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How to Peel Crawfish

How to Peel Crawfish

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Crawfish season peaks in April or May, when the crawfish are the fattest.

Step 1

Before you peel the shell, separate the tail from the head. Begin by holding the head in one hand and the tail in the other.

Step 2

Gently twist your hands in opposite directions until the crawfish splits in half.

Step 3

Gently squeeze the sides of the tail until you hear the shell crack. Beginning at the top, peel away a few segments of the shell until enough meat is exposed for you to grasp it securely.

Step 4

Holding the fan of the tail in one hand, pull the meat away from the shell. Tip: If the meat breaks apart, peel away the remaining shell segments.

Step 5

Now, you’re ready to eat. For a more authentic Cajun experience: Suck the seasoned cooking liquid after you remove the head before you discard it. You can use your teeth rather than your fingers to remove the crawfish meat from the cracked shell.

How to Peel Crawfish - Recipes

Aurora Catering's

Boiled Crawfish by the Sack

Yield - 35 - 45 Pounds plus Side Dishes for about 10 people

5 LEMONS (cut in half)
5 ONIONS (Cut in half, skin on)
1 WHOLE STALK CELERY (Cut about 3 inch lengths)
2 LBS CREAMER RED POTATOES (See Chef's Notes below)
3 CUPS ZATARAIN'S DRY CRAB BOIL (it comes in a 63 oz plastic jar)
3 CUPS ZATARAIN'S PRO BOIL (it to is sold in a 63 oz plastic jar)

35 - 45 LBS CRAWFISH (by the sack) (See Chef's Notes below)

10 HOT DOGS (Frozen)

Use a propane jet burner and a 120 quart stock pot. Fill the pot about half way with water add all seasonings, garlic and potatoes cover. Light burner and over very high heat bring water to a rolling boil, continue to boil for about 15 minutes. Check potatoes for doneness, potato centers should be slightly under cooked. Lower heat and use a large slotted ladle or net to remove potatoes, store in a small ice chest (without ice!!) or other insulated container for service later.

Return jet burner to very high heat and add live crawfish. Return the pot to a boil. The crawfish will start to float, this is an indication of doneness. Check crawfish when the water returns to a low boil by removing several and peel. Crawfish should be easy to peel (but heads will have little flavor). TURN OFF HEAT when done.

Add hot dogs, corn cobbettes (still in the frozen state), mushrooms and liquid crab boil, cool. Use a paddle or net to stir crawfish, this will also help to cool the crawfish quickly, IF desired, use a hose to water down and cool the outside of the pot. The crawfish will start to absorb the seasonings and sink.

Allow crawfish to soak for 15 minutes. Test the crawfish for flavor, peel and eat several, not just one. Add more liquid Zatarain's if desired, allow crawfish to soak for a TOTAL of about 30 minutes. Crawfish are done when they have sunk below the water line. Remove crawfish, seasonings, and vegetables with a net or basket. Serve with the reserved potatoes.

Alternate Method

There are several other veggies, that can be boiled in with the crawfish.. I have done artichokes, broccoli and cauliflower. The artichokes are boiled and removed along with the potatoes. While other veggies need only be poached at the end of the boil.

After removing the crawfish, I have used the seasoned water to boil eggs (see recipe), smoked sausage and even briskets!

Red "Creamer" potatoes are the smallest available, usually about 1 -1/2 inches in diameter.

While the seasoned water is coming to a boil check the crawfish for mud, sticks and other debris. If needed, use a hose and wash down crawfish.. Years ago, crawfish were harvested in ditches and the swamps.. BUT, today most crawfish come from farmed ponds, and are much cleaner. So I find that it is not required to "purge" the crawfish. Just hose them with cold water while still in the sack.

I use the Zatarain's liquid crab boil at the end of the cooking process. I find the flavors of the liquid seasoning tend to loose their punch when boiled. So I use this seasoning after turning off the heat.

If you are boiling a second batch, add an additional 1/4 of Zatarain's seasonings to the second batch to replace those that were absorbed in the first run. Most backyard chefs will tell you that they like the second batch the best!

