Classic Shrimp Étouffée

Classic shrimp étouffée in a bowl, served over rice and in a pot

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 55 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
402 Calories
14g Fat
29g Carbs
40g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 402
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 9g 43%
Cholesterol 322mg 107%
Sodium 1441mg 63%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 40g
Vitamin C 26mg 132%
Calcium 165mg 13%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 759mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This is a Creole-style shrimp étouffée made with tomatoes, fresh shrimp, and the "holy trinity" of onion, celery, and bell pepper. If you're looking to jazz up mealtimes, this is a really tasty dish to start with. 

Étouffée is a French word that means "smothered" or "suffocated." As you can see in the photo, the shrimp are smothered with a combination of chopped vegetables and tomatoes in a rich brown roux.

The brown roux and the addition of tomatoes are typical of a Creole étouffée.

Most Creole and Cajun seasonings are made with a generous amount of salt, so taste and add salt, if needed, just before adding the shrimp.

Serve with a tossed salad and French bread or rolls.


Click Play to See This Traditional Shrimp Ètouffèe Recipe Come Together


  • 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 1 1/2 cups celery, chopped

  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper, or a combination of green and red

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 8 ounces clam juice, or shrimp stock

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning, preferably salt free

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 dash salt, to taste

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 2 cups cooked rice, hot, for serving

  • Fresh chopped parsley, or green onion tops, sliced, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for classic shrimp étouffée recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. First, clarify the butter. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Let it simmer until the foam rises to the top.

    Melted butter in a saucepan on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Once the butter stops making crackling noises and there is no longer any foam rising to the top, remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly.

    Melted butter in a saucepan

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Most of the solids will be on the bottom. Skim off any foam with a spoon. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. 

    Pour butter out of a saucepan into a cheesecloth-lined strainer

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  5. After clarifying the butter, you will have about 4 to 5 tablespoons for the roux.

    Melted butter in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Put the clarified butter in a Dutch oven or large heavy saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat and add the flour. 

    Melted butter in a pot with flour on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  7. Cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is golden brown, about the color of peanut butter. 

    Roux stirred with a spatula in a pot on the burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Add the chopped onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic to the roux and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 10 to 12 minutes. 

    Roux and vegetables in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  9. Add the clam juice or shrimp stock and diced tomatoes, along with 1 tablespoon of the Creole seasoning, ground black pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. 

    Vegetables with clam juice, tomatoes, Creole seasoning, bay leaf, and ground black pepper in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  10. If the sauce mixture seems too thick, thin it with a little more clam juice, shrimp stock, or some chicken broth. Taste and add more Creole seasoning and salt, as needed.

    Sauce cooking in a pot on a burner, next to a bowl with Creole seasoning and a measuring cup with stock

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  11. Add the shrimp and continue cooking for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through. 

    Classic shrimp étouffée cooking in a pot on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  12. For each serving, put a big scoop of rice in the center of a deep plate or shallow bowl. Spoon the shrimp étouffée around the rice. Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped parsley or green onion tops. Serve with a simple tossed salad and crusty French bread or rolls. 

    Classic shrimp étouffée served over rice in bowls

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga


This is a great make-ahead recipe. Prepare the sauce but don't add the shrimp. Just before dinnertime, make the rice. Bring the sauce to a simmer, add the shrimp, and continue with the recipe.

How to Store

  • If there is any étouffée left over, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three days.

Creole vs. Cajun

  • The difference between Creole cuisine and Cajun cuisine is that Creole is tomato-based and has tomatoes in it, whereas Cajun cooking does not.