Cajun Crawfish Bisque

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Crawfish Bisqueit’s probably at the top of the list when you talk about Cajun treats. Although it may seem like it, not every Cajun dish is a fête, but making Crawfish bisque is traditionally a family affair. Normally prepared towards the end of crawfish season to use up all the leftover crawfish meat, it’s not unusual to see family gatherings where many participate in the preparation.

Spoonful of Cajun Crawfish Bisque with two stuffed heads
Delicious Cajun Crawfish Bisque

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It’s not as complicated as it may appear, but stuffing all those crawfish heads does get pretty time consuming and labor intensive. That’s a great excuse to get the generations together and everybody pitch in…who knows, I bet this is the way many Cajun folklore has been passed down through the generations. Let’s take a look at Sweet Daddy D’s Cajun Crawfish Bisque…no-angst, delicious and very special.

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Here’s What You Need

Leftover crawfish supply most of the foundation for this classic. Nothing goes to waste. The leftover crawfish tail meat will be used in the stuffing for the heads as well as being added to the bisque. The cleaned out head shells will be stuffed with a filling made from ground tail meat, vegetables, seasonings and breadcrumbs, while the remaining shells will be used to make a rich crawfish stock.   

Cleaned Crawfish Heads
Cleaned crawfish heads

The rest of the ingredients for the stuffed heads include yellow onions, celery, garlic and parsley. To hold everything together, we’ll use whole eggs and seasoned bread crumbs. Season it up with creole seasonings and fresh ground pepper.

Stuffing Ingredients for crawfish heads
Ingredients for Stuffing

The bisque will start with a medium roux of vegetable oil and All Purpose Flour. The ubiquitous Trinity-yellow onions, celery and bell peppers will be used, with some green onions, garlic and parsley. A small amount of tomato sauce and some creole seasoning join all these other ingredients in the homemade crawfish stock.

Crawfish Bisque Ingredients
Bisque Ingredients

Here’s What You Do

First…you have a beer. This is going to be done in two phases-making the filling and stuffing the heads and making the bisque, but you can do your mise en place all at the same time. Many of the ingredients are common to both, so, pop a beer, read through the recipe completely and make a plan.  Chop your onions, green peppers, celery, green onions, garlic and parsley, keeping what you need for each phase separate. Measure out the creole seasoning into separate ramekins. Measure the flour, oil, bread crumbs and get your cleaned heads ready. Place two pounds of crawfish tails in one bowl and two pounds in another bowl-sprinkle some creole seasoning one each. l. Set eight cups of crawfish stock in a dutch oven and set to warm-make sure to have some reserved stock in case you need it. You may need another beer by this time.

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We’ll start with the stuffed heads:

Prepare the tail meat

Separate out about ¼  cup of tails and chop coarsely. With the remaining tails, process them in a food processor until they are fine. Add those to the bowl.

Ground Crawfish Tails in a bowl
Ground Crawfish Tails
Put the vegetables in the food processor

In the same food processor, processor, grind the yellow onions, celery, parsley and garlic until very fine.

Add everything to the bowl

Dump the ground veggies into the bowl with the ground tail meat and make sure you get all the onion juice. Add about half the bread crumbs, eggs and creole seasoning. Mix well with your hands until you can form little balls. Add more bread crumbs and needed.

Crawfish Stuffing
Stuffing for the crawfish heads
Stuff the heads

Take a cleaned crawfish head upside down in your left hand (for right handed people) and slip your left index finger from the wide part to the narrow part (where the eyes used to be) and spread it apart. Place a little filling with your left hand and press it into the head, making it a little wider still. Push down with your index finger and press as much stuffing in there as possible, then clean off the outside of the head so that it is fully stuffed. You will end up with a about a large tablespoon of filling, depending on how big the head is. Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it after doing a few. It’s not a beauty contest-just get as much in there and try to make them as uniform as possible. It will taste great no matter what it looks like!

Bake the stuffed heads

Place all the stuffed heads onto a baking sheet and place in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, until they are just starting to get browned. Take them out and set them aside until it’s time to dump them in the bisque.

Stuffed crawfish heads out of the oven
Stuffed Crawfish heads right from the oven

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Now it’s time to start on the Bisque:

Make a medium roux

In a heavy bottomed dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil until it is shimmering. Add the flour and whisk constantly until you have a medium roux, like milk chocolate. Remember that the roux will continue to brown some once you add the trinity, and this is what will give the bisque its beautiful color.

