Shrimp Etouffee

Another great dish from Hank. Enjoy! ~Elise

Even though I grew up in New Jersey, and my mother is from New England, I still think Louisiana has the best food in America. Every time I cook Cajun or Creole I’m in awe of the balance and strength in the cooking there; it’s one of the few places in the United States with a long-standing cuisine all its own. This dish, étouffée, is one of that cuisine’s crown jewels.

Étouffée basically means “smothered,” and it is a common cooking technique in the South; a fricassee is the same deal. You make a flavorful sauce and cook a meat or fish in it, not so long as a braise or stew, and not so short as a sauté.

Shrimp etouffee brings together all of the hallmarks of Louisiana cooking: Seafood (help our own shrimpers by making sure you use Gulf shrimp for your etouffee), a flour-and-oil roux, the “Holy Trinity” of onion, celery and green pepper, traditional Cajun seasoning and hot sauce.

Debates rage over whether etouffee ought to have a roux in it, whether you can use more than one seafood (wouldn’t that be a gumbo, then?), and whether to use tomato or not. We went with a roux, one seafood, Tabasco, and no tomato. You can alter this recipe to suit your own preferences.

You’ll note the long prep time in this recipe—that is mostly for peeling the shrimp shells for the stock and then for simmering that stock. If you use canned or pre-made stock, your prep time will go down to about 20 minutes.

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Shrimp Etouffee Recipe

  • Prep time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

You can use shrimp, crawfish or crab for this recipe interchangeably.

Ingredients

Optional Shrimp Stock:

  • Shells from 2 pounds of shrimp
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • top and bottom from 1 green pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 5 bay leaves

Étouffée

  • 2 pounds shrimp, shell on (remove shells for use in the shrimp stock, if not making your own stock, you can get shrimp already shelled)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or lard
  • Heaping 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pint shrimp stock (see above), or clam juice or pre-made fish or shellfish stock
  • 1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 Tbsp sweet paprika
  • Salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Hot sauce (Crystal or Tabasco) to taste

Method

1 Pour 2 quarts of water into a pot and add all the remaining stock ingredients. Bring to a boil, drop the heat down and simmer the stock gently for 45 minutes. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into another pot set over low heat. You will have extra stock, which you can use for soup, risotto, etc. It will last in the fridge for a week.

2 To make the etouffee, start by making a roux. Heat the vegetable oil or lard in a heavy pot over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the flour well, making sure there no clumps. Let this cook, stirring often, until it turns a pretty brown; this should take about 10 minutes or so.

3 Add the celery, green pepper, jalapeno and onion, mix well and cook this over medium heat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

4 Slowly add the hot shrimp stock, stirring constantly so it incorporates. The roux will absorb the stock and seize up at first, then it will loosen. Add enough stock to make a sauce about the thickness of syrup, about 1 pint. Add the Creole seasoning, celery seed and paprika and mix well. Add salt to taste, then mix in the shrimp. Cover the pot, turn the heat to its lowest setting and cook for 10 minutes.

5 Add the green onions and hot sauce to taste. Serve over white rice with a cold beer or lemonade.

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Shrimp and Lobster Etouffee - from Lisa is Cooking

47 Comments

  1. Dorothy at Belle of the Kitchen

    I love etouffee (although I prefer the crawfish variety). This recipe is how I like it, with a roux, and without the tomato paste.

  2. avis

    Etouffee does NOT have tomato (that would be creole) and the food in that picture is way too wet to be etouffee. Etouffee is much thicker. That looks more like gumbo. Etouffee is a thick sauce, not a soup.

    See what I mean? There are all kinds of opinions on what is and is not an etouffee. ;-) I can assure you that this is indeed an etouffee, it’s just not your version. I hope you try it anyway. ~Hank

  3. Kathryn Jørgensen

    I am alergic to seafood, could I use chicken insead?

