Classic Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

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There is truly something magical about New Orleans Cuisine. The beautiful melding of so many influences and cultures makes for incredible dishes.

Every time we travel to the Big Easy down near the bayou, we fall in love all over again with the city, the people, the culture, the history, and of course, the food! Gumbo is about as classic it comes, and this dish is quintessential NOLA. And it’s not difficult to prepare!

A white boClassic Shrimp and Okra Gumbo in a white bowl
Classic Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

How To Make Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

Making gumbo from scratch is truly something special.

You need to carve out a few hours to make this iconic dish, and you will be so happy that you did.


How To Make a Dark Roux for Gumbo

A dark roux is important to achieve when making classic gumbo.

All you need is a large sturdy skillet (i.e., cast iron).

Add 3/4 cup vegetable oil with 1 cup of all-purpose flour and whisk continuously for 40 minutes until you have a mixture that is the color of milk chocolate.

A whisk in a black cast iron skillet containing a dark brown roux

Next, come the veggies and the spices.

Be careful when transferring the vegetables into the hot roux; they will immediately release steam.

The smell is incredible.

A bowl of chopped onions and green bell peppers being dropped into a skillet of dark roux, and then a small bowl dumping gumbo seasoning into the same skillet.

The hot roux will soften the veggies almost immediately.

At this point, you’ll want to use a wooden spoon instead of a whisk to stir the mixture.

Always be careful, as the vegetables and roux are extremely hot and will burn your skin!

A large black cast -iron skillet filled with a dark roux and chopped vegetables being stirred by a wooden spoon.

The Key Ingredients for Classic Gumbo

So, a dark roux is critical for making classic gumbo.

Next, is a wonderful shellfish stock.

EXPERT TIP: Our deeply flavorful shellfish stock and be made well in advance. In fact, it freezes beautifully, so you can make it even 1 to 2 months in advance! Of course, store-bought seafood stock can be used in this recipe, but, we strongly recommend going the extra distance and making the shellfish stock from scratch. It really brings your shrimp and okra gumbo to amazing Cajun culinary heights!

A large measuring cup is being used to pour shellfish stock into a pot of shrimp gumbo.

Gumbo filé is not 100% required, but it’s another ingredient that makes the dish taste very authentic.

NOLA is one of our favorite places in the world, and we try to visit there every couple of years, and every time we go, we pick up some Crystals hot sauce and Gumbo Filé. But we go through Krystals like crazy, so I often order more bottles online.   You can also order the file online, too.

After bringing the roux with the stock mixture to a boil, we simmer for 30 minutes. Next goes in the shrimp and then the okra.

EXPERT TIP: To help reduce the sliminess of the okra, we sauté the okra in a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet until just lightly browned. It won’t completely remove the stringy slime, but it will crisp the okra up a bit, and remove a good amount of the slime.

When To Serve Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

A bowl of uncooked shrimp being dumped into a pot of gumbo and then a skillet of cooked sliced okra being added to the pot.

Of course, Mardi Gras is the perfect time to celebrate the beauty of New Orleans, and we always make a big batch of gumbo then.

But, this is such wonderful comfort food, we love preparing the gumbo all throughout the year.

EXPERT TIP: Gumbo freezes really well. Portion our family-sized amounts in freezer-friendly containers and then thaw completely and gently reheat on the stove until heated through.

Of course, you’ll need a nice batch of Perfectly Steamed Rice for the gumbo.

A large wooden spoon being lifted up out of a pot of shrimp and okra gumbo holding a helping of the dish.

Along with the perfect steamed rice, we love to serve gumbo with sliced scallions and hot sauce.

Crystals is our favorite, but any type of hot sauce will work.

Pour it on baby!

A bottle of Crystals hot sauce is being poured onto a bowl filled with shrimp gumbo with a mound of white rice in the middle.

Other Classic Cajun and New Orleans Dishes To Try

Authentic Jambalaya
Classic Red Beans and Rice
Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
Classic Dirty Rice
Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Cajun Rice
Cajun Baked Shrimp
Mardi Gras King Cake

But in the meantime, let’s make an amazing batch of this Shrimp and Okra Gumbo!

A spoon being held up holding a helping of shrimp and okra gumbo over a bowl of the same.

