Try this New Orleans-style Shrimp Etouffee for a recipe that’s guaranteed to impress! Authentic Creole seasonings will bring the flavors of Mardi Gras straight into your kitchen. Serve with Red Beans and Rice, a Shrimp Po’Boy and cornbread.
Over the past few years, I’ve literally loved eating my way through New Orleans. One of my favorite recipes to try in various restaurants is the shrimp etoufee. Here is a wonderful one that tastes comforting and nostalgic of my time in NOLA.
What is etouffee?
In French, “etouffee” literally translates to “smother.” As it relates to food, etouffee refers to a method of cooking where seafood is smothered in vegetables and sauce.
The end result is a stew-like seafood dish bursting at the seams with flavor! Shrimp etouffee is a popular dish in the South, and it’s taken on many different forms thanks to influences from both Cajun and Creole cooking.
In this recipe, the creamy sauce begins with a dark roux, which adds a ton of flavor and thickens the stew. The addition of tomatoes is actually a Creole way of making this recipe since Cajun-style etouffee doesn’t incorporate tomatoes.
The end result is a rich, boldly-flavored sauce that surrounds vegetables and plump, juicy shrimp. You will love it!
Shrimp Creole vs shrimp etouffee
Shrimp Creole and shrimp etouffee are somewhat similar dishes, which is why people often get the two confused with one other. But, here are the subtle differences between them:
- Shrimp etouffee: Thick, gravy-like consistency, made with a roux base, and much spicier than shrimp Creole.
- Shrimp Creole: Normally made with a tomato base, thinner, stew-like consistency, and more mild than shrimp etouffee.
What is the history?
Shrimp etouffee is rich in history and bonkers in flavor! Food historians trace back Louisiana etouffee to the crawfish capital of the world, Breaux Bridges, Louisiana. Etouffee was first served in the Hebert Hotel in the early 1920s when Mrs. Hebert, along with her daughters, Yoli and Marie, made crawfish etouffee using crawfish tails, crawfish fat, onions and pepper. From there, the Heberts shared their recipe with their friend, Aline Guidry Champagne. Ms. Champagne later opened a restaurant, the RendezVous Café, and began serving the dish.
Since then, the presence of etouffee in the South has taken on a life of its own. You can find this signature New Orleans meal at almost any restaurant. Making an etouffee can take some time, but it is truly worth it. The buttery richness paired with succulent shrimp, just the right amount of spice, and fluffy white rice is truly one of the best combinations you’ll ever experience.
I have enjoyed shrimp etouffee at restaurants, and I’ve even sampled a few of the crawfish variety. But, there is something about making it at home that I love even more!
How to make a roux
Making a roux may seem challenging, but shrimp etouffee is incredibly simple once you master this cooking technique! You want to ensure it browns without burning, so don’t stray far away from the pan.
Thoroughly stir in the flour after melting the butter over medium heat. Check that there are no lumps, and continuously stir while it deepens in color. Once you get past making the roux, it is smooth sailing from then on out.
- Roux: To make the roux, I use salted butter and all-purpose flour. This is what will create a thick, gravy consistency. For a slightly more forgiving option, you can make the roux with vegetable oil in place of butter.
- The holy trinity: Much like mirepoix, chopped onion, celery, and green peppers form the base of many Cajun and Creole dishes, providing savory, hearty, and umami flavors.
- Chicken stock: To create a rich, complex, and full-bodied taste, use homemade chicken stock or broth. If you’re in a pinch, store-bought stock works!
- White wine: I suggest opting for a dry white wine, and make it one that you will enjoy sipping on as you cook! This can be replaced with more chicken stock for an alcohol-free version.
- Canned tomatoes, tomato paste: The Creole-style addition of diced tomatoes and tomato paste is a true game changer! Both impart a bright, zesty, umami-rich element that shouldn’t be skipped.
- Seasonings: For the spice combination, I use Creole seasoning, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper for an extra kick! If you don’t have Creole seasoning, use Cajun seasoning or Blackened seasoning.
- Worcestershire sauce: For an umami, salty, and flavor-rich gravy, you need Worchestershire sauce. If you don’t have any, substitute it with soy sauce or tamari.
