SHRIMP BOIL: AN EASY, CASUAL GATHERING

There is no better excuse to get your friends together than a Shrimp Boil. It’s easy to make (one big pot!), easy to eat (use your hands!), and easy to clean up (roll it up and toss it!), so you can focus on your company. Fabulous hostess Lauren B. throws one every year, and passed along her recipe and her secrets. (The shrimp boil is the second party she’s shared with us—the first was An Effortless Grilled Pizza Party.) Here are all the tips and tricks you need to host a shrimp boil—great for a holiday weekend or any summer day. Enjoy!

Lauren's shrimp boil party

Host your own southern-style shrimp boil

Nothing brings friends and family together like great food and great gatherings…am I right? I’m here to help you with tips, party guides, and inspiration to encourage you to gather around the table and celebrate a little every day!

I host a shrimp boil party every year. It’s always a hit with my friends because it’s casual, feels like a celebration of summer, and you get to eat with your fingers! I got this one from my Dad. During the summers in Virginia, it was always a BIG day when he brought out the shrimp boil pot! My sisters and I got so excited because we knew a fun party was about to go down.

My dad went all out on food and festivities…I remember everyone smiling, laughing, eating, drinking, and dancing all night long. And I guess I just love to do the same. There’s no food that brings people together quite like a shrimp boil. Just roll up your sleeves, grab a cold one, and enjoy your fingertips full of flavor!

How to prep for your shrimp boil

I know a lot of my friends are intimidated by cooking seafood, but I’m ready to demystify at least this one method for you. It is super simple and fun, and your friends will be impressed. This party is also awesome because you can prep the entire thing in advance so you get to relax and enjoy your own gathering.

Are you ready to put together your own shrimp boil? (See the free download for the recipe and guide here.)

Get the table ready. Here’s what we used:

For serving

  • Tablecloth
  • Newspaper or brown kraft paper
  • Rolls of paper towels
  • Foil pie tins (one for each person)
  • Small bowls (disposable or not)—two for every four people

For place cards

  • Lemons (one for every two people)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Twine
  • Paper tags

Start by setting a beautiful table—simple, pretty, and summery. I start with a red and white check tablecloth, then I lay brown kraft paper or newspaper down the center of the table. Add a few rolls of paper towels. Prep bowls of melted butter and cocktail sauce. Then foil pie tins for plates and a lemon-half for a place card. Super simple and simply beautiful—and clean-up is easy! Just roll up the paper with everything in it, and toss or compost it.

Lemon-half place cards in foil pie pans

Pro tips

  • Set the table early in the day. It takes it off your plate (pun intended) and sets the tone for the rest of the day.
  • For the place cards, halve a lemon, wrap it in cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine (available in most grocery stores). Then just add a cute little tag with your guests’ names. Done!
  • If you’re having more than four people over, put out multiple bowls of butter and cocktail sauce and add extra paper towels so they’re within easy reach of each guest.

Ingredients for a shrimp boil

On to the shrimp boil recipe.

Pro tips

  • You can prep all of your ingredients the day before and pop them in the boil right before serving. Be sure your shrimp is thawed and in the fridge ready to go.
  • If you want to cut down on the boiling time, parboil your potatoes until almost fork tender. Then drain and set aside until shrimp boil time.
  • You can double (or triple, or quadruple…) the recipe. Just make sure it all fits in the pot with the water first—or borrow a pot from a friend. OR you can boil one batch, remove everything with a strainer, then boil another batch in the same liquid.

Shrimp Boil

Lauren's family shrimp boil recipe—perfect for holiday weekends, family gatherings, and summer picnics.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword picnic, seafood, shrimp boil, southern
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Old Bay seasoning Use up to a cup, depending on how much you like. (I like a lot.)
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 3 heads garlic Slice in half horizontally.
  • 2 large red onions Cut into wedges.
  • 2 12 oz. cans beer (optional)
  • 1 bunch thyme tied with twine (optional)
  • 12 red potatoes Cut in half.
  • 4 lemons (plus extra for serving) Cut in half for boil; cut in wedges for serving.
  • 3 lbs. leaned smoked sausage Cut into 2-3 inch pieces.
  • 8 ears fresh corn Shuck and cut in half.
  • 4 lbs. unpeeled raw large shrimp (21-25 count)
  • 1 Pot large enough to hold everything.
  • Enough water to cover all ingredients
  • Melted butter (for serving)
  • Extra Old Bay seasoning (for serving)
  • Cocktail sauce (for serving)
  • Baguette slices (for serving

Instructions

  1. Fill the pot with enough water to cover all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. 

    Pro tip: I use a big turkey fryer out on the patio to ensure everything fits and we can all be outside for the festivities.

