Low Country Shrimp Boil
A festive all-in-one meal and surefire crowd-pleaser, you may wish to cut the recipe in half for a fun weeknight meal.

Yield: 8 servings


  • 4 quarts water*
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle or can of beer**
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 head or garlic, halved (with skins on)
  • 1/2 cup (62 grams) Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 8 medium red potatoes, quartered***
  • 1 large or 2 small Vidalia onions, peeled and cut into 4-8 wedges, depending on size (leave root end to better keep them in tact)
  • 2 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 1- to 2-inch lengths****
  • 8 ears corn on the cob, husked (cut in half if desired)
  • 4 pounds large wild caught American shrimp, uncooked with shells ON (look for packages marked “Easy Peel”—they work GREAT!)
  • Options for serving: cocktail sauce, spicy mayo, Tabasco sauce, lemon wedges, rolls, cornbread


  1. Add the water, beer, lemon, and garlic to a 12 to 14-quart stock pot (the bigger the better), and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the Old Bay, salt, potatoes, and onions; cook over high heat for 8 minutes. (Throughout this process, you want to maintain a steady boil. If high heat creates too ferocious of a boil, adjust the heat down slightly.)
  3. Add the smoked sausage; continue to cook on high for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the corn to pot; boil for 7 minutes.
  5. At this point, the potatoes should meet little resistance when pierced with a sharp knife.  Add the uncooked shrimp in shells, and cook for 3 minutes or until just pink.
  6. Immediately (and carefully) drain the cooking liquid, and then pour the contents of the pot into several large bowls or shallow pails. Sprinkle lightly with additional Old Bay and serve.


  • *I often prepare the pot several hours in advance, measuring out the water and then adding the garlic, lemon, and beer. I measure the salt and Old Bay and place it in a small bowl next to the pot. Salt can corrode some pot finishes so, when in doubt, it’s best to add the salt once the water has come to a boil.
  • **For a non-alcoholic version, you may replace the beer with additional water or use chicken broth. For a gluten-free option, you may use your favorite GF beer. Also, the FDA considers Corona Light to be gluten-free because it meets their standards of less than 20ppm. Just don’t use an IPA, gluten-free or regular, as a hops-heavy beer tends to turn bitter when cooked.
  • ***When I can find them, I prefer to use 2-1/2 to 3 pounds of very small red or new potatoes (no larger than 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter). These can be left whole, which results in a slightly superior texture once cooked.
  • ****I like to use a combination of spicy Andouille and mild kielbasa. Choose based on personal preference. When mixing, cut one variety on the diagonal and one straight across so those who don’t like spicy foods know what to avoid.
  • Additional Tips:
  • Keep your timer nearby, as it ensures that all the components are perfectly cooked. I serve this with a quick homemade cocktail sauce (ketchup, horseradish to taste, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce) and spicy mayo (mayonnaise and sriracha sauce to taste). You could serve with melted butter, too, although my butter-loving family never asked for it.
  • The Old Bay in this recipe provides flavor but very little heat. For those who prefer more spiciness, cayenne pepper may be added to taste—or serve with Tabasco sauce.
  • This is truly a meal in itself. I like to round it out with a basket of rolls or cornbread.
  • For a fun, festive, and easy dessert, my sister-in-law recently brought chocolate covered strawberries (she dipped them in melted Wilber Buds!) and ice cream and root beer for root beer floats. Both were huge hits.
  • Line the table with newspaper for easy cleanup.
  • The recipe may easily be cut in half for an easy weeknight meal, although my family considers any leftovers a treat.
  • Preps in 15 minutes, cooks in about 45, which includes the time it takes to bring the cooking liquid to a boil. For a large crowd, double the recipe but use two separate large pots—and be sure to have two timers. Despite best planning, the water is likely to come to a boil at two separate times, and it’s far easier to ensure success when the cooking times are closely followed.

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