Crawfish Bread is one of those things you just can't get enough of. It’s also one of those dishes that gained immense popularity after being introduced at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. A gooey, cheesy mixture of crawfish tails and serious flavor, all packed into scrumptious French bread. One bite and you are dancing at the Fest and loving life, but grab a napkin because Crawfish Bread can get messy! You'll be blown away by how delicious this is and amazed at how easy this recipe is to make.
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What is Crawfish Bread?
The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is held annually in late April and early May. It's no doubt that Jazz Fest offers world-class musical entertainment, but it also drills down on the regional music, art, and cultural flavors of New Orleans and South Louisiana. A day at Jazz Fest is like an immersion bath in everything that makes South Louisiana special. Music gets most of the attention, but the food offerings provide a path into the cultural diversity that make Cajun and Creole cuisine so renowned.
Over the years, dishes created for the Jazz Fest have become iconic fare that is enjoyed year-round. One such dish is Crawfish Monica. Another is Crawfish Bread, which was originally created in1984 by John Ed Laborde from Marksville, LA in Avoyelles Parish. Since its creation, the popularity of Crawfish Bread has exploded and is now one of the most sought-after noshes at the Fest. And believe me, it has lots of competition.
Sweet Daddy D's recipe for Crawfish Bread pays homage to its creator and to the Jazz Fest. I hope my recipe does them justice.
Here’s What You Need
A note on the Crawfish: Use only Louisiana crawfish, avoid imported crawfish. Frozen tails are available at the grocery or seafood market, or use leftover tails from a crawfish boil. Check out the Hints and Tips (FAQs) section below for where to find Crawfish Tails online.
A note on the Bread: I like french bread with a crispy crust and soft interior. You can use just about any french bread you find in the grocery or bakery. Long loaves or french rolls will work. The French Bread I used in this recipe was 24 inches long. You can use smaller loaves or even French rolls or pistolettes. If you can’t find french bread, Italian bread will work, or use your favorite loaf.
A note on the Bell Peppers: I use Red Bell Peppers for this because of the color they add. You can use any color of bell pepper and it will not affect the flavor.A note on the cheese:
Some notes on the cheese: This recipe was developed using 1 cup total of grated cheese. If you like it extremely cheesy, add a little more. I use sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses for this recipe. You can also use other types of melty cheese-Pepper jack, Velvetta, or whatever you like. I always (almost) grate my own because I think that pre-grated cheese can be a bit dry. Feel free to substitute your favorite melty cheese, like pepper jack or American. You can even use processed cheese, like Velvetta.
Here is some of the equipment I used in making this recipe:
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Here’s What You Do
First…you have a beer. This is fun food! Get yourself prepared by reading the recipe all the way through so you learn what you will need and what you will do with each ingredient. Do this while sipping on a beer and you'll be in the right frame of mind to be successful. This is the first step of the mise en place.
Mise en Place
Taking the time for mise en place can save time later and may even divert a disaster. Prepping all the ingredients before you start cooking will assure that you have everything you need and allows you to assemble the recipe with ease.
- Chop the Trinity (yellow onions, bell peppers, and celery) and place them all in one prep bowl.
- Chop the garlic and the green onions and place them in separate small bowls; combine the Herb and Spice Blend in another small prep bowl.
- Measure all the remaining ingredients; mix the mayonnaise, Creole mustard, and Worcestershire sauce in a single prep bowl.
- Grate the cheeses and place them in one prep bowl together.
- Slice the bread lengthwise but not all the way through. (There's a picture late in the article).
- Set out about a half stick of butter to soften and add about 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic. This garlic butter will be used to top the stuffed french bread before baking.
Start With the Crawfish Base
What happens in this step? We start with the flavor foundation derived from the Trinity, garlic, South Lousiana seasonings, and crawfish tails.
Place the butter in a 12” saute pan (or similar) over medium heat. Saute the trinity in the butter for about 8 minutes, until starting to clear. Stir the mixture often so that it does not start to burn.
Add the garlic and the Herb and Spice Blend to the trinity and saute until aromatic. This should only take about 2 minutes.
Next, add the crawfish tails and green onions and stir to completely combine all of the ingredients. Saute for about 3 minutes, until the crawfish tails are warmed through.
Set the pan aside to cool for about 15 minutes
Make it Creamy and Cheesy
What happens in this step? Here is where we turn this into a filling. We'll add a binder to the savory base we just put together to transform it into a creamy and gooey delicious filling.
When the crawfish mixture has cooled, add the combined mixture of mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, and the creole mustard. Mix thoroughly to combine all the ingredients.
Next, blend the grated cheeses into the crawfish mixture.
