Hosting a Crawfish Boil


How to Host a Crawfish Boil

A friend of mine threw such a fun birthday party a few weeks back: she invited 20 friends over for a sit-down, get-your-hands-dirty, crawfish feed. Emarie happens to be in the business of weddings and events, so it’s not a surprise that she knows a bit about throwing a good dinner party (no pressure!), but this was her and her husband’s first time cooking crawfish for 20 people in their front yard. I asked her for some tips after the fact because I thought it was perfect!


Hosting a Crawfish Boil

Everyone started off very civilized—except for perhaps Aron and I who literally hovered over the table of oysters and the bottles of champagne. I was a little embarrassed about the way the shells were piling up in my palm. Emarie ordered the oysters through her family’s restaurant but notes that you could get them from any local distributor—”like Hog Island or any of the other companies in Tomales bay” if you’re nearby—or perhaps even your local grocer, who would order them for you (which we’ve had done at Whole Foods). She ordered 150 for 20 people: “Next time I would do 200.”

Hosting a Crawfish Boil

She had set up a long table, covered in plastic, for dinner.  “It helps if you work in the event industry and have access to all the event rentals you would need. If not, it’s still a basic set up. Tables, chairs and plastic drop cloths from the hardware store will do the trick! No utensils or napkins needed.” No napkins? We were a little shocked, but she assured us: “It’s s silly to wipe your hands or face until you throw in the towel and call it quits! If you have unscented baby wipes laying around, that will do the trick!”

For 20 guests, she purchased:
60lbs crawfish (cooked around 45lbs)
10lbs head on gulf prawns
12 ears of corn
12 sausage
20 red potatoes (some cut in half)

“We included prawns, spicy andouille sausage, boiled red potatoes & corn. Next time I will add more sausage, potatoes, and corn. It can get a little tedious peeling the shrimp & crawfish, but it’s really easy to throw a potato down, chomp into a sausage, or chow down on some corn. Especially if you are have been drinking. When cooking, add these items 15 min before you add your crawfish. The crawfish take around 8 minutes.”
Crawfish Boil
Crawfish Boil

Crawfish Boil

“I’m lucky that my parents own a restaurant so it was easy to find a pot that would hold 50lbs of crawfish. If you don’t have access to commercial-size restaurant equipment, ask friends to gather as many stock pots as possible… and start boiling your water early! It’s