This seafood boil is a wonderfully spiced, one-pot meal that is full of flavor.  Served with drawn butter, cocktail sauce, and a few ice-cold beers, this low country shrimp boil makes for the start of a perfect party with friends.  It is easily scaled up or down depending on the number of friends that you are feeding.

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A low country shrimp boil always brings back memories of both childhood vacations to the Jersey shore and adult trips to the Carolinas.  Today, this meal is my ‘go-to’ easy recipe for guests or family events and it is always a hit.

A low country boil is a traditional South Carolina dish that is sometimes referred to as Frogmore stew, Tidewater boil, or Beaufort stew.   I have no idea why it would include ‘stew’ in the name.  If you know the answer, please let me know.

A spicy low country shrimp boil.  A pile of boiled shrimp, corn, potatoes, and smoked sausage served on brown paper.

The origin of the dish has many variations and different folks claiming the credit.  But as I was told by a South Carolina local, the Gullah people devised the recipe using cooking techniques from their African heritage.  The Gullah women often had to prepare meals for large groups of people quickly and with local ingredients. Doing a seafood boil with shrimp, corn, and potatoes was their answer.


Most coastal areas have their own version of a seafood boil.  Other types of boils include:

  • New England has clambakes on the beach in a pit in the sand.  Clams, shrimp, and lobsters are steamed with corn and potatoes over a bed of seaweed.  The New England Clambake offers little to no spice and is served with drawn butter.
  • The Chesapeake Bay area serves up a Maryland Crab Feast which is more of a steamer basket than a boil.  Crabs are steamed over a simmering pot of beer and vinegar, then sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. When perfectly steamed, the pot is turned out onto a brown paper-lined table with wooden mallets, lemon wedges, and drawn butter.
  • Louisiana boils up shrimp, crabs, and crawfish in a spicy, sometimes herbaceous, broth along with corn, potatoes, mushrooms, and heads of garlic.

A spicy low country shrimp boil.  A pile of boiled shrimp, corn, potatoes, and smoked sausage served on brown paper.


  • Old Bay Seasoning is the spice blend of the Eastern coast.  It is a mild, yet very flavorful blend of herbs and spices that include celery salt, black pepper, paprika, mace, and cinnamon.
  • Cajun Seasoning blend, such as Zatarain’s is a spicy blend of seasoning that includes white and black pepper, green bell pepper, cayenne, paprika, and garlic.  It packs a healthy amount of heat.
  • Creole Seasoning is much more herbaceous than Cajun seasoning, relying on oregano, bay leaf, basil, thyme, rosemary, and paprika to provide flavor.
  • Liquid crab boil is a very concentrated yellow liquid comprised of the essential oils of herbs and spices.  It is very hot and a little bit goes a long way.
  • Crab boil bags are spice mixtures in a mesh bag.  They often contain cayenne, salt, bay leaves, mustard seed, coriander seed, and allspice.  They offer some heat but add more of a spicy note. Crab boil bags are often used with a liquid crab boil.
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A spicy low country shrimp boil. A pile of boiled shrimp, corn, potatoes, and smoked sausage served on brown paper.



An easy shrimp boil that is a wonderfully spiced, one pot meal that’s full of flavor. Served with drawn butter, cocktail sauce, and a few ice-cold beers, this low country shrimp boil makes for the start of a perfect party or evening with friends.


  • 78 quarts cold water
  • 2 12-ounce bottles of beer
  • 1 cup Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 1 whole garlic bulb
  • 2 sweet onions, quartered
  • 2 pounds smoked sausage, cut into thick round slices
  • 8 ears of corn, shucked and cut in half
  • 2 pounds of small white or red potatoes, scrubbed
  • 4 pounds raw, medium shrimp (3135 count), deveined, shells can be removed or left on
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. Fill a large stockpot with 7-8 quarts of cold water and place on the stove over high heat.
  2. Pour in the Old Bay Seasoning, bay leaves, lemons, and garlic, and bring the water up to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, carefully drop in the corn and allow the pot to return to a boil.
  4. Boil for 5 minutes and then nestle the sausage, onions, and potatoes into the pot. Allow the water to come to a boil. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
  5. Slide the shrimp into the pot. Stir and cook the shrimp just until they turn opaque – about 3 minutes. Don’t overcook the shrimp or they will become tough and rubbery.
  6. Carefully drain the water out of the pot.
  7. Pour the melted butter over the shrimp and vegetables. Sprinkle the parsley over them as well. With a large spoon, lightly toss the shrimp and vegetables to glaze with the melted butter and parsley.
  8. Scoop the shrimp, potatoes, corn, onions, and sausage onto a large platter or turn them out onto a newspaper lined table.
  9. Serve with drawn butter and cocktail sauce.


  • Serving Size: Serves 8 - 10

Need some help on how to clean shrimp?  This video makes it simple.

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