With this easy Shrimp Creole recipe you’re only one pot and under 45 minutes away from enjoying this authentic Cajun classic! Jumbo shrimp simmer in a spicy stewed tomato sauce, loaded with the holy trinity of onion, bell pepper, and celery. Served over a bed of white rice, this dish will make the perfect main course for your next Mardi Gras celebration.

The best shrimp creole recipe in a white bowl next to a bay leaf and parsley.

Authentic Shrimp Creole

With Mardi Gras right around the corner, and king cakes in every grocery, I just can’t help but get nostalgic for my days growing up in a small town in Southern Texas, right on the border of Louisiana. 

The seafood was always so incredibly fresh, and ever since I moved to Austin, it’s been difficult to find good Cajun or Creole food to satisfy those cravings.

So I recreated an old family favorite at home, this classic Shrimp Creole.

New Orleans-style home cooking is famous for its bold flavors, and this recipe is no exception. It delivers a TON of unique, spicy flavors in less than an hour of prep and cooking.

For more Cajun and Creole flavors, try Blackened SalmonShrimp and Sausage GumboInstant Pot Jambalaya and Shrimp and Grits.

Shrimp, canned stewed tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, onion, green bell pepper, garlic, and tomato sauce as the ingredients in an easy shrimp creole recipe.
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Ingredients

  • Shrimp. Choosing the right kind of shrimp for this dish is SO important to yield a good, authentic creole. Buying wild shrimp is recommended for quality assurance, ideally fresh, as they have a much better taste and texture than frozen shrimp. Aim to get 20/24 count shrimp. This means there are 20-24 shrimp in one pound, at a relatively consistent size. Shrimp should be peeled and deveined, with tails left on or off, according to preference.
  • “Holy trinity.” Diced celery, green bell pepper, and onion — otherwise called the “holy trinity” of Louisiana cuisine — are essential to creating the flavor base typically found in Cajun and Creole recipes.
  • Stewed tomatoes. Unlike other canned tomatoes, stewed tomatoes have a bit of sugar added to them. If you are on a Whole30 or Paleo diet you can substitute these for diced tomatoes, but just know the taste and flavor will be slightly different.
  • Tomato sauce. Make sure when selecting your tomato sauce you get the regular, plain tomato sauce, not the Italian-style. This will prevent any additional flavor profiles from interfering with the Creole seasonings.
  • Blackened/Cajun seasoning. The spice level of your dish will change drastically depending on the type of blackened or Cajun seasoning you use. Homemade blackened seasoning is recommended for the most control, but Slap Ya’ Mama Cajun Seasoning or Emeril’s Blackened Seasoning from the grocery store are both excellent alternatives. Creole seasoning is similar; it generally has more herbs but it will work.
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How to Make Shrimp Creole

Please see the recipe card below for more detailed ingredient amounts.

1. Sauté the Vegetables

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and/or butter over medium heat, then add the chopped onions, bell pepper, and celery. Sauté the vegetables for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

Add the crushed garlic, and sauté for another minute. 

The vegetables should only sauté just long enough to soften the slightest bit and begin to release their flavors. If they’re cooked for too long at this stage, they’ll grow mushy and disappear into the creole by the time it’s done simmering.

A wooden spatula sautés celery, bell pepper, and onion in a pot.

2. Combine and Simmer

Add the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, blackened or Cajun seasoning, salt, and bay leaves. Stir until all the ingredients are well mixed, and then bring to a boil.

Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat back down to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Allowing the creole to sit and cook at a low temperature allows all those strong flavors to meld together, and gives the vegetables time to soften just enough to be tender.

Thickening starch is made with cornstarch and water.
Stir cornstarch and water together.

3. Thicken the Mixture

While the creole simmers, whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl until fully dissolved. Doing this in a separate container from the dish ensures that there are no lumps of cornstarch remaining, which tend to clump up when added to hot liquid. 

After 20 minutes, carefully remove the bay leaves from the creole and mix in the cornstarch slurry very well. 

The starch helps the creole to thicken up as it continues to simmer, so that it reaches its characteristically thick, almost curry-like texture without the need to cook it down for an extended period of time.

