August 17, 2020



This easy New England Shrimp Boil with Mussels is a seafood lover and meat eater’s delight. With potatoes, onion, corn, Portuguese sausages, hot dogs, shrimp and mussels, it has it all. It is an easy one-pot meal that never disappoints!

New England Shrimp Boil with Mussels
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Having lived in central and eastern Massachusetts most of my life, summertime is synonymous with seafood. The tasty bounties from the sea is in abundance and fresh during this time. Lobster, shrimp, scallops, crabs...they’re all so good!! I load up on them as much as possible.

I have a seafood loving family. One dish we never tired of is a good New England shrimp boil. It’s one of the most delicious one-pot meal and it always satisfies. 

This recipe has the quintessential ingredients of a New England shrimp boil: Old Bay Seasoning, potato, corn, onion, sausages, hot dogs, and shrimp. It also has the addition of mussels, which my family loves. (I don’t eat mussels, but strangely enough, I like cooking with them.)

Certain areas of Southeastern Massachusetts are influenced heavily by Portuguese cuisine. My shrimp boil reflects that influence. For sausages, it always has to have Portuguese chourico (pronounced shoor-reese) and/or linguica. Kielbasa is also commonly used. I like to incorporate at least two of these sausages into all of my seafood boils.

New England Shrimp Boil with Mussels

If hot dog is an unexpected seafood boil ingredient to you, it’s not unusual around here. In my opinion, it’s not a proper boil if it doesn’t have hot dogs!

Shrimp boil is pretty easy to make in terms of method. Everything essentially goes into one pot to cook. The key is to add the ingredients in succession, with things that take the most time to cook added first to obtain perfect doneness. 

The cooking timeline, in the order of the longest to shortest amount of cooking time, are as follows:
  1. Water, seasoning, onion
  2. Potatoes
  3. Corn and sausages
  4. Mussels, hot dogs
  5. Shrimp
New England Shrimp Boil with Mussels

Recipe highlights:
  • Place water, seasoning, and onion in a 16-quart pot to boil.
  • Devein shrimp, if needed.
  • Debeard and rinse farm raised mussels. If using wild mussels, soak in water for 15-20 minutes first, then debeard and rinse. Discard dead mussels.
  • Prep and cut the remaining vegetables. Cut sausages into chunks. Set aside.
  • Add potatoes to water once it comes to a boil. Cook until they just begin to become tender (half cooked).
  • Add corn and sausages. Cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add mussels. Cook for 4 minutes or until opened.
  • Add shrimp. Turn off heat after two minutes. Leave covered for 5 minutes or until shrimp is pink and curled.
  • See recipe card for detailed instructions.

Variation for the boil:
If you are not a fan of mussels, use steamers or littlenecks instead. They too are done cooking when they open. Or, just double up on the quantity of shrimp.

What to serve this with?
Shrimp boil is whole meal in a pot. The only thing it needs is a few condiments. Serve with melted butter and reserved broth for dunking the mussels. I personally like to serve with cocktail sauce as well. Not only is it good for dipping shrimp, it is also good for hot dogs. So delish!! You’ve got to try it!

New England Shrimp Boil with Mussels

How to prep mussels prior to cooking:
Soak and scrub:
Farm raised mussels are usually clean and free of impurities. A rinse under running water is all they need. 

Wild mussels can be gritty and sandy and need more cleaning. Soak in cold water for 15 to 20 minutes. They will filter the water and expel the impurities during this time. Remove the mussels from the water and scrub shells clean using a scrub brush, then rinse. 

Some of the mussels might have a beard, which needs to be removed. Grab onto to beard. Tug and pull. Use a paper towel or a thin kitchen towel to help hold onto the beard if it slips out of your fingers easily.

If the beard does not come out easily, I slide the blade of a knife under the beard, hold the excess beard down with my thumb and give it a tug up while sliding it down toward the tip of the shell. If you do this, be careful not to cut yourself.

Raw mussels with beard on

Mussels being debeard with a knife

Discard Dead Mussels:
Prior to cooking, toss out mussels with broken shells. If a mussel is open, give it a tap. If it doesn’t  close, it is dead and need to be discarded.

