Shrimp Creole

published Dec 20, 2022
Shrimp Creole Recipe

A beautifully saucy combination of shrimp cooked in a stew of tomatoes, aromatics, spices, and homemade stock.

Serves4 to 6

Makesabout 6 cups

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook50 minutes

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Credit: Maria Do

Shrimp Creole is a spicy shrimp stew that encapsulates everything I love about Southern food. It’s deeply flavored from a delicious shrimp stock and the holy trinity of onion, bell pepper, and celery — and there’s a peppery kick that keeps you coming back for more. It’s served ladled over a bowl of steaming white rice, and I’m always a very happy camper as I dig in.

What Is Shrimp Creole?

A classic Southern dish, shrimp Creole is a saucy mixture of shrimp cooked in a stew of tomatoes, aromatics, and spices. Shrimp Creole starts with a homemade shrimp stock made with shrimp shells. This shrimp stock has unbelievable flavor and is worth the extra step, so I wouldn’t recommend using water or a different kind of broth instead.

Credit: Maria Do

Should I Use Fresh or Frozen Shrimp?

I generally prefer to use frozen shrimp, as most shrimp sold in grocery stores arrives frozen and is just thawed for the seafood case in the store. Buying frozen shrimp means I thaw it when I’m ready to cook and don’t have to worry about it sitting in the refrigerator for too long. Having shrimp stashed in the freezer also means that shrimp Creole can happen without a trip to the store if you have the other ingredients! For this recipe, purchase unpeeled shrimp because you want to have those flavorful shells to make the shrimp stock.

How to Make Shrimp Creole

  1. Make the shrimp stock. Peel and clean the shrimp, then simmer the shrimp shells with the trimmings from the holy trinity for 20 minutes to make a basic shrimp stock.
  2. Make the roux. Cook butter and flour together until nutty and flavorful to make the roux.
  3. Sauté the vegetables and spices. Sauté the onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and spices in the roux. A combination of cayenne and black pepper here, as well as dried thyme, infuse the base with spicy flavor.
  4. Add the tomatoes and liquid. Add a can of drained petite diced tomatoes, shrimp stock, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce, and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. You can make the stew up to this point and refrigerate it for up to a few days. Bring back to a simmer before adding the shrimp.
  5. Add the shrimp. Finally, add the shrimp and cook just until opaque and cooked through. Serve over white rice with some parsley on top and more hot sauce on the side.

More Shrimp Recipes 

Shrimp Creole Recipe

A beautifully saucy combination of shrimp cooked in a stew of tomatoes, aromatics, spices, and homemade stock.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes

Makes about 6 cups

Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 pounds

    raw, unpeeled jumbo or extra-jumbo shrimp (16 to 25 per pound), preferably with no heads

  • 2 cups


  • 2

    dried bay leaves, divided

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 1 large stalk


  • 1/2

    medium green bell pepper

  • 2 cloves


  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can

    petite diced tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 4 tablespoons

    (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon

    hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Crystal, plus more for serving

  • Cooked white rice, for serving

  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)


  1. Make the shrimp stock: Peel and clean 2 pounds raw jumbo or extra-jumbo shrimp, placing the shrimp in a medium bowl and the shells in a medium saucepan. Refrigerate the shrimp. Add 2 cups water and 1 of the bay leaves to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat as needed and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables and make the roux.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl and adding the trimmings to the shrimp stock: Finely chop 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups), 1 large celery stalk (about 1/3 cup), and 1/2 medium green bell pepper (about 3/4 cup).

  3. Drain 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes. Mince 2 garlic cloves and place in a small bowl. Add the remaining 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the garlic.

  4. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large saucepan or small pot over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour. Cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is a deep brown (like turkey gravy), 4 to 5 minutes. The roux should have a nutty aroma, and the consistency will become thinner as it cooks and the flour loses its thickening power.

  5. When the shrimp stock is ready, pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl or liquid measuring cup. Discard the solids in the strainer.

  6. Add the onion mixture to the roux and stir to combine. Add the garlic mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup of the shrimp stock, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, and the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.

  7. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened (not much visible liquid on the top) and the flavors meld, 12 to 15 minutes. (The sauce can be made up to this point, cooled, and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Return to a simmer before adding the shrimp.) Meanwhile, cook white rice for serving. Chop fresh parsley leaves for garnish if desired.

  8. Add the shrimp and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque and just cooked through, about 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, thin out with some of the remaining shrimp stock as needed. Discard the bay leaf. Taste and season with more kosher salt, black pepper, and hot sauce as needed. Serve over white rice garnished with parsley, with more hot sauce on the side.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Thin out the sauce as needed with the remaining shrimp stock when reheating.