Crawfish Monica

Crawfish Monica is a rich and creamy crawfish sauce with cajun spices and rotini pasta. It’s a famous New Orleans Jazz Fest dish. This copycat version is not the original recipe, but it’s just as delicious! Plus it’s easy to make and ready in 30 minutes!

Crawfish Monica Jazz Fest copycat in a skillet.

Springtime in south Louisiana means crawfish season! These crawfish recipes are a great way to use up your leftover crawfish, but frozen crawfish work just as well. Crawfish étouffée is a cajun classic. Crawfish bread is another Jazz Fest favorite. For another creamy crawfish dish, check out crawfish cream sauce. If you’d rather have some crispy crawfish, try fried crawfish tails or fried crawfish po’boys.  

What you’ll love about this recipe


  • Lauren’s Take: I love a creamy sauce, especially when crawfish is involved! This isn’t the official crawfish Monica recipe, but I think it’s still delicious. 
  • Taste & texture: Rich and creamy sauce, with briney cajun spiced crawfish. It’s mildly spicy, but feel free to add more cayenne pepper if you want it spicy. 
  • Time: Ready in 30 minutes! The pasta can boil while the sauce simmers to save you some time. 
  • Testing Notes: My recipe tester loved this recipe. She made it with yellow onion and more garlic and it still came out great.

What is Crawfish Monica?

Crawfish Monica is a popular creamy crawfish pasta you can only find at the New Orleans Jazz Fest.

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival takes place in the spring in New Orleans every year and is a celebration of music, food, and culture. There are several popular dishes served every year at Jazz Fest like crawfish bread, chicken and sausage gumbo, cochon de lait po’boys, and crawfish Monica. 

Crawfish Monica was created by chef Pierre Hilzim of Big River Foods. It has crawfish tails in a rich cream sauce. He named the dish after his wife, Monica Davidson. Crawfish Monica has been served at Jazz Fest since 1983 and has become a beloved dish of festival goers. Watch chef Hilzim talk about crawfish Monica on this WWL interview

While this is not the official crawfish Monica recipe (that’s top secret info!), this copycat version comes close and tastes just as delicious! If you’re ever at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, make sure to get you a serving of the real stuff at the crawfish Monica booth!

Authentic Cajun Tip

Use Louisiana crawfish! Some crawfish packaging can be tricky and will be branded with a cajun name, but is really made in China. The best tasting crawfish always come from Louisiana, so make sure to check your packaging.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Labeled Ingredients for crawfish Monica pasta.

See the recipe card below for the complete list of ingredients and measurements.

  • Shallot – Shallots have a slightly milder flavor than onions. Substitute for yellow onion if needed. 
  • Red pepper – Red bell peppers add flavor and a pop of red color to this crawfish pasta dish. Substitute for any color bell pepper, but it will change the flavor slightly. 
  • Green onions – I like adding green onions in layers. First while sautéing the other vegetables, then again at the end for a fresh garnish. 
  • Garlic – I recommend using fresh garlic over pre-minced jarred garlic. 
  • Crawfish – Leftover crawfish tails from a crawfish boil work well for this recipe, but frozen crawfish work great too! Defrost frozen crawfish just before using, and be sure to add the juices to the pan too. 
  • Heavy cream – Using cream gives crawfish Monica that ultra creamy and rich flavor and texture. You can substitute for half and half, but the final sauce won’t be as thick. 
  • Parmesan cheese – Adds to the richness of this dish. For best results, finely grate the cheese yourself. 
  • Cajun seasoning – I’ve tested this recipe with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning and my own homemade cajun seasoning recipe. Different blends have different amounts of salt, so add to taste. 
  • Rotini pasta – Rotini is the classic shape for Crawfish Monica. Substitute for fusilli. Other shapes will work too. 

Equipment Needed

A large skillet is needed for this pasta sauce. I love using my large Staub 12 inch braiser for making pasta sauce. The enameled cast iron surface is durable and easy to clean. 

You’ll also need a box grater for grating the parmesan cheese, and a large pot to boil the pasta. This pot is cool because the lid doubles as a strainer. I like a wooden spoon for stirring. 

How to Make Crawfish Monica

This copycat version isn’t the authentic recipe, that’s top secret! But this recipe comes pretty close and is creamy and delicious.

Sautéed shallots, red pepper, garlic, and green onions in a skillet.

Step One: Sauté

Sauté onions, red pepper, and half of the green onions with a pinch of salt in melted butter and olive oil over medium heat until soft. Then add in garlic. 