4. Season to Taste

Once the starch slurry has been mixed in, this is the perfect time to give the creole a taste to determine how much seasoning it still needs. Add the Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, and more salt or seasoning mix to taste, if needed.

A Dutch oven full of an easy Mardi Gras and Cajun recipe for Shrimp Creole.

5. Add the Shrimp

When the desired spice and seasoning level has been reached, add the raw shrimp and continue simmering, uncovered, for another 5-6 minutes, or until the shrimp are cooked through. Shrimp are done cooking when they turn from translucent to opaque and their tails begin to curl.

Make sure not to overcook the shrimp, or else they will become rubbery. Remove the creole from the heat as soon as it’s finished cooking.

Serve It Up

If you would like to serve this shrimp creole recipe the authentic New Orleans way, then you will want to pile it on top of a bed of white rice with a garnish of fresh parsley. The rice provides a neutral base to soak up that spicy sauce, and the parsley brings visual contrast and a bright, peppery freshness to the dish.

A toasted baguette or some gluten-free biscuits on the side make for an excellent addition, too. 

Alternatively, this dish can be served without rice or on a bed of sautéed cauliflower rice, to keep it low-carb and high in nutrition.

The best shrimp creole recipe in a white bowl next to a bay leaf and parsley.

FAQs

What’s the difference between shrimp creole and shrimp gumbo? 

Although their flavor profiles are very similar, creole dishes are something of a cross between a gumbo and a jambalaya. Creole is made as a much thicker, almost stew-like tomato-based sauce, compared to the thinner, soupy consistency of a gumbo. It is also made entirely separate from the rice it’s traditionally served with, unlike jambalaya, which mixes it in.

How do you thicken creole? 

Some methods require one to simmer the tomato and trinity base of the creole down until its characteristically thick consistency is reached the old-fashioned way. However, many find it easier — as with this recipe — to simply use a bit of cornstarch dissolved in water to thicken it up more quickly.

What’s the difference between Cajun and blackened seasoning? 

While their usual bases of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, peppers, and various herbs are nearly identical in flavor, Cajun seasoning tends to have a much more intense spiciness level. If you have trouble with spicy food, using blackened seasoning or making a spice mix in your own kitchen is recommended.

Recipe Tips

  • Don’t skimp the shrimp. Look for medium-large, 20/24-count shrimp for the best results.
  • … DO skimp the shrimp. If making this recipe ahead, the final steps of adding and simmering the shrimp can be put off until ready to serve.
  • Mix it up! Use this recipe as a base for adding and substituting other ingredients, such as crawfish, chicken, or sausage. 
  • Start off light. If you are unsure of how spicy your seasoning blend is, add half of the suggested amount to begin with and more as needed.
  • Get heavy handed. Experiment with spicy garnishes and toppings as well — adding extra hot sauce or a fresh squeeze of lemon juice to the finished plates.
A wooden spoon scooping up a shrimp from a pot of Shrimp Creole.

What to Serve with Shrimp Creole

While this shrimp creole will be the star of any meal, there’s plenty of ways to round it out with these easy side dishes:

Of course, you can’t go wrong with Instant Pot White Rice.

Keep things light with Easy Green Beans Almondine with Garlic or Roasted Cauliflower,

Add a hearty carb like Cheddar Bay Biscuits, Mini Cornbread MuffinsGluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits to balance the kick.

A decadent dessert of sweet, syrupy bananas foster can also serve as a pleasant relief from the spice, after the meal.

More Cajun Recipes

While Mardi Gras might only come once a year, you can enjoy New Orleans-style cooking year-round with these classic recipes: 

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5 from 19 votes

Easy Shrimp Creole Recipe

With this easy Shrimp Creole recipe you're only one pot and less than 45 minutes away from enjoying this authentic Cajun classic! Jumbo shrimp simmer in a spicy stewed tomato sauce, loaded with the holy trinity of onion, bell pepper, and celery.
A wooden spoon scooping up a shrimp from a pot of Shrimp Creole.
Yield 4 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 40 minutes
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Ingredients 

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter
  • ½ sweet onion diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 15-oz. can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • ¼ tsp. chili powder
  • ¾ tsp. blackened seasoning or Cajun seasoning
  • ½ tsp salt to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. tapioca starch or cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 – 1 ¼ lb. shrimp peeled, deveined, 20-24 count
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce Louisiana style
  • Rice or cauliflower rice optional
  • Fresh parsley optional

