A rich and creamy shrimp bisque recipe that’s absolutely loaded with flavor! With a buttery seafood base and large chunks of shrimp, a bowl of this bisque is cozy, comforting and celebratory. Top with fresh chives and enjoy with homemade bread or dinner rolls.

Why We Love this Shrimp Bisque

First and foremost, this shrimp bisque recipe is cozy, comforting and loaded with flavor. Instead of relying on so-so boxed seafood stock, this recipe uses the shells from the shrimp (which usually get tossed) to create a nuanced and dynamic soup base. 

Furthermore, that soup base is much lighter than most. I skip the cream and instead use vegetables, tomato paste, a bit of flour, and whole milk to create a soup that has body and is ultra-creamy. 

Watch How to Make This Recipe

What is Bisque?

At its simplest, a bisque is a thick, rich soup most often made of puréed seafood and cream. Vegetables are occasionally part of the mix but are always puréed (unlike chowder which leaves them in chunks). 

Traditional bisques are loaded with cream and butter. And if you like it that way, you can certainly do that here (just swap the milk for cream or half-and-half and double the butter). But since we do things healthyish around here, we rely on a few tried-and-true cooking techniques to bolster both the flavor and creaminess of this soup. 

shrimp bisque in a white bowl set on a black plate

Ingredient Notes


You’ll need extra-jumbo shell-on shrimp (also labeled 16/20 shrimp). For more info on shrimp sizing and labeling, check out this shrimp size chart. PLUS, be sure to reserve the shells! This recipe uses the shells to make a quick shrimp stock.se flour

Dry Vermouth

Vermouth is a classic addition to fish and seafood soup recipes. We love it in this shrimp bisque as well. Though you can also use your favorite dry white wine.

Clam Juice

Bottled clam juice is an essential ingredient in this soup. It helps build a delicious flavor base, and further fortifies our homemade shrimp stock. Look for bottle clam juice next to the anchovies and tinned fish.


We like whole milk in this recipe. It’s both light and a little decadent. For even more decadence, you can use half-and-half or cream.

Serving Suggestions

This recipe for shrimp bisque only makes 4 cups. Doesn’t seem like much, but I find the soup is so flavorful and decadent that 4 cups can generally serve 4 people if served with bread and a side salad. However, if you’re planning on this being the main entrée with little to no sides, I would recommend doubling the recipe, especially if you’re serving 4 to 6 people. It’s easy to double the recipe—no special changes needed. 

Alternatively, I find this cozy shrimp bisque to be a great appetizer or small bite for holiday parties and get-togethers.



shrimp bisque in a white bowl set on a black plate


Can I make this dairy-free?

Absolutely. Use vegan butter or olive oil and swap the milk for canned coconut milk. Coconut Shrimp Bisque—yum!

Can I make this gluten-free?

Sure! Use a gluten-free flour blend or sorghum flour instead of all-purpose flour.

Can shrimp bisque be frozen?

No, shrimp bisque should not be frozen. For starters, you want to avoid reheating this soup as that will likely over cook the shrimp. And secondly, you shouldn’t freeze milk-based soups. If you want to get ahead on prep, make the shrimp stock up to 3 days ahead of time.

Does shrimp bisque have shells in it?

No, shrimp bisque does not have shells in it. That being said, we do use the shells to make a flavorful and quick shrimp stock. But once all the flavor has been pulled from the shells, they get strained out of the soup.

Rich & Creamy Shrimp Bisque

Print Recipe
4.86 from 7 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Yield 4 cups (serves 4 as a small main or 2 as a full meal)
Category Soup
Cuisine French/American
Author Lauren Grant


A rich and creamy shrimp bisque that’s just as decadent as the classic while still be fairly light. This recipe features a homemade shrimp stock and whole milk.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound extra-jumbo (16/20) shell-on shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cup into ¾-inch chunks; shells reserved
  • ½ cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
  • ½ cup diced carrot (1 large carrot)
  • ½ cup chopped shallot (1 large shallot)
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour or all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • ½ cup dry vermouth
  • 2 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon Tabasco + more for serving, optional
  • Fresh chives or scallions and red pepper flakes, for serving


  • Melt butter in large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add reserved shrimp shells and cook until spotty brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in celery, carrot and shallot; season with salt and cook until beginning to soften, 5 minutes.
  • Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves; cook for 1 minute. Deglaze with vermouth, scraping up any browned bits; cook 1 minute.
  • Add clam juice and ½ cup water; bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Transfer reduced mixture to blender, add 1 cup milk and blend until completely smooth, at least 1 minute.
  • Pour soup through fine-mesh strainer back into Dutch oven or large pot, pressing on solids to extract soup. Discard solids.
  • Stir in remaining 1 ½ cups milk; bring soup to simmer over medium heat. Stir in shrimp and Tabasco, if using, and simmer until shrimp are cooked through, 2–3 minutes. Season with salt and additional Tabasco to taste. Serve with chives, Tabasco and/or red pepper flakes.



If you prefer an uber-decadent shrimp bisque, feel free to substitute half-and-half or cream for the whole milk.


Serving: 1cupCalories: 300kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 30gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 246mgSodium: 1783mgFiber: 1gSugar: 10g
Keywords shrimp bisque
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @ZestfulKitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #zestfulkitchen!
shrimp bisque in a white bowl set on a black plate

Pin This Recipe

Love this recipe and want to save it? Pin this recipe!

Pin This Recipe
Get Zestful in Your Inbox
The latest Zestful Kitchen recipes, tips and insights to your inbox.

Share it with the world


About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

Learn More

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

How many stars would you give this recipe?


    1. yup! Just 1/2 cup water—this soup is thick and luscious—and only makes about 4 cups. It’s the perfect starter for a meal or a delicious meal for 2.

  1. Can I use shrimp shells that have already been cooked? I want to freeze the shells from shrimp I cooked for 2 minutes today and use later.

    1. They should work! Might not be quite as flavorful, but they will still work and be delicious. Love that idea!

  2. If you stop halfway through Step 4 (before adding dairy), could you freeze this? And/or if using a dairy-free milk like cashew (ultra creamy).

    I am using the actual shrimp for a different recipe tonight – but I wanted to try to make a future soup base with the shells for a busy night, and this looks amazing!

    1. That is such a great question! Yes—but with one easy swap. Instead of adding the 1 cup of milk, I would add a half cup of water (or just enough to blend the mixture smooth and strain it). Milk-based soups don’t freeze well. So by doing this you’re creating a concentrated soup base that you can then add milk or half-and-half to when making the actual soup. Since you are adding more water than the recipe calls for, I would opt for half-and-half instead of milk to add more creaminess.

      I hope that helps!