Shrimp Boil

By: Cassy Joy Garcia

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Complete with potatoes, corn, shrimp, andouille sausage, and several key flavor boosters, this shrimp boil is bold in flavor while still being so easy to make, it's great for a weeknight.

a large, shallow bowl of corn, shrimp, sausage, and potatoes (a shrimp boil)

Cajun Shrimp Boil Recipe

A shrimp boil is such a fun, healthy, and fresh way to mix up dinner! One thing I love most is that it's a complete meal all on its own, and the process truly couldn’t be easier. This recipe is an ideal option for outdoor gatherings (pretty hands-off if you're hosting a group) OR if you want a really fun, family-style dinner-in (put the shrimp boil in the middle + let everyone dig in!). 

What equipment do you need for a shrimp boil?

If you’re boiling your shrimp inside on the stovetop (like I did), you’ll just need a large (8-10 quart) pot. If you’re planning on boiling your shrimp outside, you’ll need specific shrimp boil equipment — a pretty exhaustive list (with specific sizing and brand recommendations) can be found here.

Easy Shrimp Boil Ingredients

The items on this list are pretty standard shrimp boil ingredients — here’s everything you’ll need:

  • Red Potatoes – to start, you’ll need 3 pounds of halved red potatoes. These will take the longest to cook, so they’ll go in the pot first.
  • Corn – in addition to the potatoes, you’ll need 4 ears of husked and halved corn. If you have kiddos around the house, shucking corn is a great way for them to help! It's fun, not too messy, and they'll be so proud of their supper.
  • Red Onion – 1 quartered red onion will add some really delicious flavor to the boil.
  • Garlic Cloves – 10 cloves of peeled garlic infuses with all of the other goodies in the pot and adds a some major flavor depth.
  • Old Bay Seasoning – to get that classic shrimp boil flavor, you’ll need a ¼ cup of Old Bay seasoning (or other Cajun seasoning of choice).
  • Bay Leaves – in addition to the Old Bay seasoning, you'll also want to add 2 bay leaves for an extra layer of flavor.
  • Andouille Sausage – 12 ounces of andouille sausage go into the pot too! Store-bought andouille sausage is typically already cooked, so you don’t need to worry about it fully cooking in the boil, though I like mine to hang out there for a little while as they impart flavor into everything else.
  • Shrimp – DUH! It wouldn't be a shrimp boil without the shrimp. For this recipe, you’ll need about 2 pounds of large shell-on shrimp.
  • Lemons – 2 halved lemons will go into the boil itself, and you’ll want to make sure to have additional lemon wedges for serving. Cooking those lemons in the broth also adds that extra touch of “wow, this is really yummy” flavor.
  • Chives – garnish your drained and ready-to-serve shrimp boil with finely chopped chives for some extra color + flavor.

If you’re looking for a really delicious sauce to serve alongside your shrimp boil, THIS remoulade is an excellent choice.

How much shrimp do you need for a shrimp boil?

Our boil is on the smaller side as far as shrimp boils go and would serve 6-8 people — for something this size, you’ll need about 2 pounds of large shell-on shrimp. If you want to feed more people, though, feel free to up the ingredient amounts as needed. Just be sure that you up your pot size too!

Can you boil frozen shrimp?

I don’t recommend boiling frozen shrimp. Unlike ground beef (of which I'm notorious for adding to a pot before it's totally thawed so I can get started on dinner sooner), shrimp cooks too quickly to cook from frozen. The outside would thaw and cook and become tough before the inside has a chance to thaw and cook through. For best results, you’ll want them completely thawed first!

Should I thaw shrimp before boiling?

There are a few ways to do this! If you have the time, you can simply transfer the bag of shrimp to the refrigerator the day before you’re planning on boiling them — this option takes the longest amount of time. If you’re short on time, put the bag of shrimp in a large bowl of cool (not warm or hot) water (either in the fridge or on the counter) to thaw. Your shrimp should be totally thawed within 30 minutes!

How should you season shrimp boil?

I went with a classic Cajun seasoning blend — Old Bay! Feel free to use any Cajun seasoning you love, though.

How to Cook Shrimp Boil

The process is actually quite simple. You will need to be strategic about when to put the different components into the boil so that everything is done, but not overcooked by the end. I've taken the guesswork out of it and given exact instructions below:

a large pot of shrimp, potatoes, corn, and sausage
  1. Put the potatoes, onion, garlic, Old Bay, and bay leaves in a pot – first, add the potatoes, onion, garlic, Old Bay seasoning, and bay leaves to a large 8-10 quart stockpot.
  2. Add water and boil – fill the pot halfway up with 4-5 quarts of water, then cover and place over medium-high heat. Let cook for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
  3. Add the lemons, sausage, and corn to the pot – once the potatoes are soft, squeeze two lemons into the pot then add the lemon halves, sausage, and corn to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp – lastly, add the shrimp to the pot and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, until the shrimp turns pink and curls in on itself, then remove the pot from heat.
  5. Remove from the pot and serve – using a strainer, remove the shrimp and vegetables from the pot and transfer them to a large serving platter or sheet pan. Serve with additional lemon wedges, finely diced chives, and the dry cajun seasoning for anyone who wants to turn up the heat, and enjoy!