Instructions 

  • Cook the Veggies: In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat add oil, onion, bell pepper, and celery. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add crushed garlic and continue sautéing for 1 minute.
    2 Tbsp. olive oil, ½ sweet onion, 1 green bell pepper, 3 stalks celery, 3 cloves garlic
  • Season and Simmer: Add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, blackened seasoning, salt, and bay leaves. Stir until well mixed. Bring ingredients to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
    1 15-oz. can stewed tomatoes, 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce, ¼ tsp. chili powder, ¾ tsp. blackened seasoning, ½ tsp salt, 2 bay leaves
  • Thicken the Base: In a small bowl whisk together starch and water until well combined. When done simmering, remove bay leaves from pot and stir in starch-water slurry.
    1 Tbsp. tapioca starch, 2 Tbsp. water
  • Add Shrimp and Serve: Add shrimp, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Continue simmering, uncovered, for 5-6 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through. Serve shrimp creole over white rice or cauliflower rice with fresh parsley and enjoy!
    1 – 1 ¼ lb. shrimp, 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. hot sauce, Rice or cauliflower rice, Fresh parsley
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 19 votes

Video

Notes

*Nutritional information is calculated without any rice.
Prep-Ahead Instructions

The spice mix, if homemade, can be whisked up ahead of time. The celery, bell peppers, and onions can be diced and stored in airtight containers up to 3 days in advance.

Storage Directions
Place leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days if the shrimp have been added. If the shrimp have not yet been added, the base will keep for up to 5-7 days. While freezing will slightly change the texture of the shrimp, this dish can be refrigerated for 3-4 hours and then transferred to an airtight, freezer-safe container to be frozen for up to 3-4 months. The dish can also be prepared and frozen ahead of time, omitting the final steps of adding and simmering the shrimp until ready to be served. If frozen, transfer leftovers to the fridge overnight to thaw. Put the creole into a large skillet or pot, cover, and warm over low heat just until heated through. Too long, and the shrimp will become rubbery and overcooked.
Recipe Tips
  • Don’t skimp the shrimp. Look for medium-large, 20/24-count shrimp for the best results.
  • … DO skimp the shrimp. If making this recipe ahead, the final steps of adding and simmering the shrimp can be put off until ready to serve.
  • Mix it up! Use this recipe as a base for adding and substituting other ingredients, such as crawfish, chicken, or sausage. 
  • Start off light. If you are unsure of how spicy your seasoning blend is, add half of the suggested amount to begin with and more as needed.
  • Get heavy handed. Experiment with spicy garnishes and toppings as well – adding extra hot sauce or a fresh squeeze of lemon juice to the finished plates.

Nutrition

Calories: 255kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 285mg, Sodium: 2050mg, Potassium: 687mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 765IU, Vitamin C: 45mg, Calcium: 234mg, Iron: 4.8mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
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Comments

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Ernie! Fresh lemon would be great. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious, and it’s very adaptable to your own preferences.
    I made some sautéed carrots on the side and it was a complete success.
    Thank you for sharing this yummy recipe 😊

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! I love that you can personalize it, too. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Ming! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  2. 5 stars
    Shrimp Creole has become one of my husbands and my favorite meals and we have it twice a month. I follow your recipe except I put in way more onions, green peppers and celery than the recipe calls for because we love the veggies. Obviously your recipe makes enough for leftovers the second night and trust me – he doesn’t complain! Thank you for publishing your recipe. It’s scrumptious!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you all enjoyed the recipe, Susan! I’m all for adding extra vegetables- sounds delish. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  3. Tasted delicious and was easy to cook! I like a little more spice so I will add a little more chili powder next time. Great recipe!!

    1. So happy you enjoyed it, Bridget! And yes, a little more chili powder or even cayenne pepper will give it a bit more heat. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  4. 5 stars
    Was great we ate it for supper but only left out garlic makes every thing taste like garlic no matter how much spice is added did add 1/2 tsp cummin. We ate it all it was so good .

  5. This recipe looks almost like mine with a few additions and it’s my husband’s favorite. I’m going to try a few of your additions – thanks for sharing!