Shrimp Boil

Chef: Roscoe Hall | Writer: Catherine Jessee | Food Stylist: Lauren Sharp Gavin  |  Seafood: Shrimp

The shrimp boil is as much about the vibe as it is the recipe. Most importantly, you’ve got to have a nice big group of folks who are ready to dig into some shrimp. Whether you’re jamming in the backyard or hosting a tailgate, the shrimp boil is the perfect way to bring people together for a memorable meal—without a lot of fuss. With preparation and a responsible amount of icy cold beers, you’ll nail it. Roscoe recommends an icy cold American-style IPA. Hoppy notes of citrus change the game, bring the lemon from the boil to the front, and elevate the experience.

As for the ingredients and method, the process is rather straightforward. Toss together vegetables, garlic, bay leaves, and fresh herbs like thyme that you have on hand to create a wonderfully aromatic boiling broth. Add items in stages, starting with potatoes, following with corn and sausage, and ending with shrimp. A garlic and lemon-infused melted butter mixture coats everything. Use the handled strainer of most boiling pots to dump the mixture onto a large table fitted with newspapers, and serve butter on the side. Or, toss with butter and parsley in a large bowl and serve more formally. No matter how you do it, the basic formula is the same—just be sure to use oven mitts and steer clear of your guests handling the boiling pot!

What you need


6 Lemons, Divided, plus more for serving

3/4 Cup (1.5 sticks) Butter, Unsalted

1/2 Cup, plus 2 TBSP Boil Seasoning (such as Old Bay or Zatarain’s), plus more for serving

2 Garlic Heads, halved crosswise

2 Onions, quartered

Fresh hearty herbs of choice, like thyme

2 lbs. Potatoes (such as whole red potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes, halved)

6 Bay Leaves

8 Corn, broken or cut in half crosswise

3 lbs. Sausage (such as Andouille or kielbasa)

4 lbs. Jumbo Shrimp, shell-on

Fresh chopped parsley, for serving

Roscoe’s Cocktail Sauce, for serving


The Process

First, create the boiling broth or “liquor”. Set a large boiling pot over high heat. Bring water, yellow onions, garlic, 4 of the lemons, bay leaves, and salt to a boil. Stir in 1/2 cup of the crab boil seasoning, such as Zatarain’s or Old Bay, or your own proprietary blend.


Add veggies and meat, starting with potatoes. Now that you have your base, boil your veggies, meat, and seafood. You’ll work in stages, starting with the potatoes (, which take the longest to cook, and ending with the shrimp, which will cook the shortest. Set a fitted strainer (many large boiling pots will come with a strainer with a handle that fits perfectly inside the pot). The order of addition goes: potatoes (15 minutes), corn and sausage (5 minutes), then shrimp (4 to 5 minutes. Use a large slotted spoon to scoop out and check on doneness along the way.


Make a spicy butter. In a medium saucepan, melt unsalted butter with zest of one lemon and juice of two lemons, peeled garlic cloves (whole or minced) and salt until melted and aromatic. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of the spicy Crab Boil Seasoning, to taste.


Serve. Traditionally, you’d pour the strained boil onto a table wrapped in newspaper and serve with melted butter mixture. If you’d like, strain contents of the pot into a large bowl and immediately toss with butter mixture before serving. Serve with an additional sprinkle of Crab Boil Seasoning, fresh lemon wedges, and chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, if desired. Serve with your favorite hot sauce and your favorite crisp beer, such as a lager, Pilsner, or even American IPA.

The Set-Up

Large industrial boiling pots with fitted handled strainers can be found as “Boiling Kits” online and in many Hardware stores and grocery stores in the Southeast. 24-42 quart should accommodate a boil of this size. If fitting your boiling pot over a gas jet burner and stand, be sure to set up a distance away from your party and home and take proper precautions.

The Key

The best shrimp boils use shell-on shrimp for extra flavor, but you can use peeled shrimp if that feels too fussy for your crowd.

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