Classic Shrimp Boil

Here’s how to make the best shrimp boil! This easy meal of corn, potatoes and shrimp is perfect for a crowd. No plates required! Here’s a meal that’s special every time you serve it: a Shrimp Boil! This classic American seafood boil is one of our favorite meals to serve to a crowd because everyone always loves it. Boil up potatoes, corn, onions and shrimp in a flavorful broth, then dump them out onto a table lined with parchment paper. No plates, no silverware: just you, your hands and a can of Old Bay seasoning. There’s something magical about the experience: and it’s a hit every time. We make it at the lake house in the summer, and camping in the fall. It’s perfect for eating outdoors as the light gets low and the fire is crackling. But you can make it in your kitchen too! Here’s everything you need to know about making a shrimp boil. First of all: what’s a shrimp boil? A shrimp boil also known as a seafood boil: an American tradition that comes from the South and Northeast. Seafood boils can have all sorts of seafood: crab, crawfish, clams, etc. Usually corn and red potatoes […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Here’s how to make the best shrimp boil! This easy meal of corn, potatoes and shrimp is perfect for a crowd. No plates required!

Shrimp boil

Here’s a meal that’s special every time you serve it: a Shrimp Boil! This classic American seafood boil is one of our favorite meals to serve to a crowd because everyone always loves it. Boil up potatoes, corn, onions and shrimp in a flavorful broth, then dump them out onto a table lined with parchment paper. No plates, no silverware: just you, your hands and a can of Old Bay seasoning. There’s something magical about the experience: and it’s a hit every time. We make it at the lake house in the summer, and camping in the fall. It’s perfect for eating outdoors as the light gets low and the fire is crackling. But you can make it in your kitchen too! Here’s everything you need to know about making a shrimp boil.

First of all: what’s a shrimp boil?

A shrimp boil also known as a seafood boil: an American tradition that comes from the South and Northeast. Seafood boils can have all sorts of seafood: crab, crawfish, clams, etc. Usually corn and red potatoes are boiled along with the seafood in a broth flavored with lemon and bay leaves. The best part? There are no plates or silverware for a shrimp boil. It’s traditionally served on a table lined with paper, often with Old Bay seasoning (more on that, below!).

How to make a shrimp boil

What you need for a shrimp boil

It’s easy to make a shrimp boil at home! If you’ve never done it, we’ll break down the method for you. You can make a shrimp boil on your stovetop as the main method, but we’ve got a campfire variation too. Here’s what you need to make a shrimp boil:

  • Large pot: Size matters, here! Use a 8 quart pot for the standard method, the large kind you use for pasta. You can also use a 4 to 5 gallon pot and double the recipe.
  • Shell on shrimp: Cooking shrimp in the shell makes them beautifully tender and juicy.
  • Red potatoes: The most common is the red potato: use other waxy potatoes like Yukon gold if desired. Avoid russet potatoes: they come out too mealy.
  • Corn on the cob: Make sure to find fresh sweet corn.
  • Yellow onion: This backup character steals the show with its tender, sweet flavor.
  • Kielbasa sausage (optional): Typically we don’t include sausage because we eat a pescatarian diet. If desired, substitute 1 pound sausage for the second pound of shrimp.

How to make a shrimp boil on the stove

The method for a shrimp boil is this: you’ll make a flavorful broth with water and spices, then boil each of the components separately. Why separately? Here’s the important thing to note. The largest pot most cooks have is an 8 quart pot. You have to cook each component on its own because you can’t fit the volume of all the food and broth in the pot at once. This makes enough for 4 to 6 servings. (Now if you have a very large 5 gallon pot, you can cook everything at once: go to the section below!) Here are the basic steps for a shrimp boil in an 8 quart pot:

  • Simmer the broth: Simmer water to make a broth with the shrimp boil seasonings: coriander seeds, celery seeds, Old Bay, bay leaves, a whole garlic head, and lemons.
  • Add the potatoes and onions: Cook for about 20 minutes, until tender.
  • Remove and add the corn: Cook the corn for 5 minutes.
  • Remove and add the shrimp: Cook the shrimp for 2 minutes.
Shrimp boil

Alternative method: use a 5 gallon pot!

Got a huge 5 gallon pot? You can use it to make the basic recipe for 4 and boil everything at one time. Or, you can use it to make a shrimp boil for a crowd! Double this recipe to serve 8 to 12 people. This method works on the stovetop or even on a campfire. This is how we do a shrimp boil on the open fire! Here are the alterative instructions for a shrimp boil in a large 5 gallon pot:

  • Boil the broth as noted above.
  • Cook the potatoes and onions for 8 minutes.
  • Add the sausage and cook for 6 minutes (if using).
  • Add the corn and cook for 4 minutes
  • Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes.
Shrimp boil on an open fire
You can make a shrimp boil on an open fire: for camping or outdoor cooking

What is Old Bay? What’s a substitute?

