Shrimp Gumbo Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 30 min. Cook: 1 hour
This classic shrimp gumbo recipe is the perfect introduction to Louisiana-style cooking.

Updated: Feb. 05, 2024

For a dinner that’s chock-full of heart and soul, cook up a giant pot of Louisiana gumbo. This easy shrimp gumbo recipe features all the classic ingredients, and it’s made in a single pot. Bonus: It all comes together in just over an hour.

Thick, hearty and rich, this recipe for shrimp gumbo is perfect for a crowd. Serve it with steamed rice and a skillet of Creole cornbread for a Louisiana-style feast everyone will enjoy. It’s one of those New Orleans-inspired recipes you can serve for Mardi Gras, but, really, it’s something to enjoy all year.

What’s the difference between gumbo and jambalaya?

Gumbo and jambalaya are two beloved Louisiana recipes rooted in Creole and Cajun culture. Both dishes feature a similar list of ingredients, but a subtle difference in how they’re prepared makes each distinct. The key difference is their use of rice.

Gumbo is a thick and hearty stew that is often served over steamed rice that’s been prepared separately from the rest of the dish. Jambalaya, on the other hand, is a one-pot meal, similar to Spanish paella, where the rice is cooked together with the other ingredients.

Is gumbo Creole or Cajun?

When it comes to gumbo, recipes can either be Creole or Cajun. While similar, both cuisines have their own acceptable variations. For example, you will rarely see tomatoes in Cajun gumbo recipes; they’re more common in Creole gumbo recipes. Additionally, Cajun gumbos most often use only shellfish, such as shrimp, along with okra to thicken the stew.

Creole recipes (like this chicken Creole) will often also include chicken, and they usually omit okra in favor of gumbo file powder. Our shrimp gumbo recipe is a hybrid of both Creole and Cajun versions.

What is the secret to good gumbo?

A great shrimp gumbo recipe begins with a great roux. A roux is an essential gumbo ingredient that creates the base necessary to flavor, color and thicken the gumbo. When preparing a roux, keep an eye on the color while stirring frequently to prevent burning. If you see any black flecks in the roux, it has burned and will need to be discarded and remade. Check out our guide to how to make a roux for more tips.

Ingredients for Shrimp Gumbo

  • Shrimp: Extra-large shrimp (26/30 per pound) is a nice size for gumbo. They’re hard to overcook, and they’ll stand out well against the other ingredients. Here’s a bit more on the different types of shrimp you can buy.
  • Okra: Fresh or frozen, okra is an important ingredient in New Orleans gumbo for thickening. Its mucilage content is released when cooked, which helps give this hearty stew body. Our recipe calls for frozen, but use fresh okra if you have it.
  • Holy trinity: The holy trinity consists of celery, onion and bell peppers, and it’s commonly used in Cajun and Creole recipes. Here are other recipes to make with holy trinity.
  • Chicken broth: You can use a store-bought broth (here our Test Kitchen’s picks for best chicken broth brands) or your own homemade chicken broth.
  • Flour and oil: As mentioned above, roux is the secret to our shrimp gumbo recipe. It’s also one of the best ways to thicken sauce and stews. While roux is often made with flour and butter, most Creole and Cajun gumbo recipes opt for flour and canola oil.
  • Gumbo file powder: This special ingredient is made from ground sassafras leaves, oregano and thyme. It is used to flavor and thicken a variety of Cajun and Creole recipes.
  • Rice: No recipe for shrimp gumbo is complete without a bed of steamed rice. Check out our guide on how to make rice on a stovetop, in a rice cooker, or in a microwave.


Step 1: Prepare the roux

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, make a roux by cooking the flour and oil together, stirring occasionally, until caramel-colored, about 12 minutes.

Editor’s Tip: When making a roux, it is important to be patient. An undercooked roux will have a flour taste and will not thicken the gumbo quite right. Meanwhile, a burnt or overcooked roux will add a bitter taste.

Step 2: Saute and simmer

To the roux, add the celery, green pepper and onion. Cook and stir until the vegetables are tender, five to six minutes. Stir in the broth, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Finish and serve with rice

Shrimp Gumbo served with riceTMB Studio

Uncover the pot, and stir in the shrimp, okra, green onions and tomato. Return the gumbo to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until shrimp turn pink, about 10 minutes. Stir in the file powder. Serve with rice.

Editor’s Tip: Shrimp can be finicky to cook just right. The cooking time can vary greatly depending on the size of your shrimp and the temperature at which you cook them. For best results, consult this guide on how to cook shrimp perfectly every time.

Shrimp Gumbo Variations

  • Kick it up a notch: For an extra-spicy shrimp gumbo recipe, increase the heat by adding some diced jalapeno, serrano or habanero peppers when cooking the holy trinity vegetables. You could also add a few teaspoons of this homemade Creole seasoning mix.
  • Add chicken or sausage: For a meatier shrimp gumbo recipe, add up to 1/2 pound diced chicken breast or sliced Andouille sausage during Step 2.
  • Add more seafood: You could also add crab and oysters for a delicious seafood gumbo.
  • Omit the tomatoes: Whether tomatoes should be in gumbo is greatly debated between fans of Cajun and Creole versions. If you prefer shrimp gumbo without tomatoes, you can simply leave them out of the recipe.

How to Store Shrimp Gumbo

Store leftover shrimp gumbo in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat it gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.

How to Freeze Shrimp Gumbo

Let your gumbo cool, then store it in a freezer-safe airtight container in the freezer for up to three months. We recommend storing the gumbo separately from the rice. To reheat, let the gumbo thaw completely in the refrigerator, then heat on the stovetop or gently in the microwave until heated through. For the rice, read this guide about how to reheat rice.

Shrimp Gumbo Tips

Shrimp Gumbo served in plate with spoonTMB Studio

What can you use instead of gumbo file powder to make shrimp gumbo?

Gumbo file powder, used to thicken and flavor Creole and Cajun recipes, is available in spice shops. If you don’t want to use gumbo file powder, you may combine 2 tablespoons each of cornstarch and water until smooth to make a slurry. Gradually stir the mixture into the gumbo, then bring to a boil. Cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened.

Can I make gumbo without okra?

Yes, you can make this shrimp gumbo recipe without the okra. Know that you may need to increase the amount of file powder or decrease the amount of chicken broth, however, to ensure that the gumbo thickens. If your gumbo still appears thin, you could also stir in a little cornstarch slurry, as described in the tip above.

Watch how to Make Shrimp Gumbo

Shrimp Gumbo

Prep Time 30 min
Yield 11 servings (2-3/4 qt.)


  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds uncooked shrimp (26-30 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen sliced okra
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons gumbo file powder
  • Hot cooked rice


  1. In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook and stir flour and oil until caramel-colored, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes (do not burn). Add the celery, green pepper and onion; cook and stir until tender, 5-6 minutes. Stir in the broth, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in the shrimp, okra, green onions and tomato. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until shrimp turn pink, about 10 minutes. Stir in file powder. Serve with rice.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup: 159 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated fat), 102mg cholesterol, 681mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 2g fiber), 15g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 lean meat, 1 vegetable, 1 fat.

A crisp green salad and crusty French bread complete this shrimp gumbo meal. I always have hot sauce available when I serve this and have found that the instant microwave rice packages make the process a little easier. —Jo Ann Graham, Ovilla, Texas