Adding cream, crawfish, and parmesan to a skillet.

Step Two: Simmer

Add crawfish, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, parsley, and cajun seasoning and stir to combine. Simmer on low until sauce has thickened. 

Creamy crawfish Monica sauce in a skillet and a colander with boiled pasta.

Step Three: Boil

While the sauce is simmering, boil the pasta to al dente and drain. Reserve some pasta water. This will help the sauce and pasta stick together. 

Crawfish Monica in a skillet.

Step Four: Finish

Combine the pasta, pasta water, and sauce together. Stir to combine. Top with green onions. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. 

Expert Tips

  • Use Louisiana crawfish! Some crawfish packaging can be tricky and will be branded with a cajun name, but is really made in China. The best tasting crawfish always come from Louisiana, so make sure to check your packaging.
  • Mince your own garlic cloves. Jarred garlic doesn’t come close to the flavor of fresh garlic. 
  • Grate your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese can contain anti-caking ingredients which can sometimes prevent the cheese from melting smoothly into the sauce. 
  • Simmer on low. You don’t want the sauce to boil. It’s best to simmer it low and slow until it thickens.

Storage & Make Ahead

Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Freeze: I do not recommend freezing this recipe. 

Reheat: The best way to reheat a creamy pasta sauce is in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add a splash of water or milk to loosen up the pasta if needed. Stir while heating until warm throughout. I don’t recommend microwaving this pasta as it can cause the sauce to break. For a thorough walk through reheating creamy pasta dishes, check out How to Reheat Alfredo Sauce

Make ahead: Creamy pastas are best served fresh, so I don’t recommend making it ahead of time. You can chop the vegetables a day in advance and store them in the refrigerator. 

Crawfish Monica in a bowl with a spoon.

FAQs

Crawfish Monica was created by chef Pierre Hilzim, who named the dish after his wife, Monica. 

While the exact recipe for crawfish Monica is a secret, the sauce most likely has crawfish, creole seasoning, cream, garlic, onions, and parsley. 

Crawfish Monica is made by chef Pierre Hilzim of Big River Foods. They’ve been serving up crawfish Monica at Jazz Fest since 1983!

More Crawfish Recipes

Need some recipes for leftover crawfish? Try these crawfish recipes!

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Creamy crawfish Monica with rotini pasta.

Crawfish Monica Recipe

Crawfish Monica is a creamy crawfish pasta dish that is wildly popular at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. With this copycat recipe, you can make your own at home!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Cajun
Servings 4 servings
Calories 926 kcal

Equipment

  • Pasta pot
  • saucepan

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • PREP: Finely chop shallot, red bell pepper, green onions, and parsley. Mince garlic. Finely grate parmesan cheese. Measure out other ingredients. Set a large pot of water to boil with about 1 tablespoon of salt.
    1 small shallot, ½ red bell pepper, 4 green onions, 6 cloves garlic, 2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • SAUTÉ: Heat a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and melt butter. Add in onions, red pepper, and half of the green onions with a pinch of salt. Sauté for about 8 minutes until softened, stir occasionally. Add in garlic and cook for another minute while stirring.
    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • SIMMER: Add in crawfish, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, parsley, and cajun seasoning*. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
    1 pound cooked crawfish tails, 2 cups heavy cream, 2-3 teaspoons cajun seasoning
  • BOIL: While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Reserve about ½ cup of pasta water, then drain pasta and set aside.
    ½ pound rotini pasta
  • FINISH: Once the sauce has thickened to desired consistency, Add in drained pasta with a splash of reserved pasta water and the remaining green onions. Mix to combine and simmer together for 1-2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with cajun seasoning, salt and/or pepper to taste.
  • SERVE: Serve hot with garlic bread.

Notes

  • Different cajun seasonings have different levels of salt, so add to taste. 
  • Try my homemade cajun seasoning recipe to make your own. 
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 
  • I do not recommend freezing this recipe. 
  • The best way to reheat a creamy pasta sauce is in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add a splash of water or milk to loosen up the pasta if needed. Stir while heating until warm throughout. I don’t recommend microwaving this pasta as it can cause the sauce to break. For a thorough walk through reheating creamy pasta dishes, check out How to Reheat Alfredo Sauce

Nutrition

Calories: 926kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 32gFat: 66gSaturated Fat: 40gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 202mgSodium: 856mgPotassium: 457mgFiber: 3gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 3569IUVitamin C: 27mgCalcium: 716mgIron: 2mg
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Meet Lauren

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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