Learn how to throw an authentic Louisiana Crawfish Boil! We like our spicy crawfish with small red potatoes, corn, onion and lemons!
I think that having an annual tradition or event outside of the normal holidays is so important. There's less pressure, 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 and family. It's the closest thing to Mardi Gras and Cajun cuisine that we can get here in the Midwest!
This all started as a celebration for my husband's 25th birthday party. His good friend Brian and I pulled off a surprise party for him, having live crawfish flown in from Louisiana Crawfish Company. The idea came from the time my husband and his friends 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 and shrimp boil fanatics. The crowd at our crawfish boil has changed a bit each year, and now we adults are almost outnumbered by kiddos! It's so much fun that one of our friends has declared it his "second most favorite holiday each year," just barely surpassing Thanksgiving.
I think you (and your friends) will really enjoy this crawfish recipe! You can use the "Jump to Recipe" button above to jump straight to the recipe or, you can read through the helpful tips below. The full recipe is at the bottom of the page.
How to Order Live Crawfish + How Much Crawfish Do I Need Per Person?
We live in Missouri, right smack dab in the middle of the country. While I suppose it's possible for us to drive down to Louisiana to get live crawfish, it'd be quite the trip!
Lucky for us, we found a company (Louisiana Crawfish Co.) that ships fresh crawfish overnight.
I think crawfish eaters fall into three categories: 1) fanatics, 2) nibblers and 3) non-eaters. We only purchase crawfish for the fanatics, because we've learned that nibblers typically only eat one or two crawfish, just for the experience.
Our first year, we ordered WAY too much. Now, for our our boils, I typically order 5 pounds per fanatical eater, and don't count the "nibblers" at all. But I know our crowd super well at this point and we have our order dialed in.
If you don't know who will eat crawfish, I recommend going with the standard recommendation of 3 pounds of crawfish per person for your entire group.
I know this sounds like a lot, but remember that crawfish are just little crustaceans, a lot of the weight is in the shell. The meat is a small treasure you have to work to get to!
How to Prepare the Crawfish for Boiling
We always place our orders for a Saturday morning arrival. This typically means the crawfish are harvested, packed and shipped overnight sometime on Friday.
The crawfish will arrive in a net bag. A soon as you receive it, rinse it with fresh water. This is the best way to remove dirt and debris upfront.
Then, we let crawfish hang out in a cooler with just a bit of loose, fresh ice. You may need to drain the cooler as the ice melts. Crawfish like a bit of water, but they also need access to fresh air. They can drown if they are submerged too long!
Right before you cook the crawfish, you'll need to purge them. It's hard to put this delicately but doing a saltwater purge will help them get rid of any... "impurities" before you cook them. Think of the dark vein on shrimp. Yep, crawfish have those too! Purging the crawfish them will clear that vein out.
To purge the crawfish, use a large ice chest or a large beverage tub. Place the crawfish in the chest, then fill it with water, just to the top of the crawfish. Sprinkle salt over the top (exactly amounts in recipe below), stir gently, then allow to soak in the salt water for about 5 minutes.
Drain and rinse the crawfish, then repeat the process a second time before cooking starts. Dead crawfish will float to the top, pluck and remove those dead mudbugs as they show up!
How to Prepare your Crawfish Boil Liquid
About 20 minutes before you're ready to start boiling the crawfish, light up your propane cooker. Add water to your big pot. We have a 30-quart stainless steel pot, but they also make them in larger or smaller sizes.
You can work with most any pot size, really, just know you may have to do extra (or less) batches!
For our size boiling pot, we typically fill it with between 6-7 gallons of water.
Just before adding crawfish, add crawfish boil spices, lemons and onions to start working flavor into the boiling water. I use this Crawfish Boil Seasoning, but there are plenty of options out there for you to use online and in grocery stores!
How to Boil Crawfish
When your water is seasoned and ready, add the 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.
After 20 minutes, drain the crawfish and place them in a clean cooler to steam, sprinkling additional cajun seasoning over the top of the 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.
To serve, dump steamed crawfish on table lined with plastic tablecloth. Eat!
What sides go well with 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 love these two sides because you can cook them right in the liquid boil for the crawfish!
You can also cook these items alongside the crawfish, but be cognizant of cook time because they do not need a full 20 minutes of boiling like the crawfish.
Side Dish Cook Times: Fresh corn boils in 2-3 minutes, frozen corn boils in 6-8 minutes and b-size potatoes (about 1-5 to 2 inches round) boil in about 15 minutes.
In addition to these easy boiled sides, I usually ask everyone to bring an appetizer or dessert to share.
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 it's windy, you may need to tape the tablecloths down. If you forget tape like we did this year, just find something heavy to anchor the tablecloths down, like a six pack of beer!
Dump the drained and steamed crawfish and any boiled sides directly on to the tablecloth, and let your guests gather around to pick.
It's a good idea to have a few seasoned pros help the newbies learn how to pick the meat out of the crawfish. If you need help learn how to eat crawfish, watch 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! Clean up does not get any easier than that!
Fo preparing the crawfish:
- 20 pound bag of ice
- 26 ounces salt
For boiling the crawfish:
- 50 pounds live crawfish
- 4 pounds seafood boil mix
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 8 large lemons, quartered
- 4 large yellow onions, peeled, quartered
- 6 ears of corn, shucked, cut into thirds
- 5 pounds B-size red potatoes
- For garnish while steaming:
- Roughly 1 cup (8 ounces) cajun seasoning
- When you receive the crawfish, rinse the sack of live crawfish and store on ice until ready to cook.
- Right before cooking, purge the crawfish. Place them in an ice chest or cooler and cover with water and ice. Add 13 ounces of salt, stir. Drain after 10 minutes and repeat the process one more time.
- Place your stainless-steel boiling pot on propane stand. Fill with water and heat over high heat to a rolling boil.
- Add 1 pound of seafood boil powder to boiling water, the stick of butter, two cut lemons and one cut onion. Allow to return to a boil.
- Start your first batch by adding dd about 15 pounds of crawfish in the boil basket and lowering the basket into to the spicy water. Return to a boil, cover, and allow to boil for about 20 minutes.
- Turn the heat source off and allow to sit for 20 minutes.
- Drain the crawfish by removing the boiler basket. Placed drained crawfish in clean cooler and sprinkle roughly ¼ cup of Cajun seasoning over the top of them. Close the cooler lid to steam, with lid on, for another 20 minutes.
- Repeat this process until all crawfish are cooked and in steamer.
- To make the sides, add potatoes to remaining water, allow to boil for about 15 minutes.
- Add corn until heated through (2-4 minutes for fresh corn, 6-8 minutes for frozen corn).
- Drain and serve with crawfish.
- Stainless steel boiling pot, preferably with draining basket. We used a 30-quart pot.
- Outdoor propane burner
- 2 coolers (one for live crawfish, one clean cooler for storing and steaming cooked crawfish)
- Ice chest or large beverage trough (for purging crawfish)
- 1-2 8-foot folding tables
- At least 2 trashcans for discards and matching trash bags
- Disposable tablecloths
- 6-8 paper towel rolls
Nutrition Information:Yield: 18 Serving Size: 15
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1314Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 1532mgSodium: 17056mgCarbohydrates: 39gFiber: 4gSugar: 5gProtein: 228g
The nutrition for this recipe is calculated by an app, and may be incorrect.
Please note that Louisiana Crawfish provided our live crawfish for this year's boil, and we have used them to ship our crawfish independently in previous years. I was not otherwise compensated for this post, and all opinions are mine alone, as always.