What Is the Cajun Holy Trinity and How Is It Used?

Updated: Feb. 29, 2024

Three savory vegetables make up the Cajun 'holy trinity' and serve as the aromatic base in many Cajun and Creole dishes.

If you’ve never heard of the Cajun ‘holy trinity’, then you’re about to learn a chef’s tip that will take your meals from just OK to I gotta have a second helping.

The Cajun trinity comprises three aromatic vegetables that simmer low and slow before anything else is added to the pot. This trick infuses the rest of the dish with flavor. It’s very similar to the French mirepoix, which consists of onions, carrots and celery—something you probably use in most of your soup and stew recipes already.

What is the Cajun holy trinity?

Like the word trinity might suggest, the Cajun holy trinity uses three vegetables to add flavor to dishes. Specifically, it seasons many Cajun recipes. The trio of veggies includes a 1:1:1 ratio of onion, celery and green bell peppers. (This is different from mirepoix, which uses a 2:1:1 ratio of onion, carrot and celery.)

Sauteing the onion, celery and bell peppers together creates an aromatic base for soups, stews and meat dishes. Cooking low and slow in butter or oil for at least 10 minutes allows the bright flavors of the vegetables to infuse the butter or oil. Cooking at a higher heat could lead to bitter tasting onions or even burnt vegetables. The trick is to simmer until the onions turn transparent and the whole trinity smells fragrant.

The Cajun holy trinity likely became a culinary tool when French immigrants arrived in the U.S. and had to use local ingredients to imitate the flavors they were used to from home. As for the nickname itself, the holy trinity alludes to the Christian Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), since many early Louisiana settlers were of the Catholic faith.

Is the holy trinity Cajun or Creole?

Cajun and Creole food are very similar, so you’re likely to use the holy trinity in both cuisines. You’ll find the mixture in New Orleans-inspired recipes like gumbo and jambalaya, as well as these Cajun recipes that use the holy trinity.

How to Make the Cajun Holy Trinity


  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped


Heat a cast iron skillet (or any skillet you have) on low heat. Allow butter to melt or olive oil to become fragrant before adding equal parts onion, celery and green bell peppers. Simmer until the vegetables start to break down. This could be as quick as 10 minutes or as long as 30 minutes. If you’re going for a very long simmer, cover the skillet to trap the moisture.

Once the mixture is fragrant and the vegetables have broken down, add in your broth or meat to finish the dish.

Try holy trinity food like crawfish etoufee, shrimp gumbo and jambalaya to test your skills at making the aromatic base.