Crawfish Étouffée, a Louisiana classic, is packed with robust Cajun flavors. Made with succulent crawfish tails enveloped in a rich, buttery gravy and served over rice, it is the ultimate Southern comfort food. Easy to make, this dish is incredibly delicious.
About This Louisiana Crawfish Étouffée Recipe
Étouffée is a thick crawfish stew typical of New Orleans, Louisiana, cuisine. The word étouffée comes from the French word “to smother,” which in this context refers to the rich and buttery gravy smothered over the sweet and delicious crawfish tail meat.
In the late 1920s, this was a popular dish amongst Cajuns in the backwaters of Louisiana. The recipe gradually evolved, and in the 1950s, the restaurants of Breaux Bridge, known for crawfish farming and cooking, started to include crawfish in their menus.
Today, crawfish étouffée is a popular part of New Orleans cuisine. The preparation of this delicious dish starts with a roux, commonly used in New Orleans kitchens. The longer the flour is cooked, the darker the roux will become. In this roux, the Cajun Holy Trinity is added — a mixture of finely chopped onions, bell peppers, and celery — along with garlic, spicy Cajun seasonings, and herbs.
The gravy is made from this dark roux and caramelized veggies held together by a flavourful broth. Crawfish, also known as crayfish or mountain lobster, has a sweet and subtle flavor, like a cross between crab and shrimp. And smothered in this rich gravy, the flavors are wonderfully balanced.
Served with steamed rice, this dish is Louisiana comfort food at its finest, offering a unique taste that you won’t easily forget.
What You Need for This Crawfish Étouffée Recipe
- Crawfish Tail Meat: Try to look for Louisiana crawfish in the freezer section of your supermarket as it is the most flavourful. Besides the tail meat, I like to add a few whole crawfish, too.
- Butter: I like to use unsalted butter so I can control the salt quantity.
- Flour: I have used plain/all-purpose flour.
- Holy Trinity: It is a mix made with equal parts of finely chopped onions, green bell peppers, and celery.
- Garlic: I like to use freshly minced garlic because it is more flavourful.
- Seasonings: I have used the Cajun spice blend, which contains dried herbs such as thyme and oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, salt, mustard, and cumin.
- Bay Leaf: It adds a slightly floral, herbal aroma.
- Cayenne Pepper: I have used cayenne pepper for a touch of spiciness.
- Broth: I like to use seafood stock for a more authentic flavor.
- Crawfish: If you can’t find crawfish, you can substitute it with shrimps.
- Cajun Seasonings: If you cannot find Cajun seasonings, you may use a blend of salt, black pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried parsley, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
- Broth: I like to use seafood broth, but you may also substitute it with chicken broth.
Can I make this crawfish étouffée ahead of time?
Yes! This dish will be even tastier the next day as the flavors have time to mingle better.
How can I store this dish?
You can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat it, transfer to a skillet, add a little bit of broth if it’s too thick, and warm on low heat until heated through.
Can I freeze this crawfish étouffée?
Yes. You can place it in a freezer-friendly container and freeze the étouffée for up to 2 months. To reheat, thaw it overnight in the fridge, transfer it to a skillet, add a little bit of broth if it’s too thick, and warm on low heat until heated through.
Easy Crawfish Étouffée
A delicious classic Louisiana stew, Crawfish Etouffée is made with sweet and meaty crawfish smothered in a rich buttery gravy.
Yield: 4 servings
450 g / 1 pound cooked crawfish tail meat
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
600 ml / 2.5 cups seafood broth
1 teaspoon Cajun seasonings
1 bay leaf
a pinch of salt
a pinch of cayenne pepper
freshly chopped parsley, optional
steamed rice to serve, optional
How To Make Crawfish Étouffée Step By Step
Melt the butter in a dutch oven or cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stir in the flour, and mix with a wooden spatula until smooth.
Stirring continuously, cook the roux until it reaches a golden, caramel color. Add the chopped onions, bell pepper, celery, minced garlic, and stir until they are coated.
Add the broth, cajun seasonings, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Mix well, cover with the lid, bring to a boil, and then simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Discard the bay leaf, add the crawfish tail meat, mix well, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes.
Check the seasonings and add salt if needed. Serve with steamed rice and sprinkle some fresh, finely chopped parsley. Enjoy!
- For a nice nutty flavor, I recommend cooking the roux until it is a shade of golden, caramel color.
- The roux will burn quickly if left unattended, so make sure to keep stirring.
- If you want to make a Creole version, add one can (400 g / 14 oz) of diced or chunks of tomatoes or tomato sauce.
- I recommend holding off with the salt and checking the taste in the end, adding more salt if needed because Cajun seasoning already includes salt.