5 Easy Steps to Peel a Crawfish Like a New Orleans Native

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With crawfish season in full swing, many face the daunting task of peeling a crawfish for the first time. Crawfish are freshwater crustaceans that thrive in swamps and ditches, and are often boiled with potatoes and corn during the spring time. They look like tiny lobsters, but they have less meat and lots of Louisiana cajun flavor.

Every year, Tulane University puts on Crawfest, a one-day festival with over 20,000 pounds of these little crustaceans. In preparation for this year’s Crawfest, we learned how to peel these guys from New Orleans natives. Here are 5 simple steps to peeling and picking your crawfish like a preaux.

1. Hold the Head

Hold the head with one hand and extend the tail all the way out.

2. Twist the Head Off

Place your thumb and forefinger on either side of the head and twist until the head separates from the tail.

3. Grab the Tail

Put the head aside and focus on the tail, to get all the best meat. #SpoonTip: If you are feeling bold, suck the head for extra flavor.

4. Start Peeling

Use your thumb and start peeling from the wide part of the tail. Peel layer by layer to loosen the meat away from the tail. The amount of layers you have to peel depends on the crawfish, so be patient. Be careful, if the crawfish are juicy this step may get a little dirty.

5. Pinch the Tail

Pinch the tail and wiggle the meat out.

6. Fin.

Do you get it? Because its a crustacean? Celebrate because you can finally taste the fruit of your labor.

As you peel more crawfish, it’ll only get easier and easier. The faster you peel, the faster you can get your hands on another one. Before you know it, you’ll be out of crawdaddies and full for days.

After the boil: Two recipes for leftover crawfish tails

Anyone who has ever boiled crawfish knows that events, after the boil, fall one of three ways:

  • You ordered the exact amount of crawfish, everyone is satisfied and there’s nothing left to peel.
  • There’s enough left to peel to justify dirtying up your hands again. You and some really nice friends or family get to work.
  • There’s no way you’re peeling another tail because you’re fingers are stained and sore, and you really just need to go lie down.

We found ourselves facing #2 this weekend after boiling more than 100 pounds for my husband’s family, so three of us sat down and took on the remainder. It yielded about four cups of tails, plenty for a crawfish-centric main course for 4 to 6, and definitely worth the trouble.

There have been plenty of times when I’ve peeled leftover tails and the haul wasn’t so generous, but I do it anyway. No matter how many tails you’re left with, you can find something fun to do with them, from frittatas and savory pies, to cold salads to classic entrées.

Here are two ways to enjoy crawfish tails after the boil.


Use your favorite etoufée recipe, but keep the following in mind:

Making etoufée with leftover tails is different than using packaged partially-cooked tail meat, of course, because the tails are fully cooked, and because you’re cooking without the delectable orange fat that comes in packages. Reduce the amount of cook time for the tails so that they don’t become chewy and overcooked. And add color with the addition of chopped red bell pepper when you sauté your other aromatic vegetables at the beginning of the recipe. Or add a little fresh chopped tomato at the end. Bay leaves are also a nice accompaniment during the cooking process because they add natural sweetness and flavor.

Crawfish Bruschetta

Bruschettas are little palettes for your creativity, so try constructing some with a few cooked tails. Rub baguette slices with fresh garlic then pile on sliced tomato, crawfish tails and feta crumbles. Sprinkle with olive oil and bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Top with fresh herbs or spinach slivers.

How to Peel Crawfish - Recipes

boil them in unseasoned water for 15-20 minutes. take them out, dump into ice chest, and dump 20 pounds of Tony's on top. have two people grab the ice chest from both handles and shake it all around. let it steam for 10-15 minutes so the Tonys will penetrate the shells. serve with a dip made of mayo, ketchup, and more Tony's.

4 21 2 0

Pick your recipe there are 100's.

But the most important thing is do not overcook them.

I don't care how you season them, but if you overcook them, I ain't wasting my time to peel them.

Cooking time all depends on the size of the crawfish, your pot and more important your burner.

Do not boil them over 3 minutes tops !
Even less if it took you a while to get back up to a boil, or your going to let them sit in a ice chest for 30 minutes after they soak.

Add potatoes a few minutes before the crawfish. Add corn after you kill the heat.

