Crawfish Étouffée

Crawfish étouffée is a classic cajun dish with a rich peanut butter roux, the holy trinity, and crawfish tails. This recipe also includes directions to make a creole version with tomatoes!
Cajun crawfish etouffee over rice.

Crawfish étouffée is a classic south Louisiana dish that is popular in Creole and Cajun cuisine. This stew-like dish is made with a light brown roux, the cajun holy trinity, and crawfish tails served over rice. 

For more classic cajun dishes, check out chicken and sausage gumbo and red beans and rice. If you need leftover crawfish recipes, try crawfish Monica, fried crawfish tails, or crawfish cream sauce

What is Étouffée?

Ètouffée is a French word meaning “smothered”. Smothering is a technique popular in cajun and creole cooking that usually involves browning meat, sautéing vegetables, then cooking it all down together in a liquid until a thicker stew-like consistency forms. Dishes like smothered chicken and smothered green beans are popular in Louisiana cooking. 

Ètouffée is a specific style of smothered dish made with butter, the holy trinity, chicken or seafood stock, and either shrimp, crawfish, or chicken. The result is a stew with a flavorful thick gravy that is served over rice. 

Some recipes for étouffée use a roux, and some don’t. The cajun version of étouffée does not include tomatoes, but the creole version often does. 

Étouffée vs Gumbo

While étouffée and gumbo are both classic cajun dishes, they are different. Gumbo and étouffée are both served over white rice, but étouffée is thicker. Both can be made with a roux, but gumbo is made with a dark brown roux with a deep rich flavor. Étouffée is sometimes made with a peanut butter colored roux, but some recipes don’t use a roux at all.

They both use the cajun holy trinity (onions, bell peppers, and celery) for flavoring. Étouffée is usually made with shrimp, crawfish, or sometimes chicken. Gumbo can be made with chicken and sausage, okra, or seafood. 

Tips & Tricks

  • Liquid crab boil is optional, but if you’re using frozen crawfish, a few drops of this can help them get that crawfish boil flavor. 
  • Use real Louisiana crawfish, as they will have the best flavor! Be sure to read the package. 
  • To make a creole version with tomatoes: reduce the stock to 1 ½ cups add a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes right after adding the warmed stock. 
  • Keep stirring the roux constantly, scraping down the sides, so it doesn’t burn. For a full roux tutorial, see how to make a gumbo roux.
  • Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days. Freeze without rice for up to 3 months. 

More Crawfish Recipes

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Cajun crawfish etouffee over rice.

Authentic Cajun Crawfish Étouffée

Crawfish étouffée is a classic cajun dish with a rich peanut butter roux, the holy trinity, and crawfish tails. This recipe also includes directions to make a creole version with tomatoes!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cajun, Creole
Servings 4 servings
Calories 287 kcal


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • cup all purpose flour
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 bell pepper can do half red, half green
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 5 green onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 ½ cups chicken or seafood stock warmed
  • 1 pound crawfish tails
  • 2-3 teaspoons cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • teaspoon crab boil optional
  • Cooked white rice for serving


  • PREP: Finely chop onion, bell peppers, celery, green onions, and parsley. Mince garlic. Measure out other ingredients.
    1 large onion, 1 bell pepper, 1 stalk celery, 5 green onions, 5 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • ROUX: Heat a large skillet over medium heat then melt butter. Whisk flour into the butter. It will be foamy at first. Cook while stirring constantly for about 5-10 minutes, or until the roux turns to a peanut butter color.* It should smell toasted and nutty.
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter, ⅓ cup all purpose flour
  • SAUTÉ: Add in onions, bell peppers, celery, half the green onions, and a pinch of salt to the roux. Mix together and sauté for about 10 minutes until vegetables are softening. Stir and scrape the bottom frequently so nothing sticks. Add in garlic and cook for about 1 minute while stirring.
  • SIMMER: Slowly whisk in warmed* broth until it is all incorporated and there are no remaining lumps of flour. Bring up to a simmer then cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    2 ½ cups chicken or seafood stock
  • FINISH: Next add crawfish with the juices, crab boil (if using), parsley, and cajun seasoning. Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce has thickened to desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
    1 pound crawfish tails, 2-3 teaspoons cajun seasoning, ⅛ teaspoon crab boil
  • SERVE: Serve over rice and top with remaining green onions.


  • *Keep stirring the roux constantly, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the pan to keep all the flour moving so it doesn’t burn. You may see some darker specks turning brown – this is the milk solids browning. This is fine as long as they are not turning black. Black spots means a burnt roux and you have to start over.
  • *Its important to heat the broth before adding it in. Cold broth can cause a hot roux to break. 
  • Add tomatoes – If you want tomatoes, reduce the stock to 1 ½ cups and add a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes right after adding the warmed stock.
  • Make your own seafood stock and cajun seasoning for the best flavor. 
  • See this tutorial on perfectly cooked white rice
  • Store in the fridge for 3 days and the freezer for 3 months.


  • Large skillet


Calories: 287kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 9gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 238mgPotassium: 397mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 2201IUVitamin C: 46mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 2mg
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I’m the blogger, recipe developer, food photographer, and otherwise food obsessed gal behind Lauren From Scratch. I was born and raised in New Orleans and lived in South Louisiana most of my life. Growing up around Cajun country has instilled a love of food that runs deep in my bones. I am passionate about food and teaching you how to make mouth-watering Louisiana inspired dishes in your own kitchen!

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