You CAN Freeze Gumbo! Here’s What You Should Know

There are times when you need a dish you know and love.

A dish that evokes childhood memories.

A dish that brings you comfort every time you eat it.

Gumbo might just be the ultimate comfort food. A delicious meal that is perfect to whip up in big quantities whenever you have family over, or if you just feel like doing some advanced food prep.

The problem is, it’s easy to get carried away!

So what do you do if you’ve made too much gumbo to eat in one go and don’t want to let it go to waste?

I’ve got great news for you – you can freeze it!

With proper preparation and by following a few helpful tips, you can easily extend its shelf life to enjoy a hassle-free meal in the future.

Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of freezing your leftover gumbo.

The Quick Answer

  • Gumbo can be frozen to extend its shelf life by up to 6 months.
  • How you freeze it depends on the ingredients in the gumbo.
  • Thawing and reheating gumbo properly is essential for optimal taste and texture.

Can You Freeze Gumbo?

Can you freeze gumbo?

Just in case you skim-read to get to this point – I’ll say it again: Yes! You can freeze gumbo.

But how long does it last in the freezer?

All gumbo varieties freeze well for up to 3 months. Varieties without seafood can last even longer – up to 6 months.

Beyond this point, your gumbo will still be edible – but you’ll notice a dip in quality.

I should also point out that the times I’ve quoted above depend on following proper methods of freezing.

Improperly frozen gumbo can suffer freezer burn which will significantly affect its quality.

Luckily for you, though, you’re in the right place to learn exactly how to freeze gumbo perfectly, every time!

How to Freeze Gumbo

As I’ve mentioned, the quality of your frozen gumbo depends on how well you prep it before freezing.

Here’s the easy way to freeze your gumbo leftovers:

  • Before freezing, allow the gumbo to cool down completely.
  • Once cool, divide the gumbo into smaller portions. This will let you defrost only as much as you need in the future.
  • Transfer the portions to freezer bags. Remove any excess air from the bag and ensure that it is properly sealed. A tight seal helps to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label the bag with the date of freezing to keep track and give you an easy way to check when you need to use it.
  • Pop your bags in the freezer!

Remember, properly sealing the freezer bag not only keeps your gumbo fresh longer but also keeps the rest of your freezer pleasantly odor-free.

Follow these tips and you’ll ensure your gumbo holds its flavor and texture for as long as possible when you freeze it.

How to Freeze Gumbo with Shrimp

I mentioned earlier that seafood gumbo doesn’t last as long in the freezer.

That’s because seafood, like shrimp, doesn’t keep as well compared to other gumbo ingredients like chicken or sausage.

Shrimp gumbo can last for up to 3 months in the freezer if stored properly, vs 6 months for other types.

Despite the differences in shelflife, the method for freezing your shrimp gumbo is the same as ‘regular’ gumbo.

Just follow the steps listed above to avoid freezer burn and maximize freshness!

How to Freeze Gumbo with Rice

Instead of freezing gumbo and rice together, you should separate them. That’s because rice has a nasty habit of turning into a mushy mess when you reheat the gumbo.

Not to mention the fact that the safety of reheated rice is more than a little dicey.

So how do you freeze gumbo with rice?

First, go through the same cooling process as before – allow the gumbo to cool to room temperature. 

Once it has cooled down, portion out the gumbo into freezer bags.

Don’t spoon the rice into the bags with it. But… don’t worry too much if it’s mixed together and there is some rice in with the gumbo. Perfection isn’t needed – just try to separate as much as possible.

What do you do with the leftover rice?

Either eat it now or throw it away – you won’t be storing it.

When you defrost your gumbo portions, cook up some fresh rice to serve alongside it.

How to Defrost Gumbo

Can you freeze gumbo?

There are two main methods to thaw gumbo: with a microwave or overnight in the refrigerator. 

I’ll discuss both, along with some safety tips to ensure your gumbo remains tasty and safe to eat.

To defrost gumbo in the microwave, follow these steps:

  1. Transfer the gumbo into a microwave-safe container.
  2. Cover the container with a microwave-safe lid to prevent splattering.
  3. Start by defrosting the gumbo on low power or using the “defrost” setting. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring gently between each interval.
  4. Continue this process until the gumbo has reached your desired consistency and temperature.

