Seafood Gumbo

Seafood gumbo, packed with shrimp, oysters, red snapper, and, especially Louisiana blue crab, is a classic South Louisiana dish. Ben Thibodeaux, chef de cuisine of Dickie Brennan’s Tableau in Le Petit Theatre, says, “Our warm, fertile waters help our blue crabs get nice and fat, which lends a sweetness to the seafood gumbo. Whether it’s crab claws sauteed in browned butter or jumbo lump meat in a bit of ravigote sauce, the simpler, the better. Our blue crabs really are the very best.”

4.5 from 4 reviews
Seafood Gumbo
Makes 6 to 8 servings
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 cups chopped okra
  • 1½ cups beer, such as Abita Amber
  • 6 cups seafood stock
  • 2 tablespoons filé powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 (8-ounce) container crab claw meat, picked free of shells
  • 3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound medium fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound red snapper fillets, chopped
  • 2 (8-ounce) containers shucked oysters
  • 1 (8-ounce) container jumbo lump crabmeat, picked free of shells
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley Hot cooked rice
  • Garnish: chopped green onion
  1. In an 8-quart stockpot, heat oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes; add flour, and stir together to form a roux. Cook, stirring often, until roux is the color of peanut butter, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and okra. Cook vegetables, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add beer, stock, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning, crab claw meat, Worcestershire, salt, and cayenne. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 1 hour.
  3. Add shrimp, fish, oysters, and lump crabmeat to mixture. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until seafood is cooked through; add parsley.
  4. Serve Withrice, and garnish Withgreen onion, if desired.



  1. Eddie Lindsey November 3, 2014 at 2:28 am - Reply

    Very nice recipes. I must try my hand at a few if not all.

    • Audrey February 21, 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      Instead of beer could I use a chicken broth for this gumbo recipe

    • Rene Snodey February 28, 2018 at 4:48 pm - Reply

      I made the gumbo just the way the recipe says it turn out delicious

  2. Nikki December 22, 2014 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    Trying the seafood gumbo on xmas

    • David December 16, 2017 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      Me 2

  3. Danyel January 26, 2015 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    What is file powder?

    • Editor January 27, 2015 at 8:37 am - Reply

      Filé is a traditional thickening agent and flavoring used in some Louisiana gumbos instead of (or in addition to) flour-based roux. It’s made from dried and ground sassafras leaves. This is one example of Filé -

      • bbos42 December 3, 2016 at 7:38 am - Reply

        File was used as a thickening agent during the winter then okra wasn’t available, and eventually earned it’s way into the year around recipe.

    • Ruthie April 15, 2016 at 12:46 pm - Reply

      Gumbo file’

    • bbos42 March 11, 2017 at 9:05 am - Reply

      It’s not a yankee thing!

      • Danna Golden October 19, 2017 at 5:34 pm - Reply

        You can order off Amazon

    • Sheila July 31, 2017 at 9:45 am - Reply

      Sassafras leaves ground fine

    • Nikki September 14, 2017 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      It’s ground sassafras leaves.

    • Bart January 16, 2018 at 9:31 am - Reply

      It’s pronou filee, accent on the é
      Usually comes in a tall narrow jar.

  4. Linda Elliott January 26, 2015 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    Looks good

  5. Bonnie August 8, 2015 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    Looks wonderful! I’d have to take out a loan from the bank to make it, though.

  6. Sylvia November 11, 2015 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    Where do you get the seafood stock or how do you make it?

    • Editor November 13, 2015 at 8:50 am - Reply

      Seafood stock can be a little harder to find than chicken or beef stock, but you should look for it in that same section of your supermarket. If you’d like to make one (it’s quite easy), we found this recipe from Paul Prudhomme –

    • Joe October 3, 2016 at 12:55 pm - Reply

      If you purchase heads-on, peels-on shrimp, you can use the heads and peels in two quarts of water to make your own seafood stock. May need at least two pounds of shrimp though…

  7. T.Triplett January 26, 2016 at 9:10 am - Reply

    I’m grateful to have found a receipt for gumbo that don’t use tomatoes. I’m allergic I look forward to making this recipe

  8. Rose January 27, 2016 at 4:17 am - Reply

    Can you make it without the file and it still come out nice? (I would think it would because of the roux with the browned flour and oil) and do you serve the rice on the side or add it to the gumbo, if so what kind of rice is a nice compliment to the seafood gumbo

    • Editor January 29, 2016 at 8:44 am - Reply

      Thanks for asking, Rose. The gumbo would still taste good without the file, but the texture would be a little thinner. We do usually serve it with rice, and tend to stick with a classic long-grained Cajun rice like Cajun Country Rice or Supreme Rice.

