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Shrimp Etouffee

Shrimp etouffee serves up tasty shrimp simmered in a filling sauce made with roux, holy trinity vegetables, shrimp stock, and homemade Cajun seasoning. Pair this classic comfort food with dirty rice, red beans and rice, or tasty cornbread to make it a complete meal.

Shrimp étouffée in a serving dish.

WHAT MAKES SOMETHING AN ETOUFFEE?

Étouffée is an integral part of the food history in the American South. There is a good chance that when you think about Cajun and Creole cuisine, meals like gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, and shrimp étouffée come to mind, and for a good reason! 

Étouffée is a French word that means ‘to smother,’ a common cooking technique in the South. This way of cooking is very similar to a French fricassee. If you haven’t made anything like this before, begin with our Jamaican chicken fricassee.

Both techniques involve preparing a rich, flavorful sauce for the ingredients to cook; our shrimp stews in a sauce made up of the holy trinity of vegetables, shrimp stock, and a simple, gluten-free roux for the best shrimp etouffee recipe!

WHAT IS A ROUX?

Roux is the basis for Cajun meals like gumbo and shrimp étouffée. A classic roux contains a few simple ingredients and a whole lot of whisking! They include equal parts fat and flour cooked to varying degrees depending on the dish you’re preparing.

The three main rouxs are white, blonde, and dark brown. We prepare a gluten-free roux with cornstarch to make this recipe. While it’s faster to use cornstarch as a thickener for étouffée, it doesn’t develop the same flavor as a flour roux. For this reason, I include extra herbs and spices- so you don’t miss out on anything.

How to Make a 15-Minute Blonde Roux

Ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Flour

Instructions:

  1. Start with a cold pan and warm butter over medium heat until it bubbles.
  2. Add flour and whisk to combine.
  3. Whisk constantly to prevent burning; this is especially important once the paste changes color. If you notice any color spotting, turn down the heat and continue whisking.
  4. Watch the roux and pay attention to the color; it may not take 15 minutes or longer. It all depends on the stove you’re using.

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • Roux: I deviate from traditional roux by making a gluten-free version with butter and cornstarch. I include instructions for preparing a flour roux in the section above.
  • Vegetables: It’s hard to depart from tried and true; we use onions, celery, green bell peppers, and garlic.
  • Cajun Seasoning: I prefer to use the Cajun seasoning included in this recipe so you can cater the spices to your taste. If you purchase seasoning from the store, use our homemade Slap Ya Mama Seasoning recipe.
  • Herbs: Bay leaves and fresh thyme bring this shrimp dish to the next level. 
  • Shrimp Stock: You can purchase shrimp or seafood stock, but why not use whole shrimp and make your own? Ours takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, and all you need is shrimp shells, water, and salt. Homemade shrimp stock sets the stage for the dish, but use vegetable, seafood, or chicken stock if you’re in a pinch.
  • Shrimp: I use tail-on, jumbo shrimp, but use what you have. Be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly. Try crawfish, alligator, or chicken thighs instead of shrimp.

HOW TO MAKE CAJUN SHRIMP ETOUFFEE

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

For the Shrimp Broth:

Step 1: Warm oil in a saucepan over medium heat; add the reserved shrimp shells and saute for 3 minutes.

Shrimp tails searing in a pan to draw out the flavor.

Step 2: Add water and simmer for 5 minutes.

Shrimp tails boiling in water with salt.

Step 3: Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the shells and discard them. Set the broth aside.

Shrimp stock boiling in a sauce pan.

For the Étouffée:

Step 4: Gather the ingredients for the Cajun seasoning in a small bowl and set it aside.

Cajun seasoning in a small bowl.

Step 5: Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Then, add the cornstarch. Whisk until it begins to foam and a roux forms, about 3 minutes.

Gluten-free blond roux cooking in a pan.

Step 6: Add the onion, celery, green bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until vegetables soften, for about 5-7 minutes.

Onions, celery, and bell peppers sautéing in a pan.

Step 7: Next, add the Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs. Cook until aromatic.

Cajun seasoning added to the vegetables cooking in a pan.

Step 8: Stir in the reserved shrimp broth and simmer for 30 minutes over medium heat.

Etouffee sauce simmering in a pan.

Step 9: Add the shrimp to the broth and cook for 3-5 minutes. Alter the cooking time based on the size of the shrimp you use- be careful not to overcook the shrimp.

Shrimp added to the étouffée sauce in a pan.

Step 10: Season with salt and serve with rice.

Shrimp étouffée in a serving dish with a side of quinoa in the background.

EXPERT TIPS

  • Homemade vs. Store-Bought Shrimp Broth: Boil shrimp shells in water for a quick homemade shrimp broth, or purchase one from the store. If you go the store-bought route, skip to the For the Étouffée section. 
  • Prepare the rich and velvety sauce for the shrimp to simmer or be smothered in, as the name étouffée implies.
  • Alter the cooking time based on the size of the shrimp you use- be careful not to overcook the shrimp.

