How to Boil Crawfish
My Recipe for Juicy and Spicy Boiled Crawfish
This is how I boil/cook crawfish. There are 100s of ways to do it, this is just one. I have tried many different ways, and found this way to be the best for me. Most recipes for making crawfish make the crawfish spicy on the outside, not the inside. The recipes do this by just adding more spices on top of the crawfish after they are cooked. Many restaurants do this. This is WRONG! Crawfish should be spicy in you mouth not on your lips. This technique will give you really juicy crawfish that don’t burn your lips, but are really hot in your mouth. Let’s get started!!
WARNING: This recipe takes a long time, if you are serving a lot of crawfish you will need a really large pot or multiple. Each batch takes at least an hour, so be sure to account for the time commitment.
What you will need(Ingredients):
- Aluminum Pot (I like 60-80 qts), with basket
- Propane Burner (more btus the better, i.e. High Pressure, a regular one will work, just takes longer) w/ propane tank
- Large Cooler
- Cajun Crawfish Boil Seasoning (Louisiana, Zatarain’s, etc.), I like 1.5lbs/10lbs crawfish, but less is ok if you them milder
- Live Crawfish (obviously)
- Lemons – about 2 per 10lb of crawfish
- Ice – 10lbs per 20lbs of crawfish or about 1.5 bags per batch
- Paper Towels and Trash bags
- Sides(these are all optional, but I feel required)
- Frozen Corn
- Red Potatoes
- Brussel Sprouts
Boiled Crawfish Recipe – Summary Version
- Cut up/prepare all ingredients
- Purge Crawfish – wash them with salt(1/3 can) and a little water
- Fill Pot 1/3 to 1/2 full of water and turn on fire full
- Add Spices to water (5lbs for 60 qt pot, 6.5 lbs for 80 qt pot), squeeze 4 lemons in water
- Add all sides except corn to basket and put basket in water
- When water starts to boil remove basket and add crawfish ON TOP of sides(sides will go back in)
- Add basket to water
- Wait for water to boil or about ~5-7 min (if you have a high water to crawfish ratio, it will be less time)
- When you see first signs of boiling, start timer for 4 minutes! Total time in water before next step should not exceed 10 minutes.
- When timer goes off or 10 minutes in water has past, dump 1.5 bags of ice into pot along with frozen corn(Shock the crawfish)
- Let them soak for 15 min, then start testing for spiciness, serve when spicy enough (I go ~ 30 min)
- Drink beer, and enjoy!
- If you have more crawfish to boil, remove any excess water from pot to bring back to starting level,
- Add more spices, if last batch was too spicy go for .5-1 lb, if just right go 1.5 lbs, if not enough, 2.2.5 lbs
- Start back at step 5 until all done!
Boiled Crawfish Recipe – Detailed Version
Step 1: Prepare The Ingredients
I like to get all the ingredients ready before doing anything. Cut all the onions, lemons, mushrooms(as needed), potatoes(as needed) in half. Cut the sausage into bite size pieces.
Next, purge the crawfish(really just cleans them). Just sprinkle a bunch of salt on them and wash them with water and let them soak until ready. I generally drain the water after a bit and wash them with hose again, just to get them real clean.
Step 2: Start Heating the Water
Note: If you are using equipment for the first time, boil water for 30 minutes dump out and start from step 1. This cleans the aluminum and creates an oxygen barrier.
I fill my pot about 1/2 full. It depends on how many crawfish you want to boil at a time, but just make sure the water will cover all the crawfish when you put them in later. You can alway fill the basket with all the goods and then add the water to get the right level, then pull out the basket and start the fire. Make sure you add some extra water to account for boil off.
Step 3: Add Spices to Water
As the water starts to get warm mix seasoning. IMPORTANT: Put a lot of seasoning in to start. I put 5 lbs in my 60 quart pot that is filled about 1/2 way. If you are using an 80qt pot, go for 6-6.5 lbs.
