Easy Cioppino Seafood Stew Recipe

Last Updated on February 16, 2022 by Anne-Marie

Making cioppino seafood stew recipe is easy to do. This Italian seafood stew uses fish, shrimp, and a frozen seafood mix.

A white bowl of Cioppino Seafood Stew with spoon, napkin, and glass of white wine.

Why this recipe works

You have to try this easy cioppino seafood stew recipe if you love any kind of Italian seafood stew.

For those of you unfamiliar with cioppino seafood stew, it originates in San Francisco, and has its roots in Italian and Portuguese seafood stew.

It’s usually considered an Italian-American dish.

My husband loves ordering classic cioppino when we dine out. (Me, too!)

Why make cioppino seafood stew at home?

Going out to restaurants is a wonderful treat from time to time. But the reality is, most of us are trying to save a buck by learning to cook our favorite dishes at home.

What’s nice about making a cioppino San Francisco seafood stew at home is you know exactly what’s going in it.

That way you can avoid anything you don’t like or are allergic to. Or you can tweak the recipe to your specific diet or preferences.

For example, if you like spicy, you can add more red pepper flakes. (Or the opposite, don’t like spicy – use less!)

Or if you’re on a keto diet and want to be strict with your carbs, you may want to use only chicken broth and clam juice and not add the wine.

You’re the chef!

A bowl of tomato-based cioppino seafood stew. Wine glass, spoon and napkin in the background.

Using frozen seafood in this quick cioppino stew

When I first tried to develop some recipes for cioppino seafood stew, I had trouble finding fresh shellfish, fish and shrimp that were affordable.

That’s why I decided to create a classic cioppino recipe based on a Giada De Laurentiis cioppino recipe that relies on frozen seafood.

I used Trader Joe’s Frozen Seafood mix, which is a combination of shrimp, scallops and calamari. (Sam’s Club also has a good seafood mix as do some Asian markets.)

In addition, I bought frozen, shell-off shrimp at Kroger and used the tilapia I had in the freezer from Costco.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find frozen mussels that weren’t breaded (blech!) for my Easy Cioppino Seafood Stew recipe, so we had to forego the fun of picking them out of the soup.

If you can find frozen mussels at your store, feel free to add them.

If you can’t find seafood mixes at your local grocery stores, use an equivalent amount of shrimp, scallops, or whatever seafood you can find locally. This recipe is pretty versatile.

More substitutions in the tomato seafood stew

Traditionally, fish stock is used in most seafood stews, but I couldn’t find fish stock at the store. And I didn’t have time to make any from scratch. (Who has time for that anyway?)

After doing a little research and finding recipes for cioppino seafood stew that used either chicken broth or clam juice, I decided to do a mix of the two.

Even with the simplifying of a more traditional cioppino Italian seafood stew recipe, my Easy Cioppino Seafood Stew was very tasty.

Since it relies on frozen items, you can easily make a batch on the weekends when you have a little time to cook, but don’t want to spend the whole day in the kitchen.

Closeup of a bowl of tomato-based Italian seafood stew. Wine glass, spoon and napkin in the background.

More tips for making and serving cioppino stew

Can you freeze cioppino? YES! Double the batch and freeze it for later. However, you’ll need a large stockpot if you want to double the recipe.

Can you reheat seafood stew in the microwave? Sure! Leftover shellfish cioppino heats up well in the microwave. Just don't overheat it or the seafood will end up chewy and rubbery.

Can I omit the wine? If you don’t want to use wine in your batch of Easy Cioppino Seafood Stew, use the equivalent amount of gluten free low sodium chicken broth.

Serve on Christmas Eve: This cioppino-style seafood stew recipe is also perfect for Christmas Eve dinner since many people traditionally have seafood or fish that night.

Another soup option for Christmas Eve dinner would be my Easy Dairy Free Oyster Chowder.

What to serve with cioppino?

Make sure to have crusty French or Italian bread on hand for dipping into the broth. So tasty!

If you’re gluten free, toast some of your favorite GF bread for dipping. Mmmmmmmm.

I also like to serve a simple side dish like Easy Vegan Garbanzo Bean Salad with the fish. Soup, salad with ranch dressing, and bread is the perfect meal!

Looking for more easy seafood recipes?

