Shrimp Creole

When you can’t get to New Orleans, cook New Orleans. This fun and effortless recipe for Shrimp Creole is loaded with tender shrimp and tomatoes all simmered in the holy trinity of ingredients, true Louisiana style. Serve piping hot with rice or French bread and let the good times roll.

Shrimp creole in a black bowl.

The easy Creole sauce uses tomatoes as a base, unlike another famous Southern recipe, Shrimp Etoufée, which has a thicker, heartier roux base. It makes a perfect supper when you’re short on time but still want big, bold flavor.

Recipe ingredients:

Labeled shrimp creole ingredients in various bowls.

Ingredient notes:

  • The Holy Trinity: In Cajun and Creole cuisine, the “holy trinity” is the flavor base for many recipes: Equal parts green pepper, onion, and celery. It’s similar to other humble beginnings all over the culinary world: French Mirepoix (carrot, onion, celery) Spanish Sofrito (onion, garlic, tomato), and Italian Batutto (carrots, onion, celery + fennel/garlic/parsley).
  • Shrimp stock: If you’ve been saving shrimp shells in the freezer, you might be able to make your own shrimp stock. Otherwise, a simple chicken stock will do.
  • Bay leaves: Don’t leave these out. They’re crucial to getting that Creole flavor just right.
  • Shrimp: Buy raw shrimp in the shell if possible. Before you cook, clean the shrimp and make stock with the shells. Raw shrimp are the best in this recipe (pre-cooked shrimp will turn rubbery). Thaw frozen shrimp overnight in the refrigerator or in a bowl in the sink with a trickle of cold water running over them.

Step-by-step instructions:

You will need a large heavy pot (like a Dutch oven) for this recipe. Before you begin, get the rice started on the stove, in the oven, or in a rice cooker so everything finishes up together.

  1. To start, make a simple roux using flour and butter. Melt the butter over medium heat until it foams, then whisk in the flour.
    Melted butter in a black skillet.
  2. Cook, still whisking, until it turns golden, about 5 to 6 minutes.
    Roux for shrimp creole in a black skillet.
  3. Next, add the trinity (onions, peppers, and celery) and garlic and cook until everything is lightly browned and softened, another 5 to 6 minutes. Don’t skip this step! The trinity will not be rushed.
    Cooked vegetables in a black skillet.
  4. Then pour in the diced tomatoes along with their juice, the shrimp or chicken stock, bay leaves, salt, and some cayenne pepper. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about half an hour so the sauce can thicken. Taste the sauce and if you think it needs more heat, add another 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
    Vegetables and broth in a black skillet.
  5. After the sauce is ready, add the raw shrimp and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, just until they turn pink and opaque. Stir so the shrimp are coated in the sauce. Shrimp cook fast, so this really won’t take long at all.
    Shrimp creole in a black skillet.
  6. Before serving, take out the bay leaves and garnish with parsley. Then serve the shrimp in bowls over fluffy rice or a loaf of crusty bread to mop up all that spicy sauce.
    Shrimp creole in a black bowl.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Make it the night you eat it: Cooked shrimp doesn’t reheat very well. If you absolutely need to make ahead, cook the sauce (but don’t add the shrimp) and refrigerate for up to 4 days before you plan to eat. Then reheat in a pan and add the shrimp. Dinner in minutes!
  • Garden tomatoes: This recipe is one of the ways I use up late-season tomatoes from the backyard. That way I save the canned tomatoes for the winter.
  • Okra: Some cooks add a few handfuls of frozen chopped okra to the sauce to simmer into the tomatoes. Okra also acts as a natural thickener.
  • Hot sauce: This dish can take all the vinegar-based hot sauce (Crystal, for example) that you dare put on it. Serve it on the side so everyone can spice it to their liking.

Shrimp creole in a white bowl served over rice.

More festive recipes:

Shrimp creole in a black skillet.

Shrimp Creole

When you can't get to New Orleans, cook New Orleans. This fun and effortless recipe for Shrimp Creole is loaded with tender shrimp and tomatoes all simmered in the holy trinity of ingredients, true Louisiana style.
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Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Creole
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 200kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion chopped (1 1/2 cups, see note 1)
  • 1 large green bell pepper chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 2 ribs celery chopped (3/4 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 15 ounces diced tomatoes undrained
  • 1 cup shrimp stock or chicken broth (see note 2)
  • 2 bay leaves (see note 3)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 2 pounds large raw shrimp peeled and deveined (see note 4)
  • 2 teaspoons Minced fresh parsley
  • Hot cooked rice for serving

Instructions

  • In a large heavy pot over medium heat, melt butter until foaming. Whisk in flour and cook until blonde in color, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes with their juice, shrimp stock, bay leaves, salt, and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  • Add shrimp and cook until they turn pink, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove bay leaves, garnish with parsley, and serve over rice.

Notes

  1. The Holy Trinity: In Cajun and Creole cuisine, the "holy trinity" is the flavor base for many recipes: Equal parts green pepper, onion, and celery. It's similar to other humble beginnings all over the culinary world: French Mirepoix (carrot, onion, celery) Spanish Sofrito (onion, garlic, tomato), and Italian Batutto (carrots, onion, celery + fennel/garlic/parsley).
  2. Shrimp stock: If you've been saving shrimp shells in the freezer, you might be able to make your own. Otherwise, a simple chicken stock will do.
  3. Bay leaves: Don't leave these out. They're crucial to getting that Creole flavor just right.
  4. Shrimp: Buy raw shrimp in the shell if possible. Before you cook, clean the shrimp and make stock with the shells. Raw shrimp are the best in this recipe (pre-cooked shrimp will turn rubbery). Thaw frozen shrimp overnight in the refrigerator or in a bowl in the sink with a trickle of cold water running over them.
  5. Make it the night you eat it: Cooked shrimp doesn't reheat very well. If you absolutely need to make ahead, cook the sauce (but don't add the shrimp) and refrigerate for up to 4 days before you plan to eat. Then reheat in a pan and add the shrimp. Dinner in minutes!
  6. Garden tomatoes: This recipe is one of the ways I use up late-season tomatoes from the backyard. That way I save the canned tomatoes for the winter.
  7. Okra: Some cooks add a few handfuls of frozen chopped okra to the sauce to simmer into the tomatoes. Okra also acts as a natural thickener.
  8. Hot sauce: This dish can take all the vinegar-based hot sauce (Crystal, for example) that you dare put on it. Serve it on the side so everyone can spice it to their liking.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 286mg | Sodium: 1351mg | Potassium: 311mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 463IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 205mg | Iron: 3mg
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