What Is Frogmore Stew and How Do You Make It At Home?

There’s more to the Lowcountry staple than meets the eye.  

Few dishes scream "Lowcountry" quite as loudly as Frogmore stew, the traditional seafood boil that's associated with South Carolina. Here's everything you need to know about the Southern staple, including its rich history and how to make it at home:

What Is Frogmore Stew?

SC Frogmore Stew
SC Frogmore Stew | Photo by Kim's Cooking Now.

Frogmore stew (also known as Lowcountry boil, Beaufort stew, and tidewater stew) is a seasoned medley of boiled corn, shrimp, sausage, and potatoes. It's often cooked in beer. Its name is somewhat deceptive: There are no amphibians involved in the making of Frogmore stew and the ingredients are drained before serving, so it's not really a stew at all.

This dish originated in the Lowcountry, which is a geographic and cultural region that stretches along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia. It's similar to a Louisiana-style seafood boil in a lot of ways, but it is generally milder.

Traditionally, Frogmore stew is drained from its cooking liquid and served on a newspaper-covered table.

Frogmore Stew History

Instant Pot® Low Country Boil on a white plate
Soup Loving Nicole

There are a number of origin stories for Frogmore stew. The one thing that most of them have in common? St. Helena Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina.

The island is rich in Lowcountry character and is considered an epicenter of African American Gullah culture.

"Frogmore stew is only one of many examples of Gullah life surviving on St. Helena," according to a 1986 article in The New York Times by George McMillan.

The area surrounding Frogmore Plantation on the island was referred to as "Frogmore" until the town lost its post office in 1988.

People have been making variations of the dish for ages, but Richard Gay, one of the owners of Gay Fish Company, may have coined the term "Frogmore stew" in the 1960s.

"When it comes to Frogmore stew, every man is his own best chef," McMillan wrote. "But all recipes have hot sausage, corn and shrimp in whatever amounts the cook chooses, and it doesn't seem to matter to those who eat it. The common denominator of Frogmore stew seems to be: 'There's never any left.'"

What Sides to Serve With Frogmore Stew

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread on a baking rack

Because of the nature of Frogmore stew, you don't really need to prepare any accompanying side dishes. It's a whole meal in and of itself.

If you must serve more than one dish, though, consider throwing together a traditional slaw or baking some cornbread (our top-rated Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread recipe is never a bad idea).

How to Make Frogmore Stew

frogmore stew
Mathew McFarlane

There are only five requirements for an impressive Frogmore stew: small potatoes (New Red Potatoes are the traditional choice), fresh shrimp, corn, sausage, and seasonings (most modern recipes call for Old Bay). The ingredients are boiled in a large stockpot, drained, and served immediately.

Looking for a good, basic recipe to add to your repertoire? The Allrecipes community can't get enough of Frogmore Stew, submitted by home cook Shirley.

Get the recipe: Frogmore Stew

"Shirley, thanks for letting the rest of the world in on our little secret," says 5-star reviewer

MayorDW. "I'm a native South Carolinian and have been making this for special friends and special occasions for 30 years. I prefer to add two large onions and two bottles of beer at the beginning and have been known to throw in a few blue crabs. This is best served outdoors, along with plenty of napkins and adult beverages!"

Low-Country Shrimp Boil
NRedmond/Getty Imagese


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