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
    Crawfish boiling pot, baskeet and propane cooker
  • Propane tank (full ... you don't want to run out half-way through the boil)
  • Large tub or ice chest
  • Stirring paddle or long-handle ladle
  • Plastic serving trays
  • Lots of paper towels
  • Old newspaper or disposable tablecloths

The Crawfish Boiling Recipe

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 the following.

GUIDELINE
Each person typically can eat about 3-6 pounds of boiled crawfish.

Most live crawfish come in mesh sack 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.

Another advantage of splitting the crawfish into two batches: we can control the spice or "heat" level in each to cater to different palates of different guests. One batch is "hot", the other not so much!

We use an average size boiling pot (40qts), which can boil about 14-15 pounds of crawfish and associated ingredients. Other available pots are larger and can accommodate more crawfish.

Make sure your butane tank is full, and that your butane burner has been safety-checked.

Ingredients

  • 28 pounds live crawfish ... in a sack like this one
    A sack of fresh, live Louisiana crawfish, right out of the swamp or off the crawfish farm!

  • 3 boxes salt
  • 10 bags of 3-oz Zatarain’s crawfish, shrimp and crab boil seasoning
  • 2 4-oz bottles of Zatarain's liquid shrimp and crab boil seasoning
  • 8 tablespoons red cayenne pepper
  • 6 tablespoons black pepper
    Let's get the boil started ... Start with Spillway Crawfish, add corn, new potatoes, whole onions, lemons, Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil ... make the hot sauce, add cold beer, and share with good Cajun friends!
  • 8 lemons
  • 12 ears corn ... we like the "mini" ears
  • 12 large, or 24 small (preferred), potatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 white onions
  • Cocktail sauce for dipping the boiled crawfish tails
  • Butter for spreading on boiled potatoes and corn
    Let's get the boil started ... Start with Spillway Crawfish, add corn, new potatoes, whole onions, lemons, Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil ... make the hot sauce, add cold beer, and share with good Cajun friends!

Let's Start Boiling

Step 1 – Rinse the crawfish, or purge with saltwater


Pour the crawfish into a 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 cooks 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, and a personal preference.

Cleaning the crawfish before the boil


Step 2 – Season water, and bring to a boil

Add water to the pot, and season as follows:

  • 1 box salt
  • 5 bags of 3-oz  Zatarain’s shrimp and crab boil seasoning
  • 1 4-oz bottle of Zatarain's’ liquid shrimp and crab boil seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons black pepper
  • 4 lemons
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 white onions

Bring the water to a boil, which may take up to 45 minutes. Pull up a chair, grab a cold one, and relax!

Seasonings added to the boiling pot ... getting ready to add the crawfish!


Step 3 – Cooking batch #1 ... the first 14 pounds

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 the potatoes

Bring the water back to a boil, then boil 10 minutes

Add crawfish and corn, bring back to boil, and boil 5 minutes

Turn off the burner, and let the crawfish and contents rest for 15 minutes to soak up the spice

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.

Lifting the basket of freshly boiled Louisiana crawfish from the pot


Step 4 – Cooking batch #2 ... the 2nd 14 pounds of crawfish

Re-season the water by adding these ingredients:

  • 1 box salt
  • Crawfish pot full of ingredients
    5 bags of 3-oz Zatarain’s shrimp and crab boil seasoning
  • 1 4-oz bottle of Zatarain's liquid shrimp and crab boil seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons black pepper
  • 4 lemons
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 white onions

Bring to a boil, and add the crawfish

Bring to a boil again, then boil 5 minutes

Turn off fire, let crawfish sit for 15 minutes

Pour the hot boiled crawfish onto your tabletop, probably covered with newspaper, like this ....

Hot boiled crawfish on table covered with newspaper


Another method is to move the crawfish into an ice chest to keep them warm, and then serve on platters, like this ...

Hot boiled Louisiana crawfish in chest to stay hot

Enjoying the ultimate boiled crawfish feast!


 

Step 5: Enjoy the fruits of your labor ... Here's how to peel 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.

"How to peel crawfish", courtesy of the Louisiana Crawfish Company (YouTube Video)

 

Video: A Quick, Fun Crawfish Boil Overview

This is a great short video, with Cajun music as lagniappe. It shows the entire process: fishing, boiling, eating and enjoying!

Deep in the Bayou near Grosse Tete, Louisiana-native Jody Meche has been catching crawfish for years. Get yourself some paper towels and come on over for a boil!

"Crawfish Boil: A Backyard Feast in the Louisiana Bayou" with Jody Meche near Grosse Tete, Louisiana. (YouTube Video)


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