How To Make Okra & Shrimp Gumbo: Step-by-Step Tutorial

by Ella

Gumbo, a beloved dish that hails from the southern United States, is a culinary masterpiece that combines a rich history with a symphony of flavors. At its heart, gumbo is a stew that showcases the amalgamation of African, French, Spanish, and Indigenous influences, resulting in a dish that’s as diverse as it is delicious. Among the various gumbo variations, Okra and Shrimp Gumbo stands out for its combination of tender shrimp and the unique texture of okra. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of creating this iconic dish in your own kitchen.

Okra and Shrimp Gumbo

Prep Time15 minutes
Active Time1 hour
Course: Soup
Yield: 6
Cost: $5


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen okra, sliced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, with juices (14.5 oz)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Cooked white rice, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • Tabasco sauce, for serving (optional)


  • Prepare the Roux: In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Gradually whisk in the all-purpose flour to create a roux. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the roux reaches a dark caramel color. This can take about 20-30 minutes. Be patient, as the roux is the base of the gumbo's flavor.
  • Sauté the Aromatics: Once the roux is ready, add the diced onion, green bell pepper, and celery to the pot. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables soften and the onion becomes translucent.
  • Add the Okra and Garlic: Stir in the minced garlic and sliced okra. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes until the okra starts to lose its sliminess.
  • Incorporate Tomatoes: Add the diced tomatoes (with their juices) to the pot. Stir well to combine with the vegetables.
  • Season and Simmer: Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth, and stir to incorporate. Add the dried thyme, dried oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, salt, and black pepper. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
  • Reduce Heat and Simmer: Once the gumbo is boiling, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. This will allow the flavors to meld and the gumbo to thicken.
  • Add Shrimp: Add the peeled and deveined shrimp to the gumbo. Let them cook for about 5-7 minutes until they turn pink and opaque. Avoid overcooking the shrimp, as they can become tough.
  • Adjust Seasoning: Taste the gumbo and adjust the seasoning if needed. You can add more salt, black pepper, or cayenne pepper to suit your taste preferences.
  • Serve: Remove the bay leaves from the gumbo. Ladle the gumbo over bowls of cooked white rice. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley. If you like an extra kick, serve the gumbo with a few drops of Tabasco sauce on the side.

Tips for Making Okra and Shrimp Gumbo

Creating a flavorful and authentic Okra and Shrimp Gumbo requires attention to detail and a few key techniques. Here are some essential tips to help you make a delicious gumbo that captures the essence of this classic Southern dish:


1. Perfect the Roux: The roux is the foundation of gumbo and contributes to its rich flavor and thick texture. Achieving the right color is crucial. Cook the roux slowly over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. It should be a deep caramel color, resembling the color of a dark chocolate bar.


2. Chop Ingredients Uniformly: Chop your aromatics, vegetables, and shrimp uniformly to ensure even cooking. This will prevent some pieces from becoming overcooked while others remain undercooked.


3. Sauté Aromatics Thoroughly: Sauté the holy trinity of onions, bell peppers, and celery until they are soft and fragrant. This forms the base of your gumbo’s flavor. Take your time with this step to build a solid flavor foundation.


4. Use Fresh Okra: Fresh okra works best in gumbo. Wash and dry the okra thoroughly, then trim the ends and slice them into rounds. Sauté the okra after the aromatics to reduce its sliminess before adding it to the gumbo.

5. Choose Quality Shrimp: Opt for medium-sized shrimp that are peeled and deveined. Adding the shrimp towards the end of cooking prevents them from becoming overcooked and rubbery. The shrimp should turn pink and opaque when they’re done.

6. Control the Heat: Gumbo can have a mild to moderate heat level, depending on your preference. Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper, paprika, and other spices to suit your taste. Taste as you go and gradually add heat until it’s just right for you.

7. Simmer Slowly: After adding all the ingredients, bring the gumbo to a gentle simmer and let it cook low and slow. This allows the flavors to meld together and the okra to release its natural thickening properties. Simmering for about 30 minutes is usually sufficient.

8. Seasoning and Adjustments: Taste the gumbo before adding the shrimp and adjust the seasoning as needed. Remember that the flavors will intensify as the gumbo simmers. Balance the flavors of salt, pepper, and spices to create a harmonious taste.

9. Serve with Accompaniments: Gumbo is traditionally served over rice. The rice acts as a neutral base that absorbs the flavorful broth. Provide cooked white rice, and encourage your guests to ladle the gumbo over it. Cornbread, crusty bread, or French bread are also excellent accompaniments.

See Also: 10 Best Okra Recipes

FAQs About Making Okra and Shrimp Gumbo

Q1. How Do I Prevent Okra from Becoming Slimy?

Slicing and sautéing okra before adding it to the gumbo can help reduce its sliminess. You can also avoid overcooking the okra, as prolonged cooking can intensify its slimy texture.

Q2. Can I Use Frozen Okra in Gumbo?

Yes, you can use frozen okra in gumbo. However, fresh okra is often preferred for its superior texture. If using frozen okra, make sure to thaw and pat it dry before adding it to the gumbo.

Q3. Can I Use Pre-Cooked Shrimp?

Yes, you can use pre-cooked shrimp, but it’s best to add them towards the end of the cooking process to prevent them from becoming tough. If you use pre-cooked shrimp, add them to the gumbo just to warm through.

Q4. Can I Make Gumbo Ahead of Time?

Yes, gumbo often tastes even better the next day as the flavors have had time to meld. Prepare the gumbo as instructed, allow it to cool, and refrigerate it. Reheat gently on the stovetop, adding a bit of broth or water to maintain the desired consistency.

Q5. What Can I Serve with Okra and Shrimp Gumbo?

Gumbo is traditionally served with cooked white rice. The rice serves as a neutral base that soaks up the flavorful broth. Cornbread, crusty French bread, or biscuits also make great accompaniments.

Q6. Can I Freeze Leftover Gumbo?

Yes, you can freeze leftover gumbo. Allow it to cool completely before transferring it to airtight containers. Leave some space at the top of the container to allow for expansion during freezing. Gumbo can be frozen for up to 2-3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator before reheating.

See Also: Okra: Origin, Benefits, Cooking Methods, Selecting & Storage


The art of making Okra and Shrimp Gumbo is a journey through history, flavor, and culture. With each step, from creating the roux to savoring the final bite, you’re immersing yourself in the traditions and influences that make gumbo a cherished dish. As you master the techniques and flavors of this culinary masterpiece, you’re connecting with a heritage that’s as rich and diverse as the gumbo itself. So roll up your sleeves, embrace the magic of the roux, and embark on a flavorful adventure that celebrates the spirit of gumbo.



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