Ready to make the best gumbo this side of the Big Easy?  Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo, post it on Instagram, and tag @howtofeedaloon and hashtag #howtofeedaloon!

A white bowl filled with shrimp and okra gumbo.

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

This Classic Shrimp and Okra Gumbo relies on several key features: a dark roux, a really good shellfish stock, file, and a good Louisiana hot sauce. I've been making this gumbo for a long time, and it is a household favorite without a doubt. A NOLA classic in your own kitchen!! So good!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Cajun, New Orleans
Keyword: Creole, Gumbo, how to make a dark roux, Shrimp
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 391kcal


  • Large sturdy skillet and pot, such as cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven


  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper seeded and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • tbsp filé powder
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes drained and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup hot sauce
  • 3 quarts shellfish stock click for full recipe
  • 2 lbs shrimp medium, peeled and deveined
  • 3 cups okra sliced
  • cooked rice
  • Scallions sliced, for garnish


  • In a large pot (preferably Dutch oven), heat oil over medium-high heat and slowly whisk in flour. Cook and whisking constantly until a brown roux forms, about 40 minutes.
  • Carefully add onion, bell pepper, celery, poblano, chili powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and both peppers. Stir until all is mixed together and heated through, about 2 minutes.
  • Transfer mixture to a stockpot or large Dutch oven. Stir in tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and shellfish stock. Stir to combine.
  • Simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add in the shrimp and simmer for 45 minutes. Skim oil as it forms small puddles on the surface.
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the okra and cook until slightly browned and some of the 'slime' is gone. Set aside.
  • Add the cooked okra to the gumbo mixture and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  • Serve with hot cooked rice and garnish with scallions.



The shellfish stock can be made up to 1 week in advance. 
Frozen cut okra is perfectly fine to use in this recipe. 
The gumbo is even better the following day. 


Calories: 391kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 286mg | Sodium: 2067mg | Potassium: 462mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1002IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 229mg | Iron: 4mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This recipe was originally published in December 2016, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe, with new tips and photography, and a fabulous new video in February 2021!


  • 5 stars
    This was my first time making Gumbo and it was so easy and delicious! Watching the video helped tremendously! It helped so much to see what the roux should look like and to make sure I got that part right. This was the second recipe I’ve tried from your site and it was amazing! I’m so happy I found you guys and I can’t wait to keep on cooking with you!

    • Hi Sarah! We are THRILLED you made the gumbo and had such great success! Way to go! We are so happy you found us and we found YOU!! Please stay in touch and stay tuned…so much more fun and food on the way! All the best, Kris & Wesley

    • Hi Kim! So sorry about not mentioning when to add the filé! We usually add it along with the other seasonings, but adding at the end of the cooking process works, too!! We hope the gumbo turned out great!!! xoxo Kris & Wesley

      • 5 stars
        5 stars best we have ever made . Thank you so much . My Husband Jeff and I both cook a lot. We love cooking .Made your cornbread with this and it was fabulous as well. Thursday we are making the beef bourginon. So excited we found your site

      • That is AWESOME!!!! So so happy you are having success with the recipes and please let us know how the beef bourginon turns out, or if you have any questions!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • I’m excited to make this tomorrow! I have made gumbo with chicken before but this recipe looks great. Can’t handle slimey okra so have to leave that out!

    • HI Patti! Sorry for the delayed response! We’re experience no power because of the crazy weather! But we wanted to say that we’re so excited that you’re making the gumbo and we’re anxious to hear how it turned out!!! Let us know if you have any questions!!! xoxo Kris & Wesley

    • Patti I just made this and yum I also dislike Okra but rest of family likes cooking in pan as they suggest works all the slimy was gone and they were pretty plain and similar to cooked down celery.

  • Awesome recipe guys! I did not have head on shrimp so used shells and 1 pound of freshly steamed blue crabs. Did not have the Crystal but used some fresh serranos. I also added Andouille sausage.
    Our friend said that this one would challenge a five star restaurant item. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hey Gary!! Sorry for the delayed response! We have been in the midst of moving and things have been crazy. Steamed blue crabs are the best!! And with andouille sausage! Sounds like you just made this recipe even better. Thanks for letting us know!! Sounds wonderful!! Best, Kris & Wesley

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