If you love seafood or fish, you must try:

This Crab Pasta with Pesto, Mushrooms & Tomatoes is made with inexpensive imitation crab.

Shrimp Puttanesca with Quinoa is based on spaghetti alla puttanesca, an Italian pasta dish that was invented in the Campania region of Italy.

Make this Seafood Pasta Salad recipe for potlucks or cookouts.

This Ahi Tuna Tacos with Wasabi Cream and Mango Avocado Salsa is a healthy fish dish for dinner.


Easy Cioppino Seafood Stew Recipe

Closeup of a bowl of tomato-based Italian seafood stew. Wine glass, spoon and napkin in the background.

An easy cioppino seafood stew recipe. This Italian seafood stew uses fish, shrimp, and a frozen seafood mix.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 large shallots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 1/3 cups low sodium chicken stock (gluten free)
  • 3 8-ounce bottles clam juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 pounds frozen seafood mix
  • 1 pound frozen, uncooked shell off shrimp
  • 1 1/2 pounds white, firm-fleshed fish fillets, cut into 2-inch chunks


  1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and sauté for 10 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes with their juices, wine, chicken stock, clam juice, and bay leaf.
  5. Cover and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
  6. Add the frozen seafood mix to the pot. Cover and cook until the seafood is cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Add the shrimp and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, about 5 minutes
  8. Season the Cioppino Seafood Stew to taste with more salt and red pepper flakes, if needed.
  9. Ladle the Cioppino Seafood Stew into bowls and serve.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 533Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 195mgSodium: 1887mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 4gSugar: 10gProtein: 58g

Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.

Originally published on January 10, 2013 and November 7, 2016. Updated with new pictures and information.

15 thoughts on “Easy Cioppino Seafood Stew Recipe

  1. Dagma

    I have a question. I have never cooked with fennel before. We bought a bulb today so I could make this dish and beside fennel it had (anise) in parenthesis. My husband do not like anise. Is it very prevalent in this dish? I opted for a medium size bulb because I didn’t want it to be overpowering. Can’t wait to make this tomorrow. Thank you.

    1. Anne-Marie Nichols Post author

      Fennel and anise are different plants, but they do taste the same (like black licorice). If your husband doesn’t like it, feel free to leave it out. I don’t think the recipe will suffer from not having it. Or make the recipe w/o and then add a little sauteed fennel to your bowl. (Cook up the fennel in a separate frying pan.) Good luck!

  2. Keith McIntyre

    I’ve recently been using a sous vide (imersion cooker) to heat & reheat various foods in single serving sizes. I place a cup of seafood gumbo in a zip type sandwich bag and a half cup of cooked rice in a snack bag. I place both in a freezer bag and freeze for later use. My last batch made 20 servings! I love gumbo but my wife doesn’t so I have gumbo & she has something else. I reheated it(frozen) in a 130-140 bath for 90 minutes and it came out great. This works for chili and soups also. I’m really liking sous vide, it also worked great for pork chops (145) and my dry aged prime rib steaks (130). Impossible to over cook, nice.

  3. Kristina Middleman

    This cioppino recipe is so delicious and very easy to make. I swear I would pay top prices this for dish in any restaurant. I added more white wine, but otherwise, followed the instructions exactly. Delicious! !!!

    1. Spencer Tolliver

      I couldnt find fish stock either, except on Amazon Fresh (which wouldnt have arrived until a couple of days later). So I went to my “Googling Machine” and did some research. I found that 1 teaspoon of Fish Sauce per cup of liquid (water or vegetable broth) is an excellent substitute. I tried it with water and it is!

  4. Fearless Kitchen

    I wouldn’t say that was “dumbing down” the recipe at all. You have to work with what you can get and I think you showed great adaptability. It’s possible to get great seafood in the freezer section these days (although I’m with you on the pre-breaded mussels thing.) Your version looks delicious.

    1. Anne-Marie Nichols Post author

      While I did see frozen seafood like mussels in an ethnic market in Atlanta, I couldn’t find them without breading here in the boonies of Athens. I was rather surprised, though I’m sure the store manager could have ordered some for me if I asked.

  5. Amy

    I love to try this one out. I only do a simple fish stew because I am not a great cook, but I can still cook. Looks very delicious and yummy. thanks for sharing.


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