How to Boil Live Crawfish


Crawfish are plentiful in southwest Louisiana and are cooked in many different ways. Here's some tips on cooking them up for a large group partaking in a crawfish boil.

Things You'll Need

  • Live crawfish
  • 60-80 qt. boiling pot with a strainer insert
  • Long-handled paddle or spoon
  • Propane burner
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Two boxes salt
  • Crab boil
  • New potatoes
  • Remoulade sauce ingredients
  • Table covered with newspaper
  • Garbage bags
  • Place crawfish in a large tub or ice chest and rinse well with water. Using the long handled paddle, stir the live crawfish until thoroughly rinsed. Pick out dead crawfish, bait and debris. Use large tongs to transfer live crawfish into strainer insert of pot.

  • Place a pot on a burner and fill with enough water so that when the insert containing the crawfish is added, the water level will remain a couple inches below the top. As a rule of thumb, just fill the pot about halfway. You can always add more later.

  • Turn on the propane burner full blast. The fire should cover the entire bottom of the pot and flame should be licking up the side. The pot should come to a rolling boil in about 15 minutes.

  • Add seasoning and crab boil. If you are using a commercial crab boil, add according to directions. Place the strainer insert with the live crawfish in the pot and cover immediately. Keep the pot boiling. The water will cool down somewhat when you add the crawfish, so raise the heat if necessary to bring it back to a boil.

  • Turn burner off after 13 minutes. Leave the lid on pot and let crawfish soak for another 13 minutes. Remove the insert from the water and place two clean boards on top of the pot to use as a rack. This way the water will drip back into the pot and you will not lose those good seasonings.

  • Toss corn, potatoes and small onions into the boiling water in between batches of crawfish and cook until done. Throw in smoked sausage links if you are really determined to blow your diet.

  • Serve boiled crawfish and vegetables in a big pile in the middle of the newspaper covered table. If seasoning is not as spicy or as salty as you would like, simply sprinkle with Cajun seasoning, salt or red pepper.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make 5-7 lb. of live crawfish per person.
  • If there are any crawfish leftover, peel and use in a salad or make crawfish etouffee the next day.
  • In Louisiana crawfish are typically sold in old onion sacks. These sacks generally weigh about 30 to 35 lb. each.
  • For people to make their own remoulade dipping sauce you will need to have ketchup, hot sauce, mayonnaise, horseradish, Cajun seasoning, salt, red pepper, and lemons. Provide individual bowls for each person and watch what happens.
  • Keep crawfish heads and peels to make wonderful soup and gumbo stock.
  • Boiled crawfish are always live, never frozen, so a crawfish boil will always be scheduled during crawfish season which runs from late winter to early summer.
  • Dispose of crawfish peels and heads immediately. Use the heavy gauge garbage bags and tie them securely. Wash all outdoor surfaces down with soapy water.

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