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How to Eat Boiled Crawfish

Updated on March 15, 2011

When people find out that my husband is originally from New Orleans, one of the first questions they ask is, "Do you eat crawfish?" In Louisiana, crawfish are a local delicacy. However, even though people do tend to associate eating crawfish with Louisiana, their popularity of this crustacean isn't limited to the Bayou State.

Many restaurants serve dishes prepared with crawfish, and you can even buy crawfish tail meat in supermarkets. Popular crawfish entrees include crawfish pie, crawfish pasta, and crawfish etouffe. However, even if you have eaten these types of dishes before, you still might not know how to eat crawfish.

To say that you know how to eat crawfish, you have to be able to eat boiled crawfish. I'm not talking about boiled crawfish meat, I'm talking about the whole thing. To really be able to eat crawfish, you have to get the tail meat out of the shell yourself.

When faced when eating a boiled crawfish for the first time, you can easily feel very intimidated. However, once you get the hang of it, you realize that eating boiled crawfish isn't difficult at all. It can actually be fun. The delicate, slightly sweet meat is certainly worth the effort.

If you find yourself invited to a crawfish boil, or you decide to throw one of your own, here is what you do when it is time to eat your first boiled crawfish:

Steps to Eating Boiled Crawfish

1. Remove the head - Hold the top of the crawfish with one hand, and place your other hand above the tail. Twist so that the tail separates from the head.

2. Pinch the very end of the tail with one hand, and pull the tail meat out with the other.

3. Enjoy the delicacy!

The Optional Part

Some people actually add another step to eating boiled crawfish. When you remove the head from the crawfish, if you want to savor every drop of spice, you can suck the head before you discard it. If you are a novice when it comes to eating crawfish, you probably will want to skip this step. If you're feeling adventurous, though, give it a try!

Crawfish Consumption Safety Tip

When you are selecting a crawfish to eat, you want to look for one that has a tail that is curled. If you come across a crawfish with a straight tail, it should be discarded. This is a sign that it was dead before being cooked and is not safe to eat.


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  • profile image

    Crawfishlady 6 years ago

    O.K. you guys, I grew up in NYC and have read three or four articles about crawfish, so if there is something I know a thing or two about its crawfish. Ha, ha, just joking!

  • profile image

    bayouboy662 7 years ago

    hey sorry to butt in on conversation , but i just cooked 500 lbs of crawfish yesterday for my annual crawfish boil i have up here in shreveport .... i had roughly 40-70 lbs left over... they were cooked just right not mushy or anything... i decided this morning after cleaning my 100 qt pot to reboil fresh water/seasoning to reheat them.... NOT A GOOD IDEA , EVERY ONE OF THEM I HAVE REHEATED ARE MUSHY ... I brought the water to roiling boil , loaded the crawfish , let them heat for 5 mins and took um out ..... they are mushy now... SO MUSHY DOES NOT MEAN THEY WERE DEAD BEFORE THEY WERE BOILED ... However a straight tail dont mean they were dead either.... i eat all the crawfish on my platter , unless the head or tail is crushed.... thanks yall have a good day ............ WHO DAT

  • profile image

    Robert 7 years ago

    This was a study done at LSU debunking the straight tail is a bad crawfish myth if anyone is interested.

  • profile image

    josh 7 years ago

    Well y'all have some funny stuff to read reguardless haha I'm from minnesota and even I know how to eat them so don't act like you know it all, just from being from Louisianna. If it feels good and looks good, eat it. Obviously if it don't then I know I wouldn't eat it, maybe that's me.

  • profile image

    ashley 7 years ago

    i don't know about the straight tailed ones been lucky enough not to find them. I'm from VA beach and live in the KY/TN area. I have heard that the crawfish from Lousiana are the best and have a friend from there who wont eat crawfish from any other state. Most the crawfish that I have had have been in chinese buffets. Sad i know but they still taste great. Often the ones I have had have been pretty mushy and I'm almost certain it is from them sitting in the steam tables all day so i can see how overcooking could be the culprit for mushy crawfish. I have never gotten sick from eating mushy crawfish. VA has lots of other seafood and if you boil shrimp or lobster or crabs too long they get mushy too. If you want to play it safe i guess it couldnt hurt to disgard them but unless they dont smell right like other bad seafood I'll probably keep on eating them. I think if i ever find one with a straight tail i will probably take their advise and might disgard that one too.

  • profile image

    Amy 7 years ago

    While Josh probably could have been a hell of a lot nicer about it, he was correct that the straight-tail method is not nearly as accurate a test as the mushy-texture method. While I have come across and eaten many straight tailed crawfish, the mushy texture, (which can be from a bad crawfish OR bad cooking method) has been the consistent sign of a bad crawfish in mine and my family's experience. No joke, my brother ate a curly-tailed once that was mushy inside and was violently ill.

    That being said, human nature is usually loathe to change, especially in matters of personal safety, so if you feel safer using the straight tail method, it's your right to do so. I just ask that you send your uneaten crawfish to me! :)

  • profile image

    goobersnotch 8 years ago

    oh crap! i just got back from a crawfish boil and having not been to one before, i just ate every crawfish, regardless of its tail status or mushiness. i hope i don't die!!

