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We've mapped out two ways to approach a backyard boil this summer: One is easy and economical, and the other is an all-out entertaining spread. Both result in a delicious hands-on meal to remember.

Once you've chosen your approach, dig out a large stock pot, get the barbecue ready, and set the stage for a little alfresco fun! With the information below, you can build the base of the boil with spices and readily available ingredients like onions and potatoes. Then, it's all in the flavour profile: Learn how to build it out with your choice of extra ingredients. Add smoked sausage, corn, and shrimp and dig in-or dive in deeper and learn how to make a seafood boil with lobster, crab, mussels, and more.

Simple shrimp boil

Following this easy shrimp boil recipe with sausage, potatoes, and corn has dinner ready in under an hour, serving eight, with leftovers!

Pump up the flavour

Want to level up your shrimp boil a little? Fine-tune the recipe with a variety of tasty optional add-ins and add-ons sure to have them licking their fingers!

  1. Add extra colour and appetite appeal by swapping in red onions for regular cooking onions, and 1 bag small red fingerling potatoes or small red potatoes (1 lb/454 g) for yellow-fleshed potatoes. Reduce the corn to 3 cobs, quartered, before adding to the pot.
  2. Don't want to stop there? Boost the boil by adding ¼ cup (60 mL) prepared Cajun seasoning to the base recipe's spice bundle. It will infuse the broth, potatoes, corn, and seafood with loads of flavour.
  3. You can swap the sausage, too. For a smokier flavour, try adding 226 g (½ lb) g of kielbasa sausage, quartered, or three Compliments Smoked Sausages, cut into thirds, in lieu of the Compliments Hot Italian Sausages called for in the original recipe.

Elevated seafood boil

For the all-in seafood boil, add crab legs and lobster, too! Once the base ingredients are cooked and set aside, cook seafood in the broth, following the instructions (and the order) below.

Lobster and crab

It's easy to make a seafood boil with lobster. Add 2 smaller lobsters (450 g to 675 g / 1 to 1½ lb each) and frozen king crab claws (454 g / 1.1 lb) to the pot once you've cooked and removed the onions, potatoes, corn, and sausage to a platter. Cover seafood and let stand for 10 min. Remove from pot and add to table spread.

Clams and mussels

Add scrubbed littleneck clams or mussels (454 g / 1 lb); let stand for 5 min. Remove with tongs to platter. Note: Before cooking, discard any mussels or clams that don't close when tapped. Mussels or clams that remain closed after cooking should be thrown away, too; they're not safe to eat.

Shrimp

Add shrimp and let stand until cooked through, about 5 min. Remove to platter.

Grilled fish

The beauty of this spread is it all gets laid out on a long table covered in newspaper for easy sharing around the table. So, if you'd like to add a few more extras to the final spread-like grilled fish-go ahead!

While the seafood boil bubbles away in the stock pot, drizzle olive oil over fish (try Compliments Naturally Simple Wild Pacific Pink Salmon Skin-On Fillets or Wild Sole Fillets) and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Place over greased clean grill and cook uncovered until slightly charred and releases easily from the grate, 7 to 9 min. Flip and grill until flesh is white or flakes easily when pierced, 5 to 7 min.

Add some sauce

No matter which seafood boil you gather around the table to eat, a buttery spiced sauce is key. Whip up this flavourful Cajun Garlic Butter Sauce to drizzle over the entire spread before digging in!

Cajun Garlic Butter Sauce

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 1 cup (250 mL) salted butter, ¼ cup (60 mL) lemon juice, 3 tbsp (45 mL) Louisiana hot sauce, 2 tbsp (30 mL) minced garlic, 1 tbsp (15 mL) smoked paprika and 2 tsp (10 mL) Cajun seasoning; simmer for 5 min. Dip seafood and vegetables into butter sauce or pour over your seafood boil just before serving.