How to Cook Pre-Cooked Crawfish, According to a Chef

You can either steam or sauté cooked crawfish for a hearty meal.
Image Credit: Elena_Danileiko/iStock/GettyImages

Crawfish is a freshwater crustacean that has been a part of Louisiana's culture for centuries. Crawfish boils, a popular type of Cajun cookout, are social get-togethers among families, friends and neighbors.

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Crawfish boils are usually hosted during crawfish season, which runs from late winter to early summer, and they typically feature sacks of live crawfish boiled in a flavored broth. Potatoes, corn and sausages are some of the sides served with the seafood, along with a tangy cocktail sauce.

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As lovely as that sounds, you have to make do with frozen crawfish if it's not the right time of year. Crawfish are often fully cooked or partially cooked before they're frozen, so you just need to reheat them.

Here's what Chef Dephon Robinson, culinary director of Escobar Restaurant & Tapas and Esco Seafood in Atlanta, recommends when it comes to cooking pre-cooked crawfish.

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Tip

If you're planning to make crawfish to freeze for later, the ideal way to cook them is by boiling.

"Boiling them is the best to prepare them especially if you plan on freezing and reheating them," Robinson says. "Boiling crawfish allows them to soak up flavor, which you want when you reheat them."

Things You'll Need

  • Pre-cooked crawfish (preferably boiled and frozen)

  • Cooking pot

  • Steamer pot or rack

  • 2 to 3 cups water

  • Seasoning (Chef Robinson recommends lemon-pepper, Cajun, black peppercorns, bay leaves or red pepper flakes)

  • Deep frying pan (optional)

  • Oil (optional)

1. Thaw the Pre-Cooked Crawfish

Remove the bag of frozen crawfish from the freezer and set it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Letting them thaw slowly in the refrigerator maintains the crawfish's quality, flavor and texture.

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"You can also run cool water over them for them to thaw faster," Robinson says. "Using hot water can definitely mess up the quality by causing them to spread apart."

2. Set Your Pot Over Stovetop Heat

Steaming is the best method for reheating crawfish that have already been cooked, Robinson says.

Fill the pot with 2 to 3 cups of water along with your choice of seasoning. Robinson recommends lemon-pepper seasoning, Cajun seasoning, black peppercorns, bay leaves or red pepper flakes.

3. Steam the Crawfish

Wait for the water to come to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the crawfish. Place a metal steamer basket or rack inside the pot and set the crawfish in the basket.

"Make sure the crawfish isn't touching the boiling water," Robinson says. "You then place a lid on the pot and cook for around 6 to 7 minutes."

Tip

Check the crawfish after 7 minutes for doneness. You can let them continue cooking for a few additional minutes if you'd like.

Alternate Method: Sauté the Crawfish

You can sauté the crawfish in a deep frying pan instead of boiling them.

"The pan should be big enough to have each crawfish touching the bottom of the pan," Robinson says. "You don't need much oil, but you do need to make sure the entire pan is coated." Here's how to do it:

  1. Coat the entire pan with oil and let it warm up over medium heat.
  2. Add the crawfish.
  3. To ensure even cooking, flip them continuously. Cook for a total of about 5 to 6 minutes and serve.

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