Channel your inner Cajun with this easy crawfish boil. Make this southern dish in your slow cooker for a simple yet flavorful Cajun meal.
Ok, lets get this out in the open right away – my crawfish were pre-boiled. A travesty to traditional Cajun or Creole cooking, I know. If I had access to good, affordable, fresh crawfish, of course I would use that. But living in Los Angeles my options are fairly limited. I could either pay an arm and a leg for fresh crawfish or go with the pre-cooked ones I found after visiting 5 grocery stores. I went with the latter. However, I consulted my New Orleans friend so do include instructions for both fresh and pre-cooked below.
What Are Crawfish?
Growing up I called them little lobsters. Close but they’re not. First off, they have many names. I call them crawfish but they’re also known as crayfish, bedbugs, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, yabbies, etc. They have many names but in short they are fresh water crustaceans.
Unlike lobsters that spend their lives in saltwater, crawfish live in fresh water like rivers and ponds. LIKE lobsters, crawfish are bottom dwellers, meaning they eat off the bottom of their water floor. They’re far from being kosher!
Where Are Crawfish From?
If you live in the US, you most likely got your crawfish from the state of Louisiana. Louisiana produces over 100 million pounds of crawfish per year, more than any other state.
Since the early 80s, crawfish has been this official state crustacean of Louisiana, that’s how serious they are about their crawfish! To this day, crawfish boils are still a popular tradition throughout the south but in particular Louisiana.
How To Cook Crawfish in the Slow Cooker
Slow cooking crawfish is not the traditional way of cooking crawfish. I can’t speak to a traditional crawfish boil, I can only address how to cook them in the slow cooker.
Cleaning the Fresh Crawfish:
If you’re using pre-boiled crawfish, they were most likely already cleaned since they’re already cooked so you just need to rinse them with water. With fresh crawfish, you will need to clean them before you cook them. When I say clean, I mean thoroughly wash the crawfish. Pour the sack of live crawfish in large container.
Add water to just cover the crawfish. Stir gently for 3-5 minutes, then rinse. You can add salt to your water if you want, I hear that’s an optional step. Throw away all crawfish that die. You’ll know they’re dead cause they’ll float to the top. Strain crawfish from water and keep in cool area until ready to cook.
Other Crawfish Boil Ingredients – Keeping with traditional ‘country boils’, other ingredients that are usually added include Cajun or Old Bay seasoning, sausage, corn and lemon. I used a homemade old bay seasoning, corn, and lemon. Like a lot of recipes, you have a little bit of leeway here. I’ve seen crawfish boils that have also included onions, bell peppers, and even mushrooms.
Pre-cooked crawfish – you’re really just heating up the crawfish and cooking water food additions you added to the slow cooker. You can do this all at once; the crawfish will not over cook. For fresh crawfish, like my Slow Cooker Cajun Country Boil recipe, you add the seafood at the end of cook time. They cook in about the same amount of time that it would be to cook shell-on shrimp. Speaking of shrimp, if you don’t like crawfish, use this recipe for a shrimp boil!
How To Eat Crawfish
Cover a table with newspapers, dump the drained crawfish and other food veggies onto the newspapers. Dig in. I’m not trying to be funny, that’s how you’re supposed to eat a crawfish boil. That can be messy, so just make sure the crawfish/food are strained from the water and eat it however messy you want.
Let me start by saying, if you don’t want to suck the juices out the head, you don’t have to. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different! Here is how my New Orleans friend advised me:
- Grab the head firmly with one hand and grab the tail with the other hand
- Twist and pull the tail from the head
- Suck the head for a little extra flavor (optional)
- Peel off the first two or three rings
- Pinch the end of the tail and pull the meat from the shell
- Dip the meat in your favorite sauce or butter (optional)
- 2-3 lbs crawfish
- 1 lb. red potatoes, cut in half
- 2-3 ears of corn, cut in half
- 3 lemons, cut in half
- 5 cups water
Homemade Old Bay Seasoning:
- 2 tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.
- Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Stir to mix well.
- Cook HIGH 2–3 hours or LOW 4-6.
- Darin the water and serve.
- Add all the ingredients EXCEPT the crawfish to the slow cooker. Stir to mix well.
- Cook HIGH 2–3 hours or LOW 4-6.
- Gently stir in crawfish an additional cook 15-30 minutes.
- Drain the water and serve.
I used 2 lbs of crawfish in a small 3.5-quart slow cooker and mine was full to the rim. If you’re going to double this to feed a larger crowd, you’ll definitely need a larger slow cooker.
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