    Adding ingredients to shrimp boil
  2. Add the Old Bay, salt, garlic, onions, beer, and thyme, then return to a boil. 

  3. When the water boils, add the potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes. If you parboiled the potatoes, you can skip this step and add them with the corn and sausage.

  4. Add the lemons, corn, and sausage and cook for 10 minutes. 

  5. Then add shrimp and cook for about 3 minutes or until pink and slightly curled.

  6. Drain the liquid, and spread the shrimp boil out on a newspaper- or kraft paper-covered table or tray. Serve with baguette slices, lemon wedges, melted butter, cocktail sauce, and additional Old Bay Seasoning.

Lauren serves her shrimp boil

Add a bucket of cold beverages and life is good…really good. This old pot came from my Dad’s farm, and it makes me so happy! Remember to surround yourself with things that bring you joy.

Vintage metal pot filled with ice and beer

Now gather around the table with your friends and family, and pause to appreciate the moment.

People eating at a shrimp boil picnic

I hope you try this party…your friends will ♥ you for it! And I’d love to see your party pics, so share them on Instagram #celebratetheeverydays. Let’s inspire each other to gather around the table!

For even more tips, party guides, and inspiration for celebrating the big days and the every days you can follow Lauren @lauren_lane_culinarian or lauren-lane.com.

Photographer: Lindsey Mehlhorn

Comments

Leave a Comment

  1. 7.7.17 | Reply
    Kerrie wrote:

    Can I double the shrimp boil recipe and it would still fit in the turkey fryer pot?

  2. 7.20.17 | Reply
    Helen wrote:

    How is it in the pictures the lemons and the corn look charred? That is surly not happening in a boiling pot. Is there some grilling involved?

    • 8.28.17 | Reply
      Scott wrote:

      Thats the spices you see
      Old Bay prib

  3. 8.11.17 | Reply
    Janice Harris wrote:

    I don’t have a turkey fryer but I do ha e a large crabbin’ pot.. do you think the water will boil in that sort of pot?

    • 7.10.18 | Reply
      Violet wrote:

      Yes, a 20 quart pot is the best.

  4. 8.15.17 | Reply
    Debra Fernandez wrote:

    It looks delicious and I’m hoping to try it this weekend.

  5. 5.5.18 | Reply
    Toni wrote:

    Looks beautiful..when using shrimp…can raw or cooked shrimp be used ? I don’t wanna make anyone sick of raw shrimp can’t go in it.

    • 7.5.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      Use raw shrimp! It’ll be just fine.

  6. 6.7.18 | Reply
    Keira wrote:

    I cannot find where it says how many lemons to add to the water? It looks like 4? Is that correct?

    • 6.18.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      Lauren says 4! Plus extra wedges for serving, if you’d like.

  7. 6.10.18 | Reply
    Christine wrote:

    Can I prepare this a day before and reheat? Planning for a southern wedding

    • 6.18.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      We’re checking with Lauren…will let you know!

    • 6.18.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      From Lauren: “I wouldn’t make this in advance but you can do allllll the prep the day before. That way all you do is dump it in and cook for a few minutes. Easy peasy;).”

  8. 6.16.18 | Reply
    Jan Beck wrote:

    I need to double this recipe. Any hints?

    • 6.18.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      We’re checking with Lauren…will let you know!

    • 6.18.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      From Lauren: “You can double the recipe but be sure it all fits in your pot with the water first. Or you can do one batch…. dump it on a table, then another batch in the same liquid. Or borrow a friends pot and cook at the same time.”

  9. 6.30.18 | Reply
    Steve Blackmon wrote:

    Thank You Lauren for your inspiration.
    When is your next one — I will be there. Just forward the directions to me — LOL
    Not much more fun than a nice shrimp boil. We used to do one every year for our old college friends and somehow just got lost in life. This may inspire me just enough to get another one started!!!! Thanks again.
    Steve

  10. 6.30.18 | Reply
    Donna wrote:

    Love this. Will definitely will try it

  11. 6.30.18 | Reply
    Jo wrote:

    My mouth is watering! I have a hubby who can’t eat seafood. Could I substitute fish for the shrimp? Any recommendations?

    • 7.25.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      We’ll see what Lauren says! Quick question:
      Do you mean he’s allergic to shell-fish instead of seafood? Because if it’s seafood, we wouldn’t recommend adding fish!

