Learn how to throw an authentic Louisiana Crawfish Boil! Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at our annual crawfish boil tradition.
I think that having an annual tradition or event outside of the normal holidays is so important. There's less pressure and less travel, and no gift buying! It's all about fun! For the past 6 years, my husband and I have been throwing a crawfish boil for about 20 of our closest friends. This all started as a celebration for my husband's 25th birthday party. His good friend Brian and I totally pulled off a surprise party for him, having live crawfish flown in from Louisiana Crawfish Company. We decided to throw that first crawfish boil because my husband and a few of his fraternity brothers spent 10 days in New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina, helping with cleanup efforts.
During that time in Louisiana, they fell in love with the local cuisine, and became crawfish fanatics. The crowd at our crawfish boil has changed a bit each year, and now we adults are almost outnumbered by kiddos! But, it's a tradition that makes sure our group of friends still gets together, even though some have moved away and we're all in a very busy phase of life. It's so much fun that one of our friends has declared it his "second most favorite holiday each year," just barely surpassing Thanksgiving.
How to Order Live Crawfish
We live in Missouri, right smack dab in the middle of the country. While I suppose it's an option to drive down to Louisiana to get live crawfish, and then drive back with them, it's not quite worth the time. Lucky for us, we found a company (Louisiana Crawfish Co.) that ships live crawfish overnight. For our party of 20, we've always opted for the 50 Pound Party Pack, which covers the 15 or so adults who will eat the crawfish. The Party Pack includes all the seasoning you need, which is super handy, and some fun extras like beads and bibs.
Each year, we poll our attendees to see if they'll be partaking in crawfish. I think crawfish eaters fall into three categories: 1) fanatics, 2) nibblers and 3) non-eaters (crazy people). We only purchase crawfish for the fanatics because we've learned that nibblers typically only eat a few crawfish, just for the experience. Our first year, we ordered WAY too much. Advice on how many pounds per person to order varies, but for our boils, I typically order 5 pounds per fanatical eater, and don't count the "nibblers" at all. Louisiana Crawfish recommends 3 pounds per person, which seems safe when factoring in both heavy and light eaters. They're the experts, so let's go ahead and say to order 3 pounds per person.
Preparing your Boiling Pot
We always schedule our order so that our crawfish arrive on Saturday morning, typically right before noon! This means the crawfish will be harvested, packed and shipped on Friday. Shipping is included for free in your order, and we've never had an issue. When you receive your crawfish, it's important that you remove the bags of live crawfish from the cooler, and dump out any ice and liquids remaining. Then, you give the crawfish a quick rinse to remove any dirt, and return the bags to the cooler along with some fresh ice. About 20 minutes before you're ready to start boiling the crawfish, light up your propane cooker and add a pot of water to start boiling. Louisiana Crawfish includes their seafood boil packets with the party packs, which is what we always use to season the water. They recommend one pound of the seafood boil mix be added to the water for each 15 pounds of crawfish that are boiled, which gives the crawfish a delicious and slightly spicy flavor.
Boiling and Eating the Crawfish
When your water begins to boil, add live crawfish to the steamer basket and dunk it into the seasoned water. Allow the water to come back to a boil for about 2 minutes, then turn the burner off. Place the lid on the pot, and allow the crawfish to simmer in the seasoned water for about 20 minutes. At this point, we typically throw in some sliced lemons and onions. After 20 minutes, drain the crawfish and place them in a clean cooler to steam, adding additional cajun seasoning and salt to the cooked crawfish. The crawfish should steam in the cooler for another 20 minutes before being served. While they steam, it's a great time to cook your corn and potatoes in the hot seasoned water.
The Perfect Sides for a Crawfish Boil
In my opinion, the perfect sides for a crawfish boil are those that can be thrown right in the pot! After your crawfish has been boiled, you have some tasty, well seasoned water that can be used to cook any variety of vegetables. We typically buy corn on the cob and b-sized (small) red potatoes. I usually ask everyone to bring an appetizer or dessert to share. If you're lacking nspiration, I'd recommend checking out this page for additional recipes perfect for your boil.
Serving and Eating the Crawfish
Sometimes cleaning up after larger parties can be a drag! Not so with a crawfish boil. Cover a table or two with vinyl or disposable plastic tablecloths. If windy, you may need to tape the tablecloths down. If you forget tape like we did this year, just find something heavy to anchor them (like a 6-pack of beer!) Dump the drained and steamed crawfish and any boiled sides right onto the tablecloth, and let your guests gather around to pick. It's a good idea to have a few seasoned pros who are ready to help newbies learn how to pick the meat out of the crawfish, they can beef up on their crawfish picking skills by watching this video.
Keep several rolls of paper towels around the table to allow your guests to wipe their hands frequently, and a trash can on both ends of each table to throw discards. When you're all out of crawdaddies, simply gather up your plastic tablecloth and pitch it in the trash can! It doesn't get any easier than that!
- 50 lbs Louisiana Crawfish Co. live crawfish
- 4 lbs Louisiana Crawfish Co seafood boil
- 4 lemons, quartered
- 4 lemons, halved
- 5 lbs b-size red potatoes
- (optional) Louisiana Crawfish Co. Cajun Seasoning
- First, purge the crawfish. Place them in a chest or cooler and cover with water and ice. Add 13 ounces of salt, stir. Drain after 10 minutes and repeat one more time.
- Rinse the live crawfish and store on ice until ready.
- Place your stainless steel boiling pot on propane stand. Fill with water and heat to boiling.
- Add 1 pound of seafood boil powder to boiling water, one lemon and one onion. Finally, add about 15 pounds of the crawfish. Return to boil, then allow to boil for about 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat source off, place lid on pot, and allow to sit for 20 minutes.
- Drain the crawfish and transfer to a clean cooler to steam, with lid on, for another 20 minutes.
- Repeat this process until all crawfish are cooked and in steamer.
- Add potatoes to remaining water, allow to boil for about 15 minutes. Add corn until heated through. Drain and serve with crawfish.
- stainless steel boiling pot, preferably with draining basket
- outdoor propane burner
- 2 coolers (one for live crawfish, one clean cooler for storing and steaming cooked crawfish)
- at least 2 trashcans for discards
- disposable tablecloths
- paper towels
Please note that Louisiana Crawfish provided our live crawfish for this year's boil, and we have used them in previous years. I was not otherwise compensated for this post, and all opinions are mine alone, as always.