On the other hand, if you prefer a more hands-off approach, you can defrost your gumbo overnight in the refrigerator

To do this, simply place the gumbo container in the fridge the night before you plan to eat it.

This technique allows for a slower, more even thawing process.

While you’re thawing the gumbo, keep an eye out for these safety tips:

  • Check for signs of spoilage, such as mold, off-smells, or sliminess. If you come across any of these, it’s best to discard the gumbo.
  • Ensure that the gumbo remains at a safe temperature during defrosting. The fridge should be maintained at or below 40°F (5°C) to keep bacteria growth at bay.
  • Once thawed, it’s recommended to reheat gumbo promptly, as letting it sit at room temperature for an extended period can encourage bacterial growth.

Now that you’ve got the techniques and tips on how to defrost gumbo, you can confidently make that large batch knowing you can enjoy it at a later date, hassle-free.

How to Reheat Gumbo

There are a couple of ways to reheat gumbo, and in this section, I’ll share with you my preferred method: using a microwave or stovetop. 

The key to successfully reheating gumbo is to ensure even heating and reaching the proper temperature (165°F).

Can You Reheat Gumbo in the Microwave?

Yes, you can reheat gumbo in the microwave, and it’s a convenient option for when you are in a hurry.

Here’s a simple procedure to follow when using the microwave:

  1. Thaw your gumbo: If it’s frozen, either let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting on your microwave.

  2. Prepare your gumbo: Transfer the gumbo to a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a microwave-safe lid or wrap.

  3. Reheat in bursts: To avoid uneven heating, I recommend microwaving your gumbo for 1-2 minutes at a time followed by a good stir. Repeat this process until the gumbo reaches the desired temperature.

  4. Check the temperature: Use a food thermometer to ensure that the gumbo has reached a safe internal temperature of 165°F.


It’s important to note that using a microwave for reheating gumbo might not provide as even heating as a stovetop. For a more precise and even heating method, reheat it on the stovetop instead.

Reheating Gumbo on the Stove

For stovetop reheating, simply place the gumbo in a saucepan and heat it over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until it reaches the desired temperature. 

The stovetop method might take a bit longer than the microwave, but it ensures even cooking and prevents gumbo from getting overly hot in certain areas.

How to Use Leftover Gumbo

Wondering what to do with your leftover gumbo?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Serve over rice: Reheat the gumbo and serve it over a bed of freshly cooked rice. With different types of rice available, feel free to switch things up. Some options include white, brown, jasmine, or even cauliflower rice for a low-carb alternative.

  2. Transform into soup: Gumbo’s bold flavor can make an excellent base for an exciting soup. Add in extra vegetables, broth, or even protein to make it your own. You can also adjust the consistency with more or less liquid.

  3. Use as stew or burrito filling: Gumbo is similar to stew, so why not repurpose the leftovers? Reheat it and serve over mashed potatoes or mix in some taco seasoning for a Mexican twist. You could also wrap it in a tortilla with your favorite burrito fillings.

  4. Make gumbo pizza: Give your pizza a Cajun flair by using leftover gumbo as a topping. Spread a thin layer of gumbo on your pizza crust, add cheese, and bake it. You can even sprinkle with chopped green onions after baking for an extra burst of flavor.

  5. Create gumbo egg rolls: Turn your gumbo into a finger food by wrapping it in egg roll wrappers. Simply scoop a small portion of gumbo (avoiding too much liquid), place it onto the wrapper, and fold it according to package instructions. Then, fry or bake the egg rolls until crispy.


Can You Refreeze Gumbo?

I don’t recommend refreezing gumbo if you’ve already defrosted it.

There are food safety risks with doing this, and the quality will degrade significantly.

Instead of refreezing, you should always freeze your gumbo in portions. This lets you defrost what you need whilst keeping more in the freezer for later.

Food Safety

When you thaw and refreeze food, you’re giving bacteria the chance to grow during the thawing process.

Gumbo can contain ingredients like meat and seafood, which are especially sensitive to temperature changes and can lead to bacterial growth, making it unsafe to eat. 

So, it’s better to think twice before taking this risk with your health.

Texture Changes

Now let’s talk about the texture. When you refreeze gumbo, freezer burn can affect the quality and taste of the dish. 

Freezer burn is caused by moisture loss, which leads to dehydration and potentially undesirable texture changes in the gumbo. It can make the dish lose its original smooth consistency and become grainy, less flavorful, and generally less appetizing.