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Cajun Crawfish Étouffée

Crawfish Etouffee is a simple yet tasty and homey plate of crawfish tails smothered in rich gravy, served over rice. Its a staple in South Louisiana in both Cajun and Creole cuisines.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Cajun, Creole
Keyword: Crawfish Etouffee
Servings: 8 Servings
Calories: 235kcal
Author: Sweet Daddy D

Here's What You Need

  • 2 pounds Louisiana crawfish tails See Recipe Notes
  • 12 tablespoons Butter divided
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup Yellow Onions diced
  • ½ cup Bell Peppers diced
  • ½ cup Celery chopped
  • 5 - 6 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 bunches green onions chopped-in all
  • 4 cups crawfish stock In all-see Recipe Notes for substitutions

Herb and Spice Blend

  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Basil
  • ½ teaspoon Thyme
  • ½ teaspoon White Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon creole seasoning plus some for the crawfish tails
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
  • 2 bay leaves

Here's What You Do

  • Place the crawfish tails in a bowl and sprinkle with some creole seasoning and set aside. Chop the yellow onions, peppers, celery and set aside in a bowl for later. Chop the green onions and set aside. Chop the garlic and set aside. Mix the Herb and Spice Blend in a small bowl. Set the butter aside to soften and the flour for the roux.
  • Place about 3 cups of the seafood stock in a stock pot to warm (reserve the remainder if needed to thin the etouffee at the end).
  • Place a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add 8 tablespoons of butter until bubbly, then add the flour and whisk continuously to make a medium roux, the color of light chocolate milk. (See Recipe Notes)
  • Add the onions, celery and bell peppers (the Trinity) to the roux, and continue to stir still over medium-high heat until smooth and moist, about 15 minutes.
  • Add about half the green onions and all the garlic; continue to sauté until aromatic-about 1 to 2 minutes; add about ½ of the Herb and Spice mix and both bay leaves and mix well to combine; continue to sauté about 5 more minutes.
  • While the veggie/roux mixture is finishing up, turn the heat to high under the stock pot and bring the stock to a rolling boil.
  • Bring the stock to a full boil in the stock pot. When the veggie/roux mixture is ready, mix it into the boiling stock with a slotted spoon, one spoonful at a time, stirring until the whole spoonful is fully dissolved. Continue this until all the veggie/roux mixture is incorporated into the stock, making sure to return the stock to a full rolling boil in between spoons. Set the cast iron pot aside, do not clean it.
  • Allow the gravy to remain at a high boil for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat, cover the stock pot and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Turn the heat to medium high under the cast iron Dutch oven used for the roux and add 2 tablespoons of butter. As the butter melts scrape up any fond that's stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  • When the butter is foaming, add about ½ to ⅔ of the reserved green onions (saving some to sprinkle on top of the etouffee when serving) and sauté a minute or two, then add the crawfish tails and about half of the remaining Herb and Spice Blend. Mix well until all the crawfish are coated with butter.
  • Sauté about 2 to 3 minutes stirring constantly; you’ll see some liquid developing from the butter and rendering the crawfish. (See Recipe Notes).
  • Ladle the gravy mixture into the crawfish tails and mix well. The liquid from sautéing the tails in the butter will thin out the gravy.
  • Mix well, taste for spice and add more if needed. When this comes to a heavy simmer, lower the heat to a slight simmer for about 10 minutes, covered, while the flavors all come together. If you think it is getting too thick, place the cover on the pan while it simmers; if it's still too thick, add some reserved stock to thin it out.
  • Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and shake the pan back and forth, don’t stir, until the butter is melted into the etouffee-then give it one final gentle stir.
  • Remove the bay leaves and serve over white rice.