Soak for 15-20 minutes/ taste test the small one,making sure they are not overdone.

And remember, I have never heard anyone bitch about an undercooked crawfish.

1 2 1 0 QuiteTheConundrum
Houston Astros Fan
Member since Dec 2013
1140 posts

re: Boiled Crawfish Recipes Posted by QuiteTheConundrum on 5/10/15 at 7:03 pm to Farkwad

The correct way is to heat a pot of water that is seasoned. Once boiling, take off and set aside. Get a pot of plain water going, put your crawfish in, it will foam, let it come back boiling, then cut the heat. Pull the basket out, rinse the crawfish with a hose, put the basket in the still hot seasoned water, soak for 30 minutes.

Go dump the pot of plain water and look at all the nasty shite that is in the bottom of it that boiled out and off the crawfish.

1 2

Thanks for all the links and advice, everybody. I'm taking notes to hopefully improve the Crawfish Boil Calculator.

It really comes down to 3 techniques:

1) Boil briefly (3-8 minutes, 8 is kind of high) in seasoned broth, then add ice to cool and soak for seasoning for 25 to 45 minutes. (Really best if you're only doing 1 sack because the ice dillutes your broth.)

2) Boil in plain water, then soak in a separate pot filled with warm seasoned broth. (You can do multiple repetitions of this with multiple sacks.)

3) Steam and sprinkle seasoning on the outside. (I have my doubts.)

Don't salt the "purge" water. (LSU Ag Center debunks this)
Clean very well by repeated rinsing.
Straight tails are safe to eat. (LSU Ag Center debunks this, too.)
Do or don't add butter to make the crawfish easier to peel. (I don't see why this would help.)

canned green beans
cracked eggs (poached)


Pour live crawfish into a washtub or ice chest cover with water. Drain. Repeat 3 to 4 times until crawfish are clean. Drain. Discard any dead crawfish and debris

Mix 8 quarts water, Crab Boil, onion and garlic in large (20-quart) stockpot. Bring to boil on high heat boil 5 minutes. Add potatoes boil 5 minutes. Add crawfish and corn return to boil. Cover and cook 2 minutes

Turn off heat and let stand 20 minutes. Add about 6 to 8 cups ice to stockpot let stand 20 minutes to cool. Drain and serve

How to Peel Crawfish - Recipes

" How to Peel Crawfish "

How to Peel Crawfish is an art form that has been developed by true Cajuns over the years. If you really want to learn how to peel crawfish like a Cajun, simply take a look at the slide show below and you will be peeling like an experienced pro in just a few minutes. After you have read the information below the image on "Slide 1" click on the "Next" button to continue.

For those who have never eaten boiled crawfish, you will need to make one more decision before attending your first crawfish boil. There is a small intestinal track running down the back side of a crawfish, which is very similar to that of a boiled shrimp.

If the crawfish were properly boiled, the intestinal tract will be automatically removed when you pinch the tail and remove the meat from the shell. but, this is not always the case.

The majority of Cajuns never pay this any mind. If you wish to remove the intestine prior to eating a crawfish, simply lift up the thin flap of meat on the top-center of the crawfish and discard the intestine. Don't accidentally throw that thin flap of meat away. It's good too!

" Alternative Peeling Method "

After removing the tail from the head of the crawfish, many individuals prefer to use this method to remove crawfish's tail meat from the shell.

    Turn the crawfish tail over which will expose the bottom of the tail.

How to Eat Crawfish at Your Next Seafood Boil

Nothing says spring in Louisiana like a crawfish boil! You don't have to live there to appreciate this tasty tradition, though&mdashalthough you might find yourself wondering how to eat crawfish. And what exactly are these creatures that look like miniature lobsters?

Also referred to as crawdads, crayfish, or mudbugs, crawfish aren't fish at all&mdashthey're crustaceans that live in fresh water, like rivers and marshes. Slightly sweet, they taste like a cross between their cousins, lobster and shrimp. You can find crawfish all over the world, but more than 95% of the crawfish eaten in the U.S. are harvested in Louisiana. Festivals like the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival highlight the popularity of the crustaceans, especially from March to May (aka peak crawfish season). Tucked into regional specialties like crawfish bisque and étouffée or eaten out of hand with Cajun seasoning, they're the state crustacean for a reason! You can also find crawfish in states like Mississippi and Alabama&mdashand if you don't live in the Southeast, you can buy them online from retailers like LA Crawfish.

