How To Eat Crawfish With Pro Technique

Skip straight to the steps:

1: How To Separate The Head From The Tail

2: How To Eat The Crawfish Head

3: How to Eat The Crawfish Tail

4: How To Eat The Crawfish Claws

While you can find crawfish-- sometimes called crawdads or crayfish-- in etouffee and gumbo, we’re going to be talking about how to eat boiled crawfish-- the kind of mudbug meat that’s still in the mudbug when you go to eat it. 

At the crawfish boil, you’ll encounter mounds of them dumped on a table for all to share and for you to eat your fill, but if you don’t know how to eat boiled crawfish, you might get made fun of or end up wasting some of the delicious crawfish.

Flavor, Seasonings & Other Ingredients - What To Expect Of The Meal

If you've never had crawfish before you are probably wondering what it tastes like. The crawfish meat its self tastes similar to lobster and shrimp. The cracking of the shell and eating small bits of meat is more reminiscent of eating crab though. Unlike eating crab, you usually don't dip your crawfish meat in butter.

It is important to note, a crawfish boil is a cajun style meal, which means it should be spicy. If you don't like spicy don't let this run you off from trying them! Each chef is unique and while some may use Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning, others may make a more mild boil.

Also, most crawfish boils include potatoes, corn on the cob, onions, and garlic. Sometimes, if your mouth gets too hot from the crawfish eating a couple of potatoes or corn, can help cool your mouth down. Many chefs include sausage as well- which is nice if it turns out you don't like crawfish, you can still partake and get a meat. There are tons of recipes and people tend to get creative, including various ingredients.

Important To Know Before Eating- How To Spot A Spoiled Crawfish

If you come across a boiled crawfish with a straight tail, this is a telltale sign that the little guy was dead before he hit the water, so there’s a chance the meat inside is spoiled, so avoid those.

When alive crawfish can vary in color from almost black to a dark brown, depending on where they are from. However, once cooked all crawfish should turn a bright red.        

When raw, the meat is a greyish color and when cooked it is white. Also, if the meat is rubbery when you eat it, it is undercooked. If it is mushy, it is overcooked.

How To Actually Eat The Crawfish (All Of It!)

Enough stalling. It’s time to eat crawfish. You’re in one of two camps: “I’m starving, so let’s eat,” or “I just want to get this over with.” Either way, here’s how to tackle eating yourself a mudbug (and you in the second group will change your mind, we promise). So here’s how to eat crawfish like a pro:

STEP 1: Separate The Head From The Tail

a) Not with a death grip, but with your fingertips- hold the head in one hand and the tail in the other.

b) Then gently twist the head until it separates from the tail.

STEP 2: Suck The Head

If you were wondering how to eat the crawfish head- well you suck it! To crawfish lovers, this is absolutely the best part.

a) While holding the head, place the new exposed side in your mouth.

b) Gently bite on the shell and suck the juices out.

Wondering what’s in the head and why it’s so good?

Well there is not a brain! Crawfish don't have brains like us. In fact, they don't have a central nervous system. They have receptor cells on their antennae and legs that provides them signals but they do not have thoughts in the way that humans do.

They do have an organ in the head that often gets ripped out with the tail meat. This is the "yellow stuff" you see on when eating crawfish. Eat it! This organ is called the hepatopancreas and it functions like a liver. It is safe to eat and absolutely delicious. Some people think it is fat, but it is not. Share this fun fact at the crawfish boil to sound like a pro.

When you suck on the head you will get some of that hepatopancreas and the some "juices" where much of the boil seasoning pooled inside of it. To understand how it tastes, just know that it is often called the "crawfish butter". That combined with the cajun spices is delicious.

If you don’t suck the head, are you really even “eating crawfish”? We don’t think so. If you really don’t want to suck the head, and you're at a crawfish boil, at least offer it up to the crawfish connoisseurs. Don’t just throw it away -it's a delicacy!