SEARCHING FOR MORE LIKE THIS? 

If you love this recipe, try one of these seafood favorites!  

Shrimp étouffée in a serving dish.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS

  • Refrigerate – It’s a well known fact that étouffée tastes even better the next day; store leftovers in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
  • Freeze  Let the dish cool, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Shrimp étouffée freezes for 3 months.
  • Thaw – When you’re ready to eat, defrost it in the fridge overnight.
  • Reheat  Warm leftovers on the stovetop, and enjoy!
  • Repurpose – Use leftover shrimp to make easy shrimp and grits.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is shrimp etouffee made of?

Traditional Cajun étouffée begins with either a blonde or brown roux (depending on who prepares it) to make a sauce consisting of the “holy trinity” or onion, celery, and green bell peppers that cook down until it is dark and flavorful. Then, smother the shrimp or protein of choice in the deliciously slow-cooked sauce to finish the meal.

What is the difference between shrimp creole and shrimp etouffee?

As the name implies, shrimp Creole is a Creole dish that relies heavily on tomatoes to build flavor for the sauce; Creole étouffée is much thinner and has a more stew-like consistency.

The Cajun version of shrimp étouffée does not include tomatoes; instead, the main ingredients are roux, onions, celery, and green bell peppers; the result is a highly concentrated and flavorful gravy to “smother” the shrimp.

Does étouffée have tomatoes?

To this, I would say – it depends on who you ask. As I mentioned, the difference between Cajun and Creole étouffée is the inclusion of tomatoes or the lack thereof.

What is the difference in gumbo and etouffee?

Both are classic comfort food made with a broth base. Étouffées have a thick consistency, whereas gumbo is thinner.

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Shrimp étouffée in a serving dish.

Shrimp Etouffee

Tressa Jamil
Our shrimp étouffée cooks in a delicious roux, shrimp stock, and it is spiced to perfection with a homemade Cajun seasoning.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Cajun
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 208 kcal
Equipment
Ingredients
  
For the Shrimp Broth:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound shrimp shells, remove the tails from the shrimp
  • 3 cups water
  • kosher salt, to taste
For the Cajun Seasoning:
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, coarse ground
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
For the Étouffée:
  • 1 stick butter
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • 1 medium yellow onion, small diced
  • 4 stalk celery, small diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, small diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs dried thyme
  • 3 cups homemade shrimp broth
  • 2 pounds shrimp, jumbo, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
  • kosher salt, to taste
Instructions
 

For the Shrimp Broth:

  • Warm oil in a saucepan over medium heat; add the reserved shrimp shells and saute for 3 minutes.
  • Add water and simmer for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp tails and discard them. Set the broth aside.

For the Étouffée:

  • Gather the ingredients for the Cajun seasoning in a small bowl and set it aside.
  • Melt butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Then, add cornstarch. Whisk until it begins to foam and a roux forms, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the onion, celery, green bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until vegetables soften, for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Next, add the Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs. Cook until aromatic.
  • Stir in the reserved shrimp broth and simmer for 30 minutes over medium heat.
  • Add the shrimp to the broth and cook for 3-5 minutes. Alter the cooking time based on the size of the shrimp you use- be careful not to overcook the shrimp.
  • Season with salt and serve with rice.
Notes
Expert Tips:
  • Homemade vs. Store-Bought Shrimp Broth: Boil shrimp shells in water for a quick homemade shrimp broth, or purchase one from the store. If you go the store-bought route, skip to the For the Étouffée section. 
  • Prepare the rich and velvety sauce for the shrimp to simmer or be smothered in, as the name étouffée implies.
  • Alter the cooking time based on the size of the shrimp you use- be careful not to overcook the shrimp.
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Servings | Calories: 208 kcal | Carbohydrates: 15 g | Protein: 25 g | Fat: 4 g | Sodium: 3310 mg | Fiber: 3 g | Sugar: 2 g
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
Recipe Rating




David Ramirez

Friday 26th of May 2023

Simply divine! The shrimp in this dish were incredibly tender and the sauce had just the right amount of spice. I served it with some flavorful dirty rice and it was a match made in heaven. This recipe is a keeper!

Julia Anderson

Friday 26th of May 2023

Wow, this dish blew me away! The flavors were rich and the shrimp were perfectly cooked. It paired amazingly with some homemade cornbread. Definitely a new favorite in our household. Thanks for the recipe!

Tiffany

Sunday 26th of February 2023

If I want to use flour instead of cornstarch should I alter the amount ??

Tressa Jamil

Sunday 26th of February 2023

Great question! You can directly replace the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of flour for this recipe.

Shariq

Sunday 16th of October 2022

My mouth waters whenever I think of this recipe again. This is a very authentic and classic etouffee recipe for those who don't want to make the trip to Louisiana. We love preparing this recipe in cooler months.