How to Build a Seafood Tower

This spread of chilled seafood with condiments will make any occasion special—without tons of work.

Seafood Tower

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Victoria Granof / Prop Styling by Karin Olsen

Whether you opt for the multi-tiered classic preparation for New Year’s Eve or decide to use an accessible everyday sheet pan for a weekday date night, an extravagant spread of chilled seafood with condiments will make any occasion special. And it doesn’t have to be tons of work. The trick? Get the highest quality seafood that needs little preparation and put most of your effort towards preparing next-level condiments that can be made ahead. From oysters with yuzu kosho mignonette to lobster tails with green goddess aioli, we’ve got you covered with delicious recipes, pro tips, and equipment and retailer recommendations.­

Seafood Platters

Building an epic spread requires lots of surface area. You can go tall, with a classic two- or three-level tower, or wide with a paella pan, or baking sheet. Line the bottom of your chosen vessel with a kitchen towel to absorb excess water, pile on crushed ice, and arrange the seafood and accouterments on top. 

Multi-Level Tower

Two and three-level towers are great for gaining lots of surface area without sacrificing too much space on the table. Their small footprint and dramatic presentation make them worth owning. Be sure to order the trays and the stands together if you plan to go vertical. (From $75)

2-Tier Tower

3-Tier Tower

Large Paella Pan

The most creative substitute for classic seafood towers, these dual-handled beauties make it easy to carry your feast from the kitchen to the table. Look for a pan with a deep design, which neatly hugs ice, seafood, and condiments, such as Made In's carbon steel Paella Pan ($99).

Baking Sheet

A rimmed half baking sheet has space for your seafood, condiments, and garnishes. You can enlist an everyday baking sheet or bust out a Goldtouch Pro Half Sheet pan, which has a golden nonstick finish. ($35)

Seafood Tools to Use

These handy kitchen tools make preparing seafood and setting up your seafood tower a breeze.

Ice Bag and Mallet

To expertly and efficiently crush ice at home, get a Viski Lewis Ice Bag and Mallet. The bag also absorbs excess water. ($25)

Oyster Knife

Make prep easy with a Victorinox Oyster Knife. It’s slip-resistant and compact, a staple in my knife collection that will have you shucking like a pro. ($33)

Cut-Resistant Gloves

When shucking, cut-resistant gloves or a thick towel to shield your wrist is recommended. ($20)

Small Scissors

Reach for a pair of Joyce Chen Scissors for shrimp. These tiny shears have narrow tips, which make deveining shell-on shrimp a breeze. ($29)

Where to Buy Fresh Seafood

The most important part of your spread is the seafood itself. Variety and quality are the name of the game here, so seek out an assortment of top-shelf ingredients from your local fishmonger, or look to one of these excellent mail-order retailers. 

The Lobster Shop 

The Lobster Shop has some of the best Jonah crab available on the internet. It’s fresh and sweet and arrives shell-free. Plus, their Maine lobster tails come in two sizes and are ideal for any seafood spread, and their shipping is carbon-neutral. 

Fulton Fish Market

Since 1822, Fulton Fish Market has been supplying hand-selected, quality seafood to New York City and surrounding areas. They have been shipping nationwide since 2015 and have one of the largest selections of fresh seafood in the country.

Island Creek Oysters

For east coast oysters, scallops, and clams, Island Creek Oysters reign supreme. In addition to selling their own products, they often partner with small farms from the surrounding areas to help sell and distribute their harvests. Read about each of the oysters and their farmers on their website. 

Seafood Tower

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Victoria Granof / Prop Styling by Karin Olsen

Seafood Tower Recipes to Try Now

Pairing the Right Wine with Your Seafood

A dry, vibrant Champagne like the Gaston Chiquet Tradition Brut is a great pairing for this festive seafood tower.

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