- Lemon juice: Adds a bright, citrusy element that balances out the salty, spicy, and savory ingredients. Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
- Hot sauce: Use your favorite brand!
- Shrimp: We’ll be using peeled and deveined shrimp for this etouffee, but you can absolutely experiment with crawfish, other seafood, or even chicken.
- Salt, pepper: Since you’ll already be adding Creole seasoning, a pinch of salt and pepper is all you’ll need to enhance the flavors and add a touch more heat.
- Heavy whipping cream: For a rich and creamy flavor and consistency, I prefer heavy whipping cream. You can also use half-and-half for a lighter option.
How to make shrimp etouffee
Step 1: Form the roux
In a medium-sized pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Thoroughly stir in the flour, making sure there are no lumps. Allow the roux to develop, stirring frequently for about 9-10 minutes. It should darken in color, but careful not to let it burn!
Step 2: Make the holy trinity
Stir in the chopped onions, celery and green bell peppers, cooking for a few more minutes until tender. Remember to keep stirring the mixture quite frequently.
Step 3: Add the liquids
Pour in the chicken stock and white wine, then add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Give the mixture a good whisk until it is well combined.
Step 4: Season the mixture
Season the gravy with Creole seasoning, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and hot sauce.
Step 5: Simmer the mixture and add shrimp
Allow the mixture to cook for 10-12 minutes over medium heat so it comes together and begins to thicken. Then, add the shrimp, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook for another 10 minutes on a lower heat with the lid on.
Step 6: Add the cream
Stir in the heavy whipping cream, then cook the shrimp etouffee for a few more minutes until it’s nice and thick! Serve it over rice, and garnish the top with chopped parsley and green onions.
- Shellfish: If you don’t like shrimp or can’t find any, try making a crawfish etouffee instead.
- Vegetarian: Maybe you don’t eat shellfish, but you love the Creole flavors. Use vegetable broth and oyster mushrooms instead.
- Cajun: Make this stew without tomatoes for a more Cajun-style etouffee.
Tips and tricks
- Watch the roux: Careful not to burn the roux! Once it turns into the color of peanut butter, add in the vegetables so it slows down the cooking process.
- Time the rice: To ensure everything is served warm, make sure you time the rice to finish at the end of cooking the dish. If you have a rice cooker or Instant Pot, it’s best to set it and forget it with the keep warm setting.
What to do with leftovers
If you’re not able to finish all of this incredible food, don’t worry! Shrimp etouffee tastes even better the next day. Just follow these simple storage tips:
- Fridge: Once fully cooled, add the stew to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- Freezer: If you’re planning to freeze this recipe before making it, I always suggest cooking it without the shrimp and adding them later when you’re reheating the stew. If the shrimp are left out, you can freeze it for up to 3 months. If the shrimp are already incorporated, I suggest eating it within a month.
To reheat shrimp etouffee from frozen, thaw everything in the fridge overnight. Warm it in a pot over medium heat until everything is hot, making sure to stir it occasionally. If you are adding shrimp, do it at the start of the warming process.
Here are a few more of my favorite Cajun and Creole recipes:
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup sliced celery
- 1/2 cup chopped green peppers
- 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 tsp tomato paste
- 14.5 oz diced tomatoes drained
- 1 tbsp creole seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp hot sauce
- 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
- cooked rice for serving
- chopped parsley and green onion for parsley
- In a medium sized pan, melt butter over medium heat. Thoroughly stir in flour making sure there are no lumps to begin the roux. Allow the roux to develop, stirring frequently for about 9-10 minutes (until dark but make sure it doesn't burn).
- Next stir in onions, celery and green peppers and cook for a few minutes until tender, frequently stirring.
- Pour in chicken stock and white wine then add tomato paste and diced tomatoes and whisk together everything.
- Season with creole seasoning, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and hot sauce.
- Allow the mixture to cook for 10-12 minutes over medium heat to come together and begin to thicken then add the shrimp and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 10 minutes on a lower heat with the lid on.
- Stir in heavy whipping cream then cook for 2-3 more minutes until thickened. Serve over rice and garnish with chopped parsley and green onion.