Italian Seafood Stew Recipe (Cioppino)

This Italian Seafood Stew (Cioppino) recipe is made with freshly cooked seafood in a bright and aromatic tomato-wine base. It’s easy to prepare ahead of time and can be ready to eat in just 1 hour.

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A bright and flavorful weeknight meal or impressive option at dinner parties, my Cioppino (Italian Seafood Stew) recipe is surprisingly easy to make and can be loaded with any seafood you love. Have it ready in just 1 hour on the stove and customize it to the way you like!

Overhead shot of cioppino in white bowl with spoon.

This Italian-American recipe is made with a fresh and rich tomato and wine sauce that’s seasoned with fresh fennel, red pepper flakes, onion, and garlic. This stew base can easily be prepared a few days ahead of time so when you’re ready to eat, all you have to do is add the seafood!

The beauty of cioppino is that it can be made with almost any kind of seafood! I like making mine with mussels, scallops, shrimp, and cod. Dungeness crab is a popular choice, but you can also use salmon, octopus, tuna, or any fish that’s local to your part of the world. 

Enjoying a bowl of this briny seafood soup will have you feeling like you’re sitting on a patio overlooking the ocean. It’s delicious with toasted crostini on the side, with this tangy Shaved Fennel Salad, or served over freshly cooked pasta.

What is cioppino?

This tomatoey seafood stew originated in San Francisco and was invented by Italian immigrant fishermen. The original cioppino (pronounced “choh-pea-no”) recipe was made with any ingredients that were available, which usually included any seafood the fishermen caught that day, tomatoes, wine, and seafood stock.

A cioppino recipe can be made with almost any type of seafood, like haddock, scallops, Dungeness crab, shrimp, cod, salmon, squid, and more. It’s delicious with toasted bread on the side or served over pasta noodles or rice.

Ingredients for cioppino labeled on counter.

Ingredients needed

  • Seafood Pieces – You’ll want about four pounds of seafood. I used cod filets, shrimp, bay scallops and mussels. You can also swap in halibut, salmon, or clams.
  • Seafood Stock – I like to make mine homemade. But you can also use store bought stock. Or, swap in some chicken stock.
  • Fresh Fennel – You’ll want about 1 large bulb of fennel.
  • Olive Oil
  • Onion & Garlic
  • Canned Crushed Tomatoes
  • Red Pepper Flakes, Salt & Pepper
  • Dry White Wine – Like sauvignon blanc or pinot gris.
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Crostini – For serving.

How to make it

Begin by sauteing the fennel and onion in a large pot in some oil over medium heat. Once they’re soft, add in the garlic and red pepper flakes.

Next, you’ll stir in the tomatoes, seafood stock, wine, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat once it begins to boil and let the base simmer for 30 minutes.

Afterward, add in the seafood (without stirring) and let the mixture come up to a simmer again. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid until the mussels have opened. Spoon the finished cioppino into a bowl, top with fresh parsley, and enjoy with crostini on the side.

Cioppino in large dutch oven.

What kind of wine is best in cioppino?

You’ll need a dry white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris, to add to the stew. The acid in the white wine and tomatoes brings brightness to the stew. Make sure to use a wine you would drink on its own rather than cooking wine.

Here are 13+ of my favorite white wines for cooking.

This is optional, but a splash of Pernod will increase the fennel and anise flavors in each bite. This French liqueur has notes of lime and black licorice, which plays well with the other aromatics in the stew.

Recipe tips

  • Mix up the seafood! Depending on what’s in season, you can make this recipe with Dungeness crab, local fish, crawfish, shrimp, scallops, clams, prawns, and more.
  • See my Mussels Marinara recipe for detailed instructions on storing and preparing fresh mussels.
  • Try topping your bowls of stew with this tangy Italian Gremolata.
  • If some of the mussels did not open during the cooking process, throw them away.
  • I used canned crushed tomatoes to speed things up. For the freshest and sweetest flavors, buy San Marzano tomatoes, chop them up, and use them in the cioppino soup instead.

How to make ahead & store

Storing freshly cooked seafood can be a little tricky. Instead, I recommend preparing only the base of this stew up to 2 days ahead of time. Store it in a sealed container in the fridge, then heat it on the stove and add in the seafood to cook when it’s time to eat.

What to serve with cioppino

A bowl full of this seafood soup doesn’t need much to make it a well-balanced and filling meal. You can serve it on its own with a squeeze of lemon juice, fennel fronds, and fresh parsley on top. Toasted crostini on the side would be excellent to dip or with a smear of olive tapenade to complement the briny seafood flavors.

If you would like a side dish or dessert to pair with this hearty Italian stew, try these options:

Wine pairings

  • Dry Rosé: Its mild, not-so-sweet flavors will not overpower your palate and complement the bold flavors in the dish.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: A fruity and acidic Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with the sweet tomatoes in this recipe.
Overhead shot of cioppino in white bowl with spoon.

More seafood recipes

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Be sure to check out these 85+ Italian recipes too!

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Overhead shot of cioppino in white bowl with spoon.

Italian Seafood Stew (Cioppino)

This Cioppino (Italian Seafood Stew) recipe is made with freshly cooked seafood in a bright and aromatic tomato-wine base. It’s easy to prepare ahead of time and can be ready to eat in just 1 hour.
5 from 40 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6 people



  • Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion and a pinch of salt and saute for 10 minutes, until softened.
  • Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes, stock, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  • Add the cod, shrimp and scallops, then top with the mussels. Do not stir. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook covered, for 8-10 minutes, until the mussels have opened. (Discard any mussels that do not open.)
  • Serve with crostini and sprinkled with fresh parsley.
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Calories: 624kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 1106mg | Potassium: 1419mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 399IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 156mg | Iron: 5mg

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This post was originally published in 2021. It was updated in 2024 to add new information. The Italian seafood stew recipe remains the same. Enjoy!

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