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Classic Seafood Boil With Lemon-Butter



A LowCountry seafood boil of shrimp corn sausages and potatoes scattered on a newspapercovered table.
Photo by Chelsea Kyle, Food Styling by Olivia Mack Anderson

Where there’s American coastline, there’s a regional seafood boil: the clam bakes of New England, the crab boils of Maryland, the whitefish boils of the Great Lakes, the crawfish boils of Louisiana...we could go on. Most iterations comprise fresh shellfish and hearty veg, spiced with proprietary seasonings in a festive, crowd-ready, one-pot feast. This particular rendition, brimming with plump shrimp, halved cobs of fresh corn, smoked sausages, and baby red potatoes, is a nod to the Low Country boils (a.k.a. Frogmore stews) of coastal South Carolina and Georgia. In the author’s home state of Texas, it’s known as a farmer’s seafood boil.

Your local grocer may stock a single seafood boil spice blend or many. Old Bay seasoning boasts a smoky, peppery profile and is our top choice for this dish, while Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp, and Crab Boil seasoning will make a spicier Louisiana-style alternative. Can’t find either? Make your own homemade “Old Bay” seasoning mix.

As for the seafood, this one uses just shrimp, but you should feel free to toss in whatever you like, including crab legs, mussels, clams, lobster tails, scallops, or whatever shellfish looks freshest at the market. Similarly, any precooked sausage will work here: kielbasa is traditional, but using andouille sausages brings a Cajun flair via a little extra spice. Adding the ingredients in graduated stages allows each to cook to its optimal doneness. If your pot’s not big enough to hold everything, cook the elements in batches (use a spider or mesh skimmer to remove each ingredient as it’s done) and keep everything warm in a 200° oven until ready to serve. The most important rule of a great seafood boil is to have fun and embrace the mess—serve the whole affair, drained and scattered on a newspaper-covered table with homemade cocktail sauce and a lemon-butter sauce for dipping—and maybe sidle a bowl of coleslaw alongside.

Recipe information

  • Total Time

    45 minutes

  • Yield

    10–12 servings


Shrimp boil:

2 lemons, quartered
2 bay leaves
3 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1½ Tbsp. Morton kosher salt
2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns
½–¾ cup crab and shrimp boil seasoning, such as Old Bay, or 4 (3-oz.) bags Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp, and Crab Boil
4 lb. small new potatoes (about 1½" in diameter) or larger potatoes cut into 1½" pieces
2 lb. smoked pork sausage (about 4 links), such as kielbasa, cut into 2" pieces
2 sweet or yellow onions, peeled, quartered
8 ears of corn, shucked, cut in half
4 lb. large shell-on shrimp (31–35 count; preferably wild-caught), deveined

Sauce and assembly:

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter (optional)
2 Tbsp. (or more) fresh lemon juice (optional)
Louisiana-style hot sauce, such as Crystal (to taste; optional)
Classic Cocktail Sauce, crab and shrimp boil seasoning (to taste), and lemon wedges (for serving)

Special Equipment

A large stockpot (at least 12-qt.), preferably with a perforated insert, or 2 large (at least 6-qt.) pots


  1. Shrimp boil:

    Step 1

    Fill a large stockpot with 6 quarts water (if using 2 pots, divide ingredients and water between them). Add 2 lemons, quartered, 2 bay leaves, 3 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1½ Tbsp. Morton kosher salt, 2 Tbsp. whole black peppercorns, and ½ cup crab and shrimp boil seasoning, cover, and bring to a boil. Add 4 lb. small new potatoes (about 1½" in diameter), return to a boil, and cook 7 minutes. Add 2 lb. smoked pork sausage (about 4 links), cut into 2" pieces, and 2 sweet or yellow onions, peeled, quartered, return to a boil, and cook 5 minutes. Add 8 ears of corn, shucked, cut in half, return to a boil, and cook until corn is cooked and potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 5 minutes more.

    Step 2

    Add 4 lb. large shell-on shrimp (31–35 count; preferably wild-caught), deveined, and cook (no need to return to a boil), stirring gently, until shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes. Remove insert or drain through a very large colander.

  2. Sauce and assembly:

    Step 3

    If making the lemon-butter sauce, melt ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice and Louisiana-style hot sauce (if using). Taste and add more lemon juice, if needed. Cover and let sit in a warm place.

    Step 4

    Serve shrimp boil on a newspaper-lined table or large platters. Dust with more crab and shrimp boil seasoning, if desired. Serve with Classic Cocktail Sauce and lemon-butter sauce (if using) alongside, plus lemon wedges for squeezing.

    Editor’s note: This recipe was first printed online in June 2017 as Low-Country Boil With Shrimp, Corn, and Sausage. Head this way for more of our best one-pot seafood recipes

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  • This was a huge hit at my family dinner. We will defiantly make it again.

    • amarris_sky

    • Connecticut

    • 7/9/2017

  • This is a very nice dish! I halved the recipe as it makes a TON of food; and the only thing I would note is that it says to get two boxes of Zatarains; but when halving, I only used half a bag of one box. Easy to make and a crowd pleaser.

    • Anonymous

    • Marietta, Ga

    • 7/9/2017

  • This was wonderfully delicious! My first time at making any kind of boil and I was extremely happy with the results. I will be making this again & again. Quick, easy & sooo delicious! It deserves FIVE forks!

    • Jeanne2020

    • Turnersville, NJ

    • 7/9/2017

  • This is a great easy dish to serve a patio party! I made it for 2 people and had more than enough. I also added the artichokes and they were fantastic. We like spicy so i put in a entire bag of the seasoning - it was fine. I will be making this for annual cabin party.

    • pearldiver

    • Seattle

    • 7/9/2017

  • Its a great "activity dinner" for friends, and stupid easy too.

    • maxtimm

    • Chicago

    • 1/16/2018

  • Need some help with this recipe. It was good, but it totally lacked salt, which I thought was odd when I read the recipe. The Old Bay seasoning I used was a store brand and it did not contain salt, is this part of my issue? Also, is there a significant reason why you shouldn't salt the water for this recipe? Any thoughts on this would be helpful as I will be making it again.

    • jameswilber

    • 4/16/2018

  • Delicious!

    • tracych

    • Clearwater, fl

    • 6/9/2018

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