How to make seafood boil in a bag. More flavor than a regular seafood boil without the dripping water and the heavy seafood boil pot.
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Read on for recipe relevant information and process pictures (2 mins)
About This Seafood Boil in a Bag Recipe
Our easy recipe delivers the delights of a classic seafood boil without any of the hard work involved in handling the large stock pot. You will enjoy decadent concentrated flavors and a clean-up that is a breeze.
If you would like to prepare a distinctly Cajun seafood boil simply heed the few tips in the relevant section below.
TIP: For a large party of guests (well into the double digits) you can prepare several bags and have them ready to go in the fridge a couple of hours before your guests arrive. Cook in the oven simultaneously and enjoy a huge spread in no time at all. This is a great option for New Year’s Eve and many of a summer evening.
Ingredients for Seafood Boil
The ingredients for seafood boil in a bag can be grouped into three main categories – the actual seafood and accompanying foods, the ingredients for the delicious butter sauce mixture to steam them in (which lends them a lot of flavor and which you should save) and the garnishes.
Seafood boil. Traditional ingredients are shrimp, crab (we like snow crab legs or smaller whole blue crabs), lobster tails, king crab legs, crawfish, clams, mussels, andouille sausage (or other smoked sausage), ears of corn, red potatoes (or other small, waxy potatoes).
Steaming liquid/butter sauce. Unsalted butter, onion, garlic cloves, seafood seasoning (we like Old Bay seasoning but you can easily mix your own or use your favorite brand); beer (or vegetable broth or water). You can add red pepper flakes, bay leaves, salt and black pepper or lemon pepper seasoning to taste.
Garnish. Simply fresh parsley and lemon wedges.
NOTE: Be sure to have any frozen crab, shrimp etc, properly thawed in the fridge or under running cold water before you begin cooking.
You Will Also Need
To cook. A large oven bag (see below) and a deep roasting pan or disposable foil pan in which to place the filled bag.
To serve. Waxed butcher paper – two layers of about 4 feet each should be plenty.
Dipping sauce ideas for the seafood boil bag spread are listed at the bottom of the post.
Where to Buy Seafood Boil Bags
All you really need to buy is a pack of oversized oven bags such as turkey bags. These are made of heat resistant nylon and can withstand temperatures up to 400F.
Look for seafood boil bags (affiliate link) in your store’s home goods aisle or at online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.
Clarification: If you actually wanted to purchase a frozen seafood boil bag meal – these are sold at Aldi stores. The instructions do want you to boil the ingredients in a pot, in the traditional manner.
Seafood Boil vs Seafood Bake
Using the oven to cook this seafood feast does not mean that you will be making a seafood bake. A seafood bake is different from a baked seafood boil such as we have here.
A classic seafood bake entails a casserole like approach where you toss the seafood in butter, cream, broth and other ingredients and bake it in a casserole dish.
When baking a seafood boil as we do here the food is cooked by the moist heat from the liquid inside the bag and not simply dry oven heat.
How to Make Seafood Boil in a Bag
There are two important things to address for the perfect seafood boil in a bag. Besides these, the rest is assembly and wait time.
One – because all the ingredients cook together, the longer time the potatoes need to become tender is a bit of an issue. For this reason you will parboil them first so they can cook completely while in the oven.
Two – you should combine the steaming liquid ingredients before you pour them over the seafood and other ingredients inside the bag. You do not need to cook them, only to melt the butter and mix it with everything else.
Prep. Parboil the potatoes (we do 6 mins covered in water in the microwave, you can also boil them in a pot). Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat, add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine, then set aside.
Assemble. Spread the bag open over the pan as shown. Add the drained potatoes, then the corn and sausage cut into pieces. If using crab legs be sure to add them pointing the claws toward the center so they do not accidentally pierce the bag (see below). Add the rest of the seafood you are using (shrimp, clams, mussels, crawfish, etc.).