Finished Roux
Make a nice medium roux
Cook the trinity in the roux

When the roux is where you want it, add the onions, celery and bell pepper. Continue to stir until the veggies are getting soft and the onions are beginning to clear. This should take about 8 minutes.

Add Trinity to Roux
Cook the trinity in the roux
Add the aromatics

Thrown in the garlic, about ⅔ of the green onions and the creole seasoning. Stir continuously until the garlic is aromatic, which should be about 2 minutes.

Add Creole Seasoning, garlic and green onions to Roux Mixture
Add the aromatics to the roux mixture
Add the crawfish tails and tomato sauce

Add the tomato sauce and mix well, then the tail meat in about 4 batches, stirring constantly until everything is completely blended.

Adding crawfish tails to the Roux Mixture
Add the crawfish meat and the tomato sauce to the veggies

 

Stir in the stock

By now the stock should be about the same temperature as the roux and crawfish tails. This is important to make a smooth bisque-you don’t want to add cold stock. Do this a ladle at a time, making sure to completely incorporate all ingredients before adding the next ladle. Once about half of the stock has been incorporated, you can add the remaining stock. Stir very well to make sure everything is mixed together without lumps.

Adding Stock to roux and crawfish tails
Stir in the stock a little at a time
Simmer

Bring the bisque to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the bisque for about 15 minutes. This will help the flavors to meld together.

Simmering the crawfish bisque
Let the flavors come together by simmering about 15 minutes after adding the stock
Add the stuffed heads

Increase the heat again and start adding the stuffed heads, a few at a time. Keep stirring in between adding the heads until they are all added.

stuffed crawfish heads simmering in the bisque
Add the stuffed heads and simmer some more
Reduce to a simmer and cover

Once the heads are added and the bisque returns to a boil, reduce the heat again to a simmer, cover, and continue to simmer for 45 minutes. Make sure to stir often as the heads will want to stick to the bottom. Add some of the reserve stock if needed.

Crawfish Bisque with Rice and French Bread
Cajun Crawfish Bisque with Rice served with french bread and salad
Add the parsley and serve

After 45 minutes, add the chopped parsley and stir well. Taste for seasoning-add kosher salt and pepper is needed. Serve it in bowls over rice.

There you have it, that’s simpler than you thought, right?

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Hints and Tips

  • What happens if you don’t have crawfish heads? I thought everyone kept cleaned crawfish heads in their freezer, but maybe not. No worries, just form the stuffing into little football about an inch long-these are called boulettes. Follow all the instructions, just don’t stuff the heads. They will stick together and once baked and will be delicious. But…if you want to get in touch with your inner-Cajun, you can get some cleaned heads on-line at Tony’s Seafood.  (Sweet Daddy D has no affiliation with Tony’s)
  • Don’t have crawfish stock? Again, what? Guess what, no worries. Just use some commercial seafood stock, chicken stock or even vegetable stock.
  • Don’t have crawfish tails? Come on? Is your freezer empty? Again, no worries. You can usually find frozen tail meat in the better grocery stores or order these online. Remember, stick with Louisiana crawfish. If you can’t find those and need to go with imported, make sure to rinse them very well before you use them.  
  • Remember, it’s a bisque-a thick, rich soup with a creamy consistency where the stock and seafood is thickened by a roux. With the roux and the stuffed heads or boulettes, it can get pretty thick. To make sure it has the consistency of a thick soup and not a thick gravy, make sure to have some extra stock on hand. If you don’t have extra, just use a little water if you need to thin it out a bit.
  • Don’t add salt until the end. If you are using homemade crawfish stock and/or leftover crawfish tails, there is likely some residual salt from the crawfish boil, or even salt from your commercial creole seasoning. Taste the bisque at the end and add more if you need to, but you don’t want to over salt it.

Want some other crawfish dishes? Try these delicious recipes:

Here are some good Louisiana Crawfish:

 

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Yeah You Right!

