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!
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:
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
On to the shrimp boil recipe.
- 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.
Lauren's family shrimp boil recipe—perfect for holiday weekends, family gatherings, and summer picnics.
- 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
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.
Add the Old Bay, salt, garlic, onions, beer, and thyme, then return to a boil.
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.
Add the lemons, corn, and sausage and cook for 10 minutes.
Then add shrimp and cook for about 3 minutes or until pink and slightly curled.
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.
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.
Now gather around the table with your friends and family, and pause to appreciate the moment.
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!
Photographer: Lindsey Mehlhorn