Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe To Transform Savory Elegance

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Few things are as versatile and rich in flavor in the culinary universe as a well-crafted shrimp shell broth. Often overlooked, these exoskeletons are treasure troves of umami, infusing depth and complexity into an array of dishes. 

Shrimp Shell Broth

The essence captured from these shells is not merely a base; it is liquid gold that elevates soups, stews, and risottos to gastronomic masterpieces.

The process unfolds like an alchemical ritual created from a mélange of simple ingredients. 

Onions, garlic, and aromatic herbs merge harmoniously with the shells, undergoing a transformation under the alchemy of heat and time. 

When you savor a dish infused with this broth, it’s an experience that lingers, reminding you that the secret to extraordinary cooking often lies in utilizing the ordinary to its fullest.

What Is Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe?

Shrimp shell broth is a flavorful liquid base made by simmering shrimp shells with aromatic ingredients like onions, garlic, and herbs. The shells, often discarded, are packed with flavor and nutrients. 

To make the broth, sauté the shells in oil until pink, then add vegetables and herbs like carrots, celery, and thyme. Cover with water and let simmer.

After straining, you’re left with a rich, umami-filled broth that serves as an excellent foundation for soups, stews, and sauces, adding depth and complexity to your culinary creations.

History Of Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe

The tradition of making shrimp shell broth has roots in various global cuisines, from the seafood-rich coasts of Southeast Asia to the bayous of Louisiana. 

Originally, utilizing shrimp shells was a practice born out of frugality and the philosophy of waste-not-want-not. Over time, chefs and home cooks alike recognized the shells’ capacity to imbue dishes with a concentrated seafood flavor. 

Shrimp shell broths have long been integral to authentic local recipes in regions like Thailand and Vietnam. At the same time, in Western kitchens, they’re increasingly heralded as a secret ingredient for elevating numerous dishes.

Interesting Facts About The Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe

  • Nutrient-rich: Shrimp shells contain chitin and minerals, enriching the broth with beneficial nutrients.
  • Zero-Waste Cooking: The practice of making shrimp shell broth epitomizes the concept of using every part of the ingredient, reducing waste.
  • Umami Boost: Shrimp shell broth is a natural source of umami, the so-called “fifth taste,” adding depth to a variety of dishes.
  • Versatility: The broth can be frozen in ice cube trays for easy, portion-sized use in future culinary endeavors.
  • Cultural Fusion: From Cajun gumbo to Asian noodle soups, shrimp shell broth is a cross-cultural ingredient that enhances regional specialties.

What Makes The Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe Special?

  • Flavor Depth: Shrimp shell broth boasts unparalleled seafood flavor, enriching any dish it graces.
  • Aroma: The combination of shrimp shells, herbs, and vegetables creates a fragrant elixir that tantalizes the senses.
  • Culinary Alchemy: Transforming a frequently discarded item like shrimp shells into a culinary goldmine is nothing short of magical.
  • Versatility: Its application is virtually limitless, enhancing everything from soups and stews to risottos and sauces.
  • Customizable: You can tailor the broth to your palate, adding spices or herbs to match the cuisine you’re preparing.
Shrimp Shell Broth

Ingredient List 

Shells and tails from shrimpFrom about 2 pounds of shrimp
Onion1 medium, peeled and coarsely chopped
Celery1 stick, chopped
Garlic2 cloves, peeled and chopped
Lemon1 organic, sliced
Bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, bay leaf)Made with parsley sprigs, thyme sprigs, and a bay leaf, tied together with kitchen string
Whole black peppercorns1 teaspoon
Cold filtered waterAbout 6 cups

Ingredient Tips

  • Shrimp Shells: Ensure they’re well-rinsed to remove any residual sand or grit.
  • Onion: Opt for yellow onions for a balanced sweetness that complements the broth’s seafood profile.
  • Celery: Use fresh, firm sticks for the best flavor. Wilted celery can affect the taste.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic imparts a deeper flavor than bottled or powdered versions.
  • Lemon: Choose organic lemons to avoid pesticides, as you’ll be using the skin.
  • Bouquet Garni: Ensure the herbs are fresh; dried herbs can alter the broth’s flavor profile.

Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients? 

  • Keto & Paleo: The basic broth is already compliant. Add coconut oil or ghee during the sautéing process for added fat on a keto diet.
  • Gluten-Free: The broth in its traditional form is gluten-free. Ensure any accompaniments or variations added are without gluten.
  • Whole30: Stick to organic, whole ingredients and avoid any additives or wine.
  • Vegetarian & Vegan: For a seafood-free variant, create a vegetable broth using the same base of onion, celery, and garlic. Add other veggies like mushrooms for umami or seaweed for a “seafood” touch without the actual seafood.
Shrimp Shell Broth

Recipe Directions 

  • In a 2-quart saucepan, combine all ingredients.
  • Place on medium heat, uncovered, until it barely simmers.
  • Skim any scum from the top.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes, skimming as needed.
  • Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer.
  • Use immediately or cool and store in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.
Shrimp Shell Broth

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings 


  • Asian Twist: Add slices of ginger and a splash of soy or fish sauce for an Eastern flair.
  • Mediterranean Mood: Infuse with saffron threads and fennel seeds for a coastal European touch.