    • Wendell Williams December 28, 2017 at 9:18 am - Reply

      Serve gumbo on top a bed of rice. Long grain white rice works the best. I’m from New Orleans. Trust me.

  9. Shawn Bracey January 27, 2016 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    I just made this without the beer and it rocks…thanks

    • NOLA Dale February 6, 2018 at 4:54 pm - Reply

      One beer for the gumbo and one for me? forget it; both for me!

  10. Gigi February 4, 2016 at 9:24 am - Reply

    I grew up in North Florida and we never cooked file in the gumbo. We added file at the end in individual bowls, or if feeding a crowd, we added it to the pot after it stopped cooking. I do that today and my gumbo is still excellent. If you’re concerned about the consistency of the broth, a little Arrowroot in water works magic and imparts no off taste. Thank you for this recipe.

    • Editor February 4, 2016 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      People in Louisiana often sprinkle it on at the end too, but many folks cook it in their gumbo.

  11. Tony March 2, 2016 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    Thank you this recipe is solid my wife family loved it… it was a great way to use tax return.

    • Delta Greer November 26, 2017 at 3:04 pm - Reply

      Use tax return yep or arm and aleg

  12. Murph March 3, 2016 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Really good, made it twice with some left over items I had. The second time I used Creole spices, Paprika, Texas Pete hot sauce, black pepper, a Poblano pepper (chopped), jalepeno pepper (chopped), and crawfish, and some chilli powder. I didn’t use snapper, oysters and the shrimp was frozen. It had a little more kick to the second time around, but I really enjoyed it. Thanks for the recipe!

  13. Kathy Ezell April 1, 2016 at 6:26 am - Reply

    My husband has made this for a big group on Sunday. Would it be ok to mix the rice in with the gumbo rather than serve it over the rice? We are concerned about the best way to keep the rice out and hot and moist for this 2 hour event.

    • Editor April 4, 2016 at 6:43 am - Reply

      The best way to keep the rice warm is with a rice cooker. Its ‘warm’ setting will keep the rice moist and fresh throughout the party.

  14. TERESA MAPP April 16, 2016 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    I tried this recipe and the more it simmer to figure it out I had to keep adding water over and over and over. I followed the recipe to the T, and it definitely didn’t turn out or look like the picture on display. A bit disappointed because this took a lot of ingredients as an expensive recipe.

    • Assistant Editor April 18, 2016 at 7:46 am - Reply

      Hi Teresa – We are sorry that you had trouble with the recipe. Gumbos can be tricky to master sometimes. In this case, it sounds as if your gumbo may have been simmering at too high of a temperature, which would reduce the amount of liquid as it cooks.

  15. gumbo May 23, 2016 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Made this gumbo without the snapper and it was still really good thanks for sharing guys! One thing I would add is to make sure you get fresh veggies makes a world of a difference.

  16. Rassy June 10, 2016 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    What can I substate beer with. I don’t drink alcohol at all I’m Muslim thanks

    • Editor June 16, 2016 at 9:42 am - Reply

      Thank you for asking. You can substitute additional seafood stock for the beer.

  17. B Deville July 13, 2016 at 7:55 pm - Reply

    Tried it with beer and tasted awful Will try without next time

    • Editor July 14, 2016 at 7:57 am - Reply

      We’re sorry you didn’t like the Seafood Gumbo with the beer. Which kind of beer did you end up using? If you’d like to try the dish without the beer, you can replace it with water, seafood stock, or even the liquid that comes with the shucked oysters!

  18. John Taylor August 11, 2016 at 10:39 pm - Reply

    I made this and it was delicious! Making this again this weekend!

  19. Stacey Washington August 18, 2016 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Making the dish tonight. The recipe sounds delightful! Excited to taste my finish product.

  20. Lynelle August 22, 2016 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    Made this over the weekend for a birthday party–it was fantastic! We added andouille sausage at the end, which added another layer of flavor. My friends kept sneaking back into the kitchen to get seconds!

  21. Sandra September 6, 2016 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Love gumbo! Seafood or chicken and sausage. You don’t have use expensive seafood most times I use whatever fish and shrimp I have in the freezer. We add file at the end though.

