Learn how to make Seafood Boil Sauce from scratch! It’s a rich and layered butter sauce that’s perfect for Southern seafood boils and for sprucing up your usual weeknight dinner. Easy to make in 20 minutes!
PS – Click here for my favorite Seafood Boil recipe!
This luxurious layered sauce is easy to make with plenty of butter and a short list of everyday ingredients. You won’t regret the 20 minutes of hands-on time it takes to put this easy seafood sauce together; the restaurant-quality flavors are to die for and elevate all kinds of meals.
Seafood boil sauce is particularly perfect for pouring over a heap of boiled seafood or used as a dipping sauce with boiled shrimp, baked salmon, and so much more. It’s the secret to next-level seafood recipes!
What is seafood boil sauce?
Seafood boil sauce is a butter sauce infused with layers of savory, salty, smoky, warm, and moderately spicy flavors. This recipe gets its complexity from simple aromatics and a vibrant blend of seafood seasonings, all of which you may have in your pantry already.
- Butter – As the base of this sauce, you’ll need a generous amount of butter. I prefer salted butter but unsalted works if you want to lower the sodium in the recipe.
- Shallot and garlic cloves – These simple aromatics elevate the savory tastes and aromas. If you don’t have shallots, you can use minced red onion or sweet onion instead.
- Old Bay – This is a staple crab and seafood seasoning blend made with celery salt, red and black pepper, and paprika. In addition to seafood, it’s delicious on chicken wings, egg salad, white barbecue sauce, tomato soup, and more.
- Dry spices – You’ll find warm and savory seasonings in this Southern sauce, like smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, onion powder, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Head to the Variations section for more ideas on how to customize the spices to find your perfect flavor.
- Brown sugar – The sugar balances the salty, smoky, and savory spices.
- Chicken stock or seafood stock – You need this for a smooth, pourable, and savory sauce.
- Lemon – As with any good fish and seafood sauce, fresh lemon juice and zest are a must! The acidity helps balance every layer of flavor.
- Fresh parsley
How to make seafood boil sauce
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the shallots in the pan until softened, then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Stir in the Old Bay, brown sugar, and the remaining seasonings. Let them cook for a few minutes to bring out their hidden flavors.
Pour in the stock. Bring it up to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it simmer gently until the sauce thickens.
Take the skillet off of the heat and stir in the lemon juice, zest, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then enjoy.
This seafood boil sauce recipe is very flexible, making it easy to find your perfect flavor variation. These ideas will help get you started:
- Hot and spicy – A dash of Louisiana hot sauce, extra red pepper flakes, chili powder, or cayenne, or sauteed chili peppers will give the sauce a nice kick.
- Cajun/Creole – Substitute Old Bay with Cajun or Creole seasoning for a Louisiana-style spin. This variation is particularly perfect when served with traditional Louisiana crawfish boils.
- Lemon pepper – Substitute Old Bay with lemon pepper seasoning if you’re sensitive to spicy foods.
The most common way to use this sauce is to pour it over a Southern seafood boil. This impressive meal combines boiled crab legs, shrimp, mussels, clams, crawfish, lobster tails, red potatoes, corn, onion, and andouille sausage before it’s all doused in butter sauce and fresh herbs.
That’s not all. This sauce comes with plenty of other uses, such as:
- A dipping sauce for chicken breasts, pork chops, shrimp, poached fish, and scrambled eggs.
- Drizzle it over crispy smashed potatoes, baked potatoes, roasted broccoli, and corn-on-the-cob.
- Stir the sauce into rice, grits, polenta, or pasta.
And no matter how you use this crab boil sauce, make sure to have thick, crusty bread handy to soak up every drop.
The easiest way to thicken seafood boil sauce is to let it simmer for a few minutes longer or until the stock reduces to your liking. If it becomes too thick, add more stock to thin it out.
You can also combine a teaspoon of cornstarch with equal parts water to make a slurry. Stir the slurry into the seafood sauce until thickened.
You can easily make this sauce dairy free by using vegan butter instead of regular butter. Light-tasting olive oil is also an option, though the flavor won’t be quite the same.
Storing and reheating
To store: If you have leftover sauce, keep it in a glass jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To reheat: When you’re ready to use it again, reheat the sauce in a saucepan over low heat until the butter is remelted. You can also reheat it in the microwave in 15 to 20-second increments, gently stirring in between, until warm.
More seafood sauce recipes
Did you make this seafood sauce?
If you loved this seafood butter sauce, I would appreciate it if you gave it a starred review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
PS – Click here for my favorite Seafood Boil recipe!
Seafood Boil Sauce Recipe
- 1 cup salted butter
- 1 shallot (minced)
- 5 cloves garlic (minced (about 2 Tablespoons))
- 2 Tablespoons old bay seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ cup chicken stock ( or shellfish stock)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley (minced)
- Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the shallots, and cook 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer, until fragrant.
- Add the old bay, brown sugar, paprika, pepper flakes, onion powder, chili powder, and cayenne. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat, and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Pour the sauce over your favorite seafood boil or serve it as a dipping sauce.