  • Deep Umami: Introduce dried mushrooms or a piece of kombu seaweed during simmering.
  • Heat Kick: Spice it up with red chili flakes or a whole dried chili during the cooking process.


  • Herb Freshness: Sprinkle freshly chopped parsley or cilantro before serving.
  • Zest: Grate some lemon or lime zest for a refreshing citric touch.
  • Texture: Add thinly sliced green onions or chives for a subtle crunch.
  • Creaminess: A dollop of coconut milk can provide a creamy richness.

Scaling The Recipe 

  • Proportionality: Keep ingredient ratios consistent. If you double the shrimp shells, ensure you double the other ingredients, too.
  • Water Ratio: While increasing other ingredients proportionally, be cautious with water. It’s not always a strict doubling or halving; you want to ensure the broth remains flavorful.
  • Taste and Adjust: When scaling up, sometimes flavors can dilute. Always taste and adjust seasonings or ingredients as needed.
  • Cooking Vessels: Ensure your pot or pan can accommodate the scaled quantity without overcrowding.
  • Cooking Time: While scaling down might reduce cooking time, scaling up may require a slightly longer simmer to extract maximum flavor.

What Is Used For Garnishing? 

  • Herbs: Freshly chopped parsley, cilantro, or dill add a burst of color and a hint of freshness.
  • Zest: Grated lemon or lime zest provides a refreshing citric contrast.
  • Spices: A sprinkle of paprika or freshly cracked black pepper can add warmth and depth.
  • Seeds: Toasted sesame or nigella seeds bring texture and a nutty flavor.
  • Oils: A drizzle of chili oil, olive oil, or truffle oil can elevate the dish’s richness.

Can I Make Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe  In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

Slow Cooker

  • Preparation: Add all ingredients to the slow cooker.
  • Cooking: Set it on low and let it simmer for 4-6 hours. This extended cooking time allows for a deeper extraction of flavors from the shrimp shells.
  • Finish: Strain the broth to remove solids, and it’s ready to use.

Instant Pot

  • Preparation: Combine all ingredients in the pot.
  • Cooking: Seal the lid and set the Instant Pot to the “Soup/Broth” setting, or manually pressure cook on high for 30 minutes.
  • Release: Once done, allow natural pressure release for 15 minutes, then quick release the remaining pressure.

Can I Use Store Bought Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?


  • Convenience: It’s quick and ready-to-use, especially when you’re in a rush.
  • Consistency: Offers a predictable taste and quality.
  • Ingredients: Some commercial broths may contain preservatives, additives, or high sodium. Always read labels carefully.


  • Flavor Control: You can adjust ingredients and seasoning to your liking, ensuring a richer and more authentic taste.
  • Healthier: Free from unwanted additives, MSG, or excess sodium.
  • Economical & Sustainable: Utilize leftovers and reduce waste, like shrimp shells.

Can I Use Different Types Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables For The  Broth? 

  • Meat: Chicken, beef, or pork bones can be simmered to yield rich broths. Each imparts its unique flavor profile.
  • Fish: Aside from shrimp, fish bones, especially from white-fleshed fish, make a delicate, aromatic broth.
  • Pasta: While not typically used to make the broth itself, pasta-like orzo or noodles can be added later to create hearty soups.
  • Vegetables: Carrots, leeks, tomatoes, mushrooms, or even kale stems can enrich the broth’s depth and complexity.
Shrimp Shell Broth

Success Tips-Tips And Tricks For Making The Recipe 

Prepping Tips

  • Rinse Well: Especially bones and shells, to remove grit.
  • Roast Bones: For meat broths, roasting bones beforehand can deepen flavor.
  • Fresh Vegetables: Use fresh, crisp veggies for robust flavors.

Cooking Time Tips

  • Low and Slow: A gentle simmer extracts flavors without making the broth cloudy.
  • Skim Impurities: Periodically remove scum or fat that rises for a clearer broth.
  • Taste as You Go: This helps adjust seasonings or decide if it needs more simmering.
  • Strain Carefully: Use fine mesh or cheesecloth for clarity.
Shrimp Shell Broth

Nutritional Values

The nutritional profile of shrimp shell broth is as intriguing as its flavor. Packed with minerals extracted from shrimp exoskeletons, this broth provides a unique set of benefits.

Dive deeper to explore the harmony of taste and health in every sip.