  • profile image

    lnc21 8 years ago

    you dont have to be from louisana to know about crawfish, they are all over and people eat them everywhere, acting like you are a expert just because you live in louisiana would be like me acting like i know everything there is to know about cotton cause im from mississippi, just saying, and by the way it is best not to eat the ones with the straight tails

  • profile image

    lnc21 8 years ago

    Crawfish, or Crayfish? There are heated arguments about which is the

    correct name. The name crawfish was used in 1817 by Thomas Say, the

    first American zoologist to study these animals. Crayfish was coined by

    the English scientist, Thomas Huxley, about 50 years later. In this part

    of the country they are also commonly called "crawdad", "crabs" or, in

    the southern part of the state, "mudbugs ". Whatever you prefer to call

    them, there is hardly an acre of water in Illinois (unless it is the depths

    of Lake Michigan) or any acre of wet land, where these small

    freshwater relatives of the lobster are not found. About a hundred

    species are known in North America, of which a half dozen are

    abundant in this state.

  • profile image

    Name that ends with -eaux 8 years ago

    I've been raised with "Don't eat the dead ones." I guess it's easier than having your 4 year old come up to you with a tail every 10 seconds to ask if it's okay to eat. When we introduce our friends from other states to boiled crawfish, we make sure they know this one, too. The way we see it, better safe than sorry. :)

  • profile image

    poperatosy 8 years ago

    I think crawfish tastes awesome when it comes off the grill. Along with some shrimp, crab biscuits, hush puppies, and french fries.

  • profile image

    kacie 8 years ago

    love me some crawfish.

  • profile image

    wildwolf 9 years ago

    ok well you dont have to be from LA to know a lot about crawfish lol I'm from Oklahoma and still living here. I cook some crawfish all the time. And yes its the whole thing. Whoever heard of just cooking tails? whats the fun in that? lol

  • profile image

    ducheonmaddick 9 years ago

    you guys are a bunck of freaks get lives and stop commenting on someone else's web page. and if your so rite about what ur saying cocky ass plain josh then creat your own web page and stop blogging on someone elses!

  • profile image

    Chef Rassion 9 years ago

    clams that do not pop open and crawfish which do not curl up when cooked are always discarded where I come from. they may not actually kill you, but they are not at all tasty and could make you very sorry you did not listen to the above advice!

  • mgwhite profile image

    Mary White 9 years ago from Mobile, AL

    Let it go.

  • profile image

    plainjosh 9 years ago

    I can't believe this has gone as far as it has. M'am, they serve straight-tailed crawfish in restaurants. That doesn't necessarily mean that they have been dead before. Some dead crawfish are straight-tailed before being boiled and some aren't. Some live crawfish turn straight-tailed when boiled. I actually live in Louisiana and have been eating crawfish all my life and can't understand the point of this myth. It's probably nothing more than something silly for people to talk and contemplate about. Hence, these posts. Frozen crawfish will also turn mushy. "Also" being the key word there. A dead crawfish will more likely be mushy - such as the ones they sell in marketplaces to make crawfish étouffée. So don't come to me telling me to experiment. Everything I've said is empirical. How about you do an experiment instead whenever you come to "visit"? How's that for correct spelling and grammar Mr/Mrs/Ms anonymous loser?

  • profile image

    craw magnon 9 years ago

    plainjosh says: "Would you like me to school you on grammar and punctuation as wel?"

    Hey Joshy, how about a little spelling lesson as WELL, you freekin idiot.

    P.S. plainjosh eats dead crawfish all day. What the hell does he know about grammar and punctuation?!

  • mgwhite profile image

    Mary White 9 years ago from Mobile, AL

    Josh - I know a lot about crawfish; my family is from LA and I've spend a lot of time there. While I'm glad you've never gotten sick from eating straight tail crawfish, please don't encourage other people to do so. It is not a myth. If you want to experiment, either overcook some crawfish or cook some properly, refrigerate them, and put them back in boiling water to heat. They'll be mushy.

  • profile image

    plainjosh 9 years ago

    Ok stupid, this is coming from a person who lives in Louisiana and has been eating crawfish forever. A mushy tail usually means the crawfish has been long dead. Straight tail crawfish being bad is just a myth. Trust me, I have eaten them and obviously I'm still alive. Even live-boiled crawfish will have straight tails too. That being the case, NOPE RANDY, you are wrong. Would you like me to school you on grammar and punctuation as wel? Because I think you a lesson on that too.

    P.S. mgwhite is from Alabama. What the hell does she know about eating crawfish?!

  • profile image

    Randy 9 years ago

    nope plainjosh is wrong musshy means coked wrong floppy tail that falls straight open bad ( dead before cooked ) curled up tight means alive before cooked which the only ones you want to eat and shame on the person who didnt check all the crawfish before cooking!

    Love your hubs think I will become a fan right now!

  • Kay Kerns profile image

    Kay Kerns 10 years ago

    mMMm! Youve made me so hungry with this hub! I love it! and I love crawfish. I am so glad that you added that it is important to look for the curled tails and not the straight! Good information!

  • profile image

    plainjosh 10 years ago

    There are several factors that lead to a boiled crawfish having either a straight or curled tail. This does not determine whether a crawfish is good to eat. The best way is to inspect the meat: if most of the meats are mushy (i.e. they fall apart easily), then this is probably the best indicator that the crawfish is bad. And most likely because it has been dead for a long time before it was boiled.


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