  22. Michael V Fontaine October 7, 2016 at 11:02 am - Reply

    Zatarain’s makes a Gumbo Base…file if you will. In a box. Wonderful recipe and remember make it properly within your budget, it’s still fantastic.

  23. Kelly October 26, 2016 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    I am trying to learn how to make this but I was a little confused. Every other recipe I saw had it on the stove for days at a time

    • Christy July 13, 2017 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      Traditionally gumbo is an “add as you go” kinda dish, so it can stay on the stove or be re-heated day after day after day and be refreshed or refilled with more liquid/stock, veggies or meat/seafood you have on hand. The longer it sits the taster it gets because the flavors are melding together. The hardest part of gumbo is getting the roux just right. As a note, the longer you cook the fat (anything from butter-meat fat- veg oil-even coconut oil can be used) and flour mixture, the browner the roux will be AND it also reduces the absorption rate of the flour – so, the lighter the roux the thicker the gumbo (you can leave out the okra or file if you like) but the “bread-ier” the gumbo will taste and it wont have that brownish color either. The darker the roux the thinner the gumbo, but with a richer, deeper flavor, and hence the addition of either okra or file to thicken. Hope this helps and ya’ll have fun making it!

  24. Darrell November 24, 2016 at 11:22 am - Reply

    trying it this xmas, first time ever making any type of gumbo {wish me luck}

  25. Kathrina November 26, 2016 at 6:53 pm - Reply

    This an awsome recipe, I loved how the base of the gumbo turned out….

  26. Kathrina November 26, 2016 at 6:54 pm - Reply

    Everybody Loved it after Thanksgiving meal and football.

  27. Stacey December 7, 2016 at 12:19 am - Reply

    Never made gumbo before. Im trying for New Years Eve 2016!

  28. Boni December 19, 2016 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    I just learned how to make it this weekend by watching a friend from Louisiana use her grandmother’s recipe. It’s not really complicated despite ALL the ingredients that make it seem so. First she had me cut up the ingredients and we put them in zip lock bags. She cooked it the next day (only because she was preparing it for her mother to take to a pot luck lunch that day and she had no room to store the gumbo in her refrigerator the night before). She cooked it similar to the instructions here so I believe you will be thrilled by how beautiful the dish is when it’s all done. It was a rewarding experience and I am looking forward to making it solo — maybe for New Year’s Eve/Day!

  29. Leah December 22, 2016 at 2:37 am - Reply

    I usually make my roux using vegetable oil and bacon drippings to equal 1 cup. The bacon gives an extra layer of smokiness. I also brown andouille and regular smoked sausage together to throw in at the end with shrimp, frozen crawfish tail meat, and frozen gumbo crabs. I used to make a seafood stock with shrimp shells/tails, as stated above, but now I just use chicken stock or chicken stock w/ a gumbo crab thrown in. I love seafood gumbo, but don’t have to have it so fishy that it tastes like pond water. I love the balance of the sausage and shrimp, etc. I sprinkle the file’ on top of the rice before adding the gumbo to a bowl and don’t use okra. (Every Christmas Eve I go buy 3 boxes of white rice from my local Chinese take-out, because cooking the gumbo is work enough!) Also, to control the salt, I use individual spices rather than a pre-made salty mix. After ruining a batch with salt, this has worked much better. Your recipe sounds great, though, if I had access to red snapper. Yum!

  30. Calvin December 24, 2016 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    This was the best. Calvin made this and it blew our socks off. The best we’ve ever eaten

  31. Rakiya December 31, 2016 at 12:20 am - Reply

    Thanks for the recipe. Mine turned out really delicious.

  32. Nikki Rice January 4, 2017 at 6:19 am - Reply

    Where do I find file powder? What kind of beer? And seafood stock?

  33. Josh January 10, 2017 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Is there a fish that can be substituted for the red snapper? Hard to find in S. Ontario Canada. What about catfish?

    • Editor January 11, 2017 at 7:51 am - Reply

      Catfish would work acceptably as a red snapper substitute, as would rainbow trout, or sea trout (weakfish).

    • Christy July 13, 2017 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      If you cook the catfish IN the gumbo make sure it’s farm raised because the flavor is mild. If wild caught catfish cook it separately , pile on top of the rice in individual bowls and then dish out the base over each serving. TRUST ME ON THIS! 🙂 the wild caught will over power everything…I won’t make that mistake again, ha!