 What Are Total Calories In The Broth? 

a cup of homemade shrimp shell broth might contain 10-20 calories, mainly from trace amounts of proteins and carbohydrates.

Dietary Restrictions For The Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe

  • Shellfish Allergy: Shrimp is a common allergen. Those with a shellfish allergy should avoid this broth.
  • Gluten-Free: The basic broth recipe is gluten-free, but always check any added seasonings or store-bought components for hidden gluten.
  • Keto & Paleo: This broth aligns well with both keto and paleo diets due to its low carbohydrate content and natural ingredients.
  • Vegetarian & Vegan: The broth is unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans as it’s made from shrimp shells.
  • Low-Sodium: Easily adjustable by controlling or eliminating added salt.

Health Benefits Of The Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe 

  • Chitin: Shrimp shells contain chitin, which may support healthy cholesterol levels and gut health.
  • Amino Acids: The broth can be a source of essential amino acids, vital for tissue repair and overall health.
  • Minerals: Naturally, they contain minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which are important for bone health.
  • Low-Calorie: A flavorful way to add depth to dishes without significant calorie addition.
  • Collagen: Though lesser than mammalian bones, shrimp shells do contain collagen, which can benefit skin, hair, and joint health.

Nutrition Table 

Shrimp Shell Broth

How Can I Make Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe Lower In Sodium?

  • No Added Salt: The easiest step is to skip or reduce the salt when preparing the broth.
  • Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh vegetables and herbs, avoiding canned or prepackaged items that may contain added sodium.
  • Homemade Seasonings: Create your own seasoning blends without salt or purchase salt-free herb mixtures.
  • Rinse Shells: Rinsing shrimp shells thoroughly can help remove any residual salt.
  • Taste as You Go: Always taste the broth before serving and adjust seasonings, opting for herbs and spices for flavor.

How Can I Make Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe Lower In Sugar? 

  • Avoid Sweet Vegetables: Limit or avoid ingredients like carrots or sweet onions, which have natural sugars.
  • Check Seasonings: Some store-bought seasoning blends may contain added sugars. Always read labels or opt for homemade blends.
  • Natural Aromatics: Utilize herbs like parsley, thyme, and bay leaves which impart flavor without adding sugars.
  • Limit Tomato Usage: If using tomatoes, be cautious as they contain natural sugars.
  • Monitor Add-ins: If the broth is expanded into a soup, watch for ingredients like corn or certain sauces that might introduce sugars.
Shrimp Shell Broth

How To Serve Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe In The Best Way?

  • Optimal Temperature: Ensure it’s hot but not scalding, ideally between 160°F to 185°F (70°C to 85°C).
  • Fine Straining: Use a fine-mesh strainer to ensure clarity and smoothness.
  • Presentation: To maintain temperature, serve in a pristine, pre-warmed bowl or mug.
  • Garnishing: Float a sprig of fresh parsley or a lemon wedge for color and aroma.
  • Accompaniments: On the side, offer crusty bread, grilled shrimp, or vegetable sticks.
  • Layering Flavors: A splash of olive oil or freshly cracked black pepper can elevate the taste.

Perfect Side Dishes To Complement The Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe

  • Crusty Bread: Freshly baked baguette or sourdough to soak up the broth.
  • Salads: A light citrusy avocado salad or a classic Caesar.
  • Steamed Dumplings: Especially those with seafood fillings.
  • Rice Pilaf: Fluffy and mildly seasoned to absorb the broth’s essence.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Zucchini, bell peppers, and asparagus with a hint of olive oil.
  • Seafood Tapas: Think calamari rings or garlic prawns.

How Long Can We Store The Broth?

  • Refrigerator: After cooling to room temperature, the broth can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
  • Freezer: For longer storage, pour the cooled broth into freezer-safe bags or containers, leaving some space for expansion. It can last in the freezer for up to 6 months.
  • Reheating: Always reheat the broth only once after thawing, bringing it to a boil for safety.
  • Label and Date: This helps you track freshness and consume it within the safe storage period.

 Can I Make Broth In Advance?

  • Flavor Deepening: Storing allows flavors to meld and intensify.
  • Convenience: Prepare broth during off-peak times, reducing kitchen stress during main meal preparations.
  • Quick Use: Ready-to-use broth can be a savior for impromptu dishes or meals.
  • Storage: After cooling, refrigerate for short-term use or freeze for longer storage.

What Can We Do With Leftovers?