    Never heard of a chicken etouffee, but I don’t see why you couldn’t. ~Hank

  4. tripstatn

    Love the site, but shouldn’t the Étouffée be made with the shells off.

    The etouffee is indeed made with the shells off – you use the shells to make the stock. ~Hank

  5. Terri

    This looks wonderful. I do have a question. How much stock do you end up with total and how much do you use for the recipe? I know you said about a pint for the recipe but I just want to make sure the pint (give or take a bit) is for the etouffee only. Thanks!

    Yes, the pint is for the etouffee only. We got about 2 quarts of stock total. ~Hank

  6. BMJ

    I just opened my browser with the express purpose of finding a new shrimp recipe to use tonight and BAM! this recipe greeted me from my RSS feed. I’m glad that it’s a soupier recipe – that suits my preferences perfectly. Thanks so much Hank and Elise for all your hard work!

  7. Amy

    Any idea what to use as a substitute for “Cajun seasoning”? I don’t live in the states and my grocery stores don’t carry this. :-(

    Everyone’s mix is different, but you will need something like this: 1 Tbsp salt, 2, teaspoons sweet paprika, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, 1/4 teaspoon allspice. Hope that helps! ~Hank

  8. Julie

    Just my 2 cents… Although it seems obvious to me that you should shell the shrimp from the étouffée ingredients to add to the ingredients for the stock… I would probably make that a little more explicit in the directions, especially since that part is listed as optional.

  9. AG Wright

    Mom is from North LA but always fixed gumbo and not etouffee for some reason. I had a wonderful bowl of it a couple of years ago at a little Baptist church in central LA. It was much thicker than the gumbo that they fixed and was made in a large wash pot. I’d guess there was about 10 gallons of food in that pot.

  10. Ashley

    This sounds absolutely delicious but I have to agree with the other post. It doesnt look like any etouffee Ive ever had. but I’ll admit I’m from Texas not Louisiana so its possible it was changed a bit :)

  11. David

    Wow….just made an etouffee Monday, go to your web-site and find your recipe. Looks really good. I make mine with andouille sausage along with the shrimp. This time I also braised some whole chicken thighs with the etouffee, removed the skin and bones, shredded the meat and added back in with the shrimp just before serving. Keep up the good work and great recipes coming.

  12. Regina

    For Amy – if you can find Tony Chachere’s in the spice section – that’s a common Cajun seasoning.

    And it’s pronounced “shash-er-ee” :D

  13. kathy

    I love shrimp etouffe, but prefer crawfish etouffee. In Lafayette, LA, the heart of cajun country, shrimp and crawfish etouffee are USUALLY, not always, made with butter or margarine and the roux is only cooked to “blond” not brown. This way, it retains its’ thickening properties that some people have mentioned above. And, what’s better with shrimp, or crawfish, than butter? If you do visit Acadiana and order an etouffee, this is usually how it is prepared and these are some of the things that separates it from a gumbo, is its’ stew qualities. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chef in Acadiana (or any of my local cookbooks) call for celery seed in the etouffee. Maybe in the potato salad on the side, but, they tend to run in the eggy/relish/add pickle juice to the potato salad. The slight acidity in the potato salad is a nice complement to the richness of the etouffee. Enjoy!

    Thanks for the tips! My roux thickened quite well, actually, as it was only cooked to barely brown, not the rich, nut-brown of a gumbo roux. And as for the celery seed? You got me – that’s my own addition. ;-) ~Hank

  14. Jynger Morris

    Looks fabulous. Thanks. Just a suggestion, whenever I make stock, I double the recipe and freeze my leftovers in ice cube trays. It works great and I toss a few cubes into this or that for extra flavor. It even allows my daughter to have instant “au just” (to her at least) for her meat and/or veggies.

