We're reader-supported. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission at no cost to you.

Why Does Gumbo Taste Better the Next Day?

A dish best served the day after. Here’s why gumbo tastes better the next day, and how to store it so it doesn’t spoil.

Many people find that, when they cook a pot of gumbo, it always tastes better the next day compared to the day it is cooked. There is no argument there, and it is true some people cook it with the intent of eating it the next day, especially when we want to impress our family and guests.

So, why does gumbo taste better the next day?

The answer is best explained with all of the seasonings, the flavor of the meat, and the roux taste blended together overnight in the fridge. It is compared to marinading when the flavors are infused together. The meat will become more tender and flavorful as the seasonings and roux are soaked into it. 

We will break down the information about why gumbo is better the next day and offer advice on making the perfect pot of gumbo. The hard part is cooking it and not eating it the day you cook it. Frankly, it is almost impossible because the aroma that comes from gumbo will have anyone’s mouth watering long before the pot is finished.

What Makes Gumbo Taste Better in the Days After Cooking?

There are several reasons why gumbo tastes better the next day.

The first reason is the seasonings. Like most stews, gumbo is cooked with various spices to give it flavor. These spices include cayenne pepper, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, along with the flavors from the trinity (onions, bell peppers, and celery).

When these spices are cooked into the gumbo stew, their flavors meld over time. This means that the longer the gumbo sits, the more flavorful it becomes. In fact, many people believe that gumbo tastes even better on the second or third day after cooking it.

Another reason why gumbo tastes better overnight is that the roux can blend with the stew. Roux is a mixture of cooked flour and fat (nine times out of ten, that’s unsalted butter or vegetable oil). It is used as a thickener for gumbo and other stews. The longer the roux is allowed to cook, the darker it becomes. A dark roux is ideal for making gumbo because it makes the stew richer.

As we mentioned earlier, the roux flavor will blend with the stew over time. This means that the gumbo will taste even better on the second or third day after cooking it. So, if you want your gumbo to taste its best, allow it to sit overnight in the fridge so that the seasonings and roux can blend together. And make sure to cook your roux long enough to become dark in color.

Do Not Leave the Gumbo Out Overnight

Gumbo is a popular Louisiana dish of seafood or poultry, vegetables, and a thick sauce. The gumbo can be cooked ahead of time and refrigerated overnight. However, it is important not to leave the gumbo out overnight.

Leaving the gumbo out overnight can cause bacteria to grow and give you food poisoning. Gumbo is a thick stew-like dish that takes a long time to cook. It is essential to let the gumbo cool down before putting it in the refrigerator. Placing hot food in the fridge can raise the temperature in your fridge and cause bacteria to grow.

Gumbo is a hearty dish, and reheating it will not ruin the taste. It is best to reheat the gumbo before eating it. Reheating the gumbo will kill any bacteria that may have grown overnight, even from the fridge. You can even freeze leftover gumbo for later use, which most people do.

When people make gumbo in Louisiana, it is cooked in a huge pot that delivers several meals that may not be eaten within the recommended days of safe eating. It could spoil within five to seven days, so people choose to freeze the gumbo for more meals in the coming days or weeks.

How to Make Gumbo Cajun-Style

You will need these ingredients to begin your gumbo venture:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3/4 pound andouille sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 cup frozen okra, thawed
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Listed below are the instructions to guide you in making the perfect pot of gumbo. You can use any type of meat desired, but we list the ones below because that is what most people use.

The entire process takes about an hour and a half. (Some meats take longer at a slow simmer.)

Step 1: Heat the oil over medium heat until hot in a large skillet.

Step 2: Add the flour and stir to combine.

Step 3: Cook the mixture until it becomes dark brown in color. If you have black specs in the roux, it is in the beginning stages of burning and should be discarded and start all over again. If the smell of burning occurs, you went too far in cooking.

Step 4: Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and chicken broth. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

Step 5: Add the bay leaves, thyme, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

Step 6: Add the sausage and shrimp and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.

Step 7: Remove from heat and stir in okra and parsley leaves. Serve hot. Okra is optional.

Advice for Reheating Gumbo

If you freeze the gumbo, simply let it thaw out and reheat it on the stove until it simmers. You don’t want to overcook it. When you notice it starts to boil well, that is how you tell it is time to take it off the burner.

Some people will cook it in a frozen state, which is okay, but it will need to be slow-cooked at the lowest heat possible. The drastic temperature change can destroy the meat if cooked on high heat.

Once you reheat the entire pot, it is highly recommended that only the serving portions be reheated after and not the whole pot. This can also cause the meat to spoil quicker. By heating one serving at a time, it allows the food to last longer without fearing it going bad.

Summing Up the Gumbo Convo

So, now that you know all about gumbo and why it tastes better the next day, the next time you make a pot, you will have all of the information to perfect it. Our advice also gives you the artillery to have the best out of the gumbo by serving it up the next day. Your guests will appreciate it!

We hope by giving you this Cajun secret that we made your day! The dish is not hard to make but does require some time and effort. It will be worth it once you get to taste the final product.