Carolina Crawfish Boil

| April 5, 2020 | 8 Comments

Crawfish Boil

Follow our easy, step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe to learn how to make this Carolina Crawfish Boil at home. Printable recipe included.


Crawfish Boil, enjoy!
Crawfish Boils are a great way to share a meal with family and friends. Yes, you have to work a bit for your supper, but it can certainly be a whole lot of fun as you do.


Crawfish Boil, slider.

Disclaimer: In order to protect myself from my true Cajun friends that enjoy a Crawfish Boil, I decided to name this one a Carolina Crawfish Boil. It’s just the way that I like to do it. Doesn’t mean it’s all the right way, nor does it mean it’s the wrong way. It’s just the way that I did it. I hope we can still be friends. Smile. Now, on with the recipe.

This simple recipe for a Crawfish Boil is meant to feed only one or two people. But, you could easily double the recipe if you need to serve a few more. It’s mostly based around the fact that it’s done in the kitchen as opposed to outdoors.

What we consider a full on Cajun Crawfish Boil usually includes some really large pots for cooking outdoors, a couple of “bags” or “sacks” of crawfish, lots of potatoes, corn, onions, maybe even some sort of sausage. Most of all, it’s anticipated that you’re going to be feeding a large group of family and friends, and it’s as much about the experience of it all as it is the process of cooking it all.

Under such circumstances, the crawfish, once cooked, are spread out on large tables that have been covered with lots of old newspapers. You just dump the veggies, sausage and the crawfish out in the middle of the table and spread them out. Family and friends gather around and just have a great time enjoying the meal. That’s lots of fun, when it happens.

But, if you’re only cooking up enough for yourself, or maybe you and your spouse, then you’re likely to be cooking in the kitchen. This then, is the recipe you’re probably looking for.

Each weekend, a company from down at the North Carolina coast, Wilmington to be exact, brings up lots of fresh seafood that they sell at a local roadside stand just a couple of miles from where I live. I’ve bought from them often, and always get fresh fish, oysters, and other goodies from them whenever I shop their stand.

They have just started carrying Crawfish. About 85-90 percent of all live crawfish come from Louisiana. That’s where mine came from, but we do have a few crawfish farms across our state of North Carolina.

Thankfully, most of the crawfish you purchase from a fish monger are pretty clean when you buy them, but I like to rinse them a couple of times while I’m preparing everything else that goes into the pot.

It’s said that you need about 3-5 pounds of live crawfish per person. I’ll leave that up to you. I had just about one and a half pounds that I cooked here and found it plenty once you add in some potatoes and corn. I might have ate more had I been in a large crowd of folks. Just saying.

If you think you’ll have a problem with some buttery juice dripping down your chin, your wrists and arms while you’re eating them, you might want to shy away to begin with. But, hey, that’s just part of the fun. Grab you a bib if you need too, but do boil up a batch while they are in season.

Ready to give our recipe a try? Alright then, let’s head on out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!


Crawfish Boil, ingredients you'll need.
Carolina Crawfish Boil Recipe, you’ll need these ingredients, and some crawfish. You might also want to add an onion. I might have left that out of the photo. Sorry.

As I mentioned, a crawfish boil can be for just one, or for as large a crowd as you need to feed. These are just the basics for how it’s done on a smaller scale in the kitchen. You might want to try this way first, to get the feel for how to cook more for your family and friends.


Crawfish Boil, live crawfish.
You’re going to need some crawfish of course. I’m using just about one and a half pounds for this recipe. Most guides say you need about 3 pounds of crawfish per person. Maybe even more, depending on the appetite.


Crawfish Boil, rinse under cold running water.
You certainly want to make sure they are clean. They don’t call them “mudbugs” for nothing. Mine were pretty clean to begin with as the fish monger I purchased them from had done most of the cleaning before I purchased them.

I placed all that I had in a colander and rinsed them well under cold running water. Hot water would kill them, so be sure to use cold water. Rinse them really good.


Crawfish Boil, one inch of water.
After I rinsed them well in the colander, I put about an inch of cold water in the sink and just dumped the crawfish in the sink. They had been under refrigeration for awhile, so washing them and placing them in water caused them to warm up and become more active. Just let them stay in this small amount of water while we get that pot of water, I mean hot tub, going. Smile.


Crawfish Boil, bring water to a boil.
I’m using a 7-8 quart size stew pot for this recipe. Any large, deep stock pot will do, just make sure you have a lid that will fit it, or plan to cover the top with aluminum foil if need be.

Fill the pot about 3/4ths full of water and place over High heat on your stove top. Bring the water to a boil while you continue to clean the crawfish.