  15. Shorthand

    I must say that I agree with Avis here. Being from 70 miles south of New Orleans, etouffe is a staple in our house, particularly during crawfish season. By and large, it sounds like a really good recipe, but as Avis pointed out, it should be thicker. The way that my husband does it is that he sweats his aromatic veggies in real butter, sprinkles flour over them, and then adds whatever liquid he is using until the desired consistency is reached. I check this site most every day. It is really enjoyable to read articles and recipes from people as passionate about food as you and your contributors.

  16. Tempy

    I live In Shreveport, LA. I think one seafood is the way to go!(although I cheat sometimes and use shrimp and crawfish). I usually add tomatoes to mine and cajun peppers as well make sure the onion is fresh. (I usually skip the roux).

  17. Nicole

    First of all, I don’t know how you’ve never heard of chicken etoufee, but it’s one of my favs, and the only way I get etoufee at home as my hubby is allergic to shrimp. :-) Just finely shred some cooked chicken and replace the shrimp with it. Second, you can get a LOT more flavor from your roux if you do 1/2 oil and 1/2 butter. The oil lowers the butter’s scorch temp, allowing you to cook the roux longer and get a true brick roux, and you get the richness of the butter flavor. Always keep your ratio of fat to flour about 1:1 in a roux and you’ll be all good. I’m also surprised there’s not any bay leaf in this recipe, because it’s traditional in etoufee, but, as you said, there’s a million different ways to prepare it.

  18. Michelle

    I made a very similar etouffee (Emeril’s version) for Mardi Gras this year and it was scrumptious and I’m sure this one is too. I think the criticism in the comments is a little ridiculous. Everyone has a different family recipe, that’s why your family claims it as theirs – it’s different from the rest!

  19. Debora

    I lived in Louisiana for 30 years – 20 in Cajun country and 10 in the northern part. I too make my roux for etoufee with butter. Although I prefer Louisiana crawish (will NOT use the Chinese imports) etouffee, shrimp, chicken are all acceptable – Etoufee is not just a seafood dish – it is a method. Sorry, Hank but I have to agree – Etoufee is thicker than the picture shows – at least in Louisiana it is! Love your site and enjoy reading your recipes.

    Sigh. My etouffee is actually thicker than it looks in this picture. At least it is a lot thicker than my gumbo is. ~Hank

  20. John S

    Very tasty with the right amount of heat, I used Tony C’s seasoning. Gravy was just about right in taste and thickness using a scant pint of stock. Will do this again and this time for company.

  21. Betsy

    I made this last night and it was perfect! I loved the addition of the jalapeños and sweet paprika in particular.

  22. KimH

    I think your recipe looks scrumptious and I plan on trying it soon..

    I’ve never seen an etouffee with tomato either, but hey.. to each their own. (Another Texan with Cajun roots here) I make jambalaya differently than many others do & its all ok by me. :D

    Yum…now Im hungry! :D

  23. snperch

    Please tell me how to pronounce “etoufee”
    So many recipes come on different sites that I haven’t a clue how to say them.:-)
    This sounds wonderful. Sure wish I could find crawfish!

    I pronounce it, “EH-two-fay,” with a slight emphasis on the first syllable. ~Hank

  24. vasinvamoose

    I love etouffee although here in Louisiana it is almost always eaten with crawfish, and the is NEVER tomato in it. At least that is how everyone’s mama makes it. If you add tomato in it then it is Shrimp Creole, or whatever type of seafood you use. And I always use a roux. I think I might make some for lent this Friday. Yum!

  25. Sam

    I missing the butter in this? I always thought Butter and bestified clarified butter?
    But, it reads good and I may try it this way, Hmmmmm, will a cup of bacon grease sub for the 1/4 cup of Lard?

    You bet. Will be a different flavor though. ~Hank

  26. Geoff

    Looks like a great recipe and I’m adding it to my ‘to make’ list. A question – it seems like 10 minutes would overcook the shrimp. Comment?