The most common way to cook crawfish is by boiling them. But because they're usually served shell-on, you might be a little intimidated if you&rsquove never tried one before! Read on for a foolproof, step-by-step guide to eating boiled crawfish.

How to Boil Crawfish

Boiling crawfish is a Cajun tradition, an event and social gathering not to be rushed, but to be enjoyed with family and friends!

Fill your chest with ice, beer and cold drinks, gather up newspaper to spread on the outdoor tables, setup the lawn chairs, and begin the "process".

Gather the Equipment & the Essentials

Outdoor propane cooker

The Crawfish Boiling Recipe

There are hundreds of recipes for boiling Louisiana crawfish, and thousands of variations.

We've used one "recipe" for years, for decades actually. We fine-tune it sometime depending on the taste buds of our guests, but it goes something like the following.

An average person typically consumes about 3 pounds of boiled crawfish, served with corn and potatoes.

Some long-time crawfish eaters might consume as much as 5 pounds.

Most live crawfish come in mesh sack of about 35-50 pounds.

This recipe is for a smaller sack, about 28 pounds of crawfish. We find this size bag feeds a family of 6 comfortably, and leaves a few pounds of cleaned tails for freezing.

We split the bag into 2 equal batches, each about 14 pounds. If the batches are about the same size, it is easier to keep a uniform ratio of water-spices-crawfish. We also cook our corn and potatoes only in the first batch.

Another advantage of splitting the crawfish into two batches: we can control the spice or "heat" level in each to cater to different palates of different guests. One batch is "hot", the other not so much!

We use an average size boiling pot (40qts), which can boil about 14-15 pounds of crawfish and associated ingredients. Other available pots are larger and can accommodate more crawfish.

Make sure your butane tank is full, and that your butane burner has been safety-checked.


28 pounds live crawfish . in a sack like this one

Cajun Seafood Recipes

New Orelans Style Cooking includes Cajun seafood recipes for culinary delights such as such as jambalaya, crawfish pie, and file gumbo!

Crawfish, shrimp, oysters, and crab are staples in New Oreans cuisine.

Seafood is so versatile. It can be boiled, blackened, broiled, fried, baked, and barbecued, or made into gumbo, chowder or even soup!

Seafood sandwiches are a New Orleans specialty. You will often hear people ask for a "Po'Boy on french dressed."

A po'boy is a traditional New Orleans style seafood sandwich on crusty french bread. The shrimp, oysters, or crawfish are usually fried. It is "dressed", if it is loaded with lettuce, tomato or mayonnaise!

  • 2 pounds shrimp (or oysters, crawfish)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Creole seasoning or salt/pepper

Mix egg and milk together. Season the shrimp. Dip shrimp into egg mixture, then coat with fish fry. Fry until golden brown.

Drain shrimp on paper towels. Spread mayonnaise or butter on bread. Arrange shrimp, tomato, lettuce on bread!

Try a few of these seafood recipes listed below and you will be cooking New Orleans Style!

Crawfish Boil Recipe
A Crawfish Boil Recipe can bring family and friends together with the sole of purpose of eating and having a good time. Turn your next gathering into an event with Cajun seafood recipes. What a way to party!

Shrimp Boil Recipe
A Shrimp Boil Recipe is must around the holidays! Make 2 batches, one for peel and eat shrimp, the other for shrimp dips and salad. Use this recipe as base!

Cajun Garlic Shrimp
Make your family think that you are a gourmet cook!

Shrimp Creole
Make delicious shrimp creole in no time flat!

Shrimp Jambalaya Recipe
Please all your guests with this delicious and versatile favorite

New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp
Spicy and delicious barbecued shrimp. The secret is there's no barbecue sauce!

Crawfish Bread
Indescribably delicious. Destined to be a favorite!

Easy Crawfish Pie Recipe
This Crawfish Pie recipe is quick and easy and tasty. It is a family favorite!

