Louisiana Shrimp Étouffée Recipe

According to James Beard Award winner Tory McPhail, chef at New Orleans' iconic Commander's Palace, étouffée is one of The Big Easy's top recipes and is one that every chef puts their own special spin on. That said, you don't have to have trained at Le Cordon Bleu to make the dish; recipe developer Julianne De Witt assures us that her shrimp étouffée is not a hard recipe to make. Making the roux is simple enough, as it's essentially just a 50/50 mixture of fat (i.e. butter) and flour. Just be prepared to play the waiting game; as De Witt suggests, shrimp étouffée is "a great recipe to make on a weekend when you have a little more time." There's a fair amount of prep, and you want everything to develop a rich flavor. 

While you can eat étouffée on its own, you could also ladle it over rice, noodles, or potatoes if you want a starchy side. De Witt prefers another accompaniment, however, advising, "You should serve it with crusty French bread to soak up all the delicious sauce." Should you prefer a lower-carb option, a green salad would also go well with it. In this case, you can always eat the sauce with a spoon. Don't worry: It's that good.

Gather the ingredients for the Louisiana shrimp étouffée

This recipe is, essentially, a two-parter, since you start by making your own shrimp stock. For this, you'll need shrimp shells (you'll use the shrimp themselves later on), olive oil, an onion, the bits trimmed off of celery stalks, garlic, thyme, parsley stems, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and lemon juice.

To make the étouffée, you'll be using some (but not all) of the shrimp stock, plus flour, butter, another onion, some celery (the actual stalks, this time), green peppers, more garlic, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, bay leaves, Old Bay seasoning, cayenne pepper, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, green onions, and parsley. Oh, and of course the shrimp that were left over when you acquired the necessary shells to make the stock.

Make the shrimp stock

Warm the oil (burner set to medium), then toss in the shrimp shells and cook them for about 2 minutes until they look pink. They'll also start to smell a bit fishy (or rather, shrimpy). All the rest of the stock ingredients can go into the pot now, except for the lemon juice. Heat the stock to the boiling point, then turn down the heat just a touch so it maintains a steady simmer. After 45 minutes, turn off the heat, strain the stock, then add the lemon.

You are only going to need 4 cups of the stock for the étouffée, so after it cools down you may refrigerate or freeze the remaining amount to use in another cooking project (perhaps a seafood risotto?).

Sauté the vegetables in a roux

Melt the butter over a burner set to medium, then stir in the flour to make a nice smooth paste. Keep cooking this roux, and keep stirring, for about 3 minutes. It will appear light brown once it's done.

At this point, add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic and cook them for about 2 minutes. Once the vegetables are soft, stir the tomato paste into the mixture and continue to stir for another minute until it looks a bit darker. The key to étouffée is allowing time to develop flavors, and that's exactly what giving the roux and tomato paste a chance to darken will accomplish.

Simmer the étouffée

Pour 4 cups of the shrimp stock into the pan, then add the canned tomatoes, bay leaves, seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce. Crank up the heat to boil the stock, then turn it down to a simmer. Let the stock simmer for 10 minutes. Toss most of the green onions into the pot, except for a pinch that gets set aside for garnishing. The parsley goes in, too, along with the shrimp. Cook the étouffée for just 5 more minutes, then, at long last, your shrimp should be done.

The last thing left to be done is to sprinkle the étouffée with those reserved green onions, but you can also add a splash of Tabasco if you want to spice it up a bit. Eat it with rice or bread or any other sides you wish, but be sure to stick the leftovers in the fridge when you're done. These should be okay for 3 days, but if you won't be finishing them all up in that time, this dish also freezes well.

Louisiana Shrimp Étouffée Recipe
5 from 28 ratings
This delicious étouffée makes use of parts of ingredients you would normally discard to make a shrimp stock, which becomes the backbone of the sauce.
Prep Time
Cook Time
shrimp in sauce with rice
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • For the Shrimp Stock
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Shells from 2 pounds of shrimp (shrimp reserved for étouffée)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery ends and leaves (stalks reserved for étouffée)
  • 3 garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • Parsley stems (approximately 8, left over from the parsley chopped for the étouffée)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 8 cups water
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • For the Étouffée
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 green onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp (21 to 25 count), deveined
Optional Ingredients
  • Tabasco sauce
  • White rice
  • French bread
  1. Warm the olive oil over medium heat, then sauté the shrimp shells for about 2 minutes until they are pink and fragrant.
  2. Add all of the remaining stock ingredients besides the lemon juice to the shrimp shells.
  3. Bring the stock to a boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmers for 45 minutes.
  4. Strain the stock, then stir in the lemon juice.
  5. Melt the butter over medium heat.
  6. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes until the roux is smooth and appears light brown in color.
  7. Cook the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic in the roux for about 2 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
  8. Stir in the tomato paste and keep stirring for about 1 minute until it starts to darken.
  9. Add 4 cups of shrimp stock to the pan along with the canned tomatoes, bay leaves, seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce.
  10. Bring the stock to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer it for 10 minutes.
  11. Set aside some of the dark green parts of the green onion, then add the rest to the stock along with the parsley and shrimp.
  12. Simmer the shrimp for 5 minutes until it's cooked.
  13. Garnish the étouffée with the reserved green onions.
  14. Season the étouffée with Tabasco sauce if desired.
  15. Serve étouffée withwhite rice or with French bread if desired.
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