The Unorthodox Epicure — Louisiana Crawfish Étouffée

I suppose that every locale has its culinary purists. In the Northeast there is only one true way to make a pot of Italian gravy — although there are 23 million versions of that one true way. Here in Texas we tend to agree that beef makes the best barbecue, but some of us are hardcore pecan wood users, while others swear by mesquite. Not to mention, there’s the sauce vs. no sauce debate.

Still, no matter how much we swear by veal in our Italian meatballs or a dry-rub on our brisket, our kitchen insistence doesn’t hold a flame to the stand-firms in Louisiana.

There are plenty of cooking styles down on the bayou, but Cajun and Creole reign supreme. The main difference between the two cuisines — tomatoes. Cajun recipes traditionally don’t include them because they were too expensive back in the day. The Creoles, who were considered the upper crust settlers, use tomatoes regularly. If you ever confuse Cajun and Creole food in Louisiana, you’ll likely find yourself on the receiving end of a French-laden tirade.

I break a few rules with my recipe for Crawfish Étouffée (translation: smothered crawfish). For starters, I use a smidgen of tomato paste. Secondly, I use yellow or red bell pepper opposed to the traditional green.  And goodness knows what an old-school Cajun chef might think about my addition of heavy whipping cream and Old Bay seasoning. But the result is a sumptuous stew-like concoction that I’d serve to a crowd of Cajuns and Creoles alike.

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Louisiana Crawfish Etouffee — Cajun and Creole flavors combine for a luxurious stew-like version of this classic. 

Crawfish Étouffée — Cajun and Creole flavors combine for a luxurious version of this classic.


4.0 from 2 reviews
Louisiana Crawfish Étouffée
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Cajun/Creole
Serves: 4 meal-sized servings
  • 4 TB (1/2 stick) – Butter
  • 2 TB – Vegetable oil
  • 2 – Celery stalks, chopped finely
  • 1 – Small yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 1 – Bell pepper (I prefer yellow or red), minced
  • 1 – Garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup – All-purpose flour
  • 3 cups – Stock (chicken or shrimp)
  • 4 – Small Thyme sprigs, minced -or- 1 tsp dried Thyme
  • 1 TB – Tomato paste
  • 1 TB – Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp – Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp – Cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb – Crawfish tails, cleaned and cooked (See Notes for substitutions)
  • ½ cup – Heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 TB – Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • Few drops – Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 TB – Chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat with vegetable oil. Add celery, onion and bell pepper and cook until soft – about 5 minutes. Add garlic and flour, stirring constantly, until flour becomes a pale gold color, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, thyme, tomato paste, Old Bay, black and cayenne pepper. Bring to a heavy simmer and cook until mixture has reduced slightly and has a stew-like (thickened) consistency – about 10 minutes.
  2. Add crawfish tails and bring back to a simmer; add remaining ingredients and cook until everything is just heated through – about 2 minutes.
  3. Serve with rice and hot French bread, if desired.
Can substitute 1lb. peeled and deveined shrimp -or- 1 lb. langostino for crawfish



  1. Okies like their BBQ too. Smoking a brisket as I type which I mortgaged the house to buy. Think we are switching to pork (or crawfish). Looks divine.

    • adamjholland says:

      You aren’t kidding about beef! I was pricing briskets today and they are selling for $7-8 per pound. So the untrimmed brisket that I’d like to buy for our pastrami experiment will cost $60 easily. Considering that I’ll make a dish 3-4 times before ever posting it here, that blog post will have a $250 price tag.

    • My Louisiana friends said your recipe looks authentic. I make a seafood stock with shellfish I can use in your recipe. And I heard you can substitute lobster paste for the tomato paste and add Papricka esp smokey Papricka on top to serve with rice

      • adamjholland says:

        Chef Steve – Your friends are correct. I must admit that I tend to take twists and turns (because authenticity rarely includes heavy whipping cream), but this is a dish that gets there. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. This looks amazing!

  3. Not that I’m eavesdropping on you and Debra, but I’ll help you taste-test the brisket anytime! 🙂 The Etouffee looks so wonderful! I must get me some crawfish and get to cookin!

    • adamjholland says:

      You’re more than welcome. Just program my address into your phone and head south. Thanks for your kind words, Kelli.

  4. You are on a roll these days (pun intended)! I can’t decide whether to try this one or the crawfish sandwich. Maybe I’ll do both.

  5. Beeee-YOOO-teee-ful dish, Adam! I am salivating.

  6. This looks amazing! I am definitely making this soon!

  7. Adam, my first thought when I saw your post/photo was: “PLEASE don’t let his recipe contain cream of something soup.” (I typed many a Southern “authentic” recipe that did back in the day.) Thank you SO much for combining two of my favorite cuisines “true to form” — even if you didn’t use the HOLY trinity with green peppers, lol. I should know better outta you 🙂 — best of both worlds (and yours.) Thanks!

  8. Looks outstanding. Like that you don’t use green bell peppers which I absolutely hate.

    You ain’t joking about the price of beef )though it is cheaper if you buy a whole packer and trim it out yourself). Father in law said he’s gonna put cows back on the ranch since its so high.

    • adamjholland says:

      Our local school district has just opened a multi-million dollar meat laboratory, which rivals Texas A&M and Tarleton State U. As it goes, the students not only raise beef, but they process it. I happen to have my eye on a grain-fed (much better than grass-fed) beef cow; and I have someone who’s willing to go in half with me. Can’t wait.

  9. The first Cajun/Creole food I EVER had in my life was at Al-T’s restaurant in Winnie, Texas. We were there on a bird watching trip and we ate there three nights in a row. And I had Crawfish Etouffee every night. It was so outstanding I couldn’t bear to find another restaurant or order another entree. I’ve never made it at home.

    • adamjholland says:

      I doubt the folks in Winnie (not too far from Beaumont area) make etouffee like this one. (Theirs is likely authentic.) ~ I’ve never thought of Winnie as a bird-watcher’s destination. You no doubt logged a lot of gulls and grackles. 😉

  10. Mais, dat’s not bad, no.

    Remember to use all the crawfish fat. Cut open the bags and set aside the crawfish. Then use part of your stock to rinse all the fat out of the plastic bags.

    Also, don’t use cast iron (unless it’s enameled). It makes the crawfish turn grey.

    I’d use Tony Chachere’s rather than Old Bay. And while you say tomato, I say “gardez d’onc!” and “mais la!” in frustration. Just so no to the tomatoes, please. No Cajun uses tomatoes in etouffe.

    • adamjholland says:

      I appreciate your feedback. I’m a Tony Chachere’s guy, but Old Bay works better, as T C’s is mainly a spicy salt. — If your cast iron turns crawfish grey, I suggest that you learn to use cast iron (or find better crawfish), because that’s just not the case. As for tomato — that’s why I refer to this recipe as Louisiana (and not Cajun), since only the Creole folks use ‘maters.

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