  34. St. Louis Boy January 14, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

    Turned out great! Thanks for the recipe. Used Guinness as beer and for meat used sausage, shrimp, crab and chicken. Did it all in the crock pot (though took about 6 hours), but turned out fantastic! Did jalapeño cornbread muffins as a side, served over white rice, and everyone came back for seconds (or thirds)!

  35. Marquita forland ST.LOUIS MO. February 8, 2017 at 5:49 am - Reply

    My baby sister use to make excellent gumbo she is deceased now she died at 34 on feb 13,2011 and this year on her death date im gonna make it in rememberance of the good times for the first time i want to thank u for in advance

  36. Chris February 14, 2017 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Wow! A whole cup of oil seems like a lot. Is that a typo? There is so much oil in this.

    • Editor February 24, 2017 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      The cup of oil is used to make the roux, which thickens the gumbo.

  37. mike cunningham April 8, 2017 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Won’t putting the okra in with the onions, etc. right at the beginning make the okra dissolve. I usually put it in maybe an hour before it’s done.

    • Editor April 12, 2017 at 12:43 pm - Reply

      In this case, the okra is only getting added about an hour before the gumbo is finished, so it would likely give you a result similar to the one you’re used to.

  38. Chris August 20, 2017 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    I followed the recipe and it turned out very oily. Is one cup of vegetable oil a typo?

    • Editor August 21, 2017 at 7:56 am - Reply

      We’re sorry you didn’t get a good outcome, but the 1 cup of vegetable oil is not a typo. To make a roux, you need to whisk together the hot oil and flour until a paste forms. You could always try less roux, or if you want to nix the oil altogether, brown the flour in a skillet (or in the oven) to simulate the roux flavor.

  39. Felicia September 25, 2017 at 11:22 am - Reply

    I made this in August with lump crab meat, shrimp and scallops instead of the other suggested seafood. It came out awesome! I also didnt use beer since I am nursing and used extra seafood stock as suggested in the comments. I would note that the roux did not take 20 min to look like peanut butter. I had the heat on low but my stove is unfortunately electric. So please constantly stir and watch your roux! My family loves this gumbo. This was my first time making it and I will be making again next month. Thank you for this recipe

  40. Daisy October 12, 2017 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    I am making this for my birthday next month. Will let you all know how it turns out.

  41. Bet November 3, 2017 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    File Gumbo! Wonderful. The most important thing you can do is slowly and I mean slowly brown up your roux. The browning of flour and oil. Just take lots of time to get it really dark brown. You can use any combination of seafood. Crab, shrimp, fish, sausage, crawfish, yes and chicken. But I don’t use chicken. I do not really care for okra, so it’s file for me. Lot’s of chopped red and green bell peppers, chopped onion, celery, minced garlic. I don’t use beer either and it is just as good maybe better! Top off with green onions, maybe a little more file, parsley if you want to. I never use anything except long grain white rice preferable grown in Texas, Arkansas or Louisiana! Not as many rice growers in Texas as there used to be. Development pushing them out. I know. We were rice producers on the Texas Gulf Coast. I say were.

  42. Shan November 23, 2017 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Should the oil and flour amounts double when serving more than 8-10 people?? And I’m adding chicken wings can I add the roux to the chicken stock??

    • Editor November 27, 2017 at 11:47 am - Reply

      You’d want to increase the roux at the same rate that you’re increasing the whole gumbo, so if you were increasing the whole recipe by half (to serve about 12), you would use 1 1/2 cups each of oil and flour.

  43. Robin Harvey November 25, 2017 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Could you make this and freeze it

  44. Terri November 27, 2017 at 10:08 am - Reply

    My mother taught me to cook the okra down to remove the “slime” as much as possible. Does just adding it without cooking it down mean there won’t be much “slime” as my mother called it?

    • Editor November 27, 2017 at 11:41 am - Reply

      A lot of traditional recipes have you cook down the okra to minimize the (how can we say this politely) okra texture, but I can say that our tasters did not find this gumbo slimy.

  45. Charmaine November 30, 2017 at 6:53 am - Reply

    I read the recipe and all the comments. All my questions have been answered and I am so eager to make my 1st pot of Gumbo! Love this website!!

  46. Dwight Izzard December 3, 2017 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    I made it yesterday and now my family says this is a must have every holiday season.