 

Spoonful of Cajun Crawfish Bisque with two stuffed heads
Cajun Crawfish Bisque
Votes: 3
Rating: 4.33
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Crawfish Bisque is the Dean of Cajun cuisine. Traditionally prepared late in crawfish season as a way to use up all the extra crawfish. Preparation is usually a family affair, as cleaned crawfish heads are stuffed with a filling made from ground crawfish tails, vegetables and spices. These stuffed heads are added to a rich bisque made from the trinity cooked down in a roux with herbs and spices and a rich crawfish stock. It doesn't get any better than this!
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 1.5 Hours
Cook Time Calories per Serving
1.5 Hours 485
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 1.5 Hours
Cook Time Calories per Serving
1.5 Hours 485
Spoonful of Cajun Crawfish Bisque with two stuffed heads
Cajun Crawfish Bisque
Votes: 3
Rating: 4.33
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Crawfish Bisque is the Dean of Cajun cuisine. Traditionally prepared late in crawfish season as a way to use up all the extra crawfish. Preparation is usually a family affair, as cleaned crawfish heads are stuffed with a filling made from ground crawfish tails, vegetables and spices. These stuffed heads are added to a rich bisque made from the trinity cooked down in a roux with herbs and spices and a rich crawfish stock. It doesn't get any better than this!
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 1.5 Hours
Cook Time Calories per Serving
1.5 Hours 485
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 1.5 Hours
Cook Time Calories per Serving
1.5 Hours 485
This is What You Need
For stuffing the heads
For the bisque
This is What You Do
To stuff the heads
  1. Set aside about 1/4 cup of the crawfish tails.
  2. Place the remaining tails into a food processor and grind until fine, place in a bowl.
  3. Take the reserved crawfish tails and roughly chop them into small pieces, place them with the ground tails.
  4. Place the onions, celery, garlic and parsley in the food processor and chop until very fine.
  5. Place the vegetables in the bowl with the crawfish and make sure to include any juice generated by the food processing.
  6. To the bowl add the eggs, creole seasoning and pepper.
  7. Add the breadcrumbs, starting with about 1 cup. Mix all together with your hands. Add more breadcrumbs as needed to make sure it holds together.
  8. Stuff the crawfish heads with the filling. Starting on the wider end of the head’s opening, use your left index finger to spread the shell open, place filling into the head and stuff it tightly with your right index finger. Alternately, you could forego stuffing the heads and form the filling into small balls known as boulettes.
  9. Place all the stuffed heads on a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside.
To make the bisque:
  1. Place the tail meat in a bowl, sprinkle with creole seasoning and set aside.
  2. Place 8 cups of crawfish stock in a stock pot and warm until almost boiling.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large cast iron dutch oven over high heat.
  4. When the oil is shimmering, add the flour and whisk constantly until you have a medium roux. Add the trinity (yellow onions, celery and bell peppers) into the roux and stir constantly until softened, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic, about 2/3 of the green onions and the creole seasoning. Stir until blended and becoming aromatic, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the crawfish tails in about four batches and the tomato sauce, stir to mix well.
  7. Making sure the stock is about the same temperature as the roux mixture, slowly add stock to the roux and crawfish, a ladle at a time, stirring to completely blend the stock into the roux mixture before adding the next ladle.
  8. Continue this, one ladle at a time, until about half of the stock has been added, then you can add the balance of the stock and mix together very well. Make sure there are no lumps.
  9. Bring the bisque to a high boil, reduce heat to a medium simmer and let it simmer for about 15 minutes uncovered.
  10. Add the stuffed crawfish heads and return to a boil.
  11. Once it boils, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir often to keep the heads off the bottom of the pot.
  12. Add some of the reserved stock if it gets too thick.
  13. After 45 minutes add the parsley and stir well.
  14. Serve in a bowl over a scoop of white rice, making sure to get some of the stuffed heads in each serving. Sprinkle chopped green onions on top.
Recipe Notes

If you don’t have heads, you can form boulettes- small balls made from the stuffing mix.

If you don't have access to crawfish stock, you can substitute seafood, chicken or vegetable stock.

Cut the prep time down-get some help stuffing the heads-that's where the time is involved!

Be careful adding salt to this without tasting it. There will be some residual salt from the crawfish boil if you are using reserved shells to make the stock, as well as potentially salt in the commercial creole seasoning.

Nutrition Facts
Cajun Crawfish Bisque
Amount Per Serving
Calories 485 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 37%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Polyunsaturated Fat 9g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 268mg 89%
Sodium 824mg 34%
Potassium 475mg 14%
Total Carbohydrates 31g 10%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 5g
Protein 37g 74%
Vitamin A 36%
Vitamin C 52%
Calcium 17%
Iron 43%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.