How to Boil Shrimp

Boiling shrimp is really easy and quick! All you do is drop them in boiling water (the broth for this boil is heavily seasoned, but you could do this in simple water, too) and let them cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until they turn pink and start to curl in on themselves.

How do you boil shrimp without overcooking?

As soon as the shrimp turn pink and are opaque (not see-through anymore), they’re ready! This shouldn’t take any longer than 7 minutes.

Is it possible to make an Instant Pot Shrimp Boil?

Probably so! I haven’t actually tried it, though, so I can’t speak for exactly what the finished product is like. Keep in mind that this recipe requires a pretty large pot, so if you don’t have one of the larger Instant Pots, you may run into an overflow situation.

How do you keep a seafood boil warm?

While seafood boils are best enjoyed right out of the water (once they’ve cooled to touch), but I understand that it's not always possible to eat right away. If you’re trying to keep the seafood boil warm for a longer period of time, you have a couple of options:

  1. Turn off the heat, pull the shrimp out after they're cooked (in 5 to 7 minutes), and then after the boil has sat for about 30 minutes without the heat on, put the shrimp BACK IN the broth. This will keep the shrimp from over-cooking, but adding them back in later (after the temperature is lower) will warm them back up to just-right. Then, serve when you're ready.
  2. Pull cooked ingredients out of the boil and transfer them to a platter that also has a lid. Keep it covered until you're ready to serve, but ideally within 20 minutes. Note: if you can't find a fitting lid, you can always tent the platter with foil. 

What goes with shrimp boil?

The best part of a shrimp boil is that it’s actually a complete meal! The potatoes provide a nice starch, the corn stands in as the vegetable, and the shrimp and sausage star as joint protein components. If you want to serve something else alongside your boil, though, a nice crusty bread would be a great choice.

a large, shallow bowl of corn, shrimp, sausage, and potatoes (a shrimp boil)

Can you leave shrimp boil out overnight?

No, I don’t recommend leaving this out overnight. Just like with any meal that includes an animal protein, leaving it out overnight can cause some potential food safety issues.

Storing and Reheating Leftover Shrimp Boil

Store your leftovers in an airtight container (large Ziplock bags work great for this!) in the refrigerator. To reheat, simply pop a serving in the microwave and microwave until warmed through. If you’d rather not use the microwave, feel free to heat a pot of water to boiling and toss everything in until warmed through (about 5 minutes).

Can you freeze leftover seafood boil?

While I am very much on team freeze-all-the-things, a shrimp boil is something that I don’t actually recommend freezing. Cooked-then-frozen shrimp and the potatoes (funny enough) are tricky to thaw and reheat with an appetizing texture. Instead, plan on eating the leftovers for lunch or dinner sometime within 3 days of when it was originally cooked.

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Easy Shrimp Boil Recipe

a large, shallow bowl of corn, shrimp, sausage, and potatoes (a shrimp boil)

This shrimp boil is an easy, delicious, fun way to get a complete meal on the table!

  • Author: Cassy Joy Garcia
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 68 1x
  • Category: Seafood
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 pounds red potatoes, cut in half
  • 4 ears of corn, husk removed and cut in half
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup Old Bay seasoning, or other Cajun seasoning of choice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 ounces andouille sausage, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds large shell-on shrimp
  • 2 lemons, halved, plus additional lemon wedges for serving
  • Chives, finely diced, for serving

Instructions

  1. Add the potatoes, onion, garlic, bay leaves and Cajun seasoning to a large 8-10 quart stockpot.
  2. Fill the pot halfway up with 4-5 quarts of water, then cover and place over medium-high heat. Let cook for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
  3. Squeeze two lemons into the pot then add the lemon halves, sausage, and corn to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes, until the shrimp turns pink and curls in on itself, then remove the pot from heat.
  5. Remove the shrimp and vegetables from the pot and transfer them to a large serving platter or sheet pan. Serve with additional lemon wedges and a sprinkle of finely diced chives.

Keywords: shrimp boil

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  1. Tracy says:

    You can do the shrimp boil in the insta pot also it’s the bomb for just my husband & myself. 2 lbs shrimp & the rest is max amount. 20 mins done !!!!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So good to know, Tracy! Thanks so much for letting us know.

  2. Torii says:

    How important is it to use shell-on shrimp here?

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      You could probably get away with already shelled shrimp, Torii!