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A grey bowl filled with crawfish étouffée and white rice.

Authentic Crawfish (or Shrimp) Étouffée

Course: Entree / Seafood
Cuisine: Cajun, Creole, Portuguese / Seafood
Keyword: authentic étouffée recipe, Cajun recipe, how to cook crawfish
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 392kcal
This is a classic Cajun and Creole dish that is deep in tradition and incredible in taste. Use shrimp if you can't get crawfish. This dish is even better the next day!
Print Recipe


  • Cast iron skillet and large pot, i.e, Dutch oven


  • ½ cup vegetable oil or unsalted butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 1 cup green bell pepper chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 poblano pepper seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • 3 cups seafood stock heated in a large pot
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • tsp thyme leaves dried
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ cup unsalted butter 1 stick
  • 2 lbs crawfish meat tails, or shrimp, skins and tails removed and deveined
  • 1 cup green onions scallions, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Juice ½ lemon
  • 4 cups steamed white rice cooked
  • Cayenne hot sauce for garnish, optional


  • Heat the oil and flour in a heavy-duty skillet (i.e., cast-iron) over medium-low heat. Whisk continuously until a dark roux has form, about 15 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Carefully, to the roux, add the onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, poblano, jalapeno, and parsley. Stir until well coated and slightly softened about 2 minutes.
  • Add the roux/veggie mixture to the heated seafood stock in a large pot, preferably a Dutch oven. Stir in the peppers, paprika, thyme, salt, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and stir frequently. The etouffee will begin to thicken as you stir.
  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the crawfish (or shrimp) and green onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Transfer the crawfish mixture to the large pot along with the lemon juice and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Serve warm over steamed white rice and garnish with chopped green onions. Passing cayenne hot sauce at the table.



We use a medium-dark roux for this dish.  It should turn the color of milk chocolate.  If dark specks or streaks appear, the flour has begun to burn and will cause a very bitter/acrid taste.  You'll need to discard and start again.  It's better to keep the heat low when whisking the roux.  It may take a little longer, but you won't run the risk of burning, and you WILL eventually get there. 
If using shrimp, go with medium to medium-large (36/40 count or 41/50 count).
If purchasing frozen crawfish, we recommend allowing it to defrost in the refrigerator, rather than out on the counter.  This usually takes no more than 48 hours. 
This étouffée has low to medium spiciness. To reduce the heat, omit the jalapeno and cut the cayenne pepper in half (or omit).  
This dish is even better the next day!
Étouffé can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and it freezes beautifully for up to 2 months. 


Calories: 392kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 1181mg | Potassium: 296mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1131IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 1mg