STEP 3: Get The Tail Meat Out Of It’s Shell

This is the main part with the meat! So, be gentle and careful to not crush the shell into the meat, ruining it.

a) First you will peel off the first and maybe second casing ring of the tail shell. You can do this by

grabbing it with your fingers or finger nail, and pulling it up like a soda can tab.

b) Once that is off, pinch the base of the tail with your fingers, at the very end of where the tail meat is

inside the shell.

c) Then, pull the tail meat out with the other hand. If you want to look like a real crawfish pro, bite and suck the tail meat out while pinching the end.

If you’re still having trouble with that, after you peel off the first ring, you can also pinch the entire tail shell just enough so the top cracks and then proceed with pulling the tail meat out.

STEP 4: Don’t Forget To Eat The Claws

Most crawfish have very small claws, so you can just crack the claws and suck the meat and juices out. Or, discard the claws entirely if they are too small. If you have a larger crawfish the claws can have a nice lump of meat in them!

a) First, twist the entire leg off of the crawfish.

b) Then, with a twist, break the entire pincher off of the leg at the joint.

c) Bite down on the claw, or use crab shell crackers, just above the pincher and pull the broken claw

shell away. Attached to the pinchers should be a nice clump of meat to enjoy.

d) Go for the second claw!

That's it! Now you know how to eat a crawfish properly without any waste.

When you eat boiled crawfish, you’re hands will get messy. So make sure you’ve got napkins close by before you get started, and the crawfish smell on your fingers will come off when you rub some lemon juice on it.

Crawfish boils are delicious and entertaining gatherings full of food and fun, whether you’re a veteran cajun or one of those who didn’t know you could eat "those things". And once you start eating crawfish, it’s not easy to stop!

You may even be tempted to throw a crawfish boil yourself and invite friends and family over for the occasion. Check out this popular Zatarain's Crawfish Boil recipe, get yourself some crawfish boil cooking supplies and a Hook'd On Pot crawfish basket hook so you can look like pro and have the easiest and safest boil.


What exactly is a crawfish?

It’s essentially a freshwater lobster. It’s a crustacean, and though it doesn’t live in the ocean, it’s still considered a type of seafood- not a bug, despite being called mudbugs. Most crawfish eaten in the United States come from Louisiana, though they live in other parts. The bulk of its meat is its tail.

Where do crawfish come from?

They are a freshwater crustacean, so they can be found living in rivers, creeks, swamps, bayous, ditches, and more. Most crawfish eaten in the United States come from Louisiana, though they live in other parts.

How do you boil crawfish?

First you must keep them alive before boiling. If they die beforehand the meat can become spoiled and it is no longer safe to eat. You'll also want to rinse them off before putting them in the pot, or dirt and other bacteria on the crawfish will end up in your boil.

Get your water boiling, add your seasonings, and start to cook your other ingredients, like potatoes, corn, onions, and garlic, in the boiling water. The crawfish actually cook pretty fast, so add those last to avoid overcooking them. Depending on the size of your boil the amount of time it will take will vary.

Once you're done cooking them, you'll want to drain your boil with your Hook'd On Pot. Then, serve it up and enjoy!

Are boiled crawfish good for you?

Well, moderation in all things, especially food, right? But crawfish are low in fats. When you eat boiled crawfish, you also eat the spices it cooked with, so you may be dealing with some sodium depending on what the cook added to the water before bringing it to a boil.

Can crawfish make you sick?

If you overeat, you might get a bellyache, but as for actual illness, unless the crawfish is undercooked, you should not worry about food-borne illnesses, but this is true for a lot of cooking. However, lung flukes are possible in humans who eat raw or undercooked crawdads. Lung flukes parasites called Paragonimus trematodes.

How much crawfish can a person eat?

About four pounds of crawfish per person. Of course, less than a quarter of a crawfish’s body weight ends up being meat that we eat, so it takes several pounds of the whole crawfish to yield half a pound or so for eating. But most people have that one southern friend who can eat four pounds in one sitting. 

Is there a crawfish season?

Thanks to advances in science and agriculture, you can usually find crawfish for your pot almost year-round. However, the months of March through May are ideal. Unfortunately, you don’t see many crawfish boils at Christmastime, which has more to do with crawfish being out of season and less to do with the temperature outside.

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