A serving of Crawfish Étouffée on white rice.

Crawfish Etouffee, To Etouffee ​​Is To Smother

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The Crawfish Étouffée is a classic Cajun dish made by cooking onions, garlic, celery, and bell pepper in butter, then smothering the seafood with this flavorful sauce. Serve it over a bed of white rice. Ca c’est Bon! I’ll show you just how easy it is to use with crawfish or shrimp.

Crawfish étouffée over a dish of rice.

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Lenten Season

The season of Lent begins the day after Mardi Gras which is called Ash Wednesday. It continues for about 7 weeks leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave on Easter Sunday. A day worth celebrating!

Since Cajuns are predominately Catholic, lent was and still is faithfully observed where I grew up in Vermilion Parish. That place on earth spotted with marshland on its southern side just before reaching the Gulf of Mexico.

Meatless Fridays

Traditionally during lent, meat is served only once out of the three daily meals except for Wednesday and Friday. On these days it is abstained from as an act of sacrifice in order to draw closer to God.

As a teenager, my mother remembers there were no dances or parties during this season. As a child, I remember stressing out on trying to decide whether I was going to give up candy, gum or cokes for forty-something days. No matter what we chose personally to abstain from we were always served meatless dishes on Friday.Ingredients for crawfish étouffée.

Thankfully fresh fish is readily available around the marshland. In place of meat and rice (see Everyday Rice Every Day) and gravy Mama would fix fish or shellfish. Thankfully crawfish are in season during lent and we aoften had Boiled Crawfish and Crawfish Etouffee, two of my favorites. We’ll be making an etouffee (pronounced at-2-fay) here, but if your interested in How To boil Crawfish just click on the highlighted title and you’ll go right to that post.Adding garlic to crawfish étouffée.

Crawfish Etouffée, A Smothered Stew

Etouffée means to smother and smother those crawfish Mama did well. Her recipe calls for a buttery white sauce made with onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic with a kick of cayenne pepper. It’s super easy to make and oh-so-tasty!Simmer vegetables in a saucepan for crawfish étouffée.Adding the crawfish to pan for crawfish étouffée.

The first time I prepared it for some Arkansas friends they said that it was not the same as what they had eaten in restaurants. Not the same, but better! That was a high compliment to my Mama and her recipe. 

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Crawfish Étouffée, To Etouffée Is To Smother

This smothered crawfish or shrimp recipe in a buttery white sauce is flavored with the Cajun trinity and a kick of cayenne. The étouffée is served over rice and enjoyed as a favorite classic Southern Louisiana dish.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


  • 2 sticks (1 cup) of real butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon chopped bell pepper
  • 2 large cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen crawfish or shrimp (peeled and cleaned)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more
  • water
  • parsley, chopped; optional


  1. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Add vegetables and cook on medium heat until onions are transparent about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Do not brown.
  4. Add cornstarch, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Before you add the crawfish or shrimp, pass your hand through them, removing any pieces of shell or black veins.
  6. Stir the shellfish into the cornstarch and vegetable mixture.
  7. Add salt and pepper stirring well, then add a little water, about 1/4 cup at a time, until it is the consistency of a thick gravy. 
  8. Adjust heat to let simmer covered on medium to medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Add a small amount of water if the gravy needs thinning.
  10. Sprinkled with chopped parsley and stir. Serve over cooked rice.


  • The amount of water added may vary each time you make this recipe, depending on the crawfish or shrimp. Some crawfish and shrimp have more water in them than others.
  • Author: Louisiana Woman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Category: Seafood

A spoon stirring crawfish étouffée.

I hope you find crawfish étouffée easy enough to prepare for yourself. You can usually find crawfish or shrimp in your grocers’ freezer section. I recommend purchasing fish that is harvested as close to your home as possible if you can’t get them in your own backyard like we used to, but that’s another story for another time. 

A dish of Shrimp Étouffée poured over rice.

“I have never met a soul who has set out to satisfy the Lord and has not been satisfied himself.”

Watchman Nee

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