Classic Crawfish Boil Recipe

The perfect Cajun way to feed a crowd.
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Servings: 10
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes


15 pounds|6.8 kilograms live crawfish
6 gallons|23 liters water and some more for purging
1 ½ cups|355 ml fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup|237 ml white vinegar
1 tablespoon hondashi
3 cups Zatarain’s Pro Boil
1 ½ cups kosher salt
5 pounds|2 ¼ kilograms small red potatoes
3 medium onions peeled and halved lengthwise
5 bay leaves
4 ears of corn
1 ½ cups of peeled whole garlic cloves (about 75, and yes, that's correct)
1 ½ pounds|680 grams smoked sausage cut into 3-4 inch links


  1. Purge crawfish until water runs clear. This can be done up to four hours before cooking. Empty crawfish into ice chest and purge with water. Make sure crawfish are fully covered with water and give them a stir and let sit 3 minutes. Drain water and repeat until water runs completely clear. If you don’t have space you can do this in your sink. It could take three times or more depending on how muddy they are.
  2. In your largest stock pot bring water to boil.
  3. Meanwhile in a bowl combine lemon juice, vinegar, and hondashi. You’ll mix this with the cooked crawfish before you serve them. In another small bowl combine 1 cup of the lemon vinegar mix with ½ teaspoon of pro boil mix and set aside. This will be your super sauce to serve along with the boiled crawfish.
  4. Once the water is boiling add the salt and 1 ½ cups|355 ml of boil spice. Taste the water to make sure it’s as salty as sea water. If it’s not, add more salt.
  5. Add potatoes, onions and bay leaves to the pot. Boil until the potatoes are beginning to soften,10-13 minutes. Add the corn, garlic and sausage. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, 7 to 10 more minutes. Once the potatoes are done, the rest will also be done, 17 to 23 minutes in total.
  6. Remove the vegetables from pot using spider. Put them in your clean ice chest and set aside. Bring water back up to boil.
  7. Add your crawfish to the water and cook 7 to 8 minutes. The crawfish will become bright red and tails will curl. Fish one out the pot as a sacrifice to see if the batch is ready. Peel it, it should look like cooked lobster or shrimp. Remove the crawfish from the boiling water.
  8. Pour ⅓ of the crawfish into cooler with vegetables. Cover with ½ cup|120 ml of the remaining boil spice, drizzle evenly with one third of the lemon vinegar mix. The one with no spice.
  9. Repeat until all the crawfish are in the cooler. Close the lid and give the cooler a few violent shakes. Repeat shaking of cooler every five minutes for twenty minutes total.
  10. Cover a communal table with newspaper. Divide the lemon vinegar spice mix up into little bowls and scatter around table. Place a mound of boil spice at each persons spot for them to swipe peeled tails through. Then pour the crawfish onto the table and belly up.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This recipe has been reprinted with permission of the author from Chasing the Gator: Isaac Toups and New Cajun Cooking.

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