What's Really In Cajun Seasoning?

A quick trip to southern Louisiana might land you within the midst of Mardi Gras or a fais do-do, among gators on a swamp tour, or in a restaurant dining on classic dishes like boudin and jambalaya, per Louisiana Travel. But if you're looking to bring some of that Cajun spirit home with you, the real magic lies in the N'awlins seasoning, which is a spice blend that adds a little heat and an earthy depth to many Cajun dishes.

When whipping up such classics as crawfish étouffée and fried fish and grits one might wonder, "What's really in Cajun seasoning?" But first, it's important to take a trip down memory lane. Spiceography explains that in the 18th-century French colonists (also known as Acadians) combined their French style of cooking with the surrounding ingredients of Louisiana, learning to use rice for making bread and embracing okra, as you'll find in popular Cajun dishes like gumbo. Cajun food eventually spread like wildfire within the U.S., and in the 1980s, blends of this seasoning became more readily available.

But what makes Cajun seasoning taste so good?

According to MasterClass, Cajun seasoning is traditionally made with the following: white pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper. There are several variations of this blend, with some adding ingredients like cumin, chipotle pepper, or cardamom for a smoky flavor or mixing in some salt. The flavor profile of Cajun seasoning is savory and a little bit spicy, though Spiceography shares some blends may have herbal notes due to the addition of thyme and/or oregano (though MasterClass suggests this herbal addition would make the blend Creole seasoning, not Cajun).

Cajun seasoning is full of flavor, making it the perfect companion for the abundance of fresh shellfish and vegetables that Louisiana has to offer. It can also be used when cooking Creole cuisine (a close resemblance to its Cajun cousin, but different in its nuances), per MasterClass, just be aware it packs a considerable punch compared to Creole seasoning.

So whether you're whipping up a hearty N'awlins dish or simply looking to spruce up a bowl of popcorn, you can't go wrong with a classic Cajun seasoning blend.