This easy seafood gumbo recipe can keep your hunger at bay with a delicious, wholesome classic.
Looking for a warm soup that feeds crowds (or just you)? Or a dish that duly celebrates Southern Food Heritage Day (October 11)? Your search ends here. In 40 minutes, you’ll have a pot full of chewy sausages, plump shrimps, tender crabs bathed in a thick, flavorful broth.
It’s also an amazing comfort food, especially when the cold draws near. Stock your fridge with this warm soup so you can enjoy it whenever.
So to get the ingredients you need to make seafood gumbo. Or, read on to learn more about this dish.
Why Is It Called Gumbo?
Gumbo is a staple of New Orleans cuisine. It’s a thick soup with sausages and meat/seafood cooked in a thick, dark broth, served over cooked rice.
Traditionally, gumbo is made in a jumbo size to feed a large crowd. Lots of ingredients are cooked in an extra-large pot, simmered for hours, and people would gather, excitedly waiting for a serving.
But we’re not dealing with that jumbo, hours-long recipe here. Today’s seafood gumbo recipe makes 4 servings in 40 minutes, and still shares the same flavor.
We also have a more affordable version of gumbo, which also packs flavor. Check out this chicken sausage gumbo recipe for a comfort food you can have even in hard times.
Is Seafood Gumbo Healthy?
Yes, it’s a healthy dish.
To begin with, it has a balance of the macros — proteins from seafood, fats from olive oil, and carbs from cooked rice. Plus, it’s full of vegetables, which pack fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
With the macros and micros in check, we then look at some nutrients that the USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend that we eat less of.
First, we look at added sugar, which is zero grams because our broth is naturally sweetened thanks to cooked-down veggies.
Next is the saturated fat. We used only a little bit of butter, so the level falls within the allowance.
Finally, the sodium content. Seafood and sausages can be salty, so we went easy on the salt, and looked for a low-sodium sausage instead of the traditional.
As a result, we ended up with a healthy dish, with all the macros balanced and some limited nutrients within allowance.
Served with a portion of white rice, one gumbo serving gives you 480 calories. To crank the calories to 750 like recommended in our guidelines, we paired it with a side of fresh salad and juice.
Easy Seafood Gumbo Ingredients
A good gumbo is done with the right ingredients.
For the thick broth — gumbo’s signature texture, there are 3 core ingredients involved.
First and foremost, the brown roux — made by stirring flour in butter over heat, and cooking it until the color darkens. This gives the gumbo broth the depth of flavor it’s famous for.
To really thicken the broth (but not thinning it out like flour might), we either use okra or filé powder.
Our seafood gumbo recipe calls for okra because that’s what the original recipe calls for (you can use either). It is a green, long-shaped fruit that has a slimy interior that thickens the broth.
2. Sausage Option
A gumbo can’t be called gumbo if it lacks sausage.
People often use andouille in their gumbo, a type of French sausage that has a smoky flavor. We couldn’t find a quality sausage with low sodium content, so we used a low-sodium pork sausage (listed in the recipe card).
If you can make andouille sausage, go easy on the salt and you can use it to make a more authentic gumbo.
3. Seafood Haul
Next on the list, the “expensive twist” in the gumbo.
First off, shrimp. The snappy, bursty texture of plump shrimp is so unique that no other seafood compares.
To get that desirable texture, you can either go for frozen shrimp or marinate fresh shrimp with baking soda. A pH-8 solution helps the shrimp to firm up and become crisp when cooked (remember to wash off the baking soda before cooking).
Next, crabs. We’re using canned crab to skip the hassle of dismantling a crab.
We also wanted to use squid, but given that the dish’s already full of proteins, we stopped there. It’s enough to make a good seafood gumbo soup pot.
4. Spice Mix
To give the soup its warmth, we added in a lot of chili powder, paprika, cayenne, and Cajun seasoning (for the signature New Orleans flavors). The rest are just basic Mexican-style seasonings: bay leaf, basil, thyme, coriander.
5. Vegetable Choice
Gumbo’s broth must contain the holy trinity: celery, bell peppers, and onions. There are other vegetables as well to give it plenty of flavors such as carrots, onions, garlic, and fresh herbs.