Once the water reaches a boil, REDUCE the heat to Medium-High and add the Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp & Crab Boil Bag. This one is 3 ounces in size.  The directions on the box says you’ll need one bag of the Crab Boil for every 4 pounds of crawfish.


Crawfish Boil, add the butter.
Add the stick of butter.


Crawfish Boil, add the salt.
Add the salt.


Crawfish Boil, add the onion.
Add the onion. Peel the onion, and either slice it half into or just drop the whole onion in the pot.


Crawfish Boil, add the lemon.
Slice or cut the lemon as desired and add it to the pot of boiling water.


Crawfish Boil, add the potatoes.
Add the potatoes. I dropped the potatoes in the pot and they went straight to the bottom. I had to get these tongs and fish one back out so I could snap it’s photo. Smile.

Let this return to a rolling boil and let it all cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Just pull one back out and poke it with a fork. If it’s soft enough for the fork to pierce it, or getting close, go ahead and add the corn.


Crawfish Boil, add the corn.
Fresh corn would be awesome for this recipe, but I had to use frozen corn. I just dropped it in once the potatoes were pretty soft. Now, let’s get back to the crawfish.


Crawfish Boil, submerge for 10 minutes.
When we last saw these, we had them in about an inch of water. I drained that water and sprayed them again.

Then, I stopped up the drain on the sink and added enough cold water to completely submerge the crawfish under water by about an inch. They will continue to purge themselves this way, but we don’t want to leave them under water for very long. Don’t want to drown them.

No, I didn’t add salt which some folks say causes them to purge themselves. From what I’ve read, the salt doesn’t do anything to help them clean out their insides. I’m going to remove that dirt line anyway before I eat them. Smile.

They should only stay submerged for 10-15 minutes.  That should be about enough time to cook the corn.

I drained the water off the crawfish and sprayed them again for one final rinse. Then, I used my tongs to pick them up and place them back in the colander, making sure my fingers were staying out of their reach. Smile.


Crawfish Boil, add the crawfish to the boiling water.
Say Thank You to the crawfish, and dump them in the pot of boiling water. Use a spoon to press them down in the water as best as possible.

INCREASE the heat back to High and let the water come back up to a fast rolling boil.


Crawfish Boil, cover the pot.
Once the water comes back up to a boil, cover the pot. Start your timer.

Let the crawfish cook on High for TWO MINUTES.

At the end of the two minutes, turn the heat OFF, and just let the pot sit on the stove top for 15-20 minutes.


Crawfish Boil, digging for meat.
Your Carolina Crawfish Boil is now ready to be served. I scooped mine out and placed them in a bowl.

Larger groups, when cooking outdoors, generally just cover the top of their tables with old newspapers. The crawfish, onions, potatoes and corn are then scooped out and spread all across the table. Folks usually just stand around the table and eat whatever they want, enjoying the fun and conversation with family and friends.

To eat a crawfish, you twist the head off. It’s easy to see where the body joins the head. It took me a few times to figure this out, but instead of just ripping the head off, I twisted the head slightly one way, then back around the other way. This allowed the meat from inside the head to be pulled away with the body.

Do the same with the tail. Turn it slightly one way, then back the other way. Grip the tail tightly between your fingers and slowly pull the tail away from the body. Normally, the dirt vein will come out easily this way.

From there, you twist the body shell and pull the meat out from the larger end. You should end up with a portion of meat about the size of a small to medium size shrimp, depending on the size of the crawfish of course.

While many folks like to suck the gold mustard from the head, I pass on this part. Most everything came out when I removed the head from the body. Don’t hold that against me. Smile.


Crawfish Boil, enjoy.


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Crawfish Boil, printbox.

Carolina Crawfish Boil

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 42 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American, Southern


A quick and basic recipe to enjoy a Crawfish Boil at home, in your own kitchen. Perfect for one or two people. Can be adjusted easily to serve more folks.



4 lbs fresh Crawfish
1 3oz package Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp, Crab Boil
1 stick Butter
2 Tablespoons Salt
1 medium Onion
1 lemon, quartered or sliced
6 small Red Potatoes
2 ears Corn


Place live crawfish in sink and spray well with water to remove any mud.
Block drain and add about an inch of water. Let crawfish remain in water while you prepare the pot.
Place 5 quarts water in an 8 quart or larger stock pot.
Bring water to a rolling boil over High Heat.
Add Zatarain’s spice packet to boiling water.
Add butter.
Add salt.
Add onion, peeled. Can add whole or cut in half.
Add lemon, sliced or quartered.
Add potatoes.
Let pot return to a boil, then reduce heat to Medium-High.
Cook ingredients until the potatoes are fork tender.
Drain and rinse crawfish again.
Block drain and add enough water to completely submerge the crawfish by about an inch.
Add corn to the stock pot. Let corn cook for 10 minutes.
Drain and rinse crawfish once again.
Add live crawfish to the pot. Press crawfish down with spoon to submerge them in the pot.
Cover pot with lid.
Turn heat off. Leave pot covered. Let pot sit for 15-20 minutes.
Remove cooked crawfish, potatoes, corn, onion from pot, place on serving platter.

