How to Boil Crawfish

Four Methods:Getting the Crawfish Ready to BoilPreparing the Boil for the CrawfishCooking the CrawfishServing the Boil

Cooking crawfish at a crawfish boil, an outdoor party featuring boiled crawfish as the main dish, is the traditional way to enjoy these shrimp-like freshwater creatures in Louisiana and other parts of the southern United States. Read on for instructions on how to make perfectly boiled crawfish.


  • 20 - 30 pounds live crawfish
  • 8 lemons, halved
  • 1 pound crawfish boil seasoning
  • 8 onions, peeled and halved
  • 10 pounds new potatoes
  • 20 ears of corn, shucked and halved
  • 40 cloves garlic, peeled

Method 1
Getting the Crawfish Ready to Boil

  1. Image titled Boil Crawfish Step 1
    Buy live crawfish. Plan on ordering enough crawfish so that each person at your party or dinner gets 2 - 3 pounds. Most of the weight will get discarded since crawfish come with their shells on.
    • Source the crawfish from seafood and grocery stores or crawfish trucks, which sell crawfish when it's in season.
    • If you don't have a source of crawfish in your area, purchase it online from a vendor such as Louisiana Crawfish co., which will ship the crawfish to you live.
    • When you take home your crawfish or receive your shipment make sure you keep them cool, away from light and heat, so they're fresh when it's time to cook them.
    • Boiled crawfish that have been frozen do not taste nearly as good as live boiled crawfish.
  2. Image titled Boil Crawfish Step 2
    Wash the crawfish. Since live crawfish are freshly harvested, it's necessary to wash of the silt and debris they have collected before you cook them. Clean your crawfish by taking the following steps:
    • Wash off the sack. If you bought a sack of crawfish, begin with washing it off so the dirt from the outside of the sack doesn't make its way inside.
    • Empty the sack of crawfish into a large bin, such as a kiddie pool or storage bin, and fill it with clean water.
    • Use a paddle to stir the crawfish, then let them sit in the water for 30 minutes.
    • Discard the dead crawfish, which will float to the top after a few minutes.
    • Strain the water and rinse the crawfish with clean water. Keep them in a shady spot until you're ready to boil them.

Method 2
Preparing the Boil for the Crawfish

  1. Image titled Boil Crawfish Step 3
    Light the outdoor cooking flame. Use an outdoor gas burner, a patio stove, or a propane cooker to make the boil. The important thing is to have equipment sturdy enough to heat up a 60 gallon (227.1 L) pot of water.
  2. Image titled Boil Crawfish Step 4
    Fill a 60 gallon (227.1 L) pot halfway with water. Put it on the burner or stove and let it heat to a boil. Stir in the following ingredients, then let it come back to a boil:
    • The juice of 8 lemons, and the lemon peels.
    • 1 pound of crawfish boil seasoning.
  3. Image titled Boil Crawfish Step 5
    Add the vegetables. Crawfish boils are delicious with many kind of vegetables, but the most popular staples are potatoes and corn. Once the pot has come back to a rolling boil, add the following ingredients:
    • 8 onions, peeled and halved
    • 10 pounds of new potatoes (or regular potatoes, chopped into bite-sized chunks)
    • 20 ears of corn, shucked and halved
    • 40 cloves of garlic, peeled

Method 3
Cooking the Crawfish

  1. Image titled Boil Crawfish Step 6
    Lower the crawfish into the boil. Place the crawfish in a crawfish basket, made out of wire with a handle for lowering it into the pot. Crawfish baskets are used so that the crawfish can boil in the top part of the water while the vegetables cook underneath. Let the crawfish boil in the water for 5 minutes.
    • If you have a large strainer that fits over the top of the pot, this can be used as a substitute for the crawfish basket.
    • Crawfish baskets are available online or at stores that sell barbecue equipment.
  2. Image titled Boil Crawfish Step 7
    Turn off the heat and let the crawfish cook. Once the crawfish are inside the pot, turn off the heat and put the lid on top to allow the crawfish to cook gently for another 30 minutes.
  3. Image titled Boil Crawfish Step 8
    Check the crawfish. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and check to see if the crawfish are done. The best way to tell is by removing a crawfish and eating it.
    • If the texture is rubbery, the crawfish need more time to cook.[1]
    • If they're on the verge of falling apart, remove the crawfish from the pot immediately, as they're in danger of overcooking.

Method 4
Serving the Boil

  1. Image titled Boil Crawfish Step 9
    Line picnic tables with newspapers. Crawfish boils can get messy, so for easy cleanup it's best to use plenty of newspaper. Line picnic tables and other outdoor tables, and set out plenty of napkins and paper towels. You might want to set out bowls for the crawfish shells and legs.
  2. Image titled Boil Crawfish Step 10
    Serve the boil. At traditional boils, the vegetables are dumped directly onto the table, and the crawfish are added to the top. If you'd prefer not to do it this way, have guests line up at the pot with paper plates and scoop the vegetables directly from the pot to the plates.
  3. Image titled Boil Crawfish Step 11
    Add condiments. Butter, salt, and additional Cajun seasoning are all great condiments for a crawfish boil.


  • Adjust seasoning by adding more salt and pepper halfway through the soak if it appears that the seasoning levels are too low.
  • Add andouille sausage to the pot just before soaking for extra flavor and protein.


  • Have a fire extinguisher handy to be safe.
  • Don't salt the crawfish while they're still alive. This purging method is effective for crabs and other seafood, but it kills crawfish prematurely.[2]

Things You'll Need

  • Ingredients listed above
  • Gas burner or outdoor cooker
  • Large crawfish pot and basket that can accommodate up to 40 lbs of crawfish
  • Wooden or metal boat oar or paddle
  • Large table covered with newspapers

Article Info

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