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How to Host a Crawfish Boil


Louisiana Crawfish
Louisiana Crawfish

There’s not much more fun than gathering a group of friends around a pile of steaming, spiced crawfish, digging in, and getting messy while enjoying one of Cajun culture’s greatest food inventions. A crawfish boil makes for a great event even if you’re not in Louisiana or Texas, where the vast majority of crawfish in the U.S. come from. Don’t be intimidated: hosting a crawfish boil is easier than it sounds.

When is Crawfish Season?

If it’s spring, it’s crawfish season in Louisiana. Crawfish is an unofficial Lent and Easter food, but it’s popular all season long. Louisianans anxiously await the first crawfish of the year, compare notes on where they’re freshest, and watch prices like the stock market. Newspapers regularly publish prices, which start high and get lower as the season goes on and supply becomes more abundant. Crawfish season typically peaks in April, but you can often find them from February to June. 

Boils seem complicated but are actually very easy. The best part? They’re pretty foolproof, low-key affairs. Guests will be impressed by the large boiling pot and everyone has fun eating finger food. For a low-pressure dinner party, it’s hard to think of a better option. Just warn your guests not to wear white! Crawfish boils are messy, hands-on affairs.  

History of Crawfish Boils

Crawfish were first harvested from the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest wetland and swamp in the United States, in South Louisiana. Today, the swamp still produces more than 100 million pounds of crawfish each year, and seeds most farmed crawfish ponds. Native Americans were eating crawfish long before the Acadians arrived, but the Acadians (Cajuns), who were exiled from Nova Scotia, Canada, in the 1750s, made a big deal out of them. According to Cajun legend, the lobsters from Nova Scotia missed the Cajuns and set off to find them, but during the harrowing journey they began to shrink in size, until they showed up in Louisiana bayous as crawfish. Acadians threw festivals to celebrate finding the crawfish in Louisiana. In 1983, the crawfish was named Louiana’s official crustacean.

What You’ll Need

  • A large pot. Like, really large. Think 60 quarts or so. You can boil crawfish in any pot you have on the stove, but for the full experience, you want a large aluminum stock pot with a basket insert, and you’ll want to do it on a gas or propane burner. 
  • A large table. Crawfish boils are messy, hands-on affairs. Pull out your longest table and cover it with newspaper, paper bags, or a paper tablecloth. When the boil is done, you’ll dump it out onto the table so everyone can reach. 
  • Paper towels. Again, this is a get-your-hands-dirty event. The more paper towels on the table for guests, the better. 
  • Buckets or bowls to place around the table to discard shells. 
  • Crawfish––half a pound to a pound per person, depending on if you know they love it or are crawfish newbies. If you’re in season, buy them fresh and store them in an ice chest while you wait for the water to boil. 
  • Andouille sausage (optional)
  • Corn on the cob, cut into 2-inch pieces. The corn really absorbs the flavor of the boil and ends up being a lot of people’s favorite part. 
  • Small red potatoes, cut in half. 
  • Seasoning. You can make your own seasoning, but most Louisianans buy a “boil,” the word used for seasoning mix. Zatarain’s is one of the most beloved, but Old Bay is good, too. The package will tell you how much to use. Some people add garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper, onion, lemon, hot peppers, and other spices. You can if you want, but many Louisianans stick with the seasoning and call it good. 
  • Drinks. Anything will do, but in Louisiana cold, cheap beer is king. 

What you won’t need: silverware.

How to Make the Boil

First, wash the crawfish. They live in swamps and don’t get the nickname “mudbug” from nowhere.” Take the seafood basket from your pot, fill it with crawfish, and submerge it in a large tub of water. Swish it around, dump the water, and repeat until the water pours out clean. If you don’t have a large tub of water, run the crawfish under the faucet and use your hands to loosen up the dirt. If you’re buying frozen crawfish, you can likely skip this step. 

Fill your pot about halfway full and add the seasoning. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook for about five minutes. Add sausage and corn and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook until they turn red—about 3 minutes. Overcooking is bad! The crawfish will get tough. 

Remove from heat and drain the liquid. Now, you can either dump it on the table directly, or dump it to a large cooler or other container, add more seasoning, and shake it around to mix it all together for an extra flavor kick before serving.

How to Eat Boiled Crawfish

It’s time to dig in! As the host, if you have guests who are unsure about how to eat crawfish, be prepared to show them. Twist the tail to break it off from the body, then peel it away and suck or squeeze the meat out. Next––if you’re up for it––pull the crawfish open wider and suck the “crawfish butter,” that gooey yellow stuff, out of the head. 

Et voilà! You’ve hosted your first crawfish boil. To clean up, you can simply wrap everything up in the newspaper from the table and toss it in the trash.

Best Crawfish for the Next Time You Host a Crawfish Boil

While it’s best to buy fresh, sometimes that just won’t work. If you live outside of Louisiana or Texas, shipping fresh crawfish can be tricky. And what if you get a hankering for crawfish boil out of season? Don’t worry: You can have crawfish shipped straight to your door any time of year by Louisiana Crawfish, shipping nationwide on Goldbelly!

Louisiana Crawfish 10 lbs

Louisiana Crawfish’s 10lb. Boiled Cajun Crawfish Pack

You can buy Louisiana crawfish, already boiled and perfectly seasoned. Simply cook your corn and potatoes, then add the frozen crawfish in and let them heat up for about 45 seconds before serving. This size is best for a small gathering.

Louisiana Crawfish 50lb Pack

Louisiana Crawfish’s 50lb. Boiled Cajun Crawfish Pack

Having a bigger party? Go for 50 pounds and really impress your friends. You’ll likely have to boil several pots of water to get through it all, but that’s part of the fun. The crawfish comes straight from Natchitoches, Louisiana, so you know it’s good.

Louisiana Crawfish 10lbs Meat

Louisiana Crawfish’s 50lb. Boiled Cajun Crawfish Pack

Sometimes, guests at your crawfish boil are just not going to be into peeling the crawfish or sucking the heads. You can shame them, or you can be a nice host and have a few pre-shelled tails on hand.

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