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Spicy Shrimp Piquant Sauce

 This spicy shrimp with piquant sauce lives up to its name. And it is good! 

Piquant sauce with shrimp on dinner plate

(This is an updated post from 2016.)

There are lots of recipes for spicy shrimp. But this Cajun recipe from Paul Prudhomme really takes the cake.

Spicy and hot are two terms that don’t always go together. Something can have a lot of spice, but not necessarily be spicy hot. Then again there are those foods that can be both.

Personally I like spicy and hot, but I don’t like food to be so spicy that all you can taste is the heat. Know what I mean? Too much heat kills the flavor and I’m all about flavor.

This recipe for spicy shrimp piquant contains 4 or 5 different kinds of pepper deciding on how you count green peppers, so rest assured it is spicy and hot!

What does piquant mean?

Piquant, according to Merriam Webster, means having a pleasant spicy taste; interesting and exciting; agreeably stimulating to the palate; especially spicy! and engagingly provocative.

I have always liked this word-can’t you tell?

As a side note from the cookbook it says that piquant in Cajun means, “it’s hot and hurts like a sticker in your tongue.”

spicy shrimp piquant sauce

How do you make the shrimp piquant sauce?

No roux is required but this Cajun recipe begins with the holy trinity of Cajun cooking. Celery, onions and bell peppers are sauted together.

Then it’s a matter of adding tomatoes to create the piquant sauce. Add in a lot of seasonings, which makes Cajun food what it is, and this Cajun shrimp recipe is no exception.

Can the sauce be made ahead?

Most definitely! Make it up to a few days ahead. Just don’t add the shrimp. When ready to serve, heat the sauce back up and then add the shrimp. So easy!

Last Sunday when the Broncos achieved their win and had everyone holding their breath, I was busy cooking for my dear China boy. What does one feed to a dear boy when you know they will soon be leaving the nest? AGAIN?

Well, in this case I wanted to make something simple so  I’d have time to spend with my boy. That is the boy who a few hours ahead of dinnertime asked if he remembered to tell me that his high school buddy was driving down to see him from Boulder, and could he stay for dinner.

About 20 minutes later he asked if it would be OK if his college friend could come over too. Well, this kitchen aims to please and  “no” is not in my repertoire!


Luckily this is the perfect spicy shrimp recipe  for company. It is easily put together and easy to increase the number of servings by just adding a few more shrimp.

This is a Paul Prudhomme recipe and you know I adore his recipes. This lovely man passed away last year, but will always have a revered place on my bookshelf. 

Needless to say this man could take the heat. He had a way of stimulating one’s senses with everything he cooked. So take care people-this recipe is hot!

But in a good way, of course. He said you don’t need a silver fork to eat good food and I wholeheartedly agree.

In 1975 he became the head chef at Commander’s Palace and in 1979 he opened K-Paul’s. I believe it was that year that Manservant and I were in N’awlins and ate at both during our visit.

In fact we ate at so many good restaurants, that I remember getting on the plane and feeling nauseous. I couldn’t have eaten another bite.


It was Paul that hired Emeril to help at Commander’s Palace, so he would have time to spend at his own restaurant!

And so it is that I cook from his book every February. My Alex Odie San loved this recipe and even suggested that the tomato base would make a great shakshuka.

The boy is right! It would be divine.

I served this shrimp piquant sauce with cheese grits which took the place of the traditional rice. Frankly, I think it cut the heat better, too.

Serve this with Paul’s jalapeno bread which was simple to make and also full of heat, but when slathered with butter, was totally perfect.

It also made great toasting bread that we ate  several times for breakfast.

This Cajun shrimp piquant sauce recipe also goes great with cole slaw.

It helped take the heat away and was a perfect accompaniment.


If you are looking for recipes for spicy shrimp, this recipe with piquant sauce should not be ignored.

However: one last note. Alex Odie San China boy said this spicy shrimp recipe was nowhere near as spicy as some dishes he’s eaten in China.

Hmmm. I guess I’ll have to visit and see for myself!

Want More Cajun Recipes?

Cajun Recipes

Shrimp Recipes!

20 Great Shrimp Dishes with 4 Pictures

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Shrimp piquant on dinner plate

Spicy Shrimp Piquant SAuce

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  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 45 Minutes
  • Yield: 8 Servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Cajun


This spicy shrimp sauce is really a hearty shrimp stew. Meant to be spicy, it is sure to warm your insides!


Units Scale

2 T unsalted butter
2 1/4 c chopped onions
1 1 /2 c chopped green bell peppers
3/4 c chopped celery
3 c peeled and chopped canned tomatoes
1 c canned tomato sauce
3 T minced jalapeno peppers (for less spicy sauce, make sure to take out the seeds)
2 bay leaves
5 1/2 t cayenne pepper (Be careful, here!)
1 1/2 t white ground pepper
1 t fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 t minced garlic
2 1/4 c seafood stock (I use bottled clam broth found in the grocery)
1 1/2 T dark brown sugar
3/4 t salt
2 lbs peeled large shrimp
4 c grits or rice to serve this with


Melt the butter in a 4 quart saucepan or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onions, peppers and celery. Saute about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, jalapenos, bay leaves, ground peppers and garlic; stir well. Continue cooking about three minutes, stirring often and scraping the pan bottom as needed.

Stir in the stock, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors are married-about 20 minutes, stirring as necessary. At this point you can refrigerate this and add the shrimp another day or you can keep going. One reason that this is a great dish for a crowd as you can do most of it ahead!

Add the peeled shrimp to the hot or reheated sauce and stir. Turn heat up to high, cover pot, and ring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and serve immediately over 1/2 c rice or grits. Pour about 1/2 c sauce around the rice or grits and arrange shrimp on top of the sauce.


Thank you Paul Prudhomme.

A Few More!

Cajun Potatoes

cajun potatoes

Cajun Fish with Pecans and Browned Butter

brown butter pecan fish

Okra Shrimp Bisque

okra shrimp bisque

BBQ Cajun Shrimp

BBQ shrimp

King Cake

King Cake
Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star


Wednesday 16th of December 2020

wow. Piquant indeed! I use a lot of white pepper, but never even a whole teaspoon! But I'm good with all of the lovely cayenne. This is a great dish. I'll print it. Way better than cookies.

GiGi Eats Celebrities

Thursday 4th of February 2016

I adore shrimp - But I cannot eat it unless I want HUGE bags under my eyes - so weird, I know! ha!

Bam's Kitchen

Wednesday 3rd of February 2016

Woah doggie that is one spicy dish! My boys would love it. Love all of your recipes to prepare for Mardi Gras.

Abbe Odenwalder

Thursday 4th of February 2016

Thanks Bobbie! I love Cajun food and I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen

Tuesday 2nd of February 2016

When I saw 5-1/2 tsp of cayenne I realized how spicy it must be! This sounds wonderfully flavorful, Abbe, and how wonderful that you were able to accommodate your son's friends for dinner.

Abbe Odenwalder

Thursday 4th of February 2016

I know you would do the same Susan! I love it when the kids are home. It keeps everything so lively!

Chris Scheuer

Tuesday 2nd of February 2016

I want to have dinner at your house! And can I bring a friend? Or two? :) This sounds wonderful!

Abbe Odenwalder

Thursday 4th of February 2016

Any time Chris! Just bring the grandkids!