Seafood Gumbo Recipe

Southern Kitchen

Serves: 8

Hands On Time: 1 hour and 55 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes


3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 yellow onion, finely diced

3 ribs celery, finely diced

1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

3 bay leaves and 3 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine

1 pound okra, cut into 1/2-inch rounds

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice

8 cups seafood stock (see note)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Hot sauce

1 pound medium (41/50) shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 pound catfish fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pound claw crabmeat

1 pint shucked oysters with their liquor

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon gumbo file powder (optional)

Cooked white rice, for serving

Sliced scallions, for serving


In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until very dark, but not burned, 20 to 30 minutes. 

Add the onions, celery and peppers, and cook until the vegetables are softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, cayenne, bay leaves and thyme, and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.

Add the okra and tomatoes and cook until the okra begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the seafood stock, bring to a simmer, and cook, skimming off any oil that comes to the surface, until the flavors have melded and the sauce has darkened and slightly thickened, about 45 minutes. 

Add the shrimp, catfish, crab meat, oysters, Worcestershire sauce and file powder, if using, and simmer until the catfish has cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Serve in bowls over white rice, garnished with scallions.

About the recipe

Making a roux requires both time and patience. As the roux cooks, the flour will darken and thin out slightly. Stir constantly so that the roux will eventually turn the color of chocolate, but does not burn. 

Briny seafood adds amazing flavor to a rich, soulful gumbo. If you have leftover shrimp shells and heads, or have access to live crabs, you could make your own seafood stock to add even more depth to your gumbo; however, commercial seafood stock works just fine. If you can’t find commercial seafood stock, look for bottled clam juice or just use chicken broth. Try to find the largest oysters you can find.

Traditional gumbo recipes call for green bell peppers, but we prefer to use more-flavorful poblanos instead. Feel free to substitute one diced green bell pepper for the poblano if you prefer.

File powder is made from ground sassafras leaves and adds a distinctly bitter, herbaceous flavor to the gumbo, in addition to acting as a thickener. Since this gumbo has both a roux and okra, file powder isn’t necessary for thickening; rather, we like to use it more for its flavor. If you’re planning on using it, add it at the very end of the cooking.

We like to use Texas Pete hot sauce in this recipe.