With the ingredients gathered, let’s get to the cooking.
How to Make Easy Seafood Gumbo
Here’s a short version of our seafood gumbo recipe, to give you an overview of what the steps look like:
Sear the sausages. Set aside.
Cook shrimp and crab with aromatics. Set aside.
Make the dark roux.
Cook the vegetables.
Add broth, seasoning, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add sausage, shrimp, crab, and cook for another 15 minutes.
Serve with rice, garnish with fresh coriander.
For the more detailed version, check our recipe card down below.
Jambalaya vs Gumbo
Both belonging to the same cuisine and sharing similar ingredients, you can sometimes describe one but actually mean the other. Let’s look at the few key differences.
First and foremost, gumbo has a thick broth while jambalaya is a kind of fried rice. That’s why gumbo calls for okra or file powder while jambalaya doesn’t.
Also, rice in gumbo is plain white rice, and gumbo is served over. Rice in jambalaya is cooked along with other ingredients.
What to Serve with Easy Seafood Gumbo
Gumbo in general is served over cooked rice, and it’s not typically served with other sources of carbs. To include more nutrients in the dish, you can use brown rice instead of white rice.
We also serve our easy seafood gumbo with the following side dishes:
The salad is full of fresh, juicy bites that add both textures and nutrients to the meal. In between bites, sip on the cucumber lime juice to cleanse your palate, getting it ready for the next spoonful.
How to Preserve Seafood Gumbo
The FDA’s food storage chart says seafood lasts for 2 days in the fridge, and up to months when frozen.
If you’re planning to eat it again soon within 2 days, simply refrigerate it. Longer than that, you need to freeze it.
The gumbo broth freezes really well and thaws really well because we need the veggies to be mushy. For best results, you could cook the dish (without seafood), then as you reheat, add the seafood in and you can’t tell it’s been reheated.
Looking for an even easier gumbo? Check out our Instant Pot Gumbo Recipe and you won’t regret it.
More Delicious Shrimp Ideas
Easy Seafood Gumbo Recipe
This seafood gumbo recipe makes a comfort food in just 40 minutes. It's healthy, tasty, and simply wholesome.
- cook TIME 30 mins
- prep TIME 10 mins
- total TIME 40 mins
- COURSE Main Course
- CUISINE American, Louisiana Creole
- SERVINGS servings
- CALORIES 480 kcal
- 3 oz smoked sausage (sliced)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 10 oz raw shrimp (giving 6 oz peeled)
- 2 tsp garlic (minced)
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp dried basil
- 3 oz canned crab meat (drained)
- 2 tbsp white wine
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 oz onion (chopped)
- 2 oz bell pepper ((green and red) chopped)
- 1 oz celery (chopped)
- 3 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp bay leaf (2 leaves)
- 1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp coriander (chopped, divided in half)
- 5 oz okra (cut into half-an-inch chunks)
- 3 1/4 cups cooked medium-grain rice
- 2 tbsp scallion (chopped)
Heat a large cast-iron, deep pan (or a large pot) over medium heat. Add 3 oz sliced sausage and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the cooked sausage from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil, 6 oz peeled shrimp, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1/4 tsp dried thyme, 1/4 tsp dried basil, and cook until the shrimp just begins to turn red. Add 3 oz drained crab, 2 tbsp white wine, and stir until the wine evaporates. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, melt 1 1/2 tbsp butter over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and stir quickly, making sure there are no lumps. Keep stirring until the mixture turns to a light brown.
Add 2 oz onion, 2 oz bell pepper, 1 oz celery, and stir for 1 minute to get it softened.
Pour in 3 cups broth, and season it with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 2 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp chili powder, and 1 tbsp of coriander. Turn the heat on high, and when it’s bubbling, reduce the heat to low and simmer (uncovered) for 20 minutes.
Add cooked sausages, seafood, and 5 oz chopped okra in. Simmer for another 15 minutes.
Serve with cooked rice and garnish with the remaining scallion and coriander.
Tuyet PhamChef, Culinary Consultant
Luna ReginaWriter, Author
Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LDNutrition Reviewer
February 22, 2023 at 5:04 AMLoved it! Can’t wait to try it with shrimp and crab meat!