Seafood a la King With Tilapia, Shrimp, and Crab

A pot of seafood a la king

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
420 Calories
15g Fat
23g Carbs
48g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 420
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 8g 41%
Cholesterol 231mg 77%
Sodium 1102mg 48%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 48g
Vitamin C 10mg 50%
Calcium 266mg 20%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 883mg 19%
*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.)

Although the familiar version of this recipe features chicken, seafood a la king is a delicious way to enjoy fish and shellfish in a delicate, creamy sauce. Tilapia, shrimp, and crab are cooked in a simple white sauce, creating a crowd-pleasing dish that's great for a quick weekday meal or for special occasions. This easy-to-make recipe is also flexible, allowing you to include other types of fish and vegetables. An "a la king" dish is often served in a puff pastry shell, but it is also good over rice, pasta, grits, and biscuits.


  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 cup chopped onion

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

  • 12 ounces tilapia fillets (cut into 2-inch pieces)

  • 6 to 8 ounces peeled and deveined cooked shrimp (medium to extra-large are best)

  • 4 ounces lump crab

  • 1 cup (or more) frozen baby peas

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make seafood a la king

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.

    A skillet with butter melting

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add the onions and cook until softened.

    A skillet with onions and butter cooking

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Add the flour and cook, stirring, about 2 to 3 minutes.

    A spoon stirring butter, onions, and flour in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add the milk a bit at a time (start with a couple of tablespoons and increase as you go along), whisking or stirring well to incorporate.

    A wooden spoon incorporating a roux in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Add the seasonings and cook, stirring every so often, for 2 minutes.

    A wooden spoon stirring a roux in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Add the tilapia pieces.

    A skillet with tilapia cooking in a creamy roux sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Spoon the sauce over the fish and cook for 5 minutes, stirring very gently once or twice.

    A skillet with tilapia covered in a creamy roux sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Add the shrimp, crab, and peas. Cook a few more minutes until heated through.

    A skillet with peas and shrimped added to a cream sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  10. Serve over rice, orzo pasta, grits, biscuits, or puff pastry squares or shells.

    A pot of seafood a la king

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Variations

  • Economical tilapia is ideal, but any firm, mild fish like catfish and red snapper will work.
  • Feel free to add other vegetables in addition to the peas; this dish is equally delicious with mushrooms, carrots, and/or broccoli florets.
  • Sprinkle in some minced parsley or chervil if you like.
  • For a bit of color and zing, add a teaspoon or two of hot pepper sauce.

What Is Imitation Crab?

Often sold as "crab stick," imitation crab is made from something called surimi, which is a mixture of finely pulverized white fish and starch. Alaska pollock is most commonly used along with wheat and egg white, as well as crab flavoring and food coloring, to create what looks like snow crab leg meat. Because it does not contain any crab, there are some places that do not allow the word "crab" in the name; imitation crab also goes by "krab sticks" and "seafood sticks."