Best Etouffee Recipe

Cajun cuisine is famous for its big, bold flavors. Vegetables, seafood, and cooking styles and techniques from around the world combine to make rich and complex dishes, especially when it comes to smothering ample amounts of a slow-cooked and meticulously prepared stew over rice.

One classic dish to know if you're familiar with staples like gumbo and jambalaya is etouffee. Etouffee is a stew made with vegetables and shrimp that's hearty and immensely satisfying — and you don't have to make your way down to Louisiana for a taste. With this recipe from food photographer and recipe developer Keith Kamikawa, the perfect shrimp etouffee only takes about an hour to put together.

So, the next time you're searching for a meal that just about everyone will love that's filled with herbs and spices, look no further. A custom mix of spices and careful preparation puts Kamikawa's shrimp etouffee squarely on the list of reliable recipes you should keep in your dinner rotation.

Gather your ingredients to make etouffee

This etouffee recipe is packed with flavor, so perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that there's a long list of ingredients you need to source before getting started. Just keep in mind that a little bit of a lot of spices and herbs goes a long way, so you'll have plenty left over to use in future recipes (or for when you want to make this etouffee again and again).

In terms of herbs and spices, you'll need salt, dried oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, fresh thyme, and bay leaves. On the vegetable and roots front, grab garlic, onion, celery, green and red bell peppers, scallions, and a can of diced tomatoes. You'll also need butter, peeled and deveined shrimp, baking soda, clam juice, flour, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco.

"I've always made my own spice blends," Kamikawa, who spent 15 years in the culinary industry, says. "You have much more control over flavor when making your own spice blend. Plus, if you're not completely familiar with individual spices, this is a great way to learn."

Clean and brine the shrimp for your etouffee

There's one major preparation before you get started with the cooking for this etouffee recipe: peeling, deveining, and brining the shrimp.

First, peel the shell and tail off of your uncooked shrimp. Then, using a knife, take out the black line along the back of the shrimp. Though this is called deveining, the part you're removing isn't technically a vein, it's the digestive tract, and what you're removing is the shrimp's bodily waste. It's safe to eat, though it's far less aesthetically pleasing (especially for those who know what it is) and can be a little grainy if you decide not to devein, so for best results, go ahead and take the time to remove it.

Once that's ready, put the shrimp in a pot and sprinkle two and a half teaspoons of kosher salt and half of a teaspoon of baking soda over it. Mix it thoroughly, and pop the pot in the refrigerator until you're ready for it.

"Brining the shrimp with salt seasons them through and keeps them plump," Kamikawa says, "but adding the baking soda makes sure their texture stays nicely firm when cooking."

Make the roux for your etouffee

A good roux is a little bit of a labor of love. First, melt the unsalted butter in a Dutch oven or thick pan on medium high heat. Then add a cup of flour and whisk for 10 to 15 minutes — it'll get to a dark milk chocolate color. The main thing is to keep the whisking up, because if you let it sit for too long, it'll burn. There's no saving it at that point, and the best option is to start over. "If it looks burnt and especially smells burnt, best to throw it out and start over," Kamikawa says.

"While you do want a dark and nutty flavor, the burning of roux causes a bitter flavor that is unappealing," Kamikawa says. "This is the most time-intensive step and really should be concentrated on. It's honestly fun watching the roux change color. You can also always pull the roux when it's lighter if you get nervous. The flavor will still be great if it's a bit lighter in color. Not every etouffee roux is colored the same!"

Mix the vegetables into your etouffee

After the roux is ready for your etouffee, it's time to add the vegetables. The yellow onion, celery, and green and red bell pepper all have to be diced, while the scallions need to be sliced, and the garlic has to be minced.

Start with the onion, both peppers, and celery by adding them to the roux along with a teaspoon of kosher salt. Whisk it to evenly combine (hopefully your whisking arm is well warmed up by now), and then stir it until all of the vegetables have softened, which should take about ten minutes. Then, add the garlic and half of the scallions, and stir it for about a minute. Finally, add in the smoked paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and thyme, and mix it all together.

By this point, you're about halfway done, though the mixture in your pot looks a little thick. And that's where the next step comes in.

Add the liquids to your etouffee

The sauce for this etouffee, like many of the world's great sauces, takes a little bit of dumping in the ingredients, some brief stirring, and a good amount of waiting. First, take the two cups of water and the two eight-ounce cans of clam juice. Add each slowly one by one while whisking the entire time to keep the roux from getting lumpy. You've already invested a lot of whisking and paying attention, so make sure you keep the roux proper on this step. Then add in the can of diced tomatoes when the clam juice and water is mixed in.

Continue whisking until everything in the pot is smooth before adding in the Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and bay leaves. Bring it all down to a simmer for 30 minutes, but don't set it and forget it. Check back in and stir often to keep the whole thing from burning on the bottom of the pot.

Finish the etouffee with the brined shrimp

Finally, it's time to bring out the brined shrimp that you prepared before getting into all of the whisking and waiting. Take out the bay leaves first, and then add the shrimp to the pot and cook until they firm up and turn a solid white — this should take about five minutes. After that, all that's left to do is garnish with the rest of the sliced scallions and serve the finished etouffee in a bowl with white rice and fresh lemon.

Don't worry if you have some extra. This recipe can taste even better when you return to the leftovers sealed in airtight container in the fridge.

"Letting etouffee, like most stews, sit for a few days does let the flavors meld, making the flavors more rich," Kamikawa says. "If you have leftovers, by all means keep them for later, but eating fresh etouffee is wonderful. You can always make extra and plan on keeping some later in the week for meal planning."

Best Etouffee Recipe
4.9 from 45 ratings
Etouffee is a stew made with vegetables and shrimp that's hearty and immensely satisfying — and you don't have to make your way down to Louisiana for a taste.
Prep Time
30
minutes
Cook Time
1
hour
Servings
6
servings
etouffee recipe
Total time: 1.5 hours
Ingredients
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds of shrimp size 21-25, peeled and deveined
  • 3 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 (8-ounce) jars clam juice
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, destemmed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
Directions
  1. Combine 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt with ½ teaspoon baking soda. Sprinkle salt and baking powder on two pounds of peeled and deveined shrimp and thoroughly mix. Refrigerate until needed.
  2. Melt 8 tablespoons unsalted butter in a Dutch oven or thick gauged pan on medium high heat. Add 1 cup flour and whisk to make the roux. Whisk roux for 10 to 15 minutes until roux is a dark, milk chocolate color. Do not let roux idle for long or it will burn and spots and become blotchy in color.
  3. Add yellow onion, green and red bell pepper, celery, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to the roux. Whisk to combine. Stir vegetable mixture for about 10 minutes until vegetables have softened. Add garlic and half of the scallions, then mix for 1 minute until the garlic blooms. Add smoked paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper, black pepper, thyme, and mix.
  4. Slowly add clam juice and water while constantly whisking to avoid lumps from forming in the roux, then add the can of diced tomatoes. When smooth, add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and bay leaves. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often to avoid scorching the bottom of the pot.
  5. Remove both bay leaves and carefully add shrimp to the etouffee and mix. Cook shrimp until they begin to change color to a solid white and firm up, about 5 minutes.
  6. Garnish etouffee and individual bowls with remaining sliced scallions. Serve with white rice and fresh lemon.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 344
Total Fat 17.4 g
Saturated Fat 10.2 g
Trans Fat 0.6 g
Cholesterol 231.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 18.8 g
Dietary Fiber 3.6 g
Total Sugars 4.2 g
Sodium 1,516.0 mg
Protein 28.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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