New Orleans Boiled Crawfish


The boiled crawfish recipe was adapted from the old Jazz and Heritage Festival Cookbook, now sadly out of print. This is the way boiled crawfish were prepared by Jazzfest food vendors The Fontana Family, of New Orleans, Louisiana. Comments and instructions from the original recipe are in quotes; all other comments are mine. "The Fontanas are one of the largest, oldest, and best known Italian families to settle in New Orleans, originally coming from various parts of Italy and settling in Louisiana in the early 1850's. This recipe is the one served at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival boiled crawfish booth. The secret is to serve hot."


  • 30 pounds live crawfish
  • 15 ounces cayenne pepper
  • 5 ounces additional Lagniappe
  • 2 ounces Tabasco sauce
  • 20 cloves garlic, cut cloves in half, do not peel or crush
  • 3 dozen lemons, sliced in half
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 20 bay leaves
  • 4 ounces Louisiana hot sauce
  • 52 ounces salt (approximately 2 pounds)
  • 10 bags of Zatarain's crab boil, or 10 recipes seafood boil seasoning


"Place all ingredients but the crawfish in the biggest pot that you can get your hands on and bring to a good boil for about 15 minutes. As all comes to a boil, put you face over the steam and take 10 deep breaths, as the boiling cayenne, garlic and lemon mist is good for your soul - being careful to breathe only throughyou nose. "In the meantime, the crawfish should have been soaking in cold fresh water, with a couple of boxes of salt emptied into it as to allow "mud bugs" to be spitting out the mud. "Put crawfish in boiling water. After water comes to boil again, add 10 ears freshly peeled corn of the cob and 20 small potatoes. Allow 8-10 minutes cooking time. Remove and add a bag or two of ice to cool the crawfish water, and allow the crawfish to soak in the pot for another 10 minutes after turning off the boiling water. Strain and serve the crawfish hot with the garlic cloves, potatoes and corn." (Alternate method: Remove the hot crawfish from the boiling pot and layer in ice chests with sprinkled Tony Chachere's seasoning.) Some people also like throwing anything from andouille sausages to whole heads of garlic to hot dogs into the boil ... be creative, but not foolish! For a great seafood dipping sauce, take some ketchup, add horseradish and Tabasco to taste, and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (never use that swill out of the bottle). Mix and dip. That's how we do it in Louisiana. Eating instructions: Find the biggest crawfish in the pile. Break the tail off of the crawfish, and slurp all the good juice and fat out of the head (optional). Peel off the first section of the crawfish tail shell, pinch the bottom of the tail, and the meat pops right out. Eat. Drink. Repeat. (Some people save time by pinching the tail and removing the tail meat with their teeth and eating it immediately, rather than wasting a few precious seconds getting the meat out with their hands. As one hardcore native crawfish eater once put it, "That way I could eat four crawfish to maybe y'all's one."


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