    How to devein shell on shrimp?
    I like to buy butterflied, shell on shrimp when possible, but deveining shell on shrimp is not hard. Use a small pointed sharp knife, cut a slit down the back through the shell. Cut about 1/8” down the back into the flesh. Pull out the black vein using the tip of the knife or your fingers. 

    A small pair of pointed scissors could also be used to cut through the shell and flesh.

    Cook shrimp with shell on or off?
    This is a personal preference. Shrimp boils are a deliciously hands-on meal. Shelling the shrimp yourself at the table is part of the joyful tactile experience of this dish. Because of this, I like to leave the shell on. Shell on  shrimp also retain more flavor. If you prefer to shell them before cooking, that is fine too!

    New England Shrimp Boil with Mussels


    New England Shrimp Boil with Mussels


    4 quarts water
    2 bay leaves
    6 cloves garlic
    2 large onions, quartered
    2 pounds red or golden potatoes, quartered
    4 corns, halved
    1 pound chourico, cut into 2-inch chunks
    1 pound linguica or kielbasa, cut into 2-inch chunks
    2 pounds mussels 
    8 hot dogs
    2 pounds (16/20 count) shrimp shell-on extra jumbo shrimp, deveined
    1 1/2 cup melted butter for dipping
    cocktail sauce (optional), store bought or my recipe
    lemon wedges for garnishing, optional

    1. Bring water, Old Bay, bay leaves, garlic, and onion to a boil in a large 16-quart boiling pot on high heat with lid on. (See Note 1) 
    2. While water comes to a full boil, prep the remaining ingredients.
    3. If your shrimp is not deveined, cut through the shell on the back of the shrimp using a small pointed knife or scissors. Cut 1/8-inch deep through the flesh along the back. Lift up the black vein with the point of the knife or scissors and pull out.
    4. Throw out any mussel that is opened and does not close when tapped. It is dead. 
    5. Clean mussels: Farm raised mussels are typically clean and free of sand and grit. Rinse them under water just before cooking. Wild mussels require more cleaning. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes in cold water. Scrub shell with scrub brush. 
    6. Debeard mussels: see below for instructions. Rinse.
    7. Cut the vegetables and sausages.
    8. Once the water comes to a boil, add potatoes. Cover and boil until they just begin to soften (half cooked), about 10-15 minutes. Reduce heat if it boils to hard.
    9. Add corn and sausages. Cover and boil for 10 minutes.
    10. Add mussels and submerge into the stock. Add hot dogs. Cover and boil about 4 minutes or until mussels open up.
    11. Add shrimp, submerging into the stock. Cover. Turn off heat after 2 minutes. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes or until shrimp turns pink and curls into a “C” shape.
    12. Remove content with a slotted spoon or spider onto a serving platter. Garnish with lemon, optional. Discard bay leaves and garlic chunks.
    13. Ladle 1/2 cup of stock into a mug or dipping bowl for each person.
    14. Place 1/4 cup of melted butter in a small dipping bowl per person.
    15. To eat mussels, dip into stock then melted butter. 
    16. Serve cocktail sauce for dipping shrimp, optional.  
    Makes 6 servings.

    To Debeard Mussel:
    1. Method A—grab onto the beard, wiggle and pull. Use a paper towel or a kitchen towel to help grasp if you have difficulty holding onto the beard.
    2. Method B—slide a blade of a peering knife under the beard, hold excess beard down with thumb and tug up while sliding it down toward the tip of the shell. Do this with caution to prevent cutting yourself.

    Recipe Notes:
    1. If you don’t have a large enough pot, use two smaller ones. Or boil the mussels and shrimp after everything else is cooked. Transfer the onion, potatoes, corn and sausages to a serving platter. Cover to keep warm while mussels and shrimp cooks.
    2. For added flavor, replace equal parts of water with 1 or 2 cans of beer.
    3. Substitute mussels for steamers or littleneck, if prefer.
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      1. My original comment didn't go through, I've made some changes to see if it will now. I miss all the fresh and great seafood that was available in New England. Your boil looks absolutely delicious.

        1. Yay!! I’m so glad you are finally able to comment on this blog! Thank you for continuing to try, Karen. I’m so glad you like this boil. Seafood is one of the best thing about living here. I’m sorry you don’t get to enjoy it anymore. If I ever leave New England, I would miss it too!

      2. I would be right on board with this! Yum to everything!

        1. I’m so glad! I love dining with seafood loving people :)