How to make seafood sauce that you will be proud to serve alongside your favorite seafood boil combinations.
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Read on for recipe relevant information and step-by-step pictures (2 mins)
About This Seafood Boil Sauce Recipe
Our seafood sauce recipe is a take on classic Cajun butter sauce for seafood which in the South is sometimes called seafood bayou sauce.
It is absolutely packed with flavor, rich and buttery and incredibly compatible with all manner of seafood. From shrimp and crawfish, through all the types of salt water crab you can think of to lobster meat, sausages, boiled potatoes and corn – this concoction always delivers.
We are yet to meet the person who has not raved about it at first taste.
To achieve the balance of umami, salty, sweet and spicy for this dipping marvel we use the following line up of ingredients:
Butter. Definitely unsalted. We do not season with salt until the very end and only if need. Often times the chicken broth has enough salt in it, so does Old Bay seasoning.
Aromatics. Onion and garlic to form the savory base.
Matlty, sweet beer. We like to use a dark, flavorful ale or lager with little to no sweetness. The right brew (see suggestions below) adds a sophisticated depth to the sauce and the alcohol cooks off (in case that is a concern). If you are not into beer, then you can use coke instead (the choice for Bloves sauce), but we do recommend beer.
Spices and brown sugar. Old Bay seasoning is the lead spice – if you would rather use Cajun seasoning use that and go easy on the cayenne. Either smoked or sweet paprika and dried oregano or parsley along with thyme. We add cayenne pepper to taste (substitute with hot sauce or red pepper flakes to taste) and a generous amount of brown sugar for earthy sweetness.
Lemon juice and chicken broth. Acidity is needed for any savory butter based sauce and we perfer lemon juice to lime here. You can substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth.
TIP: You can use a Vienna lager (this includes dark Mexican lager Dos Equis), an amber ale (Belgian or British style, American is too bitter); dunkel lager (includes Modelo Negra), bock or dark wheat beer, even light wheat ale (American style or Belgian witbier). Marzen beer is our favorite when in season.
Several years ago a YouTuber, Bloveslife recreated her version of seafood bayou sauce calling it Blove’s Smackalicious Sauce for Seafood. Her recipe is also worth trying (she uses coke) and we enthusiastically encourage you to do so. Instead of gathering all the ingredients for making Bloves sauce from scratch you can buy her seasoning mix (see affiliate links in the recipe card below).
TIP: Old Bay seasoning has many of the same herbs and spices that comprise traditional Cajun seasoning mix (black pepper, paprika, celery salt, etc). You can use Cajun seasoning as an almost perfect substitute for Old Bay.
How to Make Seafood Boil Sauce – Step-by-Step Instructions
This recipe is so easy that the hardest part entails finely dicing the onion and mincing the garlic cloves. You will need a bit of patience – that’s all there is to it.
- In a saucepan or deep skillet melt half of the butter and sauté the onion until translucent, add the garlic and cook just until fragrant.
- Deglaze with the beer, stir and simmer until the beer is reduced by half.
- Add the brown sugar, spices and lemon juice and stir them in; add the broth, stir and bring to simmer to reduce.
- At the end add more butter and once it is incorporated your work is done.
TIP: To make the seafood boil sauce thicker, simply cook it a bit longer for the chicken broth to reduce significantly.
Should the Dipping Sauce Be Blended Before Serving?
We prefer not to blend it and leave the savory, soft pieces of onion and garlic as they are. Because the melted butter tends to float on top and the solids sink to the bottom it requires the occasional stir.
If you’d rather have a smooth consistency then use a hand-held blender stick or carefully transfer the sauce to a stand alone blender and pulse it a few times. This will also take care of the butter separating (to some extent).
Serve Crab Boil Sauce
Serve with a few lemon slices or wedges on the side. The sauce tastes so rich that a bit of fresh acidity is always a welcome addition.
Keep the sauce warm if you can, you do not need to serve the whole quantity all at once. For larger crawfish boil, seafod or crab boil spreads place a serving dish with sauce on each side or serve in small individual ramekins.
