic.

Further lobster shrimp or cuttlefish, according to your liking, can be added. Another variation in this kind of paella is called paella mixta. In this paella, chicken broth is used as a base while seafood is further added, giving it a distinct flavor.

Nutritional Facts

Serving size of one cup of paella includes:

  • Total Calories 442
  • Total Fat 22g
  • Saturated Fat 6.2g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 113mg
  • Sodium 812mg
  • Potassium 401mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 34g
  • Dietary Fiber 1g
  • Sugars 2.6g
  • Protein 25g

Health Benefits

As paella is made up of natural ingredients, they make this dish highly nutritious, thus having a positive impact on your overall health. Moreover, paella made of seafood will have various minerals and vitamins like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A.

Paella is low in fats yet has unsaturated fats, which are great for your overall health. Paella is one of those Spanish dishes that promote a healthy lifestyle yet are amazingly tasty. It is rich in protein and carbs that help you maintain a healthy diet.

Moreover, paella is rich in vitamin B-12 which boosts your immune system and brain health. It is also anti-oxidant as it contains copper, which protects your cells from free radical damage. Paella is also loaded with lycopene which prevents various lung-related diseases.

So, What’s The Difference Between Jambalaya and Paella?

  1. Although having the same meat as a primary ingredient, Jambalaya and paella come from different cultural backgrounds, so their recipes are distinct.
  2. Seasoning of Jambalaya includes bold Creole and primarily Cajun-based seasoning, while on the other hand, paella is typically seasoned with saffron and various vegetables.
  3. Paella was traditionally made using rabbit meat, while Jambalaya has seafood or chicken as a primary ingredient.
  4. Jambalaya is comparatively more nutritious as it has various natural ingredients added to it; moreover, when paralleled, it is known to have added health benefits.