How to Boil Crawfish
One Recipe for the Perfect Crawfish Boil
Boiling crawfish is a Cajun tradition, an event and social gathering not to be rushed, but to be enjoyed with family and friends!
Fill your chest with ice, beer and cold drinks, gather up newspaper to spread on the outdoor tables, setup the lawn chairs, and begin the "process".
Gather the Equipment & the Essentials
Large boiling pot, with lid
Wire basket insert for pot
Outdoor propane cooker
Propane tank (full ... you don't want to run out half-way through the boil)
Large tub or two ice chests
Stirring paddle or long-handle ladle
Plastic serving trays
Lots of paper towels
There are hundreds of recipes for boiling Louisiana crawfish, and thousands of variations.
We've used one "recipe" for years, for decades actually. We fine-tune it sometime depending on the taste buds of our guests, but it goes something like this...
Each person typically can eat about 3-6 pounds of boiled crawfish.
Most live crawfish come in mesh bags of about 35-50 pounds.
This recipe is for a smaller sack, about 28 pounds of crawfish. We find this size bag feeds a family of 6 comfortably, and leaves a few pounds of cleaned tails for freezing.
We split the bag into 2 equal batches, each about 14 pounds. If the batches are about the same size, it is easier to keep a uniform ratio of water-spices-crawfish. We also cook our corn and potatoes only in the first batch.
We use an average size boiling pot (40qts), which can boil about 14-15 pounds of crawfish and associated ingredients. Other pots are larger and can accommodate more crawfish. Make sure your butane tank is full, and that your butane burner has been safety-checked.
28 pounds live crawfish
4 boxes salt
10 bags of 3-oz Zatarain’s crawfish boil seasoning
2 4-oz bottle of Zatarains’ liquid crawfish seasoning
8 tablespoons red pepper
6 tablespoons black pepper
12 ears corn
12 large, or 24 small (preferred), potatoes
4 garlic cloves
4 white onions
Cocktail sauce for dipping crawfish tails
Butter for spreading on boiled potatoes and corn
IMPORTANT NOTE: When starting, remember it can take up to 45 minutes to get first water boiling. Pull up a chair, grab a cold one, and relax!
Let's Start Boiling
Step 1 – Measure the water level to make sure the water will cover all the crawfish when you put them in the pot later.
Add ½ bag crawfish into the boiling basket, add water to judge proper water level in pot (about half-way up) … move crawfish to a tub, or ice chest, for purging.
Step 2 – Season water, bring to boil
Season water in pot:
1 box salt
5 bags of 3-oz Zatarain’s crawfish boil seasoning
1 4-oz bottle of Zatarains’ liquid crawfish seasoning
4 tablespoons red pepper
3 tablespoons black pepper
2 garlic cloves
2 white onions
Bring water to a boil (may take up to 45 minutes)
Step 3 – Purging the crawfish with saltwater (while also doing Step 2)
Pour ½ bag crawfish into tub or ice chest for purging … rinse twice with fresh water, then add water and 1 box salt. Sit for 10 minutes, empty salt water, and rinse crawfish thoroughly.
NOTE: Some people do not purge with salt, but just do a couple thorough rinses with water. Some feel the salt water kills the crawfish ... our experience shows it does not. But it is an option to consider.
Step 4 – Cooking batch #1
TIP: The trick in this step is all about timing: The vegetables need to cook, but not so long that they start to disintegrate. Cut the potatoes, lemons, and corn into halves (if they are large).
When the water starts to boil, add potatoes
Bring back to boil, then boil 10 minutes
Add crawfish and corn, bring back to boil, and boil 5 minutes
Turn off fire, let crawfish and contents sit for 15 minutes
Lift the basket out of the water and let the water drain back into the pot. Dump the crawfish onto the table, or into an ice-chest to keep warm.
Step 5 – Cooking batch #2
- 1 box salt
- 5 bags of 3-oz Zatarain’s crawfish boil seasoning
- 1 4-oz bottle of Zatarains’ liquid crawfish seasoning
- 4 tablespoons red pepper
- 3 tablespoons black pepper
- 4 lemons
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 white onions
Bring to a boil, and add crawfish
Bring to boil, then boil 5 minutes
Turn off fire, let crawfish sit for 15 minutes
Move contents to the table or ice-chests to keep warm
Step 6: Enjoy the fruits of your labor ... Here's how to shell a boiled crawfish
Now it’s time to eat! Grab a crawfish with your left hand, and gently twist off the tail with your right hand.
Squeeze your thumb and forefinger at the sides of the tail, which breaks the shell. Gently pull apart the shell, and enjoy the meat!
Some add another step: sucking the head! It contains a wealth of taste and spice.