    It doesn’t, because the etouffee is just gently simmering, not boiling. If you plan to serve this over an extended period of time, as opposed to all at once, you can turn off the burner and let the carryover heat finish the shrimp. ~Hank

  27. Je Ae

    I’ve had 4 wisdom teeth recently removed AND it looks like I’ve cracked a tooth last night. Which means no solid food for me for who knows how long – once I’m capable of truly eating again, this is the first thing I’m going to make. I can’t wait, I wanted to lick the picture it looks so good.

  28. carrie

    Thanks for reminding folks to use Gulf shrimp!

  29. sudu

    I made version of this with chicken – same spices and everything- even the chicken broth. And it came out very very very delicious!! Now I don’t know much about cajun cooking so let me dare ask – what is the difference between etoufee and gumbo? because my chicken etoufee was more like a chicken gumbo in taste (and feel!).

    Glad you made it! At the risk of starting a war here, gumbo, to me, has a) more than one meat, b) okra, and c) file powder, which is powdered sassafras leaf. Louisiana folks, chime in here. OK? ~Hank

  30. kathy

    For the best description of the difference between a gumbo and etouffee is to read a discourse (so formal!) on the different types of roux’s used in Louisiana cooking. Chef John Folse is an expert on Cajun & Creole cooking and gives an excellent explanation on the different roux’s (6 of them!)and which one is commonly used in which dish. Here is the link: http://www.jfolse.com/fr_rouxs.htm

    As far as the butter roux for etouffee, that is how I learned to make it from several chef’s who won the world champion etouffee cook-off (many, many years ago). The orange/red color in the crawfish etouffee does not come from tomato, but from the orange fat that coats the crawfish tails. You have to make sure that you squeeze as much of that out of the bag (if using frozen tails) to get the most flavor. No counting calories.

    Good Eating!

  31. Nancy Long

    I have had and made gumbo with only one meat/seafood but, I usually make mine with several. Most gumbos are thickened with either roux or okra but, I use both. Also, file powder really should only be sprinkle over the bowl when you serve it or use it all at that time. When file is reheated, it tends to make the gumbo gummy.

    Good point about the file – I sprinkle it on at the table. ~Hank

  32. Nancy Deane

    Recipe looks and sounds wonderful! The comments are “priceless”. I have never made a Etouffee let alone know how to pronounce. But I do know a good recipe when I see it or read it! (I am always pleased with your contributions.) NOW, I know how to pronounce it, make it, and with various techniques. See what you started! THANKS!

  33. Thom

    I was making gumbo, but I used the shrimp stock recipe that you provided. Had I known that the stock would be so good, I would’ve settled for shrimp noodle soup. It was very flavorful. You can bet that I will try the etouffee.

  34. Pop Culture Mom

    Créole gal here with just a little tip. Lard/oil is okay for a gumbo roux, but for étoufée, it’s better to have the lighter, creamier roux. Instead of lard/oil, use butter. Sounds like a little difference, but trust me, your tastebuds will THANK you! (and skip the jalepenos; use a little Cajun or Creole seasoning instead for some kick).

    With ya on the butter – it works well with a light roux – but I’ll stick with the jalapenos. I like what they bring to the party. ~Hank

  35. Pete

    Hank; I hope you’re not paying too much attention to the critics…
    I guess some are wannabe experts…
    We should all remember that the origination of gumbos, etouffees, stews, etc… was that it was a “gumbo” of everything & anything in the fridge or whatever the hubby caught in the traps or on his pole that day. The person that corrected you & said that “if it had tomatoes in it, then it would be a shrimp creole” was wrong. Creole is not close to the same family as stew, gumbo or etouffee.

    Applying an exact, precise title to a gumbo, stew or etouffee is useless… Like the early cajuns & creoles intended, It’s whatever you want to put in it & whatever you want to call it! I DID see Paul Prudomme put a few tomatoes in a etouffee… Gumbos, stews & etouffees are differentiated by the degree of soupiness rather than the ingredients. One can travel to 1,000 cajun and creole cafes in cajun country & find no two gumbos, etouffees, or stews alike.

