This classic shrimp etouffee recipe comes together in just minutes. It's special enough to serve to company but easy enough for a weeknight.
What makes etouffee unique?
We love so many dishes in the two "neighboring" cuisines of Cajun and Creole. Just a take a quick look around here and you'll find Gumbo, Jambalaya Dip, Fiery Cajun Shrimp, Cajun Potatoes and lots of marinades and sauces, like Creole Cream Sauce, with those enticing flavors.
One of our absolute favorites is the Best Jambalaya Recipe. It comes out perfectly every time. (We've got a special tip for the rice).
A common thread in many of these recipes is the combination known as the "holy trinity" (celery, onion and bell pepper). But, what makes etouffee shrimp unique is the butter. We're not talking about just a little butter. This is a sauce with a buttery base.
Exactly what is etouffee you may ask. The french word "etouffee" actually means "smother" and we like to think of it as shrimp "smothered" in a buttery, flavorful sauce. Sounds pretty amazing, right?
Shrimp or Crawfish Etouffee?
If you have crawfish available in your area, and it's the right season, this recipe can absolutely be made with them. We wrote it as a shrimp recipe just because they're available year round pretty much everywhere. Crawfish would lend a real air of authenticity to your etouffee, for sure.
We've also had readers tell us that they used our sauce recipe to make Chicken Etouffee. If you have non-seafood lovers in your midst but still want those awesome flavors that's an idea for you.
For an even more genuine experience you can start your evening off with a classic Hurricane cocktail. They're super easy and yummy!
For a more in depth look at authentic southern cuisine be sure to read Southern Food: Then & Now.
About the roux...
It does involve a light, golden roux, which is a mindful cooking of flour with some type of fat (in this case butter) until the flour starts to brown. Roux can be taken to the next level and made dark and earthy, but for etouffee we recommend stopping at light golden brown.
Wikipedia defines roux this way : "Roux is flour and fat cooked together and used to thicken sauces. Roux is typically made from equal parts of flour and fat by weight. The flour is added to the melted fat or oil on the stove top, blended until smooth, and cooked to the desired level of brownness."
The main thing to remember is to stir constantly and not take your eyes off of it or you can burn the roux. We recommend cooking the roux at a medium temperature.
For a fun look at this recipe, be sure to check out the web story!
Make it spicy or not
The more Cajun and Creole recipes we've added to Biscuits and Burlap the more we have become aware of a common misconception about these cuisines.
Most everyone believes it all to be hot with spiciness.
That's just not true. If you read down the list of ingredients below you'll find that the only thing listed with a real kick of heat is a little cayenne pepper, and that's optional. What is true is that all of the dishes from New Orleans and the surrounding area are full of flavor.
Take a traditional Red Beans and Rice for example. Without the optional cayenne and andouille sausage it's actually quite mild.
Most often a bottle of hot sauce will be on the table, or an extra shaker of Cajun seasoning maybe. That way anyone who wants to make their food blazing hot is free to do so.
Many folks like just a few shakes of the hot sauce or seasoning, but that's the beauty of it. Add the kick to suit your own fancy.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Don't let the long-ish lilst of ingredients scare you off. Most of them are basic pantry items that you probably have on hand already.
- Shrimp - Shelled and deveined. We prefer using large or jumbo shrimp because the smaller ones are so easy to overcook.
- Butter - Salted or unsalted may be used. Just adjust your salt as needed.
- Onion - the sweet variety is best in this dish.
- Green Bell Pepper
- Garlic - fresh is always best
- Flour - all purpose
- Seafood Stock - chicken stock may be substituted.
- Lemon juice - freshly squeezed is best.
- Cayenne pepper - it's optional, but just a little really adds great flavor.
- Creole or Cajun seasoning (our favorite is Tony Chachere's Original).
- Smoked paprika - use plain if that's all you have, but the smoked kind is really great.
- Green onion
Exact measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Tips for the getting the best Cajun etouffee ever:
- Adjust the salt according to whether you are using salted or unsalted butter and how much Cajun seasoning is added.
- Homemade seafood or shrimp stock is great to use if you have it.
- Chop the vegetables, squeeze the lemon and dice the garlic ahead of time - then the whole thing comes together in just minutes.
- Fresh shrimp is always best if you have it available, but frozen shrimp that have been thawed will still be good.
- The time to cook the shrimp will vary with the size of the shrimp. Watch carefully and don't let them overcook. When the center is opaque they're done!
Easy Shrimp Etouffee
- 1⅓ pounds shrimp shelled, deveined & clean
- 1 cup butter 2 sticks
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 5 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1⅔ cup seafood stock
- 1-1¼ teaspoons salt
- ½ lemon juiced
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste, optional
- ½-1 teaspooon Creole/Cajun seasoning we love Tony Chachere's
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ cup chopped green onions
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Melt butter over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add bell pepper, celery and onions and cook about 5-7 minutes, adding garlic in the last 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Stir in flour and salt, stirring to keep it smooth. Cook, stirring constantly until the sauce is lightly browned. This should take about 7-8 minutes.
- Add shrimp, stock, lemon juice and seasoning. Cook, stirring until shrimp are done - about 5-6 minutes
- Stir in green onion and parsley, reserving a little if desired for garnish.
- Serve over rice.
- Salted or unsalted butter can be used, adjusting the added salt accordingly
- Chicken stock may be substituted if seafood stock is not available.
For a super easy main dish you'll want to make Cajun Baked Chicken. It's full of flavor with just the right touch of seasoning.
If you make this or any of our recipes we'd love for you to leave us a comment and star rating. If you're into sharing your creations, snap a photo and tag us when you post it to Facebook or Instagram.
Before you leave be sure to check out this other classically southern shrimp dish: Fried Shrimp Recipe is just like in a restaurant and is easier than you think.