Tips for hosting a crawfish boil at home

Helen Freund, Tampa Bay Times
·3 min read

If you’re up for tackling a crawfish boil at home, you’ll need the appropriate gear.

Most home cooks use a large outdoor propane cooker, a boiling pot with a lid and perforated boiling basket, and some kind of stirring paddle. I’ve seen people use anything from a baseball bat to a garden rake, so, there are options.

Additionally, you’ll need a couple of ice chests and a big wash tub or bucket in which to hose the crawfish down (that’s called purging) and — if you’re going the traditional route — a large table and either butcher block paper or newspaper with which to cover it.

Some local seafood distributors will offer discounted sourcing of live crawfish through their own suppliers, and there are a few seafood markets in the area sourcing directly from Louisiana on a weekly basis (more on that below). Those markets often sell boil seasoning packets and can provide tips and instructions on how to boil. Plan for approximately two to three pounds per person (although Louisianans will claim they can usually eat five).

Next, you’ll need a good boil recipe. Zatarain’s crawfish seasoning is a favorite for many boil-masters, and their recipe combines their boil seasoning with lemons, garlic, onions, celery, potatoes and corn on the cob. Feel free to add in links of andouille or another type of smoked sausage, too. If you’re boiling more than one batch, keep in mind that the boils at the end will be the most concentrated — and the saltiest.

Lastly, because these are still pandemic times, it’s not a bad idea to check with your guests to make sure everyone is either vaccinated or comfortable with the communal setup.

Zatarain’s Crawfish Boil

3 pounds yellow onions

6 heads garlic

6 lemons, halved

1 (73-ounce) package Zatarain’s Preseasoned Crab Boil

4 pounds small red potatoes

1 sack (35 to 40 pounds) live crawfish, cleaned

1 bunch celery, cut into bite-sized pieces

¼ cup Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp & Crab Boil (liquid)

1 box Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp & Crab Boil

12 frozen mini corn-on-the-cob pieces

Fill an 80-quart crawfish boiling pot with a basket with water, about a third to a halfway full. Place the pot on a jet-style propane burner on high heat. Add onions, garlic and lemon halves. (You can use a small laundry bag for lemons and garlic, or just leave the onions in the mesh bag they come in from the grocery store with the tags removed.)

Bring to a full rolling boil. Stir in the preseasoned crab boil package and add potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Boil 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Remove potatoes.

Return the water to a full rolling boil on high heat. Add the crawfish, celery, concentrated liquid crab boil and the box of crawfish, shrimp and crab boil. Return water to full rolling boil on high heat. Start checking doneness just before water returns to full rolling boil. As soon as small gaps start to appear between the head and the tail on the largest crawfish, they are done. Turn off heat.

Add the frozen corn and cooked potatoes. Let the boil stand 15 minutes. Remove corn and potatoes. Let crawfish stand for a minimum of 30 minutes before eating (45 minutes is better).

Serves 20.

Source: Zatarain’s/ McCormick & Co.