Crawfish Etouffee

Crawfish Etouffee is a comforting and classic Louisiana dish that highlights peeled crawfish tails and the Cajun trinity. This saucy stew, served over rice, is packed full of flavor and perfect for a crowd. Makes 6 servings, but it can easily be doubled or tripled.

Love Louisiana and Cajun food? Don’t miss out on Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Ground Beef Meat Pies and Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya!

A shimmery gold tray holds clear glass cups holding crawfish etouffee over rice

2020 update: This Crawfish Etouffee recipe was originally published in October 2016, as a part of the #foodiefootballfans collaboration. It was updated and republished in September 2020 with new images and additional instructions, tips and tricks.

It’s thinking about cooling off in Dallas. 

We could probably attend an outdoor football game without melting.

And it finally feels like we can make some more traditional gameday dishes because I always associate tailgate food with the fall.

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    And for those of us who have spent a large chunk of time in Louisiana, we know this means gumbo, jambalaya, etouffee …

    Now, for those of y’all who aren’t from South Louisiana, let’s talk French. From my non-French speaker understanding, “étouffée” is a French word that translates roughly to mean “smothered” or “suffocated.”

    Etouffee cooks on lower heat with a small amount of liquid in a covered pan. When done, everything has cooked down to a “gravy” consistency and is served over rice.

    This dish, wildly popular in South Louisiana, is traditionally made with crawfish tails or shrimp. I read on the Internet that chicken is also an acceptable etouffee protein, though I’ve never eaten a chicken etouffee, so…

    Why I love this recipe:

    Crawfish étouffée is one of my favorite Louisiana dishes… and it can be eaten year round, provided you’ve got quality Louisiana crawfish tails on hand.

    This recipe, which came to us from Winston’s mother, has been adapted over the years. 

    While it’s not 100% traditional (because I add broth to make the gravy part of the etoufee a little saucier), it’s most certainly delicious.

    ​Our take on a Cajun Crawfish Etouffee is cozy and comforting and great for sharing with the people you love.

    Other fall football food that we adore: Texas Chili | Turkey Sausage Jambalaya | Hatch Chile Mini Cornbread Muffins | Louisiana Cajun Turkey Burgers with Étouffée Relish and Creamy Cajun Sauce | Crawfish Pie

    Etouffee vs gumbo

    Gumbo and etoufee are not the same thing!

    An etouffee is a thicker sauce served over rice that typically features shrimp or crawfish. (Our Crawfish Etouffee recipe is one of our kids’ favorites.)

    While it can use similar ingredients to a gumbo, it’s thickened with a blonde roux and uses significantly less liquid.

    Similar to a gumbo, it’s served over rice.

    A gumbo is a thick stew that features various proteins (like chicken, sausage, various seafoods, etc.), the trinity and a DARK roux. Both are important in Cajun culture and Creole culture. Needless to say, they are staples in Louisiana cooking and you’ll find them on menus in New Orleans, as well as throughout the state.

    Want to learn more about this ingredient and how to use it? Check out Crawfish 101: Everything You Need to Know + Our Favorite Crawfish Recipes.

    Ingredients for crawfish etouffee on a striped blue towel and marble

    What you need to make this recipe:

    The Speckled Palate participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about these affiliate programs.

    If you’re tailgating, make sure to bring along essentials, like Compostable Plant-Based Clear Cold Cups with Biodegradable EcoPure Spoons. Not only are these products solid, but they make your tailgate have a smaller environmental footprint.

    Let’s talk ingredients!

    In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • Extra virgin olive oil and unsalted butter — you can choose one or the other if you prefer one, but I like using the combination for flavor! This serves as the base for our roux and will be what our veggies cook in, too.
    • All-purpose flour — we keep the unbleached kind at our house, but classic AP flour works. There is no substitute for this, as it’s going to make a blonde roux for the recipe.
    • Holy Trinity — this is super common in most Cajun and Creole recipes and serves as the base. You’re going to need white or yellow onion, green bell pepper and celery, too.
    • Garlic
    • Crawfish tail meat — ask the seafood folks at your grocery to help you find this if crawfish aren’t something you normally see at the store! They’ll have a recommendation for you. You can also order them online.
    • Salt-free Creole seasoning — we generally keep Tony’s at our house, but any salt-free Creole or Cajun seasoning would work. You could also make your own blend of spices if you’d prefer.
    • Vegetable stock — we use this to stretch the sauce/gravy of the etouffee a bit. You could also use seafood stock or shrimp stock. We’ve also used chicken broth. You can make your own crawfish stock if you’ve been eating fresh boiled crawfish. 
    • Garnishes — green onions and parsley are the traditional etouffee garnishes
    • White rice — it’s not a garnish, but you need a big ‘ol pile of this goodness to smother in your etouffee

    Please note that this is a Cajun version of etouffee, so we’re not adding tomato sauce, tomato paste or chopped tomatoes of any kind. 

    How to make Crawfish Etouffee

    First and foremost, drain the liquid from the crawfish packaging into a separate container. This is the fat from the crawfish, and it’s insanely important, so please, please, please do not toss this. It adds a TON of flavor!

    Next, transfer the crawfish tails from their packaging into a bowl. Season ’em up with your favorite salt-free Cajun seasoning, and toss them before setting them aside.

    Melt butter over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or a Dutch oven. Add the oil to the melted butter. When they’re hot, hot, hot, add the flour.

    The combined flour and butter/oil mixture is going to make a roux for us, which is the base of our etouffee. Stir it constantly as it cooks. You can use a whisk or a wooden spoon.

    We want the roux to go from a light yellow and chalky mixture to a golden/beige color. We are not making a dark brown roux, like we would for a gumbo, so this shouldn’t take too long to cook.

    Next, add the chopped veggies! Yes, they’ll all go into the pan at the same time.

    Cook ’em until tender. We’re not looking for a ton of color on them, but we do want them to be relatively soft so that you’re not getting crunchy bites in your meal.

    When the veggies are soft, pour in the reserved crawfish fat and the stock and bring to a boil before lowering the heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened.

    Next, add those crawfish tails, and lower the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes tops. 

    Don’t cook them too long or the crawfish tails will be overcooked.

    Serve the etouffee over rice, and garnish with fresh parsley and green onions. If you like it hot, feel free to add a sprinkling of red pepper or hot sauce before enjoying. Serve with french bread slathered in butter.

    How to store:

    Store leftover crawfish etouffee in an airtight container in the fridge separate from the rice. It will keep for 3-4 days.

    Reheat in the microwave with a scoop of rice on top of the etouffee. Heat in 30-second intervals until warmed through.

    Crawfish etouffee in a purple Dutch oven, on top of a striped towel and marble

    Quick tips and tricks to make an awesome etouffee

    • If you cannot find Louisiana crawfish tails in the grocery store (they should be marked as ‘Certified Cajun’ and a product of Louisiana), purchase shrimp instead to make a shrimp étouffée!
    • Don’t drain the crawfish before taking them out of the packaging! The liquid mixed in with the tails is the fat. It is essential flavoring in this recipe!
    • If you are using shrimp, peel the shrimp shells away from the meat and season with the same amount of creole seasoning. Add an additional 2 tablespoons of butter into the pan as they cook to make up for the lost crawfish fat.
    A wooden spoon stirs crawfish etouffee in a Dutch oven

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Where can I find crawfish?

    Grocery stores and specialty seafood shops are your best bet for crawfish tails if you don’t live in South Louisiana. We’ve had good luck at our Dallas-based Whole Foods. Their seafood freezer has oftentimes had frozen Louisiana crawfish tails stocked.

    When is crawfish season?

    Crawfish season in South Louisiana is from about February through June or July. It all depends on the year and the weather.

    What’s the difference between crawfish and crawfish tails?

    Crawfish are whole crustaceans and are oftentimes cooked at crawfish boils, similarly as you’d do with a low country shrimp boil or a lobster boil.

    This crawfish etouffee recipe calls for crawfish tails, which are already boiled and peeled (and make your job a whole heck of a lot easier.)

    Do crawfish tails freeze well?

    YES! My in-laws oftentimes bring us a few pounds when it’s crawfish season, and we’ll keep them in our freezer until we have a hankering for crawfish etouffee.

    I can’t find crawfish. Can I still make this crawfish etouffee?

    I suggest using shrimp instead of crawfish if you can’t find crawfish tails. Be sure to add an additional 2 tablespoons of butter to the etouffee while it cooks in place of the crawfish fat, which adds gorgeous and wonderful seafood flavor.

    A wooden spoon holds crawfish tails and other etouffee ingredients

    Here’s how we make this Cajun crawfish etouffee recipe…

    crawfish etouffee on a spoon

    Crawfish Etouffee

    Erin Parker, The Speckled Palate
    Crawfish Étouffée is a classic Louisiana entree makes a comforting meal for any evening and easily doubles (or triples) to feed a crowd. Served with rice and green onions, this stew-like meal is utterly delicious.
    5 from 53 votes
    Servings 6 servings
    Calories 223 kcal
    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 45 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour


    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1 medium yellow onion about 1 ½ – 1 ¾ cup chopped
    • 1 medium green bell pepper about 1 ¼ cup chopped
    • 4 ribs celery chopped
    • 3 garlic pods minced
    • 1 lb. peeled crawfish tails + crawfish fat
    • 2 cups vegetable stock
    • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper
    • ½ teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Salt-Free Creole Seasoning
    • Green onion tops chopped
    • Parsley chopped
    • Cooked white rice for serving

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    • Drain the liquid (fat) from the crawfish packaging into a separate small container. Set aside. (Do not get rid of this! It’s important for the flavor!)
    • Remove the crawfish tails from their packaging and place into a medium-sized bowl. Season with the Salt-Free Creole Seasoning, and toss before setting aside.
    • In a large-bottomed saucepan or a Dutch oven, melt the butter and drizzle in the olive oil over medium-high heat.
    • When the butter and olive oil are hot, add the flour to the pan.
    • Stir the flour constantly as it cooks, moving it around the pan. It will begin to darken just slightly to a golden/wheat color. When this happens, it’s time to add the vegetables.
    • Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic to the pan. Cook until tender, about 5-8 minutes.
    • Add the crawfish fat and vegetable stock, and cook until the mixture has thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.)
    • Add the seasoned crawfish tails. Lower the heat, and cover.
    • Season with salt and pepper, green onions and parsley, and cover, simmering for 5-10 minutes, or until the crawfish tails have curled.
    • Serve over rice, sprinkle parsley and green onions on top of the each individual serving, and enjoy.


    This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd, though it will require more time to cook.
    You can substitute shrimp for the crawfish tails if you cannot find crawfish tails at your grocery. Since the crawfish has fat, I recommend adding an additional 2 tablespoons of butter to the dish as the shrimp cook.


    Serving: 1 servingCalories: 223kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 17gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 113mgSodium: 1285mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3g
    Keyword crawfish, crawfish etouffee recipe, crawfish recipe, entree, etouffee, etouffee recipe, Louisiana food
    Course Entrees
    Cuisine Cajun
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

    Now who’s ready for some football recipes?

    Football season is here! In celebration, I’ve joined a group of bloggers from all over the country — all of whom are big football fans! — to bring you football-inspired recipes this season. Last month we shared our favorite tailgating recipes, and now we are sharing more game day food ideas.

    More game day recipes to try:

    Looking for a gameday drink? Check out this Red Sea Party Punch and South Beach Punch!

    Gameday appetizers are the best!

    Love dips? You’ve got to try Healthy Dirty Bird Dip, Beer Cheese Fondue and Spicy Pub Mustard. Beluga Lentil Hummus, Pineapple Salsa and Spicy Jalapeno Popper Cheese Dip with Real Cheese would also be fantastic! So would be Swedish Meatball Dip.

    Finger food fan? Bird Gang Sonoran Nachos, Cajun Crawfish and Corn Fritters with Remoulade Dipping Sauce. and Easy Pimiento Cheese Crackers are tasty! As are Chicago-Style Deep Dish Breadsticks, Green Chili Pulled Pork Cheese Fries and Blackened Steak + Blue Cheese Nachos.

    More game day finger foods include Herb Pesto Arancini, Tex Mex Cream Cheese Wontons with Bacon and Chicken Adobo Fries.

    And you can’t miss out on Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs, Game Day Sriracha-Honey Nut Mix and Red Skin Potato Chili Nachos.

    Need a game day side dish? Check out Purple Potato Salad and Bacon Mac n Cheese Cups.

    Looking for a meaty game day main dish? Try out Cowboy Chili, Italian Beef and Primanti Style Sliders. This Easy Beer Cheese Soup would be incredibly comforting, too.

    Love sliders? Try Easy Buffalo Chicken Sliders, Reuben Sliders with Homemade Russian Dressing and Quick and Easy Baked Buffalo Chicken Sliders.

    If you’re in the market for a lighter game day entree, check out Miami Mahi Mahi Sandwich, Chicken Stack Sandwich and Chicken Teriyaki Pizza (aka Seattle SeaChicken TeriHawki Pizza).

    And finally, who doesn’t love dessert? Blue and Orange Jello Shot Gummies and Philly Cheesesteak Cheesecake would both be delicious game day desserts.

    Love chocolate desserts? Try out Game Day Candy Bark, Brownie Batter Dip and Chocolate Blackberry Cheesecake Parfait.

    Love cookies? Cowboy Cookies and Game Day Cookie Cups are something you should bake!

    If you’re into cakes and cupcakes, you should try Bengal Striped Bundt Cake and Avery Williamson American Cake.

    A woman with dark curly hair wearing a black tank top in front of a white wall

    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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    1. Ugh this looks and sounds so so so good. But chicken étouffée? I know a lotta cajuns who’d say no way to that!

    2. I LOVE crawfish! I have never thought to look in my Whole Foods for frozen crawfish tails but now I am going to do so! I have made etouffee with shrimp before – this recipe looks delicious. Thanks for the tips!

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