The best part of a shrimp boil is the Old Bay seasoning (in our humble opinion, at least!). This tasty seasoning is famous for its use in seafood boils. Don’t even think about leaving it out when making this shrimp boil! It brings the classic flavor that’s traditional for this special dish. Here’s what to know:

  • Old Bay is an American seasoning blend invented in Maryland that’s used to season shrimp, crab, clam chowder, and other seafood dishes. The main ingredients in Old Bay are paprika, celery salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Of course, you can use it on just about anything!
  • Where to find Old Bay? In the US, you can find Old Bay in your grocery store in the spices aisle. Or, buy Old Bay online.
  • What’s a substitute for Old Bay? You can make it at home! Try our Homemade Old Bay Seasoning.
Shrimp boil

Serving a shrimp boil!

The best part about making a shrimp boil is serving it! Here’s what to know:

  • Line a table with parchment paper or white paper. No plates allowed! Throw the drained veggies and shrimp onto the table and let everyone go at it. You may want a bowl for discarded shrimp shells.
  • Season with Old Bay. Keep your Old Bay container on the table so that everyone can shake it on.
  • Bonus: it makes the dishes easy! Cleanup for a shrimp boil is so easy: just pull the paper off the table and throw everything in the trash.
How to make a shrimp boil

Side dishes to serve with a shrimp boil

A shrimp boil is such a unique meal, it can be hard to figure out what to serve with it. You’re not eating on plates, so it doesn’t quite make sense to eat a salad or coleslaw. But you can pull out small side plates if you’d like to serve traditional side dishes! Here’s what we suggest serving with a shrimp boil:

Seafood boil

This shrimp boil recipe is…

Pescatarian, dairy free and gluten-free.

Print
Shrimp boil

Classic Shrimp Boil!


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 to 6
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Here’s the best shrimp boil recipe! This easy meal of corn, potatoes and shrimp is perfect for a crowd. No plates required!


Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay, purchased or homemade, plus more for serving (required!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 garlic bulb, with top cut off
  • 4 lemons, washed and cut in half
  • 3 pounds red potatoes, cut in half
  • 3 yellow onions, quartered with root attached
  • 6 ears corn, cut in half
  • 2 pounds shrimp, shell on*

Instructions

  1. Simmer the broth*: In a large 8 quart pot, add 5 quarts water. Stir in the kosher salt, coriander seeds, celery seeds, Old Bay, cayenne, bay leaves, and entire garlic head (with top cut off). Cut the lemons in half and add them to the pot, squeezing in some juice as you add them. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the water for 15 minutes (taste, it should taste like a seasoned soup).
  2. Cook the potatoes: Pull out the lemons with a slotted spoon and discard them. Add the onions and potatoes to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook for 18 to 22 minutes total, until potatoes are tender.
  3. Cook the corn: Remove the potatoes and onions with a slotted spoon and place them in a very large bowl: cover it with aluminum foil to keep them warm. Add the corn to the broth and cook 5 to 6 minutes until bright yellow.
  4. Cook the shrimp: Remove the corn with a slotted spoon and add it to the bowl with the potatoes (cover it again with the foil). Add the shrimp to the broth and cook for about 2 minutes until bright pink and just cooked.
  5. Drain and serve: Drain the pot and shrimp. Return the drained potatoes, onions, corn and shrimp to the pot. Line the table with butcher paper or newspaper, then pour everything on top. Serve with Old Bay seasoning. 

Notes

*If desired, replace 1 pound shrimp with 1 pound kielbasa sausage. Boil the sliced sausage for 12 minutes with the potatoes and onions.

**Large pot method (works for open fire or stovetop): This method cooks everything separately because the largest pot most cooks have is 8 quart. If you have a very large pot that’s 4 to 5 gallons, you can double the recipe and cook it all in one pot. Cook the potatoes and onions for 8 minutes, add the sausage and cook for 6 minutes (if using), add the corn and cook for 4 minutes, then add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Shrimp boil

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Faux-Blanching Is the Cooking Technique We Didn’t Know We Needed

It all started the first time I was lured by a tri-color bag of string beans at a farmers market—the purple, green, and yellow electric against each other.

