Crawfish Etouffee

 Crawfish EtouffeePronounced a-too-fay, it doesn’t really matter how you say it, just as long as you cook some and try it out!  

Crawfish really aren’t fish at all, as you well know, but rather they are arthropods.  Yep, you read that right.  From the same family as spiders and probably the reason some folks refer to them as “mud bugs”, a term about which a friend recently queried me.  Those folks tend to be a little late to the party and from north Louisiana, because I don’t know one self-respecting bayou person or Cajun who refers to crawfish as mud bugs.  But again, no matter what you call them, unless you’ve tried ’em, don’t knock ’em.

Typically, we don’t buy live crawfish so we can cook them into delicious dishes like crawfish stew, etouffee, or crawfish pie.  Rather, we boil them first in seasoned water, along with onions, potatoes, corn and just about any other thing you like to eat boiled in the spicy water.  Some folks also add mushrooms, cauliflower, artichokes, and asparagus.  But simple bayou folks stick to the basics.  We love us some boiled crawfish!!

Termite just celebrated his 19th birthday, and he wanted to boil up some sacks of crawfish for the family.  Of course, we didn’t fight him on that idea.  He did a fantastic job, and the crawfish were perfectly seasoned and came right out of the tail with ease.

Swamp CrawfWe have two types of indigenous crawfish in Louisiana–the red swamp crawfish and white river crawfish.  A little darker in color, the swamp crawfish have slightly harder exoskeletons (or shells), and the river (also called spillway) crawfish have less red pigment.  Both taste very similar once they are boiled.  

Historically, crawfish were consumed by Native Americans and poor folks, because they grew in the wild and were easily accessible in the late winter and early spring.  It wasn’t until around the 1930’s and the advent of transportation and refrigeration that crawfish became a commercial commodity and in demand by more sophisticated palates.  I’m sure those Indians and Cajuns were very, very sad when the secret got out as to just how delicious crawfish really are.

Eventually, rice farmers in southwest Louisiana started flooding their rice fields after the harvest in order to “farm” the crawfish.  This industry has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and has become the rice farmers bread and butter.  Many of the crawfish are sold in large quantities to seafood markets by the “sack”, which average 40 pounds each.  The majority of those farmed crawfish are sold right here in Louisiana, with a small percentage being exported to other states or countries.

CrawfishThere’s so much more to learn about the crawfish, but I will save all that for another fact-filled article.  Right now, I’m interested in sharing with you the recipe that I just cooked up this afternoon using the leftover crawfish tails from Termite’s successful “crawfish boil”.

Don’t fret if you don’t have fresh, leftover crawfish tails, because you can find them in the frozen seafood section of your major grocers.  Just make sure that the package says “product of Louisiana” and not “product of China” or some other foreign country.  

This recipe was adapted from one in the spring issue of Garden and Gun Magazine.  Lance Pitre, the author of this recipe, has won multiple etouffee championships with this recipe; and since I don’t have one of my own that I love, I thought I’d give his a whirl, with just a little tweaking.

Crawfish Etouffee

Print Recipe
Creamy, spicy sauce swimming with tasty crawfish tail morsels, served over rice!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Main Course
Servings: 6
Author: Wendy Billiot (adapted from Lance Pitre)


  • 1⅓ cups yellow onion or one medium onion, chopped,
  • ½ cup green bell pepper or one medium bell pepper, chopped,
  • ½ cup red bell pepper I used 2 small sweet peppers, chopped
  • cup yellow bell pepper I used 2 small sweet peppers, chopped
  • cup orange bell pepper I used 2 small sweet peppers, chopped
  • ½ cup celery or 2 stalks, chopped,
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 3 tbsp . flour
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 8- oz . can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth use more after cooking process is complete to thin, if desired
  • cup half-and-half
  • 1 16- oz . package peeled Louisiana crawfish I used leftover boiled crawfish tails
  • ½ tsp . cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp . salt
  • tsp . ground cloves
  • 2 stalks green onions chopped


  • Over medium heat, sauté the onion, bell peppers, and celery in butter until the onions are translucent—approximately 15 minutes.
  • Add the flour, stirring constantly until well blended but not browned.
  • Add garlic and tomato sauce, stir.
  • Stir in chicken broth and half-and-half.
  • Lower heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
  • Add crawfish, seasonings, and green onions.
  • Heat through for about 15 more minutes, stirring often, allowing flavors to blend.


