Louisiana Crawfish Étouffée Recipe

Simple but irresistible, étouffée is the comfort food of choice throughout the state.

A plate of crawfish etouffe and rice.

Crawfish étouffée is a classic comfort food dish in Louisiana.

Like gumbo, étouffée is an iconic staple of Louisiana cuisine that can be found from New Orleans to Shreveport. It’s a velvety, thick sauce loaded with plump crawfish or shrimp, spicy seasonings and Louisiana’s “holy trinity” — onions, bell peppers and celery. 

When visiting Louisiana, you’ll find two main styles of étouffée: Cajun and Creole. Both styles feature shrimp or crawfish and the holy trinity of veggies, but Creole étouffée typically uses butter for the roux, may include tomatoes in the recipe, and uses a more herbaceous blend of seasonings. On the other hand, Cajun étouffée uses oil or lard in the roux, excludes tomatoes and is generous with fiery seasonings. Regardless of which style you taste, you can be sure that your étouffée will be chock full of shellfish and flavor.

At Franks’ Louisiana Kitchen in Shreveport, étouffée is served the traditional way — a thick, spicy sauce on top of rice with a slice of fresh bread. At Deanie’s Seafood in New Orleans, you can savor a cup of rich crawfish étouffée soup or indulge in étouffée poured over a fresh filet of blackened redfish. In Port Allen, across the river from Baton Rouge, go to Cou-yon’s Cajun Bar-B-Q to fill up on a savory baked potato overflowing with creamy crawfish étouffée and topped with crispy, fried shrimp — yum!

Ingredients for Crawfish Étouffée:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound cooked Louisiana crawfish tail meat (thaw if frozen)
  • Hot cooked rice, as needed

Method of Preparation: 

  1. In a heavy skillet or Dutch oven, melt the butter and then stir in the flour. Cook and stir constantly over low heat for about 20 minutes, until mixture is a caramel-colored paste called a roux. Add the celery, pepper and onions; stir until coated.
  2. Add the broth, water, parsley, tomato paste, bay leaf, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Creole seasoning and cayenne. Stir the pot well to make sure that the roux is well incorporated and there are no lumps.
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Add crawfish and heat through. Serve over rice.

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