Step 4: Add Sides
Once the spices have been mixed in, fill your basket with all the sides besides the corn and lemons(the corn is cooked and frozen we will use this later). Squeeze lemons and toss in basket. Place basked in water. The water should not be boiling yet, just warm.
Step 5: Boil The Sides
Let the sides sit in the water, propane should be on full, and wait until the water boils. When the water is boiling, take out the basket. Now the fun begins!
Step 6: Add Crawfish to Basket
IMPORTANT!- Add the crawfish on TOP of the sides in the basket, do NOT remove them (this is where most other recipes error). I add crawfish until the pot is about 3/4 full.
Step 7: Add Crawfish to Pot
Step 8: Bring Crawfish To A Boil
Once the crawfish are in the pot, crank up the heat. You want to bring the crawfish to a boil as fast as possible. With my High Pressure burner it takes about 5 minutes to get back to a boil using a 60qt pot. With a smaller boiler it can take longer. When you see the water boiling or your thermometer reads 212 degrees start the clock! Wait 4 minutes, yes just 4 minutes! When the 4 minutes are up. SHUT OFF THE FIRE! Note: If you have a large pot the time the flame is on will be less, maybe just 5 min total, just remember, once you see bubbles start the 4 min clock. Don’t let the crawfish stay they hot for longer than 10 minutes, they don’t take long to cook and it’s hard to undercook them.
Step 9: SHOCK’EM
I learned this technique from a real Cajun so you know it’s good. Dump 1-1.5 bags of ice on the crawfish, and add the corn. Mix throughly.
Why? you ask. Well we don’t want to overcook the crawfish, but we want them to soak. The ice brings the temperature down so the bugs stop cooking, but can continue to soak up all the good spices.
Step 10: Soak’em
Now this is where you get to decide how spicy you want your crawfish. I would let them soak 15 minutes, then every few minutes test one out to see if it is spicy enough. Just let them keep soaking until you like the flavor. I usually go 30-40 minutes.
Step 11: Serve the Crawfish!
That’s IT! Enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Step 11: Prepare the Next Batch
If you have more crawfish, well lucky you! Let’s cook them. Your pot now has too much water, take a pitcher or cup and get rid of a little bit. Bring the level to where it was at the start of the first batch. This takes a little practice, but don’t worry anything close is fine.
Add More Spices! Yep, add more spice, how much? Well here is a scale to use for the 60qt pot. I add 1.5 pounds if my first batch was spot on. I add more if they were not spicy enough(2-2.5) and less if they were too spicy(.5-1 lbs).
You are good to go! Start from step 4 above and repeat until you are out of crawfish!!
Appendix A: Where To Buy Crawfish Online
Unfortunately I don’t live in Louisiana anymore, so I have plenty of experience obtaining crawfish from other states. Here are some places I have used. You can generally save more $$ but doing freight delivery to the airport. I have had success with this, but it was a pain so I just pay the extra money for the door-to-door service.
Fruge Farms (www.cajuncrawfish.com)
These guys are great! They are my favorite. Customer service is excellent! They send them VERY well packaged via FedEx or Freight. If you call they will usually give you $10 off if you ask.
They are generally a little more expensive than others.
Louisiana Crawfish Company (www.lacrawfish.com)
Crawfish were a good size and of good quality. Items arrived on time. Cheaper than others.
The packaging was not great, they just used sacks in cardboard boxes(the boxes where the wax covered kind), not really a huge deal.
Buy Locally Via A Seafood Market
I live in Austin now, and I can get crawfish whenever they are in season. I go to Fiesta Mart, best prices in town. Go Friday at 11am, that is when they get them in stock (call to confirm though). If you are not lucky like me, ask a local seafood market if they will order them for you, it might be cheaper. I was able to do this in D.C. and Austin(before I learned about Fiesta).
If you live in Austin – Louisiana Wild (http://www.louisianawild.com/
Found out about these guys this year. Haven’t used them yet but I know someone that did with good results.
Good prices! Will deliver to you home the day of you boil!
Only available in Austin
Appendix B: What Equipment to Use
Check out our recommendations page: Crawfish Boil Recommended Equipment
Hope you enjoy!!!