Crawfish are a traditional New Orleans seafood that is served boiled, sauteed, baked or fried in different varieties and dishes. From crawfish bread and crawfish etouffee to freshly boiled with unique seasoning, crawfish is loved in numerous forms.
A crawfish resembles a small lobster, but they come from freshwater. Where they live under rocks and along the water’s floor. They’re found locally in Louisiana streams, ponds and rivers. Most popularly, they are served boiled with herbs, spices and vegetables--usually potatoes and corn. A traditional boil is when they’re served to you shell-on, requiring you to peel them to eat.
Locals can probably peel crawfish in their sleep, but for visitors, it may seem like a tricky task. You grab the tail and the head and twist, then pull the tail from the head portion and peel the shell off the tail. It often helps to pinch the tip of the tail to fully pull all the meat out. Check out our infographic for some tips on how to peel them.
Crawfish are in season in the spring months, but usually can be found beginning in January until July. The peak months for crawfish are March, April and May. This is when you will find crawfish boils around town and at local markets.
No backyard? No problem! Parks across the city let you host your own crawfish boils. Pick up some live crawfish and call your friends. You will need to bring your own equipment, however. Some of our favorite spots include The Fly, Bayou St. John, and City Park. Check out our Crawfish Boil reciepe below for all the makings of a traditional New Orleans Boil.
Special equipment: outdoor propane cooker, large pot and basket, and paddle for stirring
Place water (6 gallons per sack plus extra for add-ins) on the boiling rig on high until water is boiling (15-20 minutes). Cut lemons and onions in half and add to the water with seasonings and garlic.
Add crawfish and potatoes and stir. Cover pot until it is boiling again (another 15-20 minutes). Turn the fire off and allow crawfish to sit in the spicy water. Add the corn and set them with the crawfish for 15 minutes. When the crawfish begin to sink, they have likely absorbed the seasoning. Carefully lift the basket of crawfish out of the boiling pot and drain. Pour crawfish and add-ins onto the table to enjoy.
(Pro-Tip: lay down newspapers/paper bags/trashbags onto the surface you’ll be eating off of to make cleanup a breeze!)
When in season, you can find crawfish at many local restaurants and markets across town both alive and boiled. For some of our favorites, see our Ultimate Crawfish Guide. They are usually sold by the pound. Many spring festivals also serve boiled crawfish such as French Quarter Fest, Jazz Festival, and dedicated crawfish festivals like Crawfish Mambo and NOLA Crawfish Fest. For a list of restaurants that serve them, see below.