Make this Louisiana-style crawfish boil for a summery seafood feast

A one-pot, eat-with-your-hands, seafood meal. Can you think of anything better for your cottage or backyard bash?

A one-pot, eat-with-your-hands, seafood meal. Can you think of anything better for your backyard bash?

(Credit: Ksenija Hotic)

Oftentimes when planning a dinner party, details like the date and guest list come first, with the task of deciding what to serve being an afterthought. But every so often, a recipe enters our lives that’s so tempting or seasonally on point, we can’t help but invite a dozen people over just as an excuse to make it. This southern-style crawfish boil from seafood king Matt Dean Pettit’s new cookbook is one of those recipes. Not only is the entire dish is cooked in one pot — meaning there’s minimal clean-up required — it’s best served outdoors, and eating with your hands is encouraged. Can you think of a more perfect dinner for a summer evening at the cottage or a low-key backyard bash?

The Sailors’ N’awlins Crawfish Boil

By Matt Dean Pettit

Here it is, folks, another great recipe for eating with your hands. I think you know by now that I love that messy style of eating. I like to host crawfish dinners at home during the summer, and this Louisiana staple is perfect for any outdoor party. If you buy live crawfish, which may be tough to do unless you live in the southern United States, you’ll need to clean or “purge” the crawfish before eating them (see the note, below). This recipe can easily be doubled for a larger gathering.


  • ¾ cup seafood seasoning, divided
  • 4 medium lemons, halved
  • 2 lbs red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 lbs spicy sausage, cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 6 ears of corn, cut in half
  • 10 lbs live or frozen (thawed) crawfish
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, melted


In a very large stockpot, bring 10 L of cold water to a boil over high heat. Add ½ cup of the seafood seasoning, the lemon halves, and the potato quarters. Bring the water back up to a boil and then cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the potatoes have softened slightly. Add the sausages and corn. Cook for 10 more minutes. Add the crawfish and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Drain off the water, and allow the seafood to cool for 3 to 5 minutes, until cool enough to handle.

In the meantime, set up your serving table with a plastic tablecloth and plenty of newspapers. Pour the seafood right on the table. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of seafood seasoning overtop.

Break out the napkins and cold beer, and dip the pieces into the melted butter. Don’t worry about getting your hands dirty; it’s all part of the fun!

Note: Purging is a simple process. Dump the live crawfish into a large cooler or stockpot. Empty one large box of kosher salt over the crawfish, and then add enough cold water to cover them all. Using a large spoon, stir well and allow the salt to clean out any mud or dirt. Let them soak for about 5 minutes and then drain off the water. The crawfish are now ready to cook. Remember to discard any dead or unmoving crawfish prior to cooking!

Excerpted from The Great Shellfish Cookbook: From Sea to Table More than 100 Recipes to Cook at Home by Matt Dean Pettit. Copyright © 2018 Matt Dean Pettit. Photography copyright © 2018 Ksenija Hotic. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Servings: Makes 4-6 servings


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