Notes

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Crawfish tails are definitely the star of the show. This is a perfect recipe to use leftover tails from a crawfish boil, which give you the extra demension of the seasoning from the boil. Peel all the remaining tails and freeze them for up to 2 months in an airtight vacuum bag. (For freezing more than 2 months, read below). You can also use those shells to make homemade crawfish stock
If you aren't lucky enough to have some fresh crawfish available, you can find frozen tails in a lot of supermarkets or seafood markets, generally in 1 pound packages. It’s common to find imported crawfish tails (usually from China) but I highly recommend only Louisiana crawfish. Frozen crawfish (as well as leftover crawfish tails) will already be cooked (parboiled), so we won't cook them very long in this recipe.
The source and quality of your frozen crawfish tails make all the difference in flavor. Imported crawfish generally aren’t of the same quality or consistency as Louisiana tails. The real difference is in the sweetness, which lies in the "fat", the yellow-orange stuff squeezed from the head and sticking to the tail meat. Actually, it’s not really fat at all but part of the crawfish's digestive system. I’ve found Chinese crawfish tails often taste bitter, which is likely due to the fact that crawfish fat tends to become rancid if frozen too long, usually longer than 2 to 6 months and imported tails are likely frozen much longer than that by the time you get them. If Chinese (or any) crawfish are frozen too long (more than about 5 months) rinse them well in cold water prior to use, let them drain, then pat them dry with paper towels. If you are freezing your own crawfish tail meat from a boil and know you won’t use them for more than a few months, rinse them well in cold water before you freeze them. Using a vacuum sealer and freezing at 0-degrees Fahrenheit will lengthen the time they can be frozen without loss of quality, even up to a year. 
Where can I find some Louisiana Crawfish Tails? You can order online from these folks and be confident you are getting good quality products (full disclosure-I have no affiliation with the first two companies):
 
Leftovers? Hard to believe you'll have any but Crawfish Etouffee can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days, or frozen for 2 to 6 months. (See the comments above about frozen crawfish).  If freezing, allow the etouffee to cool completely, then store it in a shallow airtight container, such as a vacuum-sealed bag and place in a 0-degree Fahrenheit freezer.  To reheat, let the etouffee defrost in the fridge overnight, them warm slowly in a saucepan over medium heat. It's a good option to freeze the etouffee in single-serving portions, then you have a quick meal whenever you want it! 
Crawfish are low in calories, fat and cholesterol and high in protein and a bunch of vitamins. That's right-they are good for you!
Remember, the roux will continue to brown somewhat after you add the Trinity, so you may want to add it when the roux is just a little lighter than you want.
Serving suggestion: Crawfish Etouffee is typically served as an entree over cooked long-grain white rice. However, its also fantastic served as a sauce over fried or broiled catfish, shrimp, stuffed peppers or just about anything else you can think of. 
Here are some common ingredient substitutes for this recipe:
  • Too much butter for you? Substitute vegetable oil to make the roux. 
  • Other proteins can be substituted for the crawfish and are quite common variations of etouffee:
    • Shrimp-peel, devein and rinse the shrimp, then sprinkle with creole seasoning and set aside. Add the raw shrimp as you do the crawfish, just saute them in the butter about 2 or 3 minutes, before you add in the gravy to simmer. Even though the shrimp are not pre-cooked, they will cook very quickly here.
    • Chicken or rabbit-dredge either in flour and creole seasoning and brown on all sides in the Dutch oven before you make the roux. Set the chicken or rabbit aside, then add back to the dutch oven the same as you do the crawfish, but let them simmer in the butter for about 5 minutes before adding the gravy, then simmer the gravy about 20 minutes. 
  • If you don't have crawfish stock, you can substitute chicken stock, either commercial or homemade or commercial seafood stock.
  • Use a long-grain white rice with your Etouffee! If you prefer, basmati or brown rice can be substituted. I generally use par-boiled rice, like Uncle Ben's Converted, but non-parboiled long grain rice is perfectly fine. 

Nutrition

Calories: 235kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 850mg | Potassium: 264mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1223IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 1mg

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