I brought them home so pumped to make a salad. I cleaned each one, getting more and more excite…

It all started the first time I was lured by a tri-color bag of string beans at a farmers market—the purple, green, and yellow electric against each other.

I brought them home so pumped to make a salad. I cleaned each one, getting more and more excited as each color passed through my fingers. Then I blanched them and what had been neon purple turned to grey-green. I was pissed off in a way that is, admittedly, unreasonable.

Read More >>

The Right Way to Boil Potatoes (Even if You Think You Already Know How)

I admit that, despite being a fairly accomplished cook, I have found myself on multiple occasions googling “how to boil potatoes.” I know there are only so many moving parts here, but still I find myself staring down the pile of misshapen tubers on my …

I admit that, despite being a fairly accomplished cook, I have found myself on multiple occasions googling “how to boil potatoes.” I know there are only so many moving parts here, but still I find myself staring down the pile of misshapen tubers on my counter, totally paralyzed. Should I peel? Should I slice? Did I pick the right potatoes? To add to my growing panic, my wife, who is Irish, has opinions. One does not, for example, mash potatoes with cream, or with chives. One certainly does not purée potatoes. There is a right sort of potato to mash, but when I text her to ask what the right sort are called, she responds, “I think we call them potatoes.”

If you are facing a similar crisis: It doesn’t have to be like this. Together, we can figure it out.

Read More >>

Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil in Oven

Want a shrimp boil recipe that’s easy enough for a weeknight? Bake it! This sheet pan shrimp boil in oven is simple to make and has serious flavor. I still remember my first shrimp boil. Raised in the heart of the Midwest, it wasn’t until adulthood that I got to experience it. The paper on the table, the jumble of Old Bay-spiced shrimp and potatoes, all the guests eating with their fingers as the sky began to darken: it was magic. Ever since, the shrimp boil has held my heart. We’ve made it for festive occasions, birthdays and weddings and family vacations at the lake. So why not harness the magic of the shrimp boil for an every day meal? This sheet pan shrimp boil in oven is an easy way to make it on a weeknight: no large pot or fire required! Keep reading for how to do it. How to make a shrimp boil in oven The concept of a shrimp boil in the oven is just that! Instead of boiling the veggies and shrimp, you’ll bake them on a sheet pan with olive oil and some tasty seasonings. Like many sheet pan dinners, this requires starting the […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes

Want a shrimp boil recipe that’s easy enough for a weeknight? Bake it! This sheet pan shrimp boil in oven is simple to make and has serious flavor.

Shrimp Boil in Oven | Sheet pan shrimp boil

I still remember my first shrimp boil. Raised in the heart of the Midwest, it wasn’t until adulthood that I got to experience it. The paper on the table, the jumble of Old Bay-spiced shrimp and potatoes, all the guests eating with their fingers as the sky began to darken: it was magic. Ever since, the shrimp boil has held my heart. We’ve made it for festive occasions, birthdays and weddings and family vacations at the lake. So why not harness the magic of the shrimp boil for an every day meal? This sheet pan shrimp boil in oven is an easy way to make it on a weeknight: no large pot or fire required! Keep reading for how to do it.

Shrimp boil in oven

How to make a shrimp boil in oven

The concept of a shrimp boil in the oven is just that! Instead of boiling the veggies and shrimp, you’ll bake them on a sheet pan with olive oil and some tasty seasonings. Like many sheet pan dinners, this requires starting the longest cooking vegetable in the oven first: in this case, the potatoes. You’ll bake, then add the corn to the same sheet, bake some more, and then add the shrimp.

To make this sheet pan shrimp boil as easy as possible, you’ll mix the potatoes in a bowl with the seasonings, then use the same seasonings and same bowl to mix the corn. Then you’ll use the same bowl and seasonings to mix up the shrimp! So you’ll only dirty one bowl in the process: and you can start to memorize the seasoning mix too.

Here’s how to make a sheet pan shrimp boil in oven (see the full recipe below):

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Mix the potatoes with the olive oil and seasonings (Old Bay seasoning, coriander, dill, salt and pepper). Place on two parchment lined baking sheets and bake 10 minutes.
  • In the same bowl, mix the corn with the olive oil and seasonings. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and add the corn. Bake for 12 minutes.
  • In the same bowl, mix the shrimp with the olive oil and seasonings. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and add the shrimp. Bake for 10 minutes.

And that’s it! What results is a shrimp boil full of oven-roasted goodness. The veggies have browned and caramelized goodness, salty and seasoned with the nuance of cozy Old Bay seasoning. And the shrimp are perfectly tender.