Keywords: crawfish, crawfish boil, carolina crawfish boil, zattarain's crab boil, potatoes, corn, crawfish boil for one


Your Comments:

Have you tried our Crawfish Boil?  How did you like it?

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You might also like: Beaufort Stew – Shrimp Boil

Or, maybe this one?  Shrimp Po’ Boy Sandwich

How about this? Potato Soup


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Category: Fish-Seafood, Main Dishes

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (8)

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  1. Kathleen says:

    My daughter’s in laws have a crawfish pond and my grandson helps harvest them from the traps. Crawfish live in my lawn (the water table is high here). They build little mud chimneys everywhere.
    I really like the addition of butter in this recipe. I’m going to suggest my Cajun in laws give it a try.
    Many thanks and God bless!

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Kathleen, Thank you for sharing your comments with us. And, thank you for saying you will share the recipe with your Cajun in-laws, but I suspect they have a much better recipe than mine. Smile. I did notice you didn’t mention anything about eating any crawfish. Don’t you like them? Just curious, especially since it sounds like you have a good source for them. As always, I appreciate your visits and all of your support of our recipes. I do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  2. Dolores says:

    Hi Steve, enjoyed your news letter today. You always have such a positive attitude and I enjoy hearing from you my friend.
    I must say I’ve never met a crawfish or shrimp boil I didn’t like. Yummy!! Love going to New Orleans area and enjoying all their cajun foods.
    I like the shrimp boils better than the crawfish boils, it’s a lot less work using shrimp, and I get to eat quicker. Smile.
    Blessings to you and your family and we’re hoping this staying at home will soon be over and we can again be visiting family.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Dolores, Thank you for sharing your comments with us today. Thank you for being a subscriber to the Newsletter and for all of your support. I would love to travel to New Orleans and try a bunch of that cajun cooking in that area. How fun would that be? Smile. I’m with you on the shrimp boil being much easier to eat and enjoy than the crawfish. Does that make us lazy? But, the crawfish were good and I hope to get some more while they are available locally for awhile. Thanks again for all of your visits. I do hope you’ll continue to visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  3. Shirley Nemeth says:

    Hi Steve. I won’t be trying this recipe simply because I don’t buy, cook, or eat anything that starts out live. I’m afraid to touch them. IAfter reading how long you’ve been confined to your home, I want to share something that will make you and your readers laugh. I was always very strict with my kids when they were growing up. A few days ago, I received a text from my 60 year old son. No message – just a picture of a sign or poster which said, “I spent 80% of my childhood grounded …..I’ve practiced for this”. It made me laugh. I texted him back “It must have done some good. Look at yourself now”. He’s had a very successful A/C business for 30 years, a wonderful wife, two kids and two grandkids. Do I sound like a proud Mama? I enjoy your newsletter and recipes. Be blessed.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Shirley, Can’t believe you’re not going to try our Crawfish Boil. Smile. But, for the record, I never handled one single one of them. I used tongs. I don’t know how hard they can pinch and didn’t want to find out. I loved the note about your son being grounded and having practiced for staying at home. Thank you for sharing the giggle. That was pretty cool. Yes, you sound like a proud Mama, but nothing at all wrong with that. Thank you for your comments on our Newsletter, and thank you for being a subscriber. I really appreciate all of your support. I thank you as well for your visits and hope you’ll continue to visit with us often. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  4. Joyce Petrichek says:

    Just want to say that you are a blessing to me. You are so positive and joyful. It is a beautiful testimony to the power of God in one’s life. I pray that it will inspire others to turn to Him so they can experience the same peace and joy that is so evident in your life.

    I won’t be trying the crawfish recipe (just the pictures make me shiver)but I have tried a number of your recipes and am always pleased with the results. I am praying for you and your loved ones.

    Keep the recipes and and positive messages coming.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Joyce, Thank you for being a subscriber to our Newsletter, and thank you so much for your very kind comments today. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to write and share your comments. These are some tough days, but God is good. God is still in charge and still in control. I just try to keep sharing that message. Thank you for trying some of our recipes. I’ll not hold it against you for not trying the Crawfish Boil. Smile. Thank you for your continued prayers for my family and friends, and for our country. You are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your visit today, I do hope you’ll stop by again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

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