Serve over a bed of hot rice, with a green salad, and hot French bread or pistolettes for dipping the sauce from your bowl!
Serves 6-8 depending on serving size.

The price per pound of live crawfish is still very high right now, because it is still the Lenten season. Once Lent is over, however, hopefully the price will go down. I’ve seen times when we paid .49 per pound, but right now, they are about $4.00 per pound. That’s just crazy for these funny looking delicacies that live in the mud, but the secret is out, and there’s no going back. Crawfish are just that good if done right. So, get yourself some tails and get cracking on this recipe, and let us know how you liked it.

Spring is finally here!


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  1. Oh it is so close to time for our yearly crawfish boil. This sounds really good. I’ll have to try it if I can find some decent frozen tails.

  2. Thanks for your post. Looks like a great recipe. My family has loved Chef Paul Prudhomme’s recipe for years. Unfortunately, the only crawfish I can get in VA is from China, so I rarely make it anymore. Happy birthday to J! My how time flies!

    1. Hi Mary Lynn. I don’t blame you for not giving in to buying the imported crawfish tails. I know you and Bill miss your Cajun food!!!! It was the youngest’s birthday–he turned 19!!! J is now 22!!

  3. I was wondering what to try for dinner tonight, I think I will make this. We have some leftover crawfish from Bryces birthday meal. He and Termite think alike when it comes to food!

    1. I KNEW you were going to make this ASAP!!! To be honest, they tore it up and ate it all, but I’m kinda funny when it comes to sweet peppers. It would have been just as good to me with green bell pepper only, but I’m sure the original author added the others for color–they do make it very colorful!! I hope Bryce likes it as much as Termite did!

  4. Crawfish are right at the top of my food group. The crawfish vendors from La. are in my area now. I am waiting for the price to drop a little. Beware of chinese food of any kind.
    Termite, sure sounds like he did good. Wishing I could of been there. I can put a hurt on me some crawfish. Gonna try your recipe, thanks. Bill

    1. Yep, you are one luck man living closer to the source, and hopefully you get a more decent price than we do way down here. Readers from other places don’t realize that it’s too brackish for crawfish farming down where I live. We do have the red swamp crawfish growing wild and can catch a mess in the ditches with nets, but it’s hard work!! I’ve done my share of that, but I’m not too keen on fishing the ditches any more! So, we pay for them now on special occasions! Let me know if you like the recipe!

  5. This is the weekend of the big crawfish festival here. Trucks from Louisiana have been rolling into town — I even saw one from Mamou! For the festival, the price is $2.99/lb, although you have to pay $8 to get in. That includes the music, and etc, so it’s ok, but I think I’ll just go down to the Texas City dike and get some already cooked tails. (The info on the festival says they cooked up 6,000 pounds per hour last year — and it’s a three-day festival!)

    Your recipe looks great, and it helps to explain how it is that the etouffee tastes so good. I’m going to give it a try this weekend!

    1. I’m still waiting for you to tell everyone that I had the honor of dining with you in Eunice, LA when you indulged in your first taste of boiled crawfish! I can never eat boiled crawfish now without thinking of you and your first taste! What a great time we had at the Courir de Mardi Gras! Right?

