If you’re looking for an inspired seafood dinner that is easy to make and incredibly flavorful, this Cajun seafood boil in a bag recipe is the perfect solution. This low country boil, inspired by the flavors of New Orleans, features snow crab legs, shrimp, smoked sausage, boiled eggs, corn on the cob and red potatoes are seasoned to perfection and baked together in one bag in the oven and served with a rich and zesty garlic butter sauce for dipping.
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Join me in celebrating Juneteenth with more than 30 other Black culinary creators. Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day, signifying the final emancipation of those enslaved in the US announced in 1865. This year, we are celebrating “Freedom Day” by offering a delightful selection of mains, sides, desserts, and refreshing drinks that are perfect for backyard barbecues and summer gatherings with friends and family.
Join us in honoring the legacy of progress and freedom by cooking and sharing these recipes. Additionally, you can easily follow each participant by using the hashtag #JuneteenthCookout2023 on Instagram. You can find a list of all recipes from the 2023 Juneteenth Virtual Potluck on the Eat the Culture website.
Why Love This Recipe
This restaurant quality seafood dish is truly a unique take on a traditional seafood boil if you’re wanting to switch it up and make something special that everyone will love.
If you have picky eaters in your family then make this dish fun and customizable by letting everyone build their own bag (BYOB)! Not only is this meal more flavorful than a large pot seafood boil but it’s also extremely simple to prepare – just drop everything into a single bag, bake and voila – dinner is ready! And did I mention the easy cleanup?!?
And let’s not forget how expensive seafood boils can be when ordering takeout. I promise if you make this boil the only difference you’ll notice is the extra change in your pocket. Well, it’ll probably taste better too!
What is a seafood boil?
A seafood boil is traditionally a one pot dish featuring a variety of ingredients such as shrimp, crab, lobster tails, clams, mussels and other fresh shellfish cooked together with spices, vegetables and other seasonings.
Seafood boils are especially popular in coastal regions where fresh seafood is bountiful. The process begins by bringing the pot of liquid to a rolling boil, adding the seafood in layers according to recommended cooking times so that each ingredient cooks evenly. After the desired length of time, the seafood is removed from the heat and served immediately with accompaniments such as lemon and butter sauce.
What type of bag should I use to make the seafood boil?
The best type of oven bag to use for making a seafood boil would be a heavy-duty turkey-sized oven bag. This plastic bag is designed to withstand high temperatures, up to 400°F, and is made of strong, high-quality material that can hold the weight and moisture of a seafood boil. I use the Reynolds oven bags that are made to bake whole turkeys. If you’d like to do a Build Your Own Bag, be sure to get an oven bag for each person.
What Dipping Sauce Should I Use with this Cajun Seafood Boil?
You can simply use clarified butter as your dipping sauce but I suggest going for something with a bit more flavor. For this seafood boil, I created a copycat recipe for BlovesLife’s Smackalicious Seafood Boil Sauce. Its rich and zesty flavor will add a special touch to your dish.
Ingredients Needed for a Seafood Boil in Bag
See recipe card for exact measurements.
- Frozen or Fresh Crab Legs – I went with snow crabs this time around because they were on sale. My family’s favorite is King Crab Legs but I all know how expensive they can be.
- Frozen or Fresh Shrimp – Large (16-20) shrimp. Peeled and deveined. Leaving the shell on is up to you.
- Vegetable Base – For boiling the potatoes and corn. I use the base by Better Than Bouillon. So much flavor! You can also use the roasted chicken base if desired. I went with the veggie base because one of my taste testers (my sister!) is pescatarian.
- Sweet Corn: I think fresh sweet corn on the cob is essential when making seafood boils. They add a delicious sweetness and texture to the dish.
- Whole Eggs: I add eggs as an extra treat! I parboil them first and then they’ll finish cooking in the oven bag alongside the seafood.
- Andouille Sausage: This spicy sausage is a staple in Cajun cuisine and adds a flavorful kick that complements the other components.
- Red Potatoes: Any waxy potato such as yukon gold will do.
- Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds a brightness to the seafood boil.
- Old Bay Seasoning: A classic blend of herbs and spices that is a mainstay when boiling up seafood!
- Cajun Seasoning: Store-bought or homemade. I love the blend by Tony Chachere’s. Another popular option is the Slap Ya Mama blend.
- Paprika: Adds a mild and slightly sweet flavor plus that vibrant color I all love in a seafood boil
- Fresh Parsley: Fresh parsley is used for both baking and garnishing the seafood boil. Whoever told you parsley has no flavor lied to you. It adds a fresh and herbaceous taste and brightens up the overall presentation.
- Garlic Cloves: Use fresh if you can. If not, feel free to use jarred garlice or garlic paste.
- Lots fo Butter!: Adds richness and enhances the flavors of everything!
- Bay Leaves: These aromatic leaves add a subtle herbal flavor. You won’t know that it’s there but you’ll notice when it’s missing.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Optional for an additional spicy kick.
- Garlic Butter Sauce: This zesty sauce is for your dipping all of your seafood and vegies. Get the recipe here.
How to Make a Seafood Boil in a Bag
Preheat oven to 375 F. Rinse potatoes and crab legs. Devein shrimp if needed. Peel the shell if desired.
Parboil the Veggies: In a large pot or Dutch oven with 12 cups of water and vegetable base bouillon, boil potatoes for 15 minutes. Add ears of corn to the boiling water. Continue boiling until potatoes are fork tender, about ten more minutes.
Boil the Eggs: Fill a saucepan a quarter of the way with cold water. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Add more water so that the eggs are covered by at least two inches of water. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water to cool. Deshell once cooled.
Brown the Sausage: Slice andouille sausage in 1/2″ – 1″ pieces diagonally. In a skillet over medium-high heat, add sliced sausage and cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Season the Crab Legs: Spread softened butter over the body of each crab leg. Season with old bay over the butter.
Fill the Bag: Place bag in a large bowl to stabilize while filling. To the bag add corn, potatoes, eggs, crab legs (claws pointing center so the bag doesn’t pierce), raw shrimp and sausage. Add bay leaves, garlic cloves, lemon juice, melted butter, old bay, creole seasoning and paprika.
Bake the Seafood: Tie a knot and shake bag to distribute seasoning. Place on a sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes. Be sure the bag does not touch the top of the oven. It make stick and burn.
Serve: Remove baking sheet from oven and open up the bag to let out the steam. Place contents on a dish before serving. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges and Bloveslife Smackalicious sauce.
What to Serve with a Seafood Boil Bag
A seafood boil is best served with a selection of simple side dishes that complement the flavors in the dish, such as coleslaw, potato salad and crusty garlic bread. In addition to the butter sauce, you can also serve with tartar sauce, hot sauce or cocktail sauce for dipping. For drinks, iced tea or lemonade are great options that pair nicely with a seafood boil bag.
See my comprehensive guide on how to reheat your leftover seafood boils.
Coastal Cuisine (Gullah, Cajun, and Creole) 2023 Juneteenth Virtual Cookout
Gullah, Cajun, and Creole cuisines highlight the bounty of coastal food central to Juneteenth since its inception in the Gulf Coast city of Galveston, TX, in 1865. Southern Crab Beignets with Remoulade Sauce, Cajun Seafood Boil, and cooling Homemade Peaches and Cream Popsicles are among the recipes inspired by the unique culinary traditions rooted in the coastal regions of the Gulf States.
- Gimme From Scratch- Southern Crab Beignets with Remoulade Sauce
- Meiko And The Dish – Cajun Chicken Wing & Turkey Neck Boil (Seafoodless)
- Gimme From Scratch – Cajun Seafood Boil
- Kenneth Temple – Old Fashion Salmon Patties with Homemade Tartar Sauce
- Lenox Bakery – Banana Pudding Pound Cake
- Coined Cuisine – Homemade Peaches & Cream Popsicles
- Sims Home Kitchen – Non-Alcoholic Tropical Pineapple Drink
You can find a list of all recipes from the 2023 Juneteenth Virtual Potluck on the Eat the Culture website.
