This authentic Shrimp Etouffee recipe is a traditional Cajun or Creole staple meal. The dish is made with onions, peppers, celery, and a thick, deep brown roux-based sauce. Pair this with rice and Southern side dishes.
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If you are a fan of Southern cuisine you will love these recipes: Slow Cooker Gumbo, Cajun Dirty Rice, and Slow Cooker Crockpot Oxtails.
What is Shrimp Etouffee?
It’s a classic staple Cajun and/or Creole dish that is made with shrimp, onions, peppers, celery, and a roux-based sauce.
The name “étouffée” comes from the French word “étouffer,” which means “to smother.” Smothering is a cooking method in which the ingredients are cooked in a covered pot over low heat, which allows them to simmer and develop a rich, flavorful sauce or gravy that “smothers” the dish.
The meal starts with a rich brown roux, a mixture of flour and butter cooked over low heat, that is used to thicken the dish. Holy Trinity vegetables are sautéed in the roux, along with garlic and other spices.
From there, shrimp is added and simmered until cooked. The result is a thick, rich, and flavorful shrimp stew that is served over rice.
Holy Trinity Ingredients
The “Holy Trinity” is a term used in Cajun and Creole cooking and includes three ingredients: onions, bell peppers, and celery. These are considered the foundation of many dishes and are used to create a flavorful base for gumbo, jambalaya, dirty rice, grits, and more.
How to Create a Roux
The roux is the most important part of the dish. If you have Southern roots, you know a good roux when you see one. It’s usually deep brown, sometimes peanut butter brown. Either way, it’s usually a point of contention and debate among Southerners.
The roux is the thickening agent for the recipe and calls for equal parts flour and oil (typically butter or olive oil). You will also need a pan and a whisk or wooden spoon.
- Heat the butter/olive oil in a pan or skillet over medium-low heat.
- Once melted, gradually whisk in the flour, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming.
- Continue to stir (without stopping), until it reaches the desired color. A peanut butter roux will take around 10-15 minutes and a dark roux can take around 15-20 minutes.
It’s important to keep an eye on the roux while it cooks, as it can burn quickly if left unattended. A burned roux will have a bitter taste.
Homemade Shrimp Stock vs Store Bought
It can be difficult to find store-bought shrimp stock or seafood stock. I’ve always made my own. If you prefer to use store-bought, go for it! Homemade stock will impart more shrimp flavor into the dish.
When making a homemade stock, you will save the shrimp shells instead of discarding them. Clean them well and boil them in a pot of water along with Creole Seasoning. The result is a flavorful broth with shrimp flavor that will be added to the dish.
How to Make Shrimp Etouffee
Full detailed instructions are below in the recipe card.
- Add olive oil and butter to the pot. Add in the flour.
- Continue to whisk until the roux turns deep brown.
- Add green peppers, celery, onions, and garlic to the pot and roux. Stir and cook.
- Add spices, bay leaves, 2 cups of shrimp broth, and Worcestershire sauce to the pot.
- Stir and cover. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer.
- Open the pot and add the shrimp.
Do You Add Tomatoes?
Tomatoes aren’t typically added. Some Creole recipes add tomatoes to a dish like this including gumbo. Feel free to add them if it’s your preference.
Is it Spicy?
I like to add cayenne pepper sometimes for spice, but it’s optional. I don’t find Creole spicy. It’s much milder in comparison to Cajun seasoning. If you aren’t a fan of spicy use less Creole seasoning in the dish, or seek a store-bought version that is proven to suit your taste.
What’s the Difference Between Shrimp Etouffee and Gumbo
Shrimp étouffée and gumbo are both classic Cajun and Creole dishes that typically feature shrimp or seafood as the main ingredients.
Gumbo is a thick stew that is typically made with a roux as a thickener, it can also include a variety of meats (including chicken and sausage), seafood (including crab, oysters, or crawfish), vegetables, and spices.
Etouffee has a creamy, buttery sauce, it’s typically made with a roux, vegetables, and seafood (shrimp, crawfish).
Both dishes are usually served with rice. The main difference is gumbo is more of a thick soup or stew and etouffee is more of a creamy sauce dish.
Additional Ingredients and Substitution Ideas
How to Store Leftovers
Leftovers can be stored tightly covered and sealed for 3-4 days.
How to Reheat
My favorite way to reheat is in a pan on the stove or in this Crockpot warmer. You can microwave the dish if you wish.
You can freeze leftovers tightly sealed and covered for 3-4 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat as directed above.
Pair with these Side Dishes
Southern Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey
Southern Green Beans
Southern Okra and Tomatoes
Steakhouse Creamed Spinach
More Shrimp Recipes
Pan Seared Shrimp with Lemon Butter
Easy BBQ Shrimp
Shrimp Noodle Soup
Seafood Pasta Salad with Crab and Shrimp
Shrimp Egg Rolls
Air Fryer Frozen Shrimp
Spicy Shrimp Tacos
Shrimp Etouffee Recipe
- 4 cups water
- 1 pound raw shrimp Peeled and deveined. Save the shells for the shrimp stock.
- 1/2 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup diced green peppers
- 1 cup diced yellow onions
- 2 celery stalks Diced
- 3 garlic cloves Minced
- 1/2 tablespoon Creole Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 bay leaves
Homemade Shrimp Stock (Feel free to use store-bought stock if you wish)
- Place a large soup pot on the stove at medium-high heat. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Next, add the shrimp shells and 1/2 teaspoon of Creole Seasoning.
- Lower the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Open the pot and strain the shells from the broth using a strainer. Set the broth aside.
- Add the olive oil and butter to the pot on medium heat. Once it melts add the flour and stir. Add the flour in stages half at a time.
- Continue to whisk until the roux turns deep brown. It should turn brown within a few minutes of whisking. Watch it closely so that it doesn't burn. A peanut butter roux will take around 10-15 minutes and a dark roux can take around 15-20 minutes.
- Add the green peppers, celery, onions, and garlic to the pot and roux. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until the veggies are soft.
- Add all of the spices, bay leaves, 2 cups of the shrimp broth, and Worcestershire sauce to the pot.
- Stir and cover. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Open the pot and add the shrimp. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the shrimp has turned pink. Remove the bay leaves and remove the pot from heat. Serve with white rice.
- When making the roux, if the oil and flour mixture is thick, add more oil.
- It’s important to keep an eye on the roux while it cooks, as it can burn quickly if left unattended. A burned roux will have a bitter taste.
- Instead of using a combination of butter and oil for the roux, you can use all butter if you wish.
- You can purchase seafood stock as opposed to making your own, if you can find it in stores.