      • 7.27.18 | Reply
        Trish B. wrote:

        To avoid seafood entirely, you can just pull a bowl of sausage, corn, and potatoes out for your husband before you put the shrimp in. If you decide to use another fish instead of shrimp, just be mindful of texture and cooking time!

  12. 6.30.18 | Reply
    Jo Titolo wrote:

    Great TY day was good nice & easy does it👍

  13. 6.30.18 | Reply
    Diane Rego wrote:

    Thank You Lauren, I am willing to try this for my gathering. Looks so fun and prep is so easy. Thx You

  14. 6.30.18 | Reply
    Bertina wrote:

    This looks delicious and I want to give it a try. Is there someplace I can go to get this recipe to print on my computer. This one will, but uses too many pages and uses too much ink with all those beautiful photos.

    • 7.6.18 | Reply
      Tobe R. wrote:

      Hi Bertina,

      We’ve added a printable recipe to the post! Thanks for your feedback!

  15. 6.30.18 | Reply
    Marie wrote:

    When are the garlic and onions added. No mention of these in the directions, but in the ingredient list and shown in the photos. Also lemons are listed as adding in both step 3 & 4. When is the best time to add?

    • 7.2.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      Checking on that—will get back to you!

    • 7.4.18 | Reply
      Jo wrote:

      Have have the same questions. I’ve made it without lemons in the boil, and it’s worked just fine too. I served it with lemons wedges.

    • 7.5.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      From Lauren: Garlic and onions go in the water with the old bay at the beginning. Add in lemons in step 3.

      (And I’m updating the recipe to reflect the changes! —Trish)

  16. 7.1.18 | Reply
    Lin wrote:

    Any suggestions for other side dishes? Seems like cole slaw (with a vinegar/mayo dressing) would add a nice tang. And, I could see old fashioned homemade peach or strawberry ice cream for dessert. I think I may give this a try. My family would be impressed!

    • 7.2.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      Checking to see if Lauren has any advice! Will get right back to you. (The good news is, side dishes are KINDA built in.) And you’re right, homemade peach or strawberry ice cream sounds AMAZING.

      • 7.5.18 | Reply
        Trish B. wrote:

        From Lauren: Coleslaw would be good and any fruit dessert would be delish!

  17. 7.14.18 | Reply
    H wrote:

    This is an outstanding recipe. Thank you for sharing this and your set up ideas. I have followed the recipe exactly, reduced it for two and tripled it for a large group. Every time it comes out fantastic and is met with rave reviews. Your ideas for the lemons and other settings are fantastic. My Spin: For smaller groups maybe 10 to 12 people, I use cotton bar mops (dish clothes) for napkins vs. paper towels. Those with a fresh pitcher of lemon water, ( to moisten the towel if needed) used for hand clean-up, is a nice touch for a smaller gathering. Thank you again for this wonderful party.

    • 7.16.18 | Reply
      Tobe R. wrote:

      Love to hear that! Thanks so much for sharing these great tips with us.

  18. 7.23.18 | Reply
    Kathy Broadus wrote:

    I am planning a Birthday Shrimp boil for about 30 people. How Mich shrimp 21 25, will I need.

    • 7.24.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      If the Shrimp Boil is the main course, about half a pound per person should be fine. Adjust up or down depending on what else you’re serving and how you think hungry folks will be!

  19. 7.31.18 | Reply
    April wrote:

    My sons Eagle Scout Court of Honor is in a few weeks. We decided a shrimp boil is exactly what we will be serving our 150 guests. Help!!!! My only thought was to cook shrimp separately due to allergies. I would appreciate any suggestions.

    • 7.31.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      My sons Eagle Scout Court of Honor is in a few weeks. We decided a shrimp boil is exactly what we will be serving our 150 guests. Help!!!! My only thought was to cook shrimp separately due to allergies. I would appreciate any suggestions.

      You could do it a few ways:
      — Cook different batches in different pots—with and without shrimp.
      — You can do multiple batches in the same water. Prep the potatoes by parboiling them. Get the water boiling, then do as many batches as you need WITHOUT shrimp. After that, do more batches with shrimp.
      — OR after you’ve cooked ALL the potatoes, lemons, corn and sausage, boil the shrimp in the liquid by themselves.

      Hope this helps!

  20. 8.17.18 | Reply
    Linda wrote:

    Can I put my stock pot on the gas grill?

    • 8.20.18 | Reply
      Trish B. wrote:

      It depends on the stock pot! We recommending googling the type you have to see if there’s any chance it would be damaged by your grill.