  • Soups: Elevate by adding veggies, grains, or proteins.
  • Sauces: Reduce broth for a flavorful base for seafood sauces.
  • Grains: Cook rice, quinoa, or couscous using broth for added taste.
  • Stir-Fries: Use as a liquid base for added depth in stir-fried dishes.
  • Marinades: Enhance meats or tofu before grilling or roasting.
  • Braising: Perfect for slow-cooked dishes like stews.
Shrimp Shell Broth

Special Tools And Equipment Needed

  • Heavy-Bottomed Saucepan: Ensures even heat distribution, preventing scorching.
  • Fine-Mesh Strainer: To achieve a clear broth by filtering out fine particles.
  • Skimmer: Helpful for removing impurities and foam from the surface.
  • Sharp Knife: For finely chopping vegetables and herbs.
  • Pyrex Measuring Container: Convenient for straining directly and measuring the broth.
  • Kitchen String: To tie together herbs for the bouquet garni.
  • Heatproof Bowl: Useful when straining the broth.
  • Airtight Containers: For storing leftover broth in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Ladle: For serving and transferring broth.
  • Thermometer: To check the temperature, ensuring optimal serving warmth.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Use Pre-Cooked Shrimp Shells For The Broth?

Yes, you can use shells from pre-cooked shrimp. They might give a slightly different flavor profile compared to raw shells, but they will still produce a flavorful broth. It’s a great way to make the most out of your shrimp purchase!

How Can I Enhance The Depth Of Flavor In The Broth?

Roasting the shrimp shells in the oven until they’re pink and slightly crispy before making the broth can impart a deeper, richer flavor.

Does The Broth Turn Out Too “Fishy”?

No, when prepared correctly, shrimp shell broth offers a subtle and delicate seafood flavor. Ensuring that the broth doesn’t boil aggressively and skimming off impurities helps in maintaining a pleasant taste.

Can I Combine Shrimp Shells With Other Seafood Remnants Like Fish Bones Or Crab Shells?

Absolutely! Mixing different seafood remnants can give a more complex flavor profile. Just ensure all ingredients are fresh.

What’s The Difference Between Shrimp Stock And Shrimp Shell Broth?

Technically, “broth” is made from simmered meat (in this case, shrimp shells), while “stock” is typically made from bones. However, the terms are often used interchangeably in everyday language, especially with seafood.

Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe To Transform Savory Elegance

Shrimp Shell Broth Recipe To Transform Savory Elegance

0 from 0 votes
Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: Broth Recipes


Prep time


Cooking time





Dive into the essence of the sea with this shrimp shell broth recipe. Using fresh shrimp shells combined with aromatic herbs and vegetables, this broth captures a delicate seafood flavor perfect for enhancing soups, sauces, and more.


  • 2 pounds 2 Shells and tails from shrimp

  • 1 1 Onion (medium,peeled and coarsely chopped)

  • 1 1 Celery (stick ,chopped)

  • 2 cloves 2 Garlic ( peeled and chopped)

  • 1 1 Lemon (organic,sliced)

  • Bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, bay leaf)

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Whole black peppercorns

  • 6 cups 6 Cold filtered water

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preparation Steps
    Assemble all your ingredients for easy access.
    Clean and prep the shrimp shells, ensuring they’re free of any residue.
  • Cooking
    In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the shrimp shells with onion, celery, garlic, lemon, bouquet garni, peppercorns, and cold filtered water.
    Place the saucepan over medium heat and leave it uncovered.
    As it comes to a bare simmer, carefully skim off any scum or impurities that rise to the surface.
    Once all impurities are removed, lower the heat.
    Allow the mixture to cook at a gentle simmer with the lid either off or slightly askew for 45 to 60 minutes. Remember to occasionally skim off any additional scum that appears.
  • Blending & Final Touches
    Once the simmering process is complete, it’s time to strain. Using a fine-mesh strainer, carefully pour the broth to separate the liquid from the solid ingredients. Capture the liquid in a 2-quart Pyrex measuring container or any large heatproof bowl.
  • Serving & Storage
    The shrimp shell broth is now ready to be used in any of your desired recipes.
    If you’re not using it immediately, let it cool to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer the broth to your chosen containers, ensuring they’re sealed tightly.
    This broth can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. For extended storage, consider freezing it, where it’ll maintain its quality for many months.

Recipe Video


  • Ensure the freshness of shrimp shells to achieve the best flavor.
  • Roasting the shells beforehand can add depth to the broth.
  • Overcooking may intensify the “fishy” taste; maintain a gentle simmer.
  • Use filtered water for a cleaner-tasting broth.
  • This broth can serve as a base for various seafood dishes.
  • Save and freeze leftover broth in ice cube trays for convenient, portioned use.

Leave a Comment

Author picture

soup chick!

You've entered a realm where each bowl isn't just a meal; it's an expedition to the core of comfort, well-being, and the sheer delight of feeding both body and soul. My name is Julia, and I'm here to navigate you through the flavorful worlds of Soup Chick. Together, we'll uncover the artistry behind each recipe, share stories that warm the heart, and celebrate the simple pleasures of making and enjoying soup.

More About Me