Mix & Match Grilled Seafood Packets (aka Ocean Packets)
Yield: Yield: 4 servings (recipe is easy to double or halve)
These easy-prep packets are endlessly customizable, making them perfect for those who don’t like tomatoes, are allergic to certain seafood, etc. Simple omit or substitute anything you can’t eat, can't find or don’t like.


  • 16 little neck clams in shell, scrubbed
  • 16 uncooked, shell-on jumbo shrimp*
  • 16 sea scallops
  • 4 ears corn on the cob, husked and cut into quarters OR 1 pound small par-boiled new potatoes**
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Zest of one lemon, plus optional use of lemon wedges
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay
  • 6 tablespoons white wine or beer (could substitute seafood stock or chicken broth)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives and/or fresh parsley
  • Optional for serving: additional Old Bay, bread for mopping up the flavorful broth


  1. Lay four 18×12-inch pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil (or use a double layer of regular foil) on the counter or a flat work surface.
  2. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate.
  3. Place 4 clams, 4 shrimp, 4 scallops, 4 pieces of corn on the cob or ¼ of the parboiled potatoes, and 4 cherry tomatoes in the center of each piece of foil.
  4. Place 1 tablespoon of butter over each pile – I cube each piece and evenly disperse. Zest ¼ of the lemon over each packet, and then sprinkle each with ½ teaspoon Old Bay, and 1½ tablespoons of the white wine, beer, or broth.
  5. Bring the two short ends of each of the foil sheets together and fold over several times to seal. Leave room for steam. Fold the remaining ends over several times to seal the packet completely. (Advance prep tip: At this point, the packets may be placed on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.)
  6. Place the foil packets on the preheated grill, cover the grill, and bake until the clams are open and the shrimp are pink and opaque, about 15 minutes. (Tip: Carefully open a packet after about 12-13 minutes and check for doneness. Variations in cooking time will occur from grill to grill.  Our last packets were perfectly cooked at 14 minutes.)
  7. To serve, place the foil packets on individual plates, carefully unfold the top (be careful – the steam will be hot) or cut an “X” through the foil and peel back the foil. Sprinkle each packet with chives and/or parsley and serve with a lemon wedge, if desired.


*Smaller shrimp may overcook in the time it takes for the remaining ingredients to cook through. I find jumbos work quite well.

**Steaming, microwaving, or otherwise cooking potatoes prior to use is important, as they will otherwise remain underdone when the seafood is fully cooked. It’s ok if they are still a tad al dente, but I usually steam until they are just tender. This may be done earlier in the day and the potatoes can sit at room temperature until ready to assemble the packets.

Helpful hints: You can accommodate allergies and taste preferences by omitting any offending ingredients and adding a proportionate amount of another.  Use a Sharpie to write names on top of the foil packet if they are made to order.

We’re frequently told to discard any clams that have not opened during the cooking process, and this is good food safety practice. But what if a clamshell is open before cooking? In order to determine freshness, gently tap it. A shell that closes right away indicates that the clam still alive and good to use.

Additions and substitutions that work well:

Slices or small chunks of cooked or smoked sausage (like Kielbasa, Andouille, or your favorite turkey sausage)
Mushrooms, sliced, quartered, or halved
Minced garlic (I use 1 small clove per packet)
I don’t add salt and pepper to the packets but do offer sea salt and ground pepper at the table. However, you could add a sprinkle to the packets before cooking.
Corn and potatoes provide a complementary starch in the packets but may be completely omitted. The corn does pick up delicious flavor from the broth that develops, and the potatoes are wonderful mashed into the broth. Sometimes, however, I opt to grill or steam a bigger batch of corn to serve alongside.
Bread for mopping up the broth

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