Beaufort South Carolina is warm in every way. The climate is perfect, and our people are welcoming. And we sure know how to cook! Visitors look forward to tasting our popular seafood offerings, real southern barbecue, and divine desserts.
If this is your first trip to Beaufort, let us tempt you with some regional dishes made with local home grown ingredients. You can’t go wrong with any of these delights, but you’re sure to find your favorites in no time.
We’ve even thrown in a recipe so you can cook up a feast at home. It won’t be quite the same unless you live here and can get yourself some fresh caught fish, crab, or shrimp, but hey, you can try.
Beaufort and the surrounding area are dedicated to sustainable locally caught seafood. The Atlantic east coast waters are rich with a variety of shrimp, crawfish, crab, oysters and finned fish of every kind and folks down here have been finding delightful ways of preparing nature’s gifts for over a century.
And the simpler the dish, the more delicious:
No culinary tour would be complete without an introduction to Beaufort Stew. Also called Lowcountry Boil or Frogmore Stew, this meal is a winner and best served piled onto a wad of newspaper - and outside on a picnic table. It’s messy!
As with most traditional recipes, there are variations - gourmet style, country style, mom’s home-cooking style - but any way you make it this stew has some essential, must-have ingredients. Here is the simplest version.
For each person, you'll need:
- A big pot of water or beer and water, boiling.
- 1 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning. It is a vital ingredient here. There are recipes for making your own, but if you want easy peasy and guaranteed good, grab a can of this. A big can if you’re feeding a crowd.
- 2-5 oz. of sausage - spicy (more or less) and smoked - kielbasa or Andouille works well. Cut your sausage into chunks about half a thumb-length thick.
- 1 and ½ ears of freshly shucked corn. Cut or break the ears into three pieces.
- 2 whole, unpeeled, small red potatoes. Or more if you love potatoes. Cut up white or yellow skinned potatoes are fine too, but the little red ones boil up quickly, taste great, keep their shape, and look really pretty in the dish.
- 12 oz. of shrimp, big ones, freshly caught and raw with the shell on.
How to prepare the stew:
- Put on a big pot half full of water to boil. You can mix half beer and half water or any combination of beer and water or even just water is fine.
- Toss in the Old Bay Seasoning and the sausage. Boil that for about ten minutes and
- Add the corn and potatoes. Cook another ten minutes.
- Add the shrimp and let it boil until the shrimp shells turn red. This won’t take long, just a few minutes. Don’t overcook the shrimp.
Strain the liquid off the stew right away, discard it and dump the whole mess of corn, shrimp, potatoes and sausage onto the newspapers in the middle of the table. If you're all formal-like, you can ladle the stew into big bowls, but it's more fun the other way.
Put out lots of condiments: shrimp cocktail sauce, mustard, pickles, heck, even ketchup, and make sure there is a big pan of fresh hot cornbread on the side.
You’ll need bowls for the cobs and shrimp shells and LOTS of napkins.
Cold beer, sweet (iced) tea or cold lemonade goes with this feast.
Dessert. There has to be dessert.
We love peaches - and there is nothing quite like a big juicy peach that comes right from the tree.
Contrary to what most people believe, South Carolina produces more peaches than any other Southern state.
If it’s summer peach season in Beaufort, serve up a bowl of fresh picked juicy sweet peaches just as they are.
Or you could make peach cobbler. Your guests will love peach cobbler, so it’s worth the effort. Little ice cream on the side? Whipped cream?
Or pecan pie? Or chocolate silk pie? Or apple pie? We love pie!
More about seafood:
If you’re down this way in April, don’t miss the soft shell crabs. These delicacies are available for a short period when the famous blue-shell crabs are molting. A soft shell crab is all of the crabmeat tastiness, with none of the shell. Fried or steamed, serve soft-shelled crabs on a bun with a side of coleslaw and fries. This is a real local specialty, and not to be missed.
Once the blue crab grows its shell, it is still a tasty crustacean and delicious in a crab boil.
From September through April, Beaufort has oysters! Roasted until they open then shucked and served with lemon, these succulent treats are harvested fresh off the shore. Fall through early spring is also the best time to enjoy clams and other local shellfish.
There are many varieties of finned fish in the Beaufort area; the local salt waterways are teeming with bass, sea trout, redfish, and snapper. Deep-fried, grilled, baked, breaded, stuffed, or poached in a tasty sauce, freshly caught fish is another Beaufort treat.
Barbecue, barbecue, barbecue!
Barbecue is a swoon-worthy way to cook up a side of pork or some ribs. Long, slow cooking for up to 18 hours over a wood fire gives a smoky, spicy, sweet and salty flavor with fall-apart succulent meat.
If you are a true barbecue aficionado, then you are in the right place! South Carolina invented the art of barbecue, and we practice it in Beaufort in its purest tradition and most diverse styles.
Hard not to feel hungry when you walk the neighborhoods and the aroma of barbecue is in the air.
And by the way, there’s a bunch of different barbecue sauce recipes - everyone has their favorite, and they are all a little different. Mentioning one or two is not going to work here because we are bound to offend someone by leaving out their special sauce. We can tell you though, that there are four main sauce types: light tomato, heavy tomato, vinegar and pepper, and mustard-based sauce. And that South Carolina is the only state to have all four!
You will have to try them all and find your own barbecue love.
A few other well-loved potables:
Yes, indeed, milk. Did you know that one of the favorite beverages in the Lowcountry is milk? You’ll see diners ordering up a glass of milk with breakfast, lunch, or even dinner. We love our milk.
We also love grits. Grits is corn meal cooked soft, and served as-is or fried. A staple of the south, it’s versatile, tasty, cheap and filling! Serve it with eggs and fried pork-back for breakfast and with shrimp or barbecue for lunch or dinner.
Southerners love fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes in a sandwich, in a salad, sliced and fried (green or red), or eaten out of hand - we enjoy those beauties with everything. And we grow our own.
The south has the best okra, collards, pimento cheese, buttermilk biscuits, fried chicken and the list goes on!
If your mouth is watering, we’ve got you. And we will set a place for you at the table!
Southern hospitality - we’re like that.
Take a tour:
During your visit to Beaufort, make the rounds of local eateries to experience all the traditional foods of the region. There are many good ones, but we aren’t playing favorites.
Beaufort has food festivals all year long. Visitors can try a little of everything at events like these:
We are looking forward to your visit, and to sharing our beautiful town and delicious cuisine. See you soon!