Gumbo Z’herbes

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Gumbo Z’herbes, or green gumbo, is one of New Orleans’ best-kept secrets. Made with assorted leafy greens, smoked sausage, turkey necks, and plenty of aromatics, this mouth-watering Louisiana gumbo recipe is truly one of a kind.

Close up overhead view of Gumbo Z'herbes in and pot with a wooden spoon

Now, I don’t believe in gatekeeping in the kitchen, and that’s why I’m going to share with you the one Louisiana gumbo recipe that most New Orleanians keep to themselves. Gumbo z’herbes is traditionally served with an odd number of greens (usually 7 or 9) and served every year during Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

Also, known as green gumbo, gumbo z’herbes is packed with tons of flavor and a whole lot of greens. You can use any combination of leafy greens—collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, carrot tops, dandelion greens, cabbage, kale, and baby spinach all work great. Basically, you’ll be using the whole garden.

This gumbo z’herbes recipe is inspired by Chef Leah Chase, who’s famous in New Orleans for the incredible green gumbo she serves at her restaurant, Dooky Chase, every year for Holy Thursday. My culinary class helped serve the first Holy Thursday lunch she hosted after Hurricane Katrina.

In addition to heaps of greens, my version of this Louisiana gumbo recipe is made with smoked sausage, smoked turkey necks, aromatics, and herbs for tons of flavor.

Let’s just say that when I think of Southern comfort food, Leah Chase’s gumbo z’herbes recipe is one of the first dishes that comes to mind. This green gumbo is rich, savory, and absolutely delicious. Serve it up with a warm bowl of rice and watch how quickly it disappears!

overhead view of a bowl of Gumbo Z’herbes

Key Ingredients

To bring this delicious gumbo z’herbes to life, you’re going to need the key ingredients listed below.

  • Leafy Greens: Get ready to raid the produce aisle! You can use any combination of greens you prefer, but I like to use collards, mustard greens, turnip greens, carrot tops, beet greens, dandelion greens, green cabbage, and baby spinach.
  • Smoked Sausage: Any smoked sausage you like will work fine. Personally, I go for a classic smoked beef sausage. Other great options include ham, veal, and brisket.
  • Smoked Turkey Necks: This ingredient is the key to unleashing tons of incredible flavor into your gumbo. It adds an irresistibly rich and smoky flavor that makes you want more and more.
  • Seasonings: I like to keep the seasoning for this dish fairly simple because there’s already tons of flavor from the rest of the ingredients. All you need is salt, pepper, granulated garlic, cayenne, fresh thyme, and bay leaves.
  • All-Purpose Flour: This is used to thicken up the gumbo 
  • Rice: In New Orleans, we serve just about every dish with rice—gumbo included. You can cook your rice ahead of time and store it until you’re ready or use your leftover green water to cook it in.
Gumbo Z'herbes in a pot

How to Make Gumbo Z’herbes

Gumbo takes a bit of time to come together, but most of the work is hands-off, so it’s actually pretty easy. Just follow the simple steps below:

Wash the greens, drain, remove any tough stems, and rough chop. Then, wash them 1-2 more times. Fill a large pot ¾ with water, then turn the heat to high and bring the water to boil.

Add the greens to the pot in batches, bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes. Drain the greens in a colander over a bowl and reserve the water. Divide 8 cups of green water and 1 tablespoon of green water.

Place greens in a food processor and pulse 10 to 15 times until greens are chopped fine to medium.

Heat a large pot over medium-high heat, then add oil. Once smoking hot, add ¼ cup of flour and stir until the roux turns peanut brown. Add the onions and sausage, then cook for 2 minutes.

While the onions and sausage cook, add the salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and cayenne to a bowl. Add ¼ of the spice mix and garlic to the pot, then cook for 15 seconds. Add the greens and cook for 2 minutes. Next, add half the spice mix, thyme, bay leaves, and turkey necks. Cover with 8 cups of green water and remaining spice mix. Bring to a boil, cover slightly, reduce heat to low, and cook for 1 hour until the turkey necks begin to fall apart.

In a small bowl, combine a tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of green water. Stir the mixture into the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve with a bowl of warm rice.

close up of a bowl of Gumbo Z’herbes

Gumbo Z’herbes Recipe Tips for Success

Here are some of my favorite recipe tips to help you make the best green gumbo:

  • Wondering how to make a vegetarian gumbo? To make this gumbo z’herbes vegan, simply omit the smoked sausage and turkey necks. Add 1 teaspoon of liquid hickory smoke to add a smoke flavor. There will still be tons of fantastic flavor—trust me! 
  • Before using your greens, wash them thoroughly with water and salt to remove any dirt, sand, and debris that might be stuck to the leaves.
  • For a low-carb meal, try swapping out the rice for cauliflower rice or leaving it out altogether and serving the gumbo z’herbes on its own. 
  • Want a meatier gumbo? Feel free to add any combination of smoked sausage, ham, veal, and brisket. 
  • If you like your food with a kick, try adding a pinch of cayenne pepper or a few chopped chili peppers to your gumbo. 
  • Don’t skip adding the slurry of flour and green water. This makes the greens melt in your melt.

Common One-to-One Substitutions

Don’t have everything you need to make this Louisiana gumbo recipe? Here are some easy swaps you can make: 

  • Ham, Veal, and Brisket = Smoked Turkey Necks
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme = 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Arugula = Dandelion Greens

Gumbo Z’herbes Storage Tips

If you’re looking to prepare ahead of time, you can make the gumbo up to one day in advance. To reheat, simply heat the gumbo over the stove until it starts to boil (around 5-10 minutes). If you’re storing leftovers, allow it to cool before transferring your gumbo to an airtight container. Then, you can store it as follows:

  • Keep in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
  • Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

To thaw frozen gumbo, transfer it to the fridge and let it thaw for 48 hours before enjoying it again.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this gumbo z’herbes recipe:

What is gumbo z’herbes?

Gumbo z’herbes is pronounced (zabs). This green gumbo is a popular gumbo in Louisiana traditionally served for Holy Thursday. It’s made with an odd number of leafy greens (usually 7 or 9), along with some type of smoked meat, herbs, spices, and aromatics. I use smoked beef sausage and turkey necks for the meat in this recipe. 

Can you make green gumbo vegetarian?

Of course! You can make your gumbo z’herbes vegan by simply leaving out the smoked sausage and turkey necks. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of amazing flavor from the rest of our ingredients.

Gumbo Z’herbes in a pot with wooden cooking spoon
What gives gumbo z’herbes its flavor?

I think the better question would be: what doesn’t give gumbo its flavor? In most gumbo recipes, a lot of the flavor comes from a roux and smoked meats, and Gumbo z’herbes gets its flavor from meaty ingredients like ham hock, smoked sausage, and turkey necks. There’s also a ton of flavor that comes from the vegetables, herbs, and spices, so vegetarian gumbo is delicious as well! 

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overhead view of gumbo z’herbes in a bowl
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Recipes:

Close up overhead view of Gumbo Z'herbes in and pot with a wooden spoon

Gumbo Z’herbes

Kenneth Temple
Learn how to make authentic Louisiana gumbo z’herbes, a mouth-watering dish that is a specialty of New Orleans.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine African, American, Cajun, Creole
Servings 10 persons
Calories 394 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bunch collards stems removed
  • 1 bunch mustard greens stems removed
  • 1 bunch turnip greens stems removed
  • 1 bunch carrot tops
  • 1 bunch beet greens
  • 1 lbs. baby spinach
  • 1 small green cabbage
  • 1 bunch green onions sliced medium
  • 1 bunch dandelion greens
  • 1 gallon water
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium onions chopped medium
  • 12 oz. smoked beef sausage
  • 6 garlic cloves chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-3 lbs. smoked turkey necks
  • 6 cups of cooked rice

Instructions
 

  • Wash greens, drain, remove any tough stems and rough chop. Wash greens again and drain. Fill a large pot ¾ with water, turn on the heat to high and bring the water to boil. Add the greens to the pot in batches, bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes. Drain greens in a colander over a bowl and reserve the water. Divide 8 cups of green water and 1 tablespoon of green water.
  • Place greens in a food processor and pulse 10 to 15 times, until greens or chopped fine to medium.
  • Turn the heat on medium-high heat, in a large pot add oil, once smoking hot, add ¼ cup of flour and stir until roux turns peanut brown. Add the onions and sausage, cook for 2 minutes.
  • While onions and sausage cook. In a bowl mix salt, pepper, granulated garlic and cayenne. Add ¼ of the spice mix and garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Add the greens, cook for 2 minutes. Add half the spice mix, thyme, bay leaves and turkey necks. Cover with 8 cups of green water and remaining spice mix; bring to a boil, cover slightly, reduce heat to low, and cook for 1 hour, until turkey necks begin to fall apart.
  • In a bowl combine the tablespoon of flour and tablespoon of green water. Stir the in the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with a bowl of warm rice.

Notes

Gumbo Z’herbes Recipe Tips for Success
  • Wondering how to make a vegetarian gumbo? To make this gumbo z’herbes vegan, simply omit the smoked sausage and turkey necks. Add 1 teaspoon of liquid hickory smoke to add a smoke flavor. There will still be tons of fantastic flavor—trust me!
  • Before using your greens, wash them thoroughly with water and salt to remove any dirt, sand, and debris that might be stuck to the leaves.
  • For a low-carb meal, try swapping out the rice for cauliflower rice or leaving it out altogether and serving the gumbo z’herbes on its own.
  • Want a meatier gumbo? Feel free to add any combination of smoked sausage, ham, veal, and brisket.
  • If you like your food with a kick, try adding a pinch of cayenne pepper or a few chopped chili peppers to your gumbo.
  • Don’t skip adding the slurry of flour and green water. This makes the greens melt in your melt.
Common One-to-One Substitutions
  • Ham, Veal, and Brisket = Smoked Turkey Necks
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme = 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Arugula = Dandelion Greens
Gumbo Z’herbes Storage Tips
  • Keep in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
  • Keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To thaw frozen gumbo, transfer it to the fridge and let it thaw for 48 hours before enjoying it again.

Nutrition

Calories: 394kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 18gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 1175mgPotassium: 666mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 4874IUVitamin C: 51mgCalcium: 137mgIron: 3mg
Keyword gumbo, gumbo z’herbes, louisiana gumbo
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2 thoughts on “Gumbo Z’herbes”

  1. 5 stars
    It is perfect on day 1! You know how stuff tastes good but even better the next day? This has the next day taste right away. We subbed a turkey leg for turkey necks and babaaaaayy the way that meat soaked up the flavor was ridiculous. The spice was just enough for kick but to still enjoy the medley of flavors in the bowl.

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