Best Crawfish Boil Recipe Ever. Really!
I know that’s a big claim, but I’m standing by it. This crawfish boil recipe is not only delicious but also crazy simple. It’s made with fresh crawfish, the bag and bottled Zatarain’s© crawfish seasoning, a little Cajun seasoning, red potatoes, corn, a few lemons, and smoked sausage. Is your mouth watering yet?
A crawfish boil is one of my favorite dishes for entertaining because it’s a simple one-pot meal — who doesn’t love that? Even better, you can do the cooking and eating either indoors or outdoors. Personally, I prefer outdoors because it makes for a more authentic experience.
Like another spring and summer favorite, the clam bake, a crawfish boil truly is just that: an experience. It lasts a lot longer than a regular sit-down meal; in fact, it can be an all-day event.
I’ve been enjoying crawfish boils since I was a little girl. Some of my favorite cousins live in Mobile; every year we’d have a family reunion. My grandfather was one of eight children, and all of his brothers and sisters would be there with their families. As you can imagine, these reunions were huge.
Crawfish were always on the menu for this gathering. They were boiling all day.
I have 7 kids, and we are following the same tradition of getting together when crawfish are in season. We usually enjoy them on our hunting land at the Purple Door.
What is a crawfish, aka crawdad, crawdaddies, and crayfish?
A crawfish is simply a crustacean that looks like a miniature lobster. These small, tasty creatures live in freshwater wetlands, rivers, lakes and swamps. They are beloved by Southerners in Alabama (where I live), Louisiana, and other Southern states.
When Are Crawfish in Season?
Crawfish season doesn’t have a set beginning or end; it depends on what part of the U.S. you’re in. If you’re in Louisiana, for example, crawfish season may stretch all the way from November to July. However, spring and early summer are usually when you’ll get the best crawfish.
In Alabama, crawfish are in season during late April through June. Throughout the South, April and May are fantastic months to cook up a great big crawfish boil.
The time is now, so let’s move right on to the preparation of this succulent crawfish boil recipe.
How Do You Wash Crawfish?
First, wash crawfish with running water. Remove any crawfish that are discolored or crushed. For our family gatherings I start with a 32-pound bag of crawfish. Then I dump half the crawfish into a 5-gallon bucket and run water over them. After swishing the water around in the bucket, I drain it. I then remove any crushed crawfish and place the whole ones in a large cooler. I repeat this procedure for the rest of the bag. After getting all the washed whole crawfish into the cooler, I dump ice over them to keep them cool until cooking.
How to Boil Crawfish
Boiling crawfish is super easy. No real measuring is necessary. Just fill a Dutch oven or tall pot ¾ full of water and bring the water to a rolling boil.
How long should you boil crawfish?
I’ve found that the timing is one of the keys to a great crawfish boil recipe. Once you’ve got the water at a rolling boil, add the seasonings and then the potatoes for about 5 minutes. Then add the corn and crawfish. Boil them all together for about 4 more minutes, or until the potatoes are pierced easily with a knife and the crawfish are a beautiful red color.
Remember that these little crustaceans cook quickly! For the crawfish alone, it only takes about 4 to 5 minutes to boil as long as your water has reached a rolling boil when you put the crawfish in. If you are using frozen crawfish, it will only take 1 to 2 minutes since they have already been blanched.
Since the crawfish and corn don’t need to cook as long as the potatoes, I always boil the potatoes and sausage with the seasonings before putting in the rest of the ingredients.
Although the sausage is already done, I put it in the pot with the other seasonings to add the flavor early in the boiling process.
What and how much seasoning do you put in crawfish boil?
Of course, a big key to the best crawfish boil is your seasoning.
I love Zatarain’s seasoning for this crawfish boil recipe. It’s really just the perfect amount of seasoning for great flavor. I use a combo of the dry and liquid Zatarain’s: one seasoning packet and one bottle of liquid season.
I also add a little cayenne and Cajun seasoning. That’s it!
Once I pour the drained crawfish onto the newspaper, I sprinkle it with a little more Cajun seasoning for a little extra flavor and well…because it just looks so great! A good crawfish boil is even better with that final, bright red dusting of deliciousness.
Now to the eating!
How do you eat a Crawfish?
Crawfish are pretty easy to peel and eat. This process makes more sense when you see it in action, so I hope you’ll watch the video of me demonstrating how to eat a crawfish in this post.
I don’t suck the top of the crawfish in this video, but most crawfish foodies do! I do, too, most of the time. The head is really the best part of the crawfish; it’s full of flavor.
- First, pull off the head of the crawfish.
- Next, remove the first few layers of shell farthest from the end of the tail.
- Then squeeze the end of the tail and pull the meat out of the shell. If you do it just right, the vein will stay in the shell when you pull out the meat. If not, you’ll want to devein the crawfish meat.
I’m not really afraid of the vein, so often times, I will peel back the first layer of the crawfish tail and squeeze from the bottom of the tail to get the meat to pop out more easily. That technique is a little simpler if you don’t mind the vein coming out with the meat.
How long do crawfish last after they are cooked?
If you refrigerate the leftovers of this crawfish boil recipe within 2 hours of their being cooked, they will last for 3 to 4 days.
I don’t usually reheat and eat crawfish in their original state, but I love frying them and using them in salads. One of my favorite dishes using leftover crawfish is my Crawfish Mac and Cheese. It’s worth boiling crawfish just for the leftovers around here!
Finally, here is my step-by-step Best Crawfish Boil Recipe.
Note: I always get a sack of crawdads that weighs around 32 pounds. This will feed at least 12 people and provide some leftovers to use in my favorite left-over recipes. Feel free to halve this recipe if you aren’t feeding a crowd. I advise making enough to serve other ways, though!
Best Crawfish Boil Recipe
- 32 pounds crawfish
- 2 Zatarain’s Crawfish Shrimp & Crab Boil Bags
- 2 Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil bottled
- 1 cup Cajun Seasoning plus extra for sprinkling
- ¼ cup cayenne pepper
- 2 lemons halved
- 2 pounds smoked sausage links cut into chunks
- 8 ears of fresh corn cut into thirds
- 3 pounds new potatoes
- Fill an 80-quart boiling pot ¾ of way full of water and bring to a rolling boil. If you don’t have an 80-quart pot, you can use two large pots and divide the seasonings and ingredients between them. You can also boil the crawfish in batches.
- Add Zatarian’s seasoning bags, bottles, Cajun seasoning, cayenne, lemon halves, and cut sausage to the pot(s).
- Add the potatoes and allow to boil for about 5 minutes, or until a knife easily pierces through the potatoes.
- Add crawfish and corn to the pot and allow to cook until the crawfish turn red, about 5 minutes. Remove the crawfish and vegetables to a drainer set over a pot. Once crawfish and vegetables are drained, pour onto newspaper and sprinkle with additional Cajun seasoning.
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