Spicy Shrimp Cioppino

Spicy Shrimp Cioppino

This is the most soul warming, comforting and overall impressive meal I can make for others. Year around it just makes your soul and belly happy. Cioppino is a staple in San Francisco, you can find it in almost every seafood restaurant. If it’s not on the menu, you can ask for it and most places make it in house anyways. A little known local secret for ya.

History Lesson:

Cioppino originated in the city of San Francisco in the late 1800’s when Italian fisherman would come settle in the North Beach area of the city. {For those who have not visited San Francisco, North Beach has some of the greatest Italian food in the world, outside of Italy of course.} They would make this stew for their long trips out to sea. Typically this is made with whole Dungeness crabs in the shell, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels. Basically a seafood extravaganza in a bowl. I made it with my favorite combination of shrimp, clams and mussels and when Dungeness Crab is in season, between November and February, I’ll throw in some legs with it then too.

Cioppino is a real treat and during the holiday season is the best time to serve this heart warming dish. The combinations of your favorite seafood is endless and it’s one of the most comforting meals to make for the whole family to enjoy. 

I make mine with lots of white wine, garlic, roasted tomatoes and a pinch of red pepper flake. Add more or less red pepper flake if you’re feeling the heat. This is a good base soup for any combination of your favorite seafood that can easily be interchanged. Make this for a chilly evening in and cozy up to stay warm with a big bowl of Spicy Shrimp Cioppino.

Spicy Shrimp Cioppino

Don’t forget to serve this meal with plenty of toasted sourdough bread and wine!

Spicy Shrimp Cioppino

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 - 8

Spicy Shrimp Cioppino


  • 1 pint Cherry Tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 pound Medium Raw Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flake {more or less to preference}
  • 1 whole Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Tomato Paste
  • 1 bottle Dry White Wine
  • 2 cups Fish Stock or Vegetable Stock
  • 1 whole Bay Leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 pound Littleneck Clams, soaked and gorged
  • 1 pound Mussels, soaked and gorged
  • 1 bunch Parsley, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place cherry tomatoes on a sheet pan or oven proof baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  2. In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook over medium high heat for about 2 minutes until shrimp is opaque and cooked slightly. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flake. Stir together and remove shrimp with a slotted spoon to a plate. Set aside.
  3. In the same pot add the chopped onion. Turn heat down to medium and season with salt and pepper. Sweat onions until translucent and tender, about 8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and tomato paste. Stir for 30 seconds until fragrant. Turn heat down and pour in white wine. Stir together wine and tomato paste and bring mixture up to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened.
  4. Add stock and stir to combine. Add bay leaf and bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Turn heat down, add the roasted cherry tomatoes, clams, and mussels to the pot. Cover and cook for 5 minutes until clams and mussels have opened. Add the reserved shrimp and stir to combine and warm through. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove bay leaf and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Spicy Shrimp Cioppino

Savor and Enjoy!

13 thoughts on “Spicy Shrimp Cioppino”

  • How spicy is this? I’m guessing not very, if all that is in it is 1/2 a teaspoon of red pepper flake, but I am making this for a dinner party, potentially, and while I love all things spicy, a few of my guests don’t care for very much spice so I wanted to clarify based on the name. Thank you.

    • Hi Megan, it’s all based on what your comfort level is with some spice. If you like it spicy then by all means throw in some more red pepper flake. This recipe has a great balance of flavors along with some good heat. You could also omit the red pepper flake if you have guests that are heat sensitive. Enjoy!

    • Hi Sharon, you can absolutely omit if that’s not your thing. I suggest subbing it out with more stock, about 3 cups, so 5 total of fish or vegetable stock.

  • I made this tonight for my partner’s birthday dinner–we ate cioppino in San Francisco back in 2002 and loved it. It was my first crack at making it at home and this recipe was FABULOUS. I couldn’t believe how great it tasted, and my partner was blown away too. Definitely a keeper. Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe. :)

    • Thank you Janel! I’m so happy you and your partner liked it! Cioppino is one of those perfectly comforting dishes that I can have anytime of the year. It’s a true favorite in my house as well. Cheers!

  • Hi I want to make this recipe for Christmas, it reminds me of the Portuguese style shrimp dishes my family made. I have a question: can you explain a little more about how to “soak and gorge” the shell fish? TY PS Love your site.

    • Hi Grace,
      When preparing clams or mussels you must gorge them of all their sand before cooking. Most shellfish now bought in the grocery store doesn’t have much sand but it’s always good practice. Soak in salt water for a couple hours to gorge them of dirt and sand. Strain them and rinse with cool water. Set aside.
      Have a very Merry Christmas! Cheers!

    • Hi Ashley,
      If you’re using cooking wine, I would suggest only about a 1/2 cup to deglaze. Cooking wine doesn’t have the flavor profile that a good Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio would have when using in this recipe so use it sparing. Cheers!

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