This crawfish étouffée recipe features meaty crawfish tails that are smothered in a flavorful, rich gravy made with a roux, the “holy trinity”, herbs, and spices. Serve it over a bed of steamed rice and garnish with green onions and parsley for a complete dish!
We break down how to make one of Louisiana’s most classic dishes! Included in this post are step-by-step images to help you learn (the easy way) how to make our crawfish étouffée recipe. Also known as crayfish or crawdads (also mudbugs, as Marrekus calls them), these freshwater Crustaceans are a staple delicacy in Louisiana.
Étouffée is a great dish to try if you’ve never had crawfish! While it’s not the full bayou-to-table experience, we use store-bought cleaned and packaged Louisiana crawfish tail meat and only the best, most authentic (yet accessible) ingredients you’d find in a traditional crawfish étouffée recipe.
What is Crawfish Étouffée?
Crawfish étouffée is a classic Louisiana dish. It’s prepared with meaty crawfish tails smothered in a thick and flavorful gravy made from a traditional roux. Étouffée is French for “smothered”, which perfectly describes this dish.
Étouffée is popular within both Cajun and Creole cuisine and is typically served with rice. Some variations use crab, shrimp, or chicken as the protein. Likewise, depending on the variation, étouffée can be spicy or herbaceous.
Our version of étouffée lands somewhere in the middle. It boasts the “holy trinity”, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, tomatoes, Creole seasoning, and cayenne pepper puree.
- Roux: Equal parts butter, oil, and flour are combined in a hot skillet to make a smooth brown roux.
- Crawfish: We used cleaned and packaged Louisiana crawfish tail meat from Riceland Crawfish, which was available at our local grocery store (not an affiliate link).
- “Holy Trinity”: Green bell pepper, onion, and celery make up the Louisiana Creole mirepoix. We also added red bell pepper for a hint of sweetness, although green bell pepper is traditional.
- Garlic: Fresh minced garlic is a great flavor enhancer. You can replace 2 cloves of fresh garlic with 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic or 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Dried thyme: This herb is perfect for sauces. Dried and fresh thyme can be used instead, simply adjust the amount. Two sprigs of fresh thyme are the same as 1 teaspoon of dried thyme.
- Bay leaf: This aromatic leaf is used whole and adds subtle flavor.
- Fire-roasted tomatoes: Canned fire-roasted tomatoes add a sweet and smoky flavor to this dish. We prefer this over standard canned tomatoes and even fresh tomatoes because it’s convenient and flavorful.
- Seafood stock: A simple store-bought seafood stock tastes great and is readily accessible at the local grocery store.
- Creole seasoning: You can use a homemade seasoning blend, or we recommend Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning for store-bought.
- Cayenne pepper puree: This wet ingredient is made from mashed hot peppers, which are then fermented. We especially love the Louisiana Pepper Exchange brand because it contains only natural ingredients (not an affiliate link).
- Kosher salt: We always use Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt (in the red box). We especially love this salt because it helps to enhance the flavor without making it salty. One teaspoon of kosher salt is essentially equal to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt, so adjust accordingly if substituting.
Substitutions & Variations
- Shrimp or Chicken: Peeled, deveined, and tail-off medium or large-sized shrimp is a great substitute. Diced chicken breast or diced chicken thighs is also a suitable substitute.
- Butter and Oil: Use 6 tablespoons butter or 6 tablespoons oil. Pick one or the other instead of using both.
- Tomatoes: Try fresh diced Roma tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes with green chilies instead of fire-roasted tomatoes.
- Stock: Chicken stock chicken base (such as Better Than Bouillon) is a great alternative to seafood stock. Better Than Bouillon also makes a lobster base to make your own lobster stock.
- Hot Sauce: Use in place of cayenne pepper puree.
How to Make (Step by Step Instructions)
In addition to these ingredients, you will need a 10 to 12-inch cast iron skillet or another type of heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven as well as a wooden or silicone cooking utensil. We also recommend using prep bowls, although this is not a requirement.
Once you have gathered your ingredients and cooking equipment, there are eight easy steps to making this Crawfish Étouffée recipe:
1. Prepare a roux
First, combine butter, oil, and flour in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Use a cooking utensil such as a wooden (or silicone) spoon or spatula to stir the mixture until it forms a roux and the desired color is achieved. Golden to peanut butter color is most preferred.
