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Virginia Willis' Stovetop Low Country Boil

Serves: 6
Hands On Time: 
Total Time: 


1 (12-ounce can) beer, such as a pale ale or summer wheat
2 sweet onions, quartered
4 lemons, quartered
1/2 cup seafood boil seasoning
2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, plus additional ground pepper for seasoning
Coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1 finely chopped fresh red chile (or chiles, to taste)
2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
3 pounds new potatoes, each about the size of golf balls
1 1/2 pounds smoked spicy sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, each cut into 6 pieces
6 ears fresh corn, shucked and broken into 3- to 4-inch pieces
3 pounds shell-on large shrimp
Hot sauce, for serving


Fill a large pot with 5 quarts of water. (Add more if needed; the volume will depend on the size and shape of your pot.) Add the beer, onions, two of the lemons, seafood boil, bay leaves, peppercorns and 2 tablespoons salt. Cover and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to a lazy simmer and let cook until the flavors marry, about 15 minutes. The liquid should be highly seasoned and aromatic.

Meanwhile, prepare the garlic sauce: Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Let simmer until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Once the cooking broth is flavorful, add the potatoes and cook, covered, until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add the sausage and corn, and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until just pink, about 3 minutes. Drain through a large colander.

Transfer the shrimp, sausage and vegetables to a large platter or tray. Serve immediately with hot sauce, remaining lemon quarters, and the warm garlic butter sauce.

Photo: Virginia Willis

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