Creole and Cajun cooking are two types of cooking that originated in Louisiana. Both styles of cooking often use a blend of French, Spanish, Caribbean, African, and Native American influences. While both Creole and Cajun cooking are popular in Louisiana, they have distinct differences that set them apart.
The history of Creole and Cajun Cooking is simple: Creole originated in the 1700s, Cajun in the second half of the 18th century. But what are the actual differences?
A couple of common generalizations are that Creole vs. Cajun is like city vs. country, and that Creole cooking feeds one family with three chickens, Cajun cooking feeds three families with one chicken. Often Creole cuisine is luxurious, refined and sometimes indulgent with its ingredients, while Cajun cooking emphasizes using what you have and making it stretch to feed many.
Creole cooking is often described as “city cooking,” while Cajun cooking is usually called “country cooking.” The main difference between these two styles of cooking is the ingredients used. Creole cooking is known for its use of tomatoes, while Cajun cooking does not typically use tomatoes.
Another major difference between Creole and Cajun cooking is the use of roux. Roux is a combination of flour and fat that cooks together and forms the base of many dishes. In Creole cooking, the roux is often made with butter and tomato paste, giving dishes a red hue. In Cajun cooking, the roux is usually made with animal fat and flour, giving dishes a richer flavor.
In addition to the ingredients used, the flavor profiles of Creole and Cajun cooking also differ. Creole dishes tend to be more complex, with a variety of spices and flavors. Cajun dishes, on the other hand, tend to be spicier, but more one-dimensional in flavor. However, both make use of ingredients such as bell peppers, onions, celery, and garlic as base notes.
When picking up a Creole or Cajun seasoning know that they both include some of the basic elements, such as, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, and paprika.
In Creole seasoning mixes, paprika is included more liberally than in Cajun mixes and Creole versions often include a handful of other ingredients, such as sweet basil, celery seed and white pepper.
Through the years, many Creole and Cajun dishes have crossed over the divide and been modified to fit within the separate cultures. Creole dishes often include a variety of flavorful ingredients, like tomatoes, and are typically cooked slowly to bring out all the flavors of the ingredients. Cajun dishes are known for using a variety of meats, such as chicken, pork, and sausage, together in dishes.
Creole and Cajun cooking both originated in Louisiana and features a variety of flavorful ingredients. While the two styles of cooking have some similarities, they are distinct and have their own unique flavor profiles. People who visit Louisiana may have a hard time deciphering which is which, but an oversimplified and easy to remember tip given is if it’s got tomatoes, it’s Creole, if it doesn’t it’s Cajun. Regardless of which style of cooking you prefer, you’re sure to find good people sitting around together enjoying something delicious in Louisiana.