How to Build the Perfect Seafood Tower

Nothing says summer like kicking back with a seafood tower! This classic raw bar presentation can be sized for gatherings both large and small, and it’s easy to pull together in your own home.

Here’s how to build the best seafood tower with our freshest selection of shellfish.

Make the tower:

For the most restaurant-worthy presentation, you can buy a tiered metal tower to hold your ice and shellfish. However, any tiered dessert stand or appetizer stand can also fit most shellfish for your raw bar assortment, as long as each tier has raised rims to keep the ice in place.

You can also make your own seafood tower with bowls. For the base of the tower, use a large, shallow bowl such as a pasta serving dish. Place a bar towel in the bottom of the bowl. This will help soak up the water as the ice melts and stop your seafood from swimming around in the slurry.

Nest a smaller shallow bowl or cake stand (with rimmed edge) in the center and fill that with ice to make a second tier.

You can either nest a very small bowl inside of that to hold dishes of condiments like cocktail sauce, mignonette, and lemon wedges, or present them on a separate serving platter.

Don’t forget other essential serving accoutrements like cocktail forks, small plates, napkins, and a bowl for shells.

Now it’s time to fill your tower with seafood!

The best shellfish for your raw bar

The perfect seafood tower has a mix of raw and cooked shellfish to give you a range of delicate, fresh flavors. Try this classic lineup and you can’t go wrong.

Oysters

What would a raw bar be without them? For the best range, offer a choice of both Atlantic oysters and Pacific oysters—at least one variety from each coast.

Clams

Littleneck clams or cherrystone clams are the traditional choice for a raw bar presentation. They’re small enough to enjoy on their own with a delicate texture and slightly sweet flavor. But if you prefer your clams steamed, by all means, do so!

Shrimp

Look for jumbo shrimp (about 16-20 shrimp per pound) or make it easy on yourself with pre-peeled and cooked shrimp, or try sweet Gulf shrimp. Peel and devein, leaving the tail on for serving.

Crab

Crab legs and claws are always a fantastic choice, whether you’re choosing snow crab or king crab. Estimate about 1 leg per person, or take the guesswork out of your prep with a Crab and Oyster Combo Box.

Lobster

Small lobster tails are a manageable size for seafood towers and can be divided into halves for easier sharing. Or steam a whole lobster in advance and enjoy both the tail and claw meat as part of your seafood tower.

And for a luxurious finishing touch—why not a jar of caviar?

Put it all together:

Steam the shrimp, crab, and lobster, and chill up to 1 day in advance of serving.

Shuck the clams and oysters just before serving to enjoy them at their peak of freshness.