Seafood Boil in Bag Benefits in Comparison to Traditional Seafood Boils
Easier to Prepare: When it comes to seafood boils, this recipe offers a lot of advantages over a regular seafood boil. For starters, it is much easier to prepare. There is no need for the tedious process of boiling the shellfish and other ingredients in a large stockpot of heavily salted water for hours. Instead, all of the ingredients can be cooked together in an oven bag. This makes it easier on both the cook and the clean up crew as well!
More Flavor: The flavors also come out much better when cooking with this recipe. The combination of flavors from all of the different ingredients enhances each component without making any one ingredient overpowering or bland. Additionally, because all of the components are cooked together, they don’t have to compete with each other for flavor. This ensures that your dish will turn out with a lot of flavor and balanced every time.
Healthier: Finally, this recipe offers health benefits over traditional seafood boils as well. The cooking process helps preserve more vitamins and minerals than longer boiling times do, ensuring that you get more nutrition along with deliciousness!
Besides snow crab and shrimp what else can I add to my seafood boil?
- Crawfish: Crawfish (also known as crayfish or crawdads) are small crustaceans similar to mini lobsters.
- Lobster: A classic seafood choice for boils. Include lobster tails in your boil for a luxurious addition.
- Mussels: This shellfish has rich and slightly sweet flavor. They can be added to the boil and will soak up all of the delicious seasonings.
- Other Crab legs: Besides snow crab, you can add other types of crab legs, such as king crab (my fave!) or Dungeness crab. These have slightly different flavors and textures but they’re all delish.
- Scallops: Scallops are tender and delicate seafood that can be a delightful addition to your boil. They cook quickly, so be sure not to overcook them.
So there you have it: a delicious and easy Cajun seafood boil recipe that is an impressive meal that is sure to be a hit! This unique twist on the traditional seafood boil provides an enjoyable experience for all, offering lots of flavor with minimal cooking time. Best of all, this dish can be customized to suit everyone’s tastes – so don’t hesitate to experiment and tweak things here and there. All in all, when it comes to an easy recipe and delicious meal, this seafood boil in a bag recipe is an absolute winner! Try it out next chance you get – I guarantee you won’t regret it!
More Cajun Inspired Recipes
- Crab Beignets with Remoulade Sauce
- Creamy Cajun Shrimp, Crab and Eggplant Pasta
- Smoked Turkey, Andouille and Kale Pasta
Cajun Seafood Boil in a Bag
- 2 lbs snow crab legs
- 1 lb large shrimp, deveined, 16-20
- 8 ears corn
- 8 whole eggs
- 16 oz smoked andouille sausage
- 8 small red potatoes, halved
- 2-4 oven bags
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tbsp old bay seasoning
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, halved
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 bay leaves
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Rinse potatoes and crab legs. Devein shrimp. Peel shrimp if desired.
- In large pot with 12 cups of water and vegetable base bouillon, boil potatoes for 15 minutes. Add corn. Continue boiling until potatoes are fork tender, about ten more minutes.
- Fill a saucepan a quarter of the way with cold water. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of the saucepan. Add more water so that the eggs are covered by at least two inches of water. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for 7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a blow of ice water to cool. Deshell once cooled.
- Slice andouille sausage in 1/2″ – 1″ pieces diagonally. In a skillet over medium-high heat, add sliced sausage and cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- Spread softened butter over the body of each crab leg. Season with old bay over the butter.
- Place bag in a large bowl to stabilize while filling. To the bag add corn, potatoes, eggs, crab legs (claws pointing center), raw shrimp and sausage. Add halved bay leaves, garlic cloves, lemon juice, melted butter, old bay, creole seasoning and paprika.
- Tie a knot and shake bag to distribute seasoning. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
- Open up the bag to let out the steam. Place contents on a dish before serving. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, lemon wedges and serve with Bloveslife Smackilicious butter sauce. Link to butter sauce recipe in notes.