  6. Had some last Sunday that my daughter-in-law cooked. I added 2 fried fish filets on top then topped that with some more etouffee. Some local dining places charge $15 and up. The $15 price is usually the lunch menu with 1 filet. I had to resort to using some “made in China” crawfish around Christmas time. They just DO NOT taste like La. crawfish. The texture is even different. The next time I make some etouffee I think I’ll try this recipe. Like you, I think green peppers are just fine. I don’t eat with my eyes first. (Well,maybe a pastry) My nose is better!

    1. Fried fish fillets on top would be grand! Maybe next time! Just a warning about this recipe–if your gang don’t like raw green onions, add them sooner and cook them down a bit. They are added more like a garnish at the end of cooking, and they hold a zap of flavor and a bit of crunch that some folks might not appreciate. So, you’ve been forewarned!!! I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine did. The Captain almost licked his bowl clean from the leftovers last night. That’s saying a lot, because he is very, very picky!

  7. Hi Nabor ran an ad for Louisiana crawfish tails for $8.99 a pack so I went over there this afternoon for a few pounds. When I asked for 4 pounds of tails the cashier told me that the price for a pound was $12.99. The packs on sale are only 12 ounces. Bummer! No etoufee for me today. I passed on the deal. The $2.79/pound ground round made me feel a little better.

    1. Oh come on now! Why didn’t you just spring for some of the 12 ouncers? You’re too funny! Plus you missed out on a great recipe that I’m SURE you could’ve made at least 25% better with your culinary skills! Wondering what you made with the ground round? Great hearing from you!

  8. BW, made the etouffee recipe last night. It was super, will have to say used shrimp, could not find crawfish tails. but it was all eaten, always a good sign.
    Our crawfish man said he would bring me some tails and a gallon of oysters next week. Man am I gonna be nappy. Was not happy about the price of bell pepper, 3 for $3.98. Thanks for the recipe. Bill

    1. What’s up with the price of bell pepper over there? That’s just crazy! So glad your craw ate it up! I’m sure it was just as good with shrimp. That’s a good tidbit for all of us to know. Hear that folks? The recipe is great with shrimp, too! Thanks for coming back and letting us know, Bill!

      1. Guess what, my crawfish man will be back this week end. He is bring me some crawfish tails and a gallon of shucked La. oysters. Yeah buddy, I gonna be in fat city for sure. Bill

  9. I looked at frozen crawfish tails today at the store and they were in a much smaller package than they used to be and over $14!! There might have been 2 cups of tails, fat and liquid in the package.

    1. Sounds like you encountered the same problem as Choupiquer! But Bill Bradshaw says shrimp are delicious in this recipe, as well. You’ll just have to make sure you get some leftovers from your annual family crawfish boil!

  10. Last week youngest son did a bang-up job on boiling crawfish. Today, oldest son boiled up some nice ones, too. Someone added big dill pickles to the boil. Now THAT was a new one on me. They were interesting! Strong and salty! Good times all around! Price, live, $2.79 a pound. Yowser!

  11. I am such a fan of a good etouffee, and I gotta say the pics on this post look so good! Can’t wait til we can give this recipe a shot.

  12. My niece spoons étouffée on crescent rolls and rolls them up and bakes it. Hot Pockets Cajun Style.

  13. I usually would use cream of mushroom soup to make a quick and easy etouffee, but this is a super good recipe. The family loved it. Potato salad and fried catfish goes good with it.

    1. So glad you tried it and the family approved, Wardell! thanks so much for coming back and letting us know! Come by any time! BW

  14. 5 stars
    The boyfriend from Baton Rouge made this last summer (with frozen tails) and Omg it was so good. We ran across a pic we took of it and decided to make it again tonight. Can’t wait…

  15. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for posting this amazing Recipe. We use it all the time to make this. My husband (who is from LA) and I both fell in love with Etufee ever since we have been to Steamboat Bills in Lake Charles LA. We have made it with shrimp and Chicken since we can’t get Fresh Crawfish where we are at. This is literally the closest I have seen to actually going to Steam Boat Bills!!! Easy and fast. Love it.