Instant Pot Bouillabaisse (Fish Stew)

It’s funny. As a kid, you couldn’t pry my mouth open to try seafood, let alone a whole stew compromised of the stuff. Fast forward to being a grown-up grown kid at heart and, my, how taste buds change. I can’t get enough of the stuff. 

So after a recent journey to Europe, I was served a magnificent stew chock full of treasures from the sea. This is a French fish stew that the French call a Bouillabaisse (Boo-Ya-Base). Or it’s also what the Italians call a Cioppino (Chip-eeno). As soon as I tried it, I just knew I’d had to make it in the Instant Pot

And at first I thought it would be a real challenge due to all of the seafood components, but NOPE! Au contraire, it’s actually one of the easiest and quickest stews one can make thanks to pressure cooking’s miraculous way at rapidly infusing flavor into the stew itself and then finishing it off by cooking the seafood in a brief, simmering fashion. 

So slap on a fancy outfit adorned with anchors and seahorses and maybe even speak with a French accent, because you’re about to make people think you’ve become a fancy French chef! 

Here’s How I Made It!: 

Let’s stark out with a nice and rinsed leak (which is basically the longest, most cylindrical member of the onion family that have a tendency to retain some soil once so rinse it well)… 

…and remove the bottom and top portions and focus only on the center core by peeling off the first 2 layers or so. 

Then, chop it up into fine pieces. 

Then, take some butter and add it to the Instant Pot. 

Once it’s melted, add in the leeks. 

…and allow them to cook in the butter for a good few minutes until the begin to crisp but DON’T let them burn. 

Just when they seem very brown in color, add in a big can of crushed tomatoes… 

…along with some Fish Better Than Bouillon + water to create a fantastic and simple fish broth. 

We’ll also want to add in some fresh lemon juice… 

…cooking sherry… 

…dried basil and parsley flakes… 

…Old Bay seasoning… 


…seasoned salt… 

…and a bay leaf. 

Stir everything together, secure the lid and cook at high pressure.“But wait, Jeff! You forgot to add the seafood!”I got you! We are intentionally leaving the seafood out to cook after pressure cooking since various seafoods have various cook times ? 

Once done cooking, “fish” out the bay leaf, discard and give the pot some heat on the Sauté setting because NOW it’s time to add and cook our seafood. 

Begin by adding in a whitefish of your choice (I selected cod)… 

…and let it simmer for a few moments (see exact times in the recipe below). 

Then add in some shrimp… 

…and scallops… 

…and let them simmer in the stew for a few. The shrimp cooks quickly and will curl when just about ready. 

Lastly, add in some lump crab meat… 

…and stir that into the pot as well. Mmmm, we’re looking and smelling terrific here! 

Finally, smooth it out a bit by adding in just a little half & half or heavy cream. 

Give it a final stir…. 

…and there you have some of the most packed and wonderful Bouillabaisse any seafood lover could hope for! 

Ladle some into a bowl… 

…making sure you get every representation of the ocean you added to this stew. 

Now take a spoon, bring it to your lips… 

…have a moment of looking confused at how remarkable it tastes… 

…and BOO-YAH! 

OH! But NO Bouillabaisse would be complete without dipping some french bread in it! 

Take a good sized chunk, dip it in the stew… 

…and enter into most wonderful moments of food marriage. 

Enjoy this magnifique Bouillabaisse! 

At the time this post was created, Pressure Luck was in sponsorship with and exclusively used Southeastern Mills products for broth and base ingredients

Instant Pot Bouillabaisse (Fish Stew/Cioppino)
Yield: 6

Instant Pot Bouillabaisse (Fish Stew)

Instant Pot Bouillabaisse (Fish Stew)

This French, tomato-based fisherman's stew has it all: scallops, shrimp, cod, crab, you name it. Be sure to have a crusty baguette on hand to serve alongside it.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes


  • 1/2 stick (4 tbsp) of salted butter
  • 1 leek, rinsed and finely chopped into about 1/2 cup worth (use only the center portion by peeling off the outer layers)
  • 4 cups of Fish Broth (I used 4 tsp of Fish Better Than Bouillon + 4 cups of water which I highly suggest you use for maximum flavor; but you can use clam broth or chicken broth instead)
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup of cooking sherry
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp of dried basil
  • 1 tsp of parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp of Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp of saffron
  • 1 tsp of seasoned salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb of any whitefish, de-boned and sliced into bite-size pieces (I used cod but you can use any white fish you prefer such as red snapper, porgy or striped bass)
  • 1/2 lb of fresh scallops (any size)
  • 1 lb of fresh shrimp, raw, peeled, tail-off and de-veined (use large or jumbo size)
  • 1/2 lb of fresh lump crab meat (I used the kind from Costco found in the refrigerated dips section but you can also get this in cans at many markets in the seafood section where it will also be refrigerated)
  • 1 tbsp of heavy cream or half & half
  • Loaf of French bread, for dipping in the Bouillabaise


  1. Add the butter to the Instant Pot, hit “Sauté” and adjust so it’s on the “More” or “High” setting. After about 3 minutes of heating up with the butter melted, add in the leeks and cook until browned and crispy for about 3-5 minutes (and keep a close eye on it – they will turn from brown to burned very quickly so just as they are getting nice dark, you’ll want to add in the next ingredients)
  2. Add the crushed tomatoes, fish broth, sherry, lemon juice, parsley, basil, Old Bay, saffron, bay leaf and stir well
  3. Secure the lid, hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release when done (NOTE: The reason we aren’t cooking the seafood while pressure cooking is because they all cook to perfection at various times – so we will simply add it in the next step)
  4. Once the lid’s off, “fish” out the bay leaf with a slotted spoon and then hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” again and give the pot some heat by hitting “Sauté” and adjusting so it’s on the “Normal” or “Medium” setting. Stir in the seafood in this order: The cod (or whatever whitefish you’re using) and let it cook for 2 minutes. Then, add in the shrimp and scallops and cook for another 2 minutes. Lastly, add the crab meat and cream and stir for another minute. Then hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” setting so the seafood doesn’t over cook due to the heat
  5. Serve into bowls and lap it up with some french bread
  6. Enjoy!

Jeffrey's Tips

Once of the marvelous things about Bouillbaise (or Cioppino) is that it’s a super versatile soup/stew. You can really use any kind of seafood your appetite desires! And that can mean using octopus, calamari, mussels, clams and lobster. The choice is yours.

If using mussels and/clams – pressure cook them with the stew for the same time as instructed in the recipe.

If using octopus tentacles, calamari rings or lobster, add it when adding the shrimp and scallops.

Saffron is costly but it’s not used for many recipes (my Paella uses it as well). If you can’t find it in your market’s spice section, you can get it here!

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