Shellfish Stock

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This incredible stock adds amazing depth and flavor to delicious dishes from gumbo, cioppino, fish chowder and so much more.

This is not difficult to make and can easily be doubled so you can fill multiple air-tight containers and freeze it for future use.  Like chicken stock or beef stock, it elevates dishes that call for it to superior taste.

Two hands holding a glass jar with a lid filled with shellfish stock.

How To Make Shellfish Stock

This stock can be made with just shrimp shells, and even better, if you can find whole shrimp with the heads still on.

You can also use prawns, again, preferably with the heads still on. Every time you cook with shrimp, put the shells in a baggie and freeze them. Before you know it, you’ll have enough to make shellfish stock.

You can also use the shells from lobster and/or crabs.

EXPERT TIP: As mentioned, you can also use blue crab. Most well-stocked seafood markets will sell the frozen variety (if you don’t have access to fresh), or you can easily order them online.


In a large pot, such as a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet, saute the shells in butter and oil until nice and pink, about 8 minutes.

Shellfish shells being sautéed in a large stock pan with a wooden spoon in it.

After the shells are nice and pink, it’s time to add the veggies.

We love a combination of chopped onions, celery, and leeks.

EXPERT TIP: Leeks are notorious for having dirt in the lower portions of the plant. Be sure to give them a good solid rinsing of cold water before slicing them. For this shellfish stock, we recommend only using the green parts of the leek.

A hand holding sliced leeks over a stock pot filled with chopped onions and celery and wooden spoon in the middle of it.

White wine adds a depth to the stock that is just amazing.

We use 3 cups, and then bring it to a boil to cook out the alcohol.

If you don’t want to use wine, just skip it and increase the water by 3 cups.

White wine being poured from a carafe into a large silver stock pan.

How Long To Simmer Shellfish Stock

Now, all you need to do is add water. 3 quarts (12 cups) will yield the perfect amount for most recipes calling for shellfish stock.

Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour.

This is all it takes to produce a deeply flavorful seafood stock at home.

EXPERT TIP: After the stock has simmered for 1 hour, you’ll need it to cool down for about 20 minutes. Next, grab a fine-mesh sieve and strain the stock into another pot.

A person pouring shellfish stock and shrimp shells into a strainer sitting on a stock pot.

When To Use Shellfish Stock

We use this stock in so many of our seafood recipes. You will be amazed how it elevates the taste of your chowder, gumbo, or cioppino to incredible culinary heights.

And as mentioned, we often double or triple the recipe and then freeze a couple batches of it.

There are so many uses for this incredibly flavorful stock, you’ll always be happy you have some on hand.

Shellfish stock in a large stock pan with a wooden spoon submerged into the liquid.

Ready to make the best stock this side of the Gulf of Mexico? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a picture, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and #HowToFeedaLoon!

Shellfish stock in a large stock pan with a wooden spoon submerged into the liquid.

Shrimp / Crab Stock

Shellfish Stock is an essential ingredient when you want to make your gumbo or fish stew be the very best it can be. Stock up on shells from your favorite shellfish such a shrimp, lobster, and crab. The difference of this stock vs. store-bought is night and day.
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Course: Stock
Cuisine: Cajun, Italian, Seafood
Keyword: easy seafood stock, how to make shellfish stock
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 171kcal


  • Large (8 quart) stock pot, or Dutch oven


  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 lbs shellfish shells shrimp, lobster, and/or crab. Heads on even better.
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 1 large leek sliced, green parts only
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3 cups white wine
  • 3 quarts water


  • If using shrimp or prawns with the heads still attached, simply twist the head off from the body, and then remove the shells. You'll be using both the shells and the heads for the stock.
  • Heat the butter and oil in a large pot, or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the shells (and heads if using) and cook until pink, about 8 minutes.
  • Add in the onion, celery, leeks, and white wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add the water, bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 1 hour.
  • Let cool for about 20 minutes, and the strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve into another pot or large heat-proof bowl. Use a spoon or small ladle to skim off any fat (from the butter) and/or impurities that may have formed on the surface of the stock.



You can find shrimp with the heads still on at well-stocked fish markets.  Prawns (with heads) are a great substitute.  
You'll need about 3 cups of shrimp shells.  Every time you cook with shrimp, be sure to throw the shells into a freezer baggie and freeze them for when you're ready to make shellfish stock!
When making this stock for gumbo, we usually leave the smoked paprika out of the shellfish stock because it's included in the gumbo. 
The stock will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days and freezes beautifully for up to 2 months. 


Calories: 171kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 327mg | Potassium: 148mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 417IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

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