How to Eat a Crawfish

Two Methods:Eating CrawfishHosting a Crawfish Boil

Crawfish may look like they would be complicated to eat, but once you get the hang of it you'll be consuming them by the pound, like people do in New Orleans. Speaking of Louisianians, they know there's more to eating crawfish than simply getting to the meat; in places where crawfish are most prevalent, it is traditionally eaten at boils, outdoor parties where half the fun is in socializing while you're waiting for the food to cook. Learn the proper technique for eating a crawfish, then teach it to your friends and family at your own crawfish boil.

Method 1
Eating Crawfish

  1. 1
    Remove the head from the tail. Pinch the head between two finger with one hand, and hold the tail with your other hand. Give the head a twist until it comes off.
    • The head should twist off easily. If it doesn't, the crawfish may not be fully cooked.
  2. 2
    Suck the head. Place the open part of the head between your lips and suck out the juices. This part of the crawfish is considered a delicacy in the Southern United States.
    • The head may be discarded if you are squeamish about eating it.
  3. 3
    Crack the tail's shell. Pinch the shell that covers with the tail with your fingers to crack it all over. Remove the shell and discard it.
  4. 4
    Devein the crawfish. Hold the tail with one hand and peel back the outer layer of skin from the top of the crawfish with your other hand. The digestive tract will be pulled off with the tail. Discard it.
  5. 5
    Eat the tail meat. The tail meat is the most substantial part of the crawfish, and can be eaten right away or used to make other crawfish dishes. Crawfish étouffée, a traditional Cajun dish, and crawfish pizza are popular in the South.
  6. 6
    Suck the claws. Most crawfish have small claws that can be cracked open and sucked for their meat and juices. Larger crawfish have large claws with pieces of meat that can be pulled out and eaten.

Method 2
Hosting a Crawfish Boil

  1. 1
    Invite your family and friends to a crawfish boil. Plan to host it in your backyard, a park or another outside area. Crawfish boils are traditionally fun outdoor parties. To set up for the party, you will need the following:
    • An outdoor eating area
    • A 60 gallon (227.1 L) pot
    • A large metal strainer with a handle
    • Outdoor cooking facilities, such as an outdoor cooking burner
  2. 2
    Order crawfish. Depending on the size of the party you're having, you'll need 20 to 30 pounds of crawfish. Plan on ordering 2-3 pounds per person. Most of the weight will be in the parts of the crawfish that are discarded.
    • If you're in the US South, crawfish is seasonally available in seafood and grocery stores, in addition to crawfish trucks.
    • Other states, such as California, have locally-harvested crawfish. Check with your local fishmonger.
    • Crawfish can also be purchased online from a vendor such as Louisiana Crawfish Co.
    • Live crawfish should be kept cool and away from light and heat until they're ready to boil.
  3. 3
    Wash the crawfish. This process is also called purging the crawfish. Place them in a large bucket and fill it with clean water. Use a paddle to stir them around for a few minutes. Rinse them and put them in another clean container.
    • Don't let live crawfish sit in water for too long, as they will drown.
    • Some people add a box of salt to the water to help purge the crawfish.
    • Dead crawfish will float to the top, and should be discarded.
  4. 4
    Set a 60 gallon (227.1 L) pot over medium high heat. Fill it halfway with water and bring it to a boil. Stir in the following ingredients:
    • The juice of 8 lemons, and the lemon peels.
    • 1 pound crawfish boil seasoning.
  5. 5
    Bring the water to a rolling boil. Throw in the following ingredients and allow them to boil for ten minutes:
    • 8 onions, peeled and sliced in half
    • 10 pounds new potatoes
    • 20 ears of corn, shucked and cut in half
    • 5 heads of garlic, split in half
  6. 6
    Bring the water back to a boil. Place the crawfish in a wire basket with a handle, or a strainer, and lower it into the water. Let the mixture boil for five more minutes. Turn the burner off and cover the pot. Allow the crawfish to sit and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove the lid and take the strainer full of crawfish out of the pot. Allow them to drain.
  7. 7
    Serve the boil. Spread newspapers over picnic tables or other outdoor tables you have set up. Dump the vegetables directly onto the table, then dump the crawfish on top. Allow your guests to serve themselves on paper plates.
    • Provide extra spices, butter, and other condiments if desired.
    • If you would rather not serve the boil in the traditional Cajun style, scoop the vegetables and crawfish directly onto plates.
  8. 8
    Give your friends a lesson on how to eat crawfish. Since many people may be new to the experience, give a demonstration on how to twist off and suck the head, peel the shell from the tail, and eat the delectable meat.

Things You'll Need

  • Crawfish
  • Outdoor eating area
  • Outdoor cooking facilities, such as an outdoor cooking burner
  • Large bucket
  • Paddle
  • 60 gallon (227.1 L) pot
  • Large metal strainer with handle
  • 8 lemons
  • 1 pound crawfish boil seasoning
  • 8 onions, peeled and sliced in half
  • 10 pounds new potatoes
  • 20 ears of corn, shucked and cut in half
  • 5 heads of garlic, split in half
  • Newspaper


  • Crawfish are also called crayfish, crawdads, and mudbugs.
  • Crawfish season is typically between March and June.


  • Undercooked crawfish may not be safe to eat. Make sure it is cooked thoroughly.

Article Info

Categories: Fish and Seafood