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Low Country Seafood Boil | Chris Cooks

July 24, 2022

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Shrimp boils are one of the easiest and tastiest ways to feed a group of people! It’s a fun social meal that cleans up in minutes. I do love an all-around win-win. 😎 When hosting a shrimp boil, the key is to stagger when you add things – timing is everything. Now let’s get into it, shall we?

The pot I use is 122 quarts and will serve up to 50 adults, so get a pot according to what you’ll need. Bayou Classic has some good options and you can find them on Amazon, as well as the burner I use.

To begin, I recommend adding garlic, onion, lemon, and seasonings to flavor the water before putting anything in. This drunkens the boil liquid with flavor and will carry into the rest of the ingredients.

You’ll first add the potatoes since they take the longest to cook. Let those go for about 5 minutes.

You’ll then add the corn, cook another 5 minutes and then add the sausage.

Mushrooms get added right after the sausage, then cook for another 5 minutes before the seafood.

Traditionally this is done with live seafood, but there are much fewer live seafood markets than there are freezer sections of your grocery store, so this version uses frozen shrimp and crab, supplemented with live clams. If opting for live crab/shrimp, they’ll get added about the same time as the sausage and cook a bit longer.

Once the seafood is done cooking, turn off the heat and drop a full bag of ice (or two, depending on the size of your pot) into the water. This will abruptly drop the temperature, so everything stops cooking.

This will also cause the ingredients to suck in flavor from the water. At least that is the theory; either way, the main purpose is to stop the seafood from going rubbery.

Once everything is cooled, drain the food (most seafood boil pots come with a strainer basket for this) and pour it out over a table covered in paper. No plates needed, though sometimes I provide gloves. Hot sauces, ketchup and butter are places around the table. Condiments can be poured right onto the butcher paper (melted butter in ramekins), so afterward all you do is roll the whole thing up and toss it in the garbage. But keep the leftovers, because they make an awesome hash.

Low Country Seafood Boil

My favorite way to feed a crowd – boiled seafood, vegetables and sausage, poured out on a table and eaten, without utensils, but with family and friends. The greatest social meal there is, IMO.
Servings: 8


  • Large pot with boiling basket something in the 44 qt range or larger for bigger groups (mine is 122qt and good for groups up to 50 or so)


  • 1/2-1 cup salt
  • 2-3 Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp & Crab Boil in a Bag
  • 1-2 bottles Zatarain's Concentrated Shrimp & Crab Boil optional – this will really up the spiciness
  • 2 onions peeled, washed, ends trimmed, cut halfway through at the quarters
  • 10-15 cloves garlic peeled, stems trimmed
  • 4 lemons halved
  • 3 lbs potatoes small red or yukon
  • 10 ears corn on the cob shucked, cut into 3-4 pieces each cob
  • 2 lbs smoked sausage
  • 10-15 button mushrooms
  • 3 lbs frozen shrimp 16-20 count
  • 4 lbs frozen crab legs snow and king varieties are my favorite
  • 4 lbs clams cleaned
  • 1 7lb bag ice


  • Fill your pot, with the basket in it, to the fill line with clean water. Add salt until the water tastes like the ocean, then add the Zatarain's packets (and liquid if using), garlic, onion, and lemons. Squeeze the lemons into the pot first, then drop them in the water. Stir, and turn the heat to high on the burner. Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Once the water is boiling, drop the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the corn, cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the sausage and mushrooms, cook another 5 minutes before adding the seafood. Make sure the water is back to boiling each time you add ingredients – should be a rapid boil.
  • The frozen seafood will drop the temperature, but as soon as it comes back to a boil, kill the heat and drop in as much ice as you can fit. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, let drain another 5-10 minutes, then pour onto your tables lined with butcher paper (If using wood tables, best to add a layer of garbage bags or plastic of some kind to prevent water from leaking through and damaging the varnish).
  • Eat by hand, no utensils or plates. Serve with hot sauce, ketchup and cajun seasoning around the table – condiments can be poured directly on the paper. Ramekins of melted butter are good as well.

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What do you think?

  1. REK981 says:

    I will try the ice the next time we do a boil! We love them!

  2. Jen C says:

    Thank you for your step by step seafood boil recipe. We have made seafood boil a couple of times but we always worry about over cooking the seafood. Adding the ice will be a game changer. We’re going to use your recipe when we go on our annual OBX family vacation in September. Thanks again!

  3. Holly says:

    We want to do this for our family vacation! Question: do you know if the zatarains spice mixes are truly gluten free? I know you usually eat gf as well but I have celiac disease so must be perfectly gf all the time. Thanks for sharing!

    • Chris says:

      I don’t think I could say for sure – you know how manufacturing is. But Jules has never had reactions to it (though, admittedly she isn’t as sensitive to cross contamination as someone in your position would be)

  4. Barb M says:

    So many of the frozen shrimp says to let it thaw first.. Did you do that or what brand did you get?

    • Chris says:

      No I don’t. Shrimp cooks so fast, I leverage the fact that it’s frozen to help drop the water temperature so it doesn’t over cook.

  5. Dawn says:

    I love a low country boil! Yummy.

  6. Teri says:

    We throw some crusty bread on top to soak up juices – so yummy. Also lemons cut in half, cooked with boil and used on seafood is delicious.

  7. Shauna says:

    This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing. How did you decide how much ingredients to put in, pot size, and cook time?

    • Shauna says:

      Never mind! The story must not have fully loaded the first time I read it and now I see all of that information.

  8. Tamara says:

    What size pot did you use?

  9. Julia S says:

    You make it look so easy my husband and I are now considering doing a shrimp boil for our dinner night instead of our original plan to order takeout from Sooeys for the house! Secondary- did you vacation in OBX? Did you love it?! We go every year with a few families and it’s my absolute favorite week of the year!

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