This recipe for Authentic Cajun Shrimp Etouffee has been my favorite since childhood. It’s a classic Louisiana dish with a buttery, richly seasoned sauce over fresh shrimp and rice. If you haven’t had the pleasure of this classic, you should!
“First, you make a roux…”
I don’t know where this phrase originated from, but it’s a phrase I have heard countless times as my mother whipped up some of Louisiana’s finest creations like Shrimp Etouffee, Cajun Blackened Chicken, and Pralines. Although I did not grow up in New Orleans, it is my father’s home (and my second home town now whenever I get the chance).
His adoration of The Big Easy is legendary. It’s similar to how immigrant parents talk about ‘the old country’ to their children who can’t remember. He would regale us with tales about City Park and eating at Commander’s Palace. And the food…the food!
What is Etouffee?
In Louisiana, cooking is love. The long cooking times, the whisking until you achieve the perfect consistency and color, and the layering of flavors all blend into dishes that are unique and profound. Etouffee means smothered and, in Louisiana, it means a dish that is covered in a liquid.
I usually have a strong roux in my etouffee to thicken it up enough to grab onto the shrimp but not so thick as it becomes gelatinous. Of course, when cool it will be thicker. You can always add more stock and shake or stir it to thin, if necessary.
Ingredients and Notes
Here is an overview of the ingredients you will need to make the best Shrimp Etouffee in your life.
Shrimp: Crawfish is actually my favorite etouffee, but it is very difficult to find here. The shrimp should be large or medium sized and uncooked. You can also add andouille sausage for additional heat or chicken if you prefer.
Spices: Spices are essential to all cajun and creole cooking. Most of the heat in etouffee comes from the black pepper, but you can add more pepper or cayenne for heat. A proper etouffee is well seasoned but one of the milder cajun dishes. As written, this recipe still has quite a kick (I would say it’s less spicy than medium wings). You can always add more cayenne at the end after tasting.
Flour: All-purpose flour is generally used.
Rice: We always stick with a short grain parboiled white rice. Brown rice will also work well.
Use white or brown rice to serve with Etouffee. You don’t need a side dish, but southern classics work well like corn on the cob, fried okra, mixed green salad, or some crusty bread to handle that glorious etouffee sauce.
A cajun roux is a cooking technique where flour and oil are cooked over high heat. There are many different kinds of roux, and they get their names from the color. The longer you cook a roux, the darker it gets. They range from blond to a coffee colored roux called black roux. For this recipe, you want red-brown color, about the color of a penny. A little lighter is fine, too dark is not.
Etouffee is generally considered to be cajun cooking. Etouffee uses a roux as it’s base and does not include tomatoes, which usually are associated with creole cooking.
Yes, this dish can be made a day ahead of time and is even better because the flavors meld. You can make the whole recipe before or make the shrimp the day of and add it to the roux.
How To Make a Roux from Scratch Recipe Guide
Cooking a roux for etouffee moves quite quickly. Especially if you haven’t made this before, it is imperative to set up all ingredients for the roux beforehand. This includes mixing the spices, cutting the vegetables, and warming the seafood stock. You can’t walk away from a roux or you risk burning it, so have everything nearby.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat until it begins to smoke (looks like slight steam), about 4-5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the flour until smooth. Continue whisking constantly until the flour is about the color of a penny. Immediately remove from heat (don’t just turn of the burner) and add the veggies and 1 Tbsp of the seasoning mixture. Stir.
- Over low heat, gradually add the stock into the roux, and whisk until combined. Continue whisking constantly and cooking a few minutes until flour taste is gone.
- Add the remaining seafood stock, the roux mixture, and the remaining seasoning mix. Stir until well combined and hot, about 4-6 minutes.
- In a large saucepan or pot over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in shrimp and saute until just pink on both sides. Add to etouffee liquid.
Serve with about ½ cup of rice and green onions to garnish.
More Delicious Cajun Inspired Recipes
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- 1.5 tsp Salt
- ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper see note about heat
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp Dried Basil
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ cup yellow onions diced
- ½ cup Celery diced
- ½ cup Green Bell Pepper diced
- 7 Tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ cup All Purpose Flour
- 3 cups Seafood Stock Divided (2 cups, 1 cup)
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 pounds shrimp, crawfish, or sausage
- ½ cup Green Onions finely sliced
- 4 cups cooked rice
- Make sure that your ingredients, utensils, and pots are laid out and convenient before turning on the stove. This recipe moves quickly and relies on constant whisking so having everything laid out will help keep you from scorching the roux.
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, cayenne, pepper, basil, and thyme. Set aside.
- Bring 2 cups of the seafood stock to a boil. Turn down heat but keep hot. Cook the rice as directed.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat until it begins to smoke (looks like slight steam), about 4-5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the flour until smooth. Continue whisking constantly until the flour is a red brown color, about the color of a penny, 3-5 minutes. Immediately remove from heat (don't just turn of the burner) and
- Add the celery, onions, and bell pepper. Add ½ (about 1 Tbsp) of the seasoning mixture and stir until well combined.
- Over low heat, gradually add the pre-heated seafood stock into the roux, and whisk until combined. Continue whisking constantly and cooking a few minutes until flour taste is gone.
- In a large saucepan or pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in shrimp and saute until just pink on both sides.
- To the shrimp, add the remaining seafood stock, the roux mixture, and the remaining seasoning mix. Stir until well combined and hot, about 4-6 minutes.
- Serve in bowls with a ½ cup of rice in the center. Sprinkle green onions over top.