Crawfish Boil

Purchase 2 to 3 pounds of crawfish per person. This is what I averaged for a party of 25 to 30 people, accounting for the fact that we would have appetizers, sides and desserts, in addition to the corn, sausage and potatoes. We had a good bit of leftovers, but the crawfish all got peeled and frozen to use in a batch of etouffee.

Recipe courtesy of Nealey Dozier
Prep: 1 hr
Inactive Prep: --
Cook: 2 hr
YIELD: 25 to 30 servings
LEVEL: Difficult


  • 1 (35-pound) pound bag live crawfish
  • 1 (3-pound) box salt
  • 4 (3-ounce) boxes seafood boil (we used Zatarain's Extra Spicy)
  • 1 pound sausages, such as andouille, cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 8 ears corn, cut into 3-inch lengths
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Once you are ready to cook, you need to "purge" the live crawfish of mud and dirt. Put the crawfish in a large tub or baby pool and fill with cool water and 1/2 the box of salt. Once the water becomes muddy, drain and repeat the process until the water remains fairly clear. Do not allow the crawfish to just sit in the water, as this could kill them. Repeat at least 3 times if not more, although you don't have to keep using salt. (The cleaner the water, the cleaner your crawfish are on the inside. And that's a good thing.)

Pick through and discard any crawfish that haven't survived the journey. I recommend using thick rubber gloves because the ones that are alive are going to be ready to pinch. Be careful not to put any dead crawfish in the cooking pot.

Cover a large table with a disposable plastic tarp and line with newspapers. Set out rolls of paper towels. Have a large trashcan with thick liner nearby for shells.

Fill water about halfway up a large steel stockpot with a strainer insert. Add seafood boil and bring to a boil for a few minutes to get the spices going. Working in batches, add some potatoes and cook until just barely tender, approximately 10 minutes. Add sausage and cook for about 5 minutes. Finally add the corn and cook about 5 more minutes.
The crawfish should go in last. These should only cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, and no longer than 5. As soon as the first crawfish floats, remove the strainer from the water, allowing excess water to drain back into the pot. Dump crawfish and vegetables onto the table. Season with kosher salt and pepper and serve with hot sauce, cocktail sauce and melted butter, if desired.

Repeat in batches. Each batch of crawfish will be spicier as the water boils down. If you lose much water, add another bag of crawfish boil and more water.
To eat, grab the crawfish between the head and tail, pinch and twist. The body and tail should separate. Suck the juices from the head. Peel away a section or two of the shell from the top of the crawfish. Pinch the crawfish at the base of the tail. This will loosen the crawfish from the shell. Pull out the meat and enjoy. Any leftover crawfish should be peeled immediately and frozen for another use.

To clean up, pull up plastic tarp with remaining shells and dispose of immediately, double-bagging if necessary.


Cook's Note: If you are not using your live crawfish immediately, special care must be taken to keep them healthy. Store them in their mesh bag, in a cool, dark place (like a garage) and out of reach of sneaky animals. I kept them in a big cooler over a bag of ice with the spigot open so the melted water could drain out. They need oxygen, so keep the lid propped for air. They can be kept alive like this for up to 48 hours, but the sooner you use them the better.

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