2. Add the “holy trinity”, garlic, and herbs
Next, add onion, green and red bell peppers, and celery to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently until softened, about 10 minutes. The roux will appear to have been absorbed by the vegetables (see images for references).
Stir in garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and continue cooking for 2 minutes more.
3. Stir in tomatoes
Then, add fire-roasted diced tomatoes (including liquid from the can) and Worcestershire sauce to the skillet and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Fire-roasted tomatoes are sweet and smoky, which lends elevated flavor to this dish.
4. Add Creole seasoning
Next, add 1 tablespoon of your favorite Creole seasoning. Alternatively, you can use Cajun seasoning. Stir to combine and thoroughly incorporate the seasonings.
5. Pour in stock
Then, pour in seafood stock and stir to combine. Another option is to use chicken stock. You can also dissolve lobster or chicken base or bouillon in water to make your own.
6. Add crawfish tails
Next, add cleaned crawfish tail meat to the skillet. We used Riceland Crawfish, which was available at our local grocery store (not an affiliate link).
Finally, all that’s left to do is simmer for around 5 to 7 minutes, or until the crawfish is heated through. Adjust for flavor and consistency if desired.
8. Serve with rice and enjoy
Time to eat! Spoon crawfish étouffée in a bowl a top with warm cooked rice. Garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley and sliced green onions before serving.
How to Serve Étouffée
Arrange a generous serving of the crawfish étouffée on a bed of steamed white rice, allowing the rice to soak up the rich and savory sauce. Add a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley and green onions on top of the étouffée for a pop of color and freshness.
Whether served at a casual gathering or a special occasion, this crawfish étouffée reicpe is a true Southern delight that’s meant to be savored and enjoyed!
Commonly Asked Questions
A roux is a mixture of fat (butter and oil) and flour used as a thickening agent. It is used in many Cajun and Creole dishes, including this crawfish étouffée recipe, and adds a rich flavor.
Stir until the roux resembles the color of peanut butter. It should have a smooth, slightly thick consistency, similar to a loose paste.
Larger grocery stores may carry frozen or packaged crawfish tail meat in the seafood section. You can also check with seafood markets in your area. Alternatively, you can find crawfish tail meat through online seafood retailers. They often offer frozen or packaged crawfish that can be delivered to your door.
Peeled, deveined, and tail-off medium or large-sized shrimp is a great substitute. Diced chicken breast or diced chicken thighs is also a suitable substitute.
Have you tried our delicious Crawfish Étouffée Recipe? Share your thoughts in the comments below! If you’re snapping pics or shooting videos of your culinary masterpiece, be sure to tag us at @cookswithsoul on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok! We can’t wait to see and share your incredible creations with our community.
This crawfish étouffée recipe features meaty crawfish tails that are smothered in a flavorful, rich gravy made with a roux, the”holy trinity”, herbs, and spices. Serve it over a bed of steamed rice and garnish with green onions and parsley for a complete dish!
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 1/4 cup green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup fire-roasted tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
- 2 cups seafood stock
- 1 pound crawfish tail meat (pre-packaged, thawed)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper puree (or hot sauce)
- fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)
- fresh green onions, chopped (for garnish)
- Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, to taste (start with a small amount and adjust to taste if using any other type of salt)
- Combine butter, oil, and flour in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
- Use a cooking utensil such as a wooden (or silicone) spoon or spatula to stir the mixture until it forms a roux and the desired color is achieved. Golden to peanut butter color is most preferred.
- Add onion, green and red bell peppers, and celery to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently until softened, about 10 minutes. The roux will appear to have been absorbed by the vegetables (see images for references).
- Next, stir in garlic, thyme, and bay leaf; cook for 2 minutes more.
- Add fire-roasted diced tomatoes (including liquid from the can) and Worcestershire sauce, and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
- Add seafood stock and stir to combine.
- Stir in cleaned crawfish tail meat and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the crawfish is heated through.
- Adjust for flavor and consistency if desired.
- Spoon crawfish étouffée in a bowl a top with warm cooked rice. Garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley and sliced green onions before serving.
This recipe is adapted from the Immaculate Bites Crawfish Etouffee recipe.
Keywords: crawfish étouffée, creole, crawfish, roux