The beauty of a shrimp boil recipe like this one, besides it being one of the most delicious ways to eat fresh seafood, is that it feeds a large crowd easily. While it does takes some special equipment to prepare it—chiefly a really large stockpot—you can use it over and over again to deep fry a turkey, make fried chicken for a lot of people, and even host a catfish fry.
What is a shrimp boil, exactly? First and foremost, it’s a party. Eating outside with friends and family is one of the pleasures of hot weather, and a shrimp boil is a great way to gather everyone together over a delicious meal. Popular around the American South, especially in the Lowcountry and Gulf Coast regions, shrimp boils are a culinary tradition originally brought to the United States during the wave of Cajun immigration from Canada during the 1700s. A shrimp or seafood boil is also known as Frogmore or Beaufort stew.
Old Bay seasoning, a beloved mix of 18 herbs and spices that has been a staple of kitchens across the country for more than 80 years, is a must when making a shrimp boil. Celery salt, chili powder, black pepper, dry mustard, and paprika are a few of the elements, but it’s the combination of all these flavors that contribute to a shrimp boil’s symphony of flavors.
Depending on your heat source, the water may take a long time to boil—up to an hour. You might need to cover the pot with a lid to get it to boil, and keep the lid on while cooking to ensure the pot stays boiling. Take your time while cooking, and make sure everything has cooked long enough before serving. Larger potatoes, onions, or artichokes may affect your cooking time. If the potatoes are done, it’s likely that everything else is done too.
What I like most about a good old-fashioned shrimp boil is that at the end, after everyone has eaten their fill and praised your seafood skills, you simply roll up the paper table cover with all the scraps on it and throw it away. The only thing left to clean at the end of the feast is the shrimp boil pot itself, and you can absolutely wash and rinse this outside using a hose for ease—especially if it’s too large for your kitchen sink.
Make sure to serve lots and lots of garlic bread!
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- Serves 20
yellow onions, peeled and quartered
heads celery, rinsed and trimmed
artichokes, stems peeled
heads garlic, tops trimmed off
(16-ounce) bottles Zatarain's liquid shrimp and crab boil
bags shrimp boil spice, like Zatarain's
Creole or Cajun seasoning
small red potatoes, washed
ears of corn, husked and broken in half
andouille or Polish sausage
green onions, ends trimmed
bunches asparagus, ends trimmed
shell-on shrimp, fresh or frozen and thawed
- Fill a 44-quart pot with a boiler basket a little over half full with cold water. Add the yellow onions, celery, artichokes, garlic, lemons, liquid boil, spice bags, salt, and Creole seasoning.
- Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the potatoes and return to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes (or a bit longer if your potatoes are larger then golf balls), then add the corn, sausage, and green onions and return to a boil.
- Fish out one of the larger-sized potatoes and test for doneness. If it's cooked through, add the asparagus and cook until just tender. Remove the basket and let it drain. Bring it over to a paper-covered table and turn the contents over onto the table.
- Return the basket to the pot of boiling water, add the shrimp, and stir well. Cook the shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes, until cooked through. Take the basket back to the table and turn the shrimp out on top of the rest of the meal.
- Eat, laugh, and be merry.