  47. Kevin December 9, 2017 at 8:59 am - Reply

    Can you substitute Andouille sausage for the red snapper filet chunks?

    • Editor December 12, 2017 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      You certainly could make that substitute. We would suggest browning the andouille slices in the stockpot at the very beginning, then setting them aside. Then you would continue with the roux. Add the browned sausage in with the seafood near the end of the cooking time.

  48. Ryland & Lenore, South Alabama December 10, 2017 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Great receipt. Closest we’ve found to my mother’s – she was from Plaquemine LA. A few modifications: no fish, increased the 1st 7 ingredients by 1/2, doubled the crab & shrimp (used small not medium), added another cup of okra and 2 small cans tomato sauce, put half the file in during cooking, other half before serving, no beer, no cayenne pepper and just a smidgen of Canjun seasoning*. Also, cooked everything but the shrimp & crab then let the pot refrigerate overnight. Next morning, brought the pot back up to boil, added the seafood and cooked for about 10 min. Used crockpot to keep gumbo warm during party. *Rice and Tabasco sauce available if wanted. Seventeen thumbs up and only about two cups left over.

  49. Debbie December 19, 2017 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Gumbo turned out EXCELLENT! Only used chicken, crab, and shrimp w/ celery, bell pepper, onion and garlic, 1 tomato plus all seasonings. Roux was dark brown and well-worth the time. The family is still raving!

  50. Julia December 23, 2017 at 5:49 am - Reply

    I tried it last year without the beer and file’ powder. And it came out GREAT!!! Did it again November with the file’ powder. And it was GREAT. Couldn’t taste a difference. All I tasted was GREATNESS. Thank you. Love It!! ❤️

  51. Cajungolgergurl December 23, 2017 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    I was born in New Orleans. My mother made gumbo without any recipes and taught me the same way, therefore I have never used a recipe. This is the first time I used a recipe (altered parts, i.e. left out the beer) and it tastes just liked my mother’s. Delicious!!

    • Cajungolgergurl December 23, 2017 at 2:29 pm - Reply

      … for gumbo that is…

  52. Don Boss January 6, 2018 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    Best recipe out of every other site! I add anything I want extra like chicken, sausage, and lobster. The layout of this recipe is so simple it’s my 4th time using it for seafood Gumbo & it helped me stir up an excellent dish!

  53. Martin Elkins January 26, 2018 at 7:40 am - Reply

    Me and my Girl Friend is going to try this out on Superbowl Sunday. Hopefully The Eagles and this recipe don’t disappoint me.

  54. BRazBen January 29, 2018 at 11:59 am - Reply

    Native South Louisianian living in Texas. Tried the recipe for first time this weekend. Would recommend a little more pepper flavoring (chopped jalapeno, cayenne pepper) but I understand you don’t want to encourage overseasoning on a base recipe. Can always add to your bowl. Would also swap 4 oz of the beer for 4 oz of the stock. All in all, this recipe is a great start and relatively simple. My grandma always uses pig lard in her roux, but not so easy to find and can be a little too heavy.


    • BRazBen January 29, 2018 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      That’s more stock, less beer

  55. Dean February 4, 2018 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    Thanks For all the comments, I’m off to cook it now

  56. Byron February 5, 2018 at 10:35 am - Reply

    I made this recipe this weekend for a Super Bowl party. Big time hit! Everybody loved it. I used both the seafood stock and the beer. I also tripled the recipe and this was very problematic with the roux. 3 cups of oil was too much! Made the batch Saturday so it would season over night. I did not like the greasy taste. So I drained the meat and vegetables from the roux/stock mixture and started over using only one cup of oil for the roux. In the end, the gumbo tasted fantastic. It was a very expensive pot and extremely labor intensive but loved by all. 2 gallons gone in about 30 minutes! Can’t wait to make it again.

  57. Rene Snodey February 28, 2018 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    Too good

  58. George Beaudry March 13, 2018 at 6:29 am - Reply

    many people like myself throw half a dozen peeled hard boiled eggs in our gumbos about an hour before its done, whether it is seafood or other gumbo, they will absorb the flavor and add variety to the dish, there is a lot of leeway in the ingredients you can use in either type. At one time in my past I was a steward and cook on offshore rigs crewed by Louisiana Cajuns and I never had any complaints about my gumbos. This is a good recipe.

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