This Classic Shrimp Creole is bursting with juicy shrimp, tender vegetables, incredible spices and a rich luscious tomato creole sauce.
Nothing is more inspirational than a vacation in New Orleans. It truly has some of the best food I have ever eaten filled with tremendous flavor and heart. I’ve visited more times than I can count, and still get goosebumps whenever I eat the quintessential food of the culture.
I wanted to share a Shrimp Creole recipe that is simple and still provides the wonderful layered flavors that bring Louisiana right into your home.
What is Shrimp Creole?
Shrimp Creole is truly a favorite dish in the Louisiana area that you might have noticed on many a menus when dining out. It is truly a staple in the area. It has a spicy tomato broth, juicy tail-on shrimp, hearty vegetables and ample flavor. It is typically made with a base of chopped vegetables, such as onions, bell peppers and celery, also known as the holy trinity (more on that below) as well as additional flavors that really spice the whole thing up. Everything melds together until the veggies are tender and shrimp is plump and cooked through.
It is typically served on a bed of white rice that soaks up and balances that hearty sauce.
- Butter: To sauté and tenderize the vegetables and add a rich fatty flavor throughout. I personally use unsalted butter here so I can control the overall salt content overall. You can also substitute with olive oil or vegetable oil.
- Holy trinity: The base of many Cajun and Creole recipes is made up of onion, green bell pepper, and celery. I personally left the celery out here but if you want, you can add it in here. You will find this base in other recipes like gumbo and jambalaya.
- Parsley: Using parsley adds a bright and fresh flavor to this dish that is also slightly bitter and sweet. It adds a clean peppery, and herbaceous element. I add to the sauce and also as a garnish.
- Garlic powder: For an ultra-savory Creole sauce, don’t skip the garlic powder! You can also use freshly minced garlic if you have some kicking around.
- Canned chopped tomatoes: Using canned tomatoes keeps the prep down for this recipe but also adds that vibrant, zesty, acidy taste. No need to drain the tomatoes either, just toss everything right in for ease.
- Chicken stock: For a savory, hearty, and full-bodied taste, add homemade chicken stock or broth. If you’re short on time, just use store-bought!
- Hot sauce: Grab your favorite for this recipe!
- Worcestershire sauce: This savory condiment adds such an umami-rich element. Made with a blend of vinegar, anchovies, tamarind, molasses and other spices and ingredients, it adds such complexity. A little goes a long way. No Worchestershire sauce? Replace it with soy sauce or tamari instead.
- Cornstarch: This provides a wonderful thickener for the sauce. I use it in my slurry. If you don’t have it, you can grab all purpose flour to substitute.
- Shrimp: This requires quite a lot of shrimp, about 2 lbs. I prefer a medium to large size and you can peel and devein before adding to the sauce.
- White rice: White rice is the classic that is always served with shrimp creole. You ca also try brown rice or quinoa for a healthier twist.
How to make shrimp Creole
Step 1: Sauté the veggies
Start by melting your butter in a large skillet then sauté the vegetables, the chopped onion and green bell pepper then season with salt and pepper. You want the vegetables to be tender and soft in texture before moving on.
Step 2: Season
We add in our flavor enhancers like parsley, garlic powder, tomatoes, chicken stock, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce here to build. We stir everything then we bring everything to a boil to start marrying the flavors.
Step 3: Thicken
Next we work on thickening the sauce and we will need to create a slurry, which is a combination of the cornstarch and water so the mixture doesn’t create lumps to our base. We stir it in and let it thicken.
Step 4: Add the shrimp
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then we add them directly to the sauce. Shrimp can cook incredibly fast so it is important not to overcook them. Once they turn pink in the sauce, you can remove the sauce from heat so they don’t continue cooking.
Step 5: Serve
Serve immediately with steamed white rice and a garnish with parsley.
In addition to serving with rice, bread is also great to make sure you really soak up the sauce. Try a crusty bread like my Garlic No Knead Bread or even some additional vegetables like Green Beans or Collard Greens or a simple salad on the side. Try a cornbread as well if you want to get super Southern or even a basket of hush puppies would be fantastic.
- Protein: You can either add in sausage to this which is pretty standard or play around with adding bacon, crawfish, chicken, scallops, catfish, and more.
- Vegetables: Try other vegetables to make a vegan option. Add okra, corn, squash, spinach and even zucchini for a vegetable twist. You can even add a fleshy option with oyster mushrooms instead of shrimp.
- Grains: Instead of white rice, try a different serving grain like brown rice, cauliflower rice for a low carb option, quinoa, grits, mashed potatoes, or on its own without the grain entirely.
- Spicy: In this recipe, we kept things milder but you can turn up the heat by adding some cayenne pepper, chili flakes, more hot sauce, Cajun seasoning, Creole seasoning, or blackened seasoning.
Tips and tricks
- Source quality shrimp works best!: The best shrimp is wild-caught, fresh shrimp from the Gulf Coast but this isn’t always readily available. I recommend purchasing uncooked, frozen, tail-on shrimp for the best taste and quality if fresh isn’t available. Once thawed, it will still be wonderful
- Don’t Overcook! Remember not to overcook your shrimp. They will taste rubbery and will ruin all of your hard work.
What to do with leftovers
If you have too much shrimp Creole, follow these storage tips for long-lasting, flavorful leftovers:
- Fridge: Once cooled, add the leftovers to an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freezer: If you’re using fresh shrimp, store the dish in a freezer-safe bag or container and it will last up to 3 months. Make sure to add a little bit of space at the top to allow for any expansion of the dish. I don’t recommend you re-freeze frozen shrimp.
If frozen, remove from the freezer and add to your fridge to thaw overnight. Once thawed, you can add to a pot over medium heat until it is hot and bubbly again. Just make sure to stir really well to combine any of the sauce that may have separated.
If Cajun and Creole spices are something you love, then you should check out some more of my favorites like these:
- Cajun Jambalaya Pasta
- Seafood Gumbo
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Grillades and Grits
- Shrimp Etouffee
- Jambalaya Skillet
- Low Country Boil
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley divided
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 16 oz canned chopped tomatoes undrained
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp hot sauce
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 lbs medium shrimp peeled and deveined
- steamed white rice for serving
- Add butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper along with salt and pepper and cook until soft and tender, about 5-6 minutes.
- Next add 3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, garlic powder, tomatoes, chicken stock, hot sauce, and worcestershire sauce.
- Stir together and bring to a boil.
- Next add cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water together in a separate small bowl and add to the liquid allowing it to thicken the sauce. Once it has thickened, turn the heat down between a low and medium heat.
- Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the sauce. Bring the temperature back up to a medium heat. Stir together and place a lid on the pot to continue to help the shrimp cook. As soon as shrimp turns pink, remove sauce from heat and top with remaining parsley and serve with rice.
What to do with leftoversIf you have too much shrimp Creole, follow these storage tips for long-lasting, flavorful leftovers:
- Fridge: Once cooled, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
- Freezer: If you’re using fresh shrimp, store the dish in a freezer-safe bag or container and it will last up to 3 months. It’s not recommended to re-freeze frozen shrimp, but you can freeze everything else.