Finish and bake. Pour the melted butter mixture over the ingredients in the bag. Cinch the bag (not too tight) and tie it. Cook the boil in a bag for 30 minutes in a preheated 400 F oven. Take out the pan and let the baked seafood boil rest before you open the bag.
Serve. Prepare a butcher paper lined table to serve over. Carefully open the bag and spread the food over the waxed butcher paper. Try to reserve the juices in the bag instead of pouring them out with the food. You could employ a large colander over the pan you used to do so.
The reserved liquids make an excellent base addition for a fish stew if you strain them.
Serve it to Impress
The visual richness of a seafood boil spread accounts for a huge part of its culinary enjoyment. Do your best to arrange the mixture of delicious ingredients in a pleasing manner, add lemon wedges and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley. Arrange butter sauce bowls for dipping on two or more sides so everyone has access to one.
We recommend clarified butter or a flavored butter sauces with this spread. They work for every single ingredient and if you decided to add crusty bread like baguette will be perfect for dipping that too.
Cajun Seafood Boil Recipe
Giving this low key dish a classic Cajun flare is simple – all you need to do is:
- substitutie the Old Bay seasoning in the steaming liquid with Cajun seasoning (maybe add some extra cayenne for good measure or some Louisiana hot sauce);
- be sure to use crawfish and plenty of them in the assortment of seafood
- buy Gulf shrimp if you can
- make sure that you are using the best Andouille sausage you can find
- make a batch of this delicious Cajun butter sauce to serve alongside the boil (pictured below)
How to Warm up Seafood Boil in a Bag Leftovers (or Repurpose Them)
To warm up any leftovers simply place them in a deep, wide bowl then add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for a minute or so.
To repurpose leftovers and turn them into a chowder – slice corn off the cob, dice potatoes and sausage. Saute an onion in some butter sauce, add cream, the liquids from the bag if you saved them, some vegetable broth or water and simmer for a few minutes. To that liquid base add the corn, potatoes, sausage and seafood leftover, simmer only until they warm through. Season as needed and enjoy.
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Seafood Boil Bag
- 1 lb medium shrimp, shell and tail on, thawed
- 2 lbs snow crab legs, thawed
- 1 lbs clams
- 1 lbs smoked sausage (such as Andouille), cut into pieces
- 1 lsb small red potatoes (or similar waxy potatoes)
- 3-4 corn on the cob, cut into pieces
Butter Sauce Mixture for Steaming
- 1 stick unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning* (or to taste)
- 1/2 cup beer or white wine or chicken stock
- 1 small bunch parsley, finely chopped
- 2 lemons, cut into wedges
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Spread open a large oven bag such as a turkey bag over a roasting pan or a disposable foil pan. Set aside.
- Place the potatoes in a bowl, cover with water and microwave for about 6 minutes or until semi-tender (a fork can pierce them with some difficulty).
- Over medium heat in a sauce pan melt the butter, add the onion and garlic and the Old Bay seasoning (and any other spices you may want to include). Stir to mix, add the beer (or wine or stock) and stir again. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In the oven bag place the drained potatoes, the corn and the sausage. If using crab legs place these with the claws pointing towards the center to avoid tears in the bag. Add the shrimp, clams and any other seafood you are using. Pour the butter mixture over the ingredients.
- Close the bag and secure it with the provided tie. Bake for 30 minutes. Take out and let rest for 5 minutes or so before you carefully open the bag (steam that will escape is hot).
- Spread the seafood over a table lined with waxed butcher paper or similar. (Try to reserve the steaming liquids for use in a chowder or stew etc.) Garnish with parsley and arrange lemon wedges all around the seafood spread. Serve with Seafood Boil Sauce for dipping.
Use about 4-5 lbs of seafood, not necessarily what is listed in the ingredients list. You can add lobster tails, mussels, stone crab claws, king crab, crawfish (especially if making a Cajun seafood boil), etc.
*You can use Cajun seasoning instead or a similar seafood seasoning. Feel free to add paprika, cayenne, bay leaf, Louisiana hot sauce etc, to taste.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 924Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 405mgSodium: 3841mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 87g