Food & Drink

At-Home Shrimp Boil

Serves 4

A scaled-down version of a seafood party spread

Photo: Amber Wilson

“This is a nod to the grand outdoor boils I remember as a child,” says Amber Wilson, who grew up in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The Nashville-based writer and photographer’s new cookbook, For the Love of the South: Recipes and Stories from My Southern Kitchen is a love letter to her Louisiana childhood, current life in Nashville, and all the dishes she makes—and photographs elegantly—for her family.

Amber Wilson

For this recipe, crawfish can be substituted for shrimp, and Wilson recommends serving the boil with small condiment bowls of white vinegar and black pepper. “Vinegar helps balance out the natural saltiness in seafood,” she says.

Amber Wilson



    • ½ cup sunflower oil

    • 2 tbsp. cayenne pepper

    • ¼ cup kosher salt

    • 4 bay leaves

    • 1 tbsp. mustard seeds

    • 2 tbsp. coriander seeds

    • 1 tbsp. allspice berries

    • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns

    • 1 head garlic, halved through the equator

    • Juice of 1 lemon

    • 1 lb. small Yukon Gold potatoes

    • 4 ears corn, husked and halved crosswise

    • 2 lbs. head-on shrimp


  1. In a bowl, blend the oil, cayenne pepper, and ½ cup water with a whisk or an immersion blender. Pour into a large stockpot along with 1 gallon water and all ingredients except shrimp. Cover and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. (The water needs to boil as aggressively as you would boil water to cook pasta.)

  2. Once the potatoes are fork-tender, 5 to 8 minutes, add the shrimp, cover, and bring back to a boil. After the water comes back to a boil, cook the shrimp for 3 minutes. Take the pot off the heat and allow everything to sit in the hot poaching liquid until the shrimp are cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes.

  3. Drain and serve piping hot.

Excerpted from the book: FOR THE LOVE OF THE SOUTH by Amber Wilson. Copyright 2018 by Amber Wilson. Reprinted courtesy of Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.