If you’re craving a meal by the seaside but can’t get to a beach, bring the ocean’s bounty home to you by hosting a seafood boil! Consisting of various types of seafood and seasonal vegetables, seafood boils are often the center of summertime parties in the south, and each region has their own variation of seafood and spices. We’ve got a few tips on hosting the perfect seafood boil, as well as a few of our favorite regional variations, so you can experience the ocean from the comfort of your own backyard.
Tips for Having a Seafood Boil
Hosting a seafood boil is a surefire way to turn your next backyard barbecue into a party to remember. Since most boils make enough for up to 12 people, it’s a great way to feed a crowd. Seafood boils are known for being a bit messy. To make cleanup a cinch you’ll want to dine outside on a table that’s been covered in newspaper. Make sure you have plenty of extra napkins handy and empty bowls (or a compost bin) laid out for shells and cobs.
If you really want to make a party out of a boil, bring out the bocce ball, cornhole and other fun yard games to keep the night going even after the fish is gone.
Prepping the Food
Most boils call for the basics: potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage, seasoning and one or two types of seafood. You can ask your guests to help with the prep and they can bring the ingredients, or you can have it all ready to go when they arrive. Plan out amounts ahead of time, and always prep a little bit extra; you’d rather have leftovers than hungry guests!
Louisiana Seafood Boil
This Louisiana Seafood Boil recipe from Williams-Sonoma features crab and shrimp accompanied by corn, onion, celery, potatoes and a whole host of spices and herbs. This style of boil has more vegetables than many other types, so it’s a great choice if some of your guests aren’t huge fans of seafood.
Texas Crawfish Boil
Crawfish lovers will adore this Texas Crawfish Boil recipe from HEB. Make sure you buy live crawfish for best flavor—about a half-pound per person should do. The crawfish are cooked up with some sausage for an extra savory kick, while the added potatoes soak up all the delicious flavors. This recipe uses a seafood seasoning mix instead of a large variety of spices, so it’s quick and easy to prepare.
Great Lakes White Fish Boil
A lesser-known variation of the traditional seafood boil come from the great lakes region and includes white fish as the main protein. This Upper Great Lakes Fish Boil from the Minnesota Sea Grant is perfect in the months when shellfish may be out of season and expensive. This recipe calls for lake trout or whitefish, but Tilapia is also a great, flavorful and inexpensive option. Whip up some coleslaw as a side, grab a big bag of rolls and you have a full meal all your guests will love.
Florida Shrimp Boil
If you can’t get enough shrimp, this Florida Shrimp Boil recipe from Old Bay is the one for you. This dish combines the tropical flavors of Florida and the Caribbean by pairing shrimp with summer squash, sweet potato, garlic and chili pepper. It also uses Old Bay, a popular seafood seasoning from the east coast for extra flavor. About a third-pound of jumbo shrimp for each guest should be the perfect amount, and for some extra protein, add in a pound of mild white fish such as Tilapia.
Now that you’ve got some inspiration, get the whole gang together and enjoy a seafood boil extravaganza! You can use one of the recipes above, or you can make your own version by picking and choosing your favorite elements of the regional boils and putting them together.
Need some ideas for side dishes? Check out these 5 summer side dishes with 5 ingredients or less!