Louisiana Seafood Gumbo Recipe That'll Spice Up Summer Dinners

Gumbo is known as a Cajun dish, but it was actually brought to America by West African slaves. Before seafood was tossed into the pot, gumbo was primarily an okra and tomato stew. According to Serious Eats, the word "gombo" in some West Africa languages means okra.

Tricia Wheeler of Peaceful Dinners has studied traditional Louisiana cooking and told us: "I learned to make gumbo from reading all of Paul Prudhomme's cookbooks over the years. I have created my version with the layering of different spices." The key to Wheeler's gumbo recipe — as it is with almost all gumbos — is the roux, which gives the stew its nut-brown color and rich flavor.

Just as important is when the other ingredients are added once you've made the roux, which sets a gumbo apart from stews and soups. "I love making a gumbo when I am feeding a group!" Wheeler said. Her Louisiana gumbo recipe will certainly do that. It's rich, it's bold, and your whole family will love it.

Gather the ingredients for this Louisiana seafood gumbo

Authentic Louisiana seafood gumbo has several ingredients that make it a true gumbo. Crawfish (or crayfish) are tiny crustaceans that resemble baby lobsters. Most of the crawfish's meat is in its tail, but, there's tasty stuff in its head as well. Andouille sausage is a smoked pork sausage that is present in a lot of Cajun cooking. Most supermarkets sell it, but if you can't find it locally, andouille is available to purchase online.

Another ingredient you may not find in your local market is filé powder, but it too can be ordered online. In Wheeler's recipe, the gumbo ingredients are added in stages. So before you start cooking the gumbo, it's a good idea to prep all of your ingredients first so you'll have everything ready when the recipe calls for them. 

Make the roux for the Louisiana seafood gumbo

According to Serious Eats, gumbos did not have a roux until the 1880s. Although roux is associated with New Orleans cuisine, it actually didn't become popular until the 1950s, and it pretty much still defines New Orleans cooking today. Making a roux can seem daunting at first, but it's actually easy, although you do need to focus on it for about 20 minutes. (Don't start making the roux if you're expecting an important phone call!)

"If this is your first time making gumbo, remember it starts with getting a dark roux," Wheeler told us. Start by heating ¾ cup of vegetable oil in an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat for approximately five minutes. Stir in 1 cup of flour, and keep stirring to prevent the flour from scorching, which will make your gumbo bitter and burnt-tasting. Stir constantly for 20 minutes until the roux is the color of peanut butter.

Add the "holy trinity," plus okra, andouille, and tomatoes

You may have heard Emeril Lagasse refer to "the holy trinity" in Cajun/Creole cooking. According to MasterClass, the holy trinity  — onion, green bell pepper, and celery — is the backbone of all Cajun and Creole cuisine.

Add the diced onion, green bell pepper and celery to the roux, and let them cook slowly until soft, about five to seven minutes. "Don't rush letting the flavors unfold," Wheeler said, "as they get added and cooked together."

Okra may not be your favorite vegetable, but it plays an important role in gumbo. When cooked, okra exudes a sticky juice that acts as a natural thickener. Add two cups of the sliced okra (fresh or frozen) along with a pound of andouille sausage, three thinly sliced garlic cloves, and the drained 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes to the pan. Stir them into the roux and holy trinity, and cook for another five to seven minutes.

Stir in liquid ingredients and the spices, then simmer the gumbo

Filé powder is another essential ingredient for gumbo. According to The Spruce Eats, it's made from the ground dried leaves of the sassafras tree. Filé imparts a slight root beer flavor, but it also acts as a thickener for the gumbo. Fish sauce is one of our favorite ingredients for adding umami to any dish, so it's a pleasant surprise to see that it's an ingredient in Wheeler's recipe. Fish sauce is made out of anchovies that have been salted and barreled. As they ferment, the anchovies exude a liquid that becomes the fish sauce. It won't overpower the gumbo, but if you don't feel like adding it in, Wheeler says the fish sauce is optional. 

Now it's time to add the spices and liquids to your gumbo. Add a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of onion powder, a teaspoon of cayenne powder, two tablespoons of filé powder, a tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning, two bay leaves, the leaves stripped from three sprigs of thyme, two teaspoons of kosher salt, three cups of chicken or seafood stock, two bottles of clam juice, a bottle of amber beer, three tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, and a quarter of a cup of fish sauce, if using. Stir everything together and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the gumbo for one hour.

Cook the seafood, add the parsley, and serve

While the gumbo is simmering, prepare six cups of cooked rice. If you haven't already done so, peel and devein the shrimp, and cut the red snapper into small pieces. If you don't have snapper, "You can add other seafood based on what you have access to and what is in season," Wheeler told us. "Crabs, shrimp, crawfish, and fish are typical."

After the gumbo has simmered for an hour, add the two pounds of shrimp, one pound of red snapper, and the one pound of crawfish. Simmer for eight to 10 minutes until the seafood is cooked through. Finally, stir in a quarter cup of chopped fresh parsley. Put a portion of the cooked rice in each bowl — this recipe makes six to eight bowlfuls — and ladle the gumbo on top, making sure everyone gets a crawfish. Sprinkle the sliced green onions over each serving, and you're done! 

Louisiana Seafood Gumbo Recipe That'll Spice Up Summer Dinners
4.9 from 44 ratings
The key to this gumbo recipe — as it is with almost all gumbos — is the roux, which gives the stew its nut-brown color and rich flavor.
Prep Time
20
minutes
Cook Time
1.67
hours
Servings
6
servings
seafood gumbo recipe
Total time: 2 hours
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen okra, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 pound smoked andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons filé powder
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves, stripped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 cups chicken stock or seafood stock
  • 2 bottles of clam juice
  • 1 bottle amber beer
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound red snapper, chopped
  • 1 pound crawfish
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 cups hot rice
Optional Ingredients
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • Sliced green onions for garnish
Directions
  1. In a large stockpot (8 quarts), heat ¾ cup of vegetable oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of flour, and stir together to form a roux (about 20 minutes). Stir constantly until the roux is the color of peanut butter.
  2. Add 1 diced large onion, 1 diced large green bell pepper, and 2 diced celery ribs, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Stir in 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves, 2 cups of fresh or frozen okra, cut into ½ inch pieces, 1 pound of smoked andouille sausage, and 1 cup of drained canned tomatoes. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of cayenne powder, 2 tablespoons of filé powder, 1 tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning, 2 bay leaves, the leaves stripped from 3 sprigs of thyme, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, 3 cups of chicken or seafood stock, 2 bottles of clam juice, 1 bottle of amber beer, 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, and ¼ cup fish sauce, if using. Stir everything together and bring to a boil, then lower heat and allow to simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Add 2 pounds of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, 1 pound of chopped red snapper, and 1 pound of crawfish to the pot. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the seafood is cooked through. Stir in ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley.
  6. Serve with rice, and garnish with sliced green onions.
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