    Thanks for your article & recipe Hank…

  36. Krusticle

    I made this last night, with a few changes — I used butter in the roux (was out of bacon fat) and I’m allergic to onions, so that was out. It still tasted great! I used a Trader Joe’s seafood stock, adding celery, bay leaves and shrimp shells to simmer. I only had basmati rice on hand, so after having a dish of the etouffee as is, I then experimented with adding some unsweetened shredded coconut, saffron and some peas to it. It became a whole new thing with the basmati rice, a cross between a Carribean dish and Indian curry. We liked both versions so much, I’ll be making this again. Thanks!

  37. Nam

    I just finished making this. It came out great.. just like any other dish made from your site. Thanks Elise! Your website helps me try out dishes I have only had in restaurants :)

  38. Sandra

    Most saturday nights my husband and I like to make something “special” for dinner. This recipe fit perfectly. A definite keeper. Thank you.

  39. natashaskitchen.com

    This sounds like a very flavorful dish. I love spicy, but I might try to tone down the spices for my 1 1/2 year old :) I bet he’d like this!Have you tried this with Chicken?

    I have not, but others have and they said it is excellent done with chicken! ~Hank

  40. Tess

    To the person with seafood alergies, I make an okra and tasso etouffee–no shellfish whatsoever. And, having lived in Louisiana my entire life, I can attest to the fact that many an etouffee is made with a tomato base.

  41. Liz

    Sunday night dinner! Along with corn on the cob and, as you suggest, cold beer. What a wonderful way to end a spring day of gardening. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  42. Andrea Kearney

    I made this dish in a very large cast iron skillet (we just got induction and I still can’t make up my mind on new cookware). Used 1/2 butter and 1/2 oil for the roux, hot Szeged paprika b/c I was out of sweet, only 1 jalapeno. Mistakenly purchased shelled shrimp, so used the tails for stock and reduced quantity of other stock ingredients by 1/2 and ended up with exactly 1 pint after simmering. Also did not have celery seed, so skipped it and added pinch of thyme. Used Hank’s recipe in the comments for the seasoning mix (except for the paprika and celery seed, as already mentioned). Very nice result, thanks for this recipe.

  43. Laura Moody

    Well I’m making this tonight! The first time I try a new recipe I like to remain true to the original, later I can make my own changes. Would like to mention though, the word gumbo comes from the African name for Okra. Therefore, I believe a true gumbo must have okra in it. Right? Thanks for the recipe.

    That is in dispute, and there are plenty of traditional Louisiana gumbos without okra. ~Hank

  44. Kathy

    This was a terrific dish! We did add crawfish with 2 bay leaves and some parsley. I think next time I will have to make a double, maybe even a tripke batch…gone in an instant! LOL Thank you for a wonderful meal!! :P

  45. Tom

    Made this for dinner tonight, is was fantastic – thanks for the recipe! There was a sale on head-on shrimp at my local grocer, so my stock was even more flavorful.

  46. Jessica W

    Your etouffee looks awesome!! One thing I love about recipes is we can always make them our own. Bon Appetit!

  47. Anne

    I made this today, and it was awesome! I cooked the roux to the dark old-penny color that you’d use for a gumbo, thinking it would be the same, but I’m reading all the comments here, and I guess what I made isn’t a “real” etouffee?

    I’m still going to make my version with the darker roux though, as not only did the stew thicken up fine (maybe it’s because I used more roux than the recipe called for), but the toasted nutty flavor it brought to the dish was phenomenal.

    Also, I preseasoned the shrimp with Cajun spice and added more spice to the vegetables as it sauteed. Seemed enough seasoning for me: I realized halfway through eating it that I had forgotten the hot sauce, and I had never missed it.

    Thank you for a really delicious recipe!

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