It is an excellent dipper for (just to name a few):
- snow crab legs
- andouille sausage/ smoked sausages
- sweet corn & red potatoes
- lobster tails
- crusty pieces of bread
Other Ways to Enjoy Cajun butter sauce for seafood
It works with simply prepared chicken or thin pork chops, lending them richness and exciting flavors. It takes starches like plain potatoes, rice and of course – corn into mouth smacking territory.
See the suggestions below for how to use any leftovers but do not feel confined by the term. Sometimes we make a fresh batch just so we can use it to dip shrimp like these peel’n’eat shrimp or drizzle it over pan seared salmon, baked cod fillets or grits with fried eggs.
How to Store Leftover Seafood Sauce
Once it cools down refrigerate it in an airtight container. It will save well for a couple of weeks.
You can reheat it in the microwave (go with 20 second intervals and stir in between). Alternatively, place it in a small sauce pan and warm it up over low heat.
Ideas to Use Leftover Sauce (or a New Batch:)
- boiled potatoes tossed with it become something absolutely amazing
- fold it into rice you just cooked to give it a cajun flare
- drizzle it over sauted vegetables like these broccolini
- brush it over corn on the cob, boiled or smoked
- saute peeled and deveined shrimp in it and then toss pasta in the whole thing
- cook mussels in it, you can always thin it out with beer and chicken stock to achieve a broth like consistency
- slather it over baguettes sliced in half lengthwise and warm those on the grill or oven, then serve a bread to remember
- make a delicious tomato sauce using it as the base – simply add a can of pured tomatoes or freshly grated tomato puree to it, wait until it just warms through and enjoy
- by far our best idea is to employ it as part of the base for a creamy chowder, see notes below
Quick Seafood Boil Sauce Cream Chowder
There are always a few pieces of corn and sausage, a few boiled potatoes, a couple of shrimp left after our seafood boils and this is how we put them to good use.
- We bring the leftover sauce to simmer along with a couple of cups of heavy cream and extra chicken stock, maybe some finely diced celery sauteed separately.
- Once the mixture has simmered for a few minutes and thickened, we add the leftover corn (sliced from the cob, the red potatoes and sausage pieces (diced) and any shrimp/clams etc.).
- We take the pot off the heat and after a few minutes the chowder is ready to serve.
You Might Enjoy
Seafood Boil in a Bag (you do not need a large stockpot!)
Garlic Butter Sauce for Seafood
Sage Brown Butter Sauce
Bourbon Glaze (savory and great on fish or shrimp)
Ginger Scallion Sauce (chunky, fresh tasting, perfect with fish, boiled crab or clams)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 6-8 garlic cloves
- 1 cup sweet amber lager or ale* (substitute with coke)
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp Old Bay seasoning (or Cajun seasoning)
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 2 tsp dried oregano (or parsley)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1 lemon, small, juice of
- 1/2 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic. Set aside.
In a saucepan over medium-low heat melt half the butter and saute the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, saute for another 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.
Add the beer while stiring, allow to simmer until the beer reduces by half. If necessary lower the heat a bit, do not boil the mixture.
Add the brown sugar, spices and lemon juice. Stir, then add the chicken broth.
Simmer until the chicken broth reduces by half and add the remaining butter, cut into pieces.
Once the butter is incorporated, give the sauce a good final stir and remove from the heat. Serve in small bowls alongside seafood boil spread or in individual ramekins for dipping peel'n'eat shrimp etc.
OPTIONAL: If you want a homogenous consistency either use a hand-held blender to smooth the sauce or pour the whole thing in a stand-up blender and give it a few pulses until satisfied. Be mindful of the fact that the sauce is hot.
*See the body of the post for style ideas. It is important that the beer is malt forward with minimal to no hops bitterness. A light lager is acceptable too but will not bring about as much flavor.
The seasoning mix below is recommended in case you want to make the Blove sauce, see the post for explanation.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 277Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 545mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 1g