Make sure to thoroughly blend the ingredients so that they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
Stuff the Bread and Bake
What happens in this step? Can’t have Crawfish Bread without some bread. We’ll stuff the bread, top the loaf with garlic butter then bake it all to melty perfection.
Slice french bread lengthwise (not all the way through) so you can open it like a book. Open the sliced bread to make an open-face loaf.
Pro Tip: Depending upon the bread you use, you may want to scoop or pull out some of the insides to make a shallow well the length of the loaf. This is optional but don't go crazy with it.
Spoon the crawfish filling onto the french bread, starting on one end and filling the loaf evenly with the crawfish mixture.
Close the loaf halves and press down to make a uniformed loaf. Push any filling that's trying to get away back into the loaf. Brush the top of the loaf with garlic butter.
Wrap the stuffed loaf tightly in aluminum foil. Place the loaf into the preheated 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 25-30 minutes.
Pro tip: Make sure to wrap the stuffed loaf very tightly and seal all the foil. I use heavy-duty foil, but use what you have.
Open the foil and allow the bread to cool slightly. Slice into 2 to 3-inch pieces, or as large or small as you want. If you used wide bread, you can slice it, then cut the slices into smaller pieces. You want pieces small enough to eat with your hands.
Hints and Tips (FAQs)
Traditionally a nice loaf of french bread with a crispy crust on the outside and a soft, airy inside. If that's not available, use your favorite. Don't worry too much if you can't find the "perfect" bread. Use what you like or what you can get. If it's too wide, just slice it, then cut it in half. Many grocery stores bake their own bread, so choose one that looks good to you.
I recommend only Louisiana Crawfish Tails. You can use leftover tails from a boil and you will get the added flavor dimension of the crawfish boil seasoning. I usually use frozen Louisiana Crawfish Tail which can be purchased at many grocery stores and seafood markets in one-pound frozen packs or online at CajunGrocer.com (no affiliation) or on Amazon (of which I am an affiliate). Read the label carefully to make sure they are Louisiana crawfish. If all you can find is imported tails, rinse them in cold water before using them. Pat them dry and sprinkle them with a generous shake of Le Bon Papa's Creole Seasoning.
Wrap any leftovers tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. It will be fine in the fridge for about 5 to 7 days and in the freezer for about 2 months. If freezing, place it in an airtight freezer bag (after wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and foil). Defrost the stuffed bread in the fridge overnight, then reheat in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven (see below).
Wrap the bread tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil and reheat in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or as long as it takes to heat all the way through. Don't use plastic wrap when reheating.
Yes, you can make the filling in advance or make the whole recipe in advance. Either way, you can store it in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 2 months. (See the FAQ about leftovers above, it's the same process). When ready to serve, defrost in the fridge overnight, wrap tightly in aluminum foil, and bake according to the recipe instructions.
More great crawfish dishes from Sweet Daddy D:
Are you in the mood for more Creole and Cajun dishes?? Check these out:
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Yeah You Right!
Here's What You Need
- 1 loaf French Bread See Notes
- Garlic Butter See Notes
- 4 tablespoons Butter
- ½ cup Yellow Onions
- ½ cup Bell Peppers See Notes
- ¼ cup Celery
- 2 tablespoons Garlic chopped fine
- 1 pound Crawfish Tails
- ½ cup Green Onions
- ½ cup Mayonaisse
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
- 1 teaspoon Creole Mustard
- ½ cup Monterey Jack Cheese Grated-See Notes
- ½ cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese Grated
Herb and Spice Blend
- 1 tablespoon Creole Seasoing plus some for crawfish
- ½ teaspoon Dry Thyme
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
Here's What You Do
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; set aside ¼ cup of butter to soften (for the garlic butter)
- Sprinkle creole seasonings on the crawfish tails and set them aside.
- Place a saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter, then saute the Trinity until starting to clear. Stir regularly for about 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and the Herb and Spice Blend. Stir and continue for about 2 minutes.
- Add the crawfish tails and green onions. Stir to blend and continue sauteeing for about 3 minutes.
- Set aside to cool; while the mixture is cooling, make the garlic butter by adding 2 cloves of finely chopped or smashed garlic into the softened ¼ cup of butter and blend thoroughly.
- When the crawfish mixture has cooled for about 10 minutes, add the mayo, Worcestershire, and creole mustard. Blend well
- Next, blend in the grated cheese. Set aside.
- Slice the french bread lengthwise (but not completely all the way through).
- Open the bread and fill it with the crawfish mixture.
- Close the bread and brush the top liberally with garlic butter
- Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes.
- Open the foil and allow the bread to cool slightly; Slice into 2 to 3 inch pieces, or as large or small as you want. (See Notes)