Crawfish Étouffée

Crawfish, tomatoes, dried and fresh herbs, garlic, and a kick of cayenne pepper give this hearty dish its classic Creole flavors.

Crawfish Etouffee

Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Josh Hoggle

Active Time:
55 mins
Total Time:
55 mins
4 servings

This Creole dish is deeply rooted in New Orleans and Louisiana’s culinary culture. The name — étouffée — is French for “to smother,” and is an apt description for the tomato-rich stew, which is served over rice. 

Start by melting the butter and adding the flour to create a roux, which you’ll cook to a light caramel color. The roux helps the sauce achieve the right thickness and adds another layer of flavor. After cooking the Creole and Cajun “holy trinity” of onions, bell pepper, and celery in the roux, you’ll add other aromatics and herbs, plus seafood stock (swap in fish, shrimp, vegetable, or even chicken stock if needed) and canned tomatoes. Let that simmer to deepen the flavors. 

Crawfish, which are the star of this recipe, are small freshwater crustaceans that are similar in flavor to shrimp and lobster. If you can’t find fresh crawfish, frozen and thawed tails work nicely here. You’ll add them towards the end of cooking this recipe so they don’t overcook. Their sweet meat, combined with the complex flavors of the stew and bright herb used as garnishes make this dish ideal for a special dinner, but easy enough for a weeknight meal.


  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) chopped white onion (from 1 medium [9-ounce] onion)

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped green bell pepper (from 1 medium [6-ounce] pepper)

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped celery (from 1 stalk)

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 2 cups fish or shrimp stock

  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (from 1 [14.5-ounce] can diced tomatoes, drained)

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 pound cooked, peeled crawfish tails

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

  • 3 tablespoons chopped scallions, plus more for garnish

  • Hot rice, for serving


  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until roux is a light caramel color, about 5 minutes. Add onion, green pepper, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are just tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in stock, tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low to maintain a simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft and the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.

  2. Add crawfish tails and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and scallions. Divide mixture among 4 serving plates or bowls and serve with rice. Garnish with more parsley and scallions.

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