Shrimp boil in oven

How to serve a sheet pan shrimp boil

Once you’ve made a shrimp boil in the oven: how to serve it? Do not even think about using plates and silverware! They’re strictly forbidden here! If you’d like to serve it like a traditional low country shrimp boil, you can spread butcher paper of newspaper over your table. Then pour the shrimp boil goodness right onto the paper. Enjoy by eating with your hands! And of course have lots of napkins handy nearby.

You also can allow the baking sheets to cool off, and serve directly from the cooled baking sheets. Or serve on a large platter.

Sheet pan shrimp boil

Side dishes to serve with a shrimp boil

When we made this shrimp boil in the oven, we served it as a special meal for my teen refugee mentee from Congo. It was perfect for a late summer meal on the patio, and a fun way to build our relationship! We researched side dishes to serve with a shrimp boil and came up pretty short. Most side dishes require a plate, which ruins the vibe.

Since we were feeling creatively uninpsired, we decided to just skip side dishes and go with dessert instead! So we served this shrimp boil followed by our Classic Strawberry Shortcake. It was the perfect carefree ending to a festive meal.

Serving this sheet pan shrimp boil with cornbread or bread seem like good options: do you have ideas on side dishes that would work? (Let us know in the comments below.)

Shrimp boil in oven

What type of shrimp to use?

For this shrimp boil in oven recipe, we recommend using large shrimp with the tail on for the best presentation. We used the size 16 to 20 count, which are quite large. We’d suggest buying shrimp with the shell on that is already deveined. Then you can remove the shell after cooking the shrimp, but leave the tail on. (If your shrimp are not deveined, here’s How to Devein Shrimp.)

What about fresh or frozen shrimp? Either fresh or frozen works for this recipe! A myth about fish is that “fresh is best.” However, frozen shrimp can be higher quality than raw fish because freezing suspends the decomposing process. Also, the shelf-life of fresh shrimp is only a few days, but frozen shrimp lasts for several weeks.

If you use frozen shrimp for this recipe, here’s how to thaw frozen shrimp:

  • Place the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Or,
  • On the day of serving, place the frozen shrimp into a bowl with cold water. Let a small trickle of cold water run into the bowl to keep the water moving. The shrimp should defrost in about 15 minutes.
Sheet pan shrimp boil in oven

A note on sustainable shrimp

Are you looking at buying sustainable shrimp for this shrimp boil in the oven? (If so, kudos!) Here are a few pointers for buying sustainable seafood:

  • Look for wild-caught fish if possible. If you live in the US, look for US caught if you can. 90% of the seafood we eat in the US is imported. Imported seafood runs the risk of being overfished, caught under unfair labor practices, or farmed in environmentally harmful ways.
  • How your fish is caught matters. Look for hook and line as one example of a sustainable gear type. Bottom trawling is considered the most destructive and least sustainable method.

This recipe is…

This sheet pan shrimp boil in the oven is pescatarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

Print
Shrimp boil in oven

Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil in Oven


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Description

Want a shrimp boil recipe that’s easy enough for a weeknight? Bake it! This sheet pan shrimp boil in oven is simple to make and has serious flavor.


Ingredients

  • 2 pounds small red potatoes
  • 4 large ears corn
  • 2 pounds large raw shrimp, shell on and deveined (thawed)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning, divided
  • 3 teaspoons dried dill, divided
  • 1 1/2  teaspoon ground coriander, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • Black pepper
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • Finely chopped parsley or chives, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the potatoes in half (or into bite-sized pieces if using larger potatoes). Shuck the corn and cut it into 2-inch pieces.
  3. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and stir them together with: 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons Old Bay, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon dried dill, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds black pepper. Spread potatoes face down on the baking sheets and bake 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in the same bowl stir together the corn with (same as last time!): 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons Old Bay, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon dried dill, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds black pepper. Remove the baking sheet from oven and flip the potatoes. Add the corn and bake an additional 12 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in the same bowl stir together the thawed shrimp with (here we go again!): 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon Old Bay, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon dried dill, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds black pepper. Remove the sheet from the oven and turn the corn. Add the shrimp and bake an additional 10 minutes until shrimp is cooked through.
  6. Serve garnished with chopped parsley or chives, and a hearty squeeze from the lemon wedges. Allow to cool slightly. If desired, spread butcher paper or newspaper over your table and pour the shrimp boil on top — or serve right from the cooled baking sheets or a large platter. Enjoy by eating with your hands!

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Shrimp Boil in Oven, Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil

Looking for more healthy seafood recipes?

Here are a few more healthy seafood recipes:

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes