Crawfish: The Lobster of the South

Fun fact: crawfish is not seafood. Tastes, looks, smells like seafood, but it’s not: it’s freshwater grub. It’s delicious and totally Southern.

Nothing screams Louisiana quite like crawfish. The fish resemble little lobsters and are colloquially called “mudbugs” because they live in the mud of freshwater bayous. (Sounds a little gross, right?) The meat is more tender than your average lobster and has a more distinct flavor than most other seafood.

Crawfish were first harvested by local Native Americans but then later became a key ingredient in Cajun cooking. In Cajun legend from the 1700s, lobsters in Louisiana spoke to the Nova Scotian exiles, begging them to come find the shellfish. It took the Cajuns so long to find the little fishies that they shrunk in size, and shrank so much, they were no longer lobsters, they were crawfish, and festivals were had.

Crawfish is now eaten all over the US, but most of it still comes from Louisiana, where it’s a really big industry. (In 1983, crawfish was declared the official state crustacean. Cool.) Locals often hold crawfish boils where friends and family get together to nosh on pounds of the little guys. Springtime is the best season for crawfish, and it’s tradition for families to go fishing in the bayous to bring home the red monsters. There are still crawfish festivals every year, and people come from all over to eat the Louisiana delicacy.

How do I like my crawfish? Anyway, I can get it. Really, I tell y’all, fried crawfish is close to heaven.

Have you ever had crawfish? How do you like it? Got any good recipes?

Easy Old-Fashioned Crawfish Boil


  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 3-ounce packages crab boil
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
  • 6 small onions, peeled
  • 4 – 6 ears corn, halved
  • 1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 3 large lemons, halved
  • 5 pounds live crawfish, rinsed and purged in salt water


  • In very large pot over high heat bring water, crab boil, salt, hot sauce, and cayenne pepper to a boil. Add potatoes, onions, corn, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Reduce heat to simmer; cover and cook until vegetables are barely tender, about 10 minutes
  • Squeeze lemons over pot, add lemons and LIVE crawfish, and stir to combine. Cover and return mixture to the boil. Cook until shells turn bright red, about 8 minutes. Serve immediately.


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