Sweet And Spicy Shrimp Stir Fry
This will satisfy your need for Chinese take out!

Easy Stuffed Peppers
The combination of ground beef and seafood gives this dish a unique flavor!


Hi, I am Dianna Smith from New Jersey, but married a native New Orleanian. Granny Boutte is my mother-in-law. Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Boutte family recipe book, so I became a blogger to share those​ amazing recipes. You can blame me if any do not turn out awesome  (probably a typo!).

Laissez les bons temps rouler!
(Let the good times roll!)

How to Cook Crawfish

Crawfish. I’m thankful for whoever decided that it was a good idea to pull a creature from the mud, wash it off and eat it. Though called a crawfish or seafood “boil”, it is really more of a simmer and poach process. This allows the tails to soak up all the spicy seasonings, and the flavors of the other ingredients to marry. Everyone has their go-to recipe for a crawfish boil. It’s like gumbo, there are so many options.

This time of year reminds me of being at college in Baton Rouge, at LSU. I had eaten more than my fair share of crawfish at many a New Orleans boil prior, but in Baton Rouge my crawfish consumption became more prevalent. I remember studying in the sorority house and when someone would just utter the word crawfish, the girls and I would be out of the door to the nearest market, picking up a bag, at yes, .99 cents per pound…boiled.

Crawfish season begins late January and runs through May. In June they are a bit harder to peel, and in January they are smaller, but anytime is a good time for a crawfish boil in my opinion.

The Basics needed for a crawfish boil are:

1) a big pot with wire basket insert

8) a small bag of fresh lemons (about 5-7)

9) fresh Louisiana crawfish

10) 2 pounds of andouille or smoked sausage cut into 3-inch links

11) several rolls of paper towels plus a hefty bag lined trash can

12) newspapers to dump the crawfish on, and an underlining of plastic for easy clean up

14) 2 sticks salted butter room temperature (optional)

You can find most equipment needed for a boil at any local hardware store. Get a high BTU burner like 50K and a regulator (a safety device).

The height of the burner is important, so get a lower, shorter one for boiling crawfish. You can use it at Thanksgiving to for frying up your next bird.

A 60 quart pot is the best option as you can base the sack’s of crawfish needed on your attendees. Plan on crashers too. This size pot will handle most any size sack, along with other ingredients. The paddle is also important, as you will need it to stir the crawfish. A wooden 36 inch paddle will do.

Buying Crawfish:

For 6-8 normal crawfish eating people you will need at least 30 pounds of crawfish.

4 to 5 pounds per person is typical, though I can easily put away more and so can my family. Those not so familiar or passionate about the mud bug, may only eat 2 pounds. You can always use them in dishes the following days ahead, so don’t fret about leftovers.

Buy from a seafood dealer you know and respect, that has a reputable business. The dealer can also order them for you if not on hand. Here is a great list of Louisiana dealers.

If they are filthy, and full of gunk, then the dealer has taken advantage of you and your money. Also, make sure your sack of crawfish are all about the same in size so that they will cook evenly.

Another option is to buy farmed crawfish online, which I have done in the past with They arrive fresh, clean, with seasoning and instructions, right to your front door.

To purge or not to purge. I do, just without the salt. Old school New Orleanian’s, and Cajun’s might disagree.

I rinse the crawfish well in the sack, and then open it, submerging the crawfish in fresh water using the basket in the pot, multiple times over an 8-12-hour period until the used water is clear, removing any dead ones that float to the top.

It is really the only way to significantly reduce size and content of the guts of the crawfish. Another option is to buy them already cleaned and purged. Just give them a quick rise for 5-10 minutes.

Nordic Fall Flavors at Manhattan’s Aquavit Restaurant

Time For Spice:

If not making your own spice mix, use Zatarain’s, or the 4 pound bag of Slap Ya Mama as it does not contain MSG. Both are available at most local supermarkets. Follow the directions on the labels. Both already contain salt, the latter brand less. I prefer to let the flavors of crawfish shine, you can add more salt (like Morton’s) to taste, for preference.

Watch the video: How To. Peel Crawfish (May 2022).