Packed with red beans and okra, this easy vegetarian gumbo recipe brings New Orleans to your kitchen. With a few swaps, this recipe can be made vegan.

vegetarian gumbo

When it comes to meal planning, Sonja is definitely the driving force in our relationship. I love cooking, but if I didn’t have her I’d probably be eating sautéed veggies and scrambled eggs every night of the week. However, I’m in my second year of gardening, and this summer I’ve discovered the unstoppable force that is the okra plant. I love the stuff, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of okra that you can grow in 6 square feet! Most of my garden has been transitioned to fall crops, but the okra plants are pushing 5 feet tall. Because we have so much okra on hand, I’ve been inspired to use it in more dishes. One of my favorites lately has been this easy vegetarian gumbo with red beans.

What is gumbo?

A popular Creole dish in Louisiana, gumbo is a thick stew often loaded with various meats, seafood, and vegetables. It’s traditionally thickened by three key ingredients: okra, a dark roux, and filé powder, which comes from the sassafras tree (we didn’t use this in our recipe). The “Holy Trinity” is another key component to gumbo. Many Cajun and Creole recipes use a combination of celery, bell peppers, and onions, and our vegetarian gumbo recipe is no exception. Although gumbo is typically eaten like a soup, it can also be enjoyed over rice.

How to make vegetarian gumbo

Although the ingredients list for this vegetarian gumbo is a little long, it’s incredibly easy to make. You’ll spend most of your time prepping the veggies, and then you just have to throw everything into a pot and let it cook. Arguably the most important step in this recipe is making the dark roux. A roux is a blend of oil and flour that’s cooked until it reaches your desired color (the desired color of a roux can range from light brown to almost burnt, depending on what you’re making). My biggest tip for making the roux is to not adjust the heat after you’ve added in the flour. Keep stirring the mixture over a medium-low heat until it’s dark brown in color. You’ll need to be patient, but the rich, nutty flavor the roux adds to this gumbo is worth the effort.

This easy gumbo recipe turned out even better than my expectations. Our Mississippi-bred friend, Mallory, said that it was the best vegetarian gumbo she’d ever had. Backhanded compliment? Maybe. But delicious nonetheless!

Looking for more vegetarian dinner recipes?

This recipe is…

Vegetarian. To make a vegan gumbo, omit the Worcestershire sauce.

Related: Try using our Homemade Vegetable Broth for this recipe!

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Vegetarian Gumbo with Red Beans and Okra

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 1x


Packed with red beans and okra, this easy vegetarian gumbo recipe brings New Orleans to your kitchen. With a few swaps, this recipe can be made vegan.


  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 4 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 4 cups okra
  • 2 15-oz cans red kidney beans
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (or vegan Worcestershire or this substitute)
  • 3 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • Rice (for serving)


  1. Prepare the rice according to the package instructions or use our Instant Pot method.
  2. Dice 2 green peppers, 2 onions, and 3 stalks of celery and place them in a bowl. Chop 4 cups tomatoes and 4 cups okra. Add them to a second bowl with 2 cans of red kidney beans and 2 cups frozen corn.
  3. In a third bowl add 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 3 tablespoons Tabasco sauce, 1 teaspoon thyme, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 2 cups of water and 2 cups of vegetable broth.
  4. In a large pot, heat 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat. When the oil is warmed, add 6 tablespoons flour and start stirring. Stir the roux constantly for about 10 minutes, until the color has changed from white, to beige, to dark brown, and the smell is nutty.
  5. When the roux is ready, add Bowl #1 with the peppers, onion and celery. Stir and sauté until the veggies are tender.
  6. Add Bowl #2 and Bowl #3 with the remainder of the ingredients. Lower the heat to a simmer and let the flavors meld for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve over rice and add more Tabasco sauce to taste.


To make this recipe vegan, omit the Worcestershire sauce.

  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: vegetarian gumbo

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. Whenever I have an ingredient that I don’t know what to do with, I always check out your blog. Can’t wait to use up my okra in this gumbo tonight!

  2. Our family eats this recipe on a fairly regular basis. Love it with fresh okra but have used frozen during the off season with good results. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Not a vegetarian, but enjoyed making and eating this quite a bit! Subbed 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme for 1 teaspoon dried thyme, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.

  4. You can’t really saute the vegetables in the roux – it would just burn the roux. And if you just dump the liquid in you’d have a lumpy sauce.
    You need to saute the vegetables separately. Make the roux and add the liquid slowly to create a smooth sauce. Then add the sauteed vegetables and bowl #2, and simmer until the okra is cooked, about 20 minutes.
    I do like the combination of flavors.

  5. Cajun from the Acadien part of Louisiana here. Bless your hearts. While I appreciate what you are trying to do, please don’t call this gumbo. Gumbo is a very traditional comfort food down here. We are PASSIONATE about gumbo. It is a tradition handed down in families all over the state with different flares in different parishes. Recipes are tweaked here and there , but the heart of it is the same. Making good gumbo is a necessary skill right up there with being able to change a flat tire.

    Some things you need to know. Gumbo NEVER has corn in it. Gumbo originated as an African dish adopted by Louisianans. Corn is a new world food. It does not belong in gumbo. Some Creole gumbos have tomatoes (we talk about those people behind their backs and to their faces) and some have red beans, but not together. Omit the Worcestershire as well if you are going to call it gumbo, and for heaven’s sake put some bay leaves in it. One fun thing you may not know about but might want to incorporate is some people drop boiled eggs in their gumbo, and some will crack eggs in their gumbo at the end of their cooking to let the eggs poach and soak up all that flavor (so good!) In some parts of Louisiana gumbo is served over a bowl of potato salad. I have no issue with how you build your roux but you may want to tell people to go ahead and salt and pepper it while they are building it. I hope you find some of this feedback useful. Best of luck!