Spicy Shrimp Piquant

Shrimp piquant on dinner plate

Spicy Shrimp Piquant (A Cajun Recipe) Want recipes for spicy shrimp? This has you covered!

Shrimp piquant 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


How do you make the 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 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 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, do not ignore this one.

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 an Engagingly Provocative Spicy Shrimp Stew

  • 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!



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.

Keywords: recipes for spicy shrimp, cajun recipe, cajun shrimp recipe, piquant sauce

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  • chefmimi
    December 16, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    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
    February 4, 2016 at 4:19 am

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

  • Bam's Kitchen
    February 3, 2016 at 10:08 am

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

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 3:02 am

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

  • SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    February 2, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    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
      February 4, 2016 at 3:02 am

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

  • Chris Scheuer
    February 2, 2016 at 5:08 pm

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

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 3:01 am

      Any time Chris! Just bring the grandkids!

  • Melanie @ Melanie Cooks
    February 2, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    I love spicy shrimp! The fact that you can make it ahead is such a bonus! Looks delicious!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 3:01 am

      It is a great bonus, Melanie!

  • Liz Berg
    February 2, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Spicy shrimp and cheese grits? Sign me up! Tom was over for dinner on Sunday and he asked if I planned to have some extra cookies around on Thursday or Friday as he was going to a party. Like you, I couldn't say no!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 3:00 am

      Liz, I am sure he was well taken care of!

  • ChgoJohn
    February 2, 2016 at 6:15 am

    I bet this is a wonderful dish, Abbe. It may be a bit too hot for me but the fun is in finding out. Love, too, that you served it over cheesy grits. What a feast! Your welcoming reminds me so much of Mom. No friend was ever turned away from her dinner table. There was always a spare quart of tomato sauce in the freezer that she'd use to make a platter of pasta of some sort. For some odd reason, there always seemed to be a friend or two hanging around at dinner time. 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 2:50 am

      I think your mom and I would have gotten along great, John!

  • Lavender and Lime (http://tandysinclair.com)
    February 2, 2016 at 6:05 am

    I don't do very hot dishes well, so would cut back on the cayenne for this recipe 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 2:50 am

      Cut it out all together, Tandy! No need to kill yourself!

  • Holly @ abakershouse.com
    February 2, 2016 at 5:10 am

    I love how your kitchen is open to as many friends who stop by– this looks like a great dish for friends to enjoy together.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 2:49 am

      We don't even lock the door, Holly!

  • Angie Schneider
    February 2, 2016 at 4:54 am

    This is the kind of food I can eat every day and still crave them! So delicious and packed full of flavour, Abbe.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 2:49 am

      Thanks Angie! And without the grits, it is pretty dang calorie free!

  • Kitchen Riffs
    February 2, 2016 at 3:53 am

    I love spicy hot, but agree that if it's too hot, you really don't taste much at all. Well except the burn, and that's not really a flavor, is it? Really just sensation. Anyway, this is great. And I bet you can use that tomato base in all sorts of things!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 2:48 am

      Like Alex said-would be perfect for shakshuka!

  • Anna and Liz Recipes
    February 2, 2016 at 3:46 am

    Sounds great Abbe! Would love to try this recipe, it's never too spicy for us!

  • Tricia Buice
    February 2, 2016 at 2:13 am

    Make-ahead with amazing flavor – I'm in! This is a lovely dish Abbe!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 2:47 am

      Thanks Tricia. It is a keeper!

  • Karen Harris
    February 2, 2016 at 2:11 am

    This is the type of food I grew up on. Love the shrimp and the spice.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 2:47 am

      Not me! But I wish I did! Making up for lost time!

  • Cheri Savory Spoon
    February 2, 2016 at 2:10 am

    Hi Abbe, sounds like you have been busy in the kitchen, this is a beautiful dish…love that you served it with polenta. Take care!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      February 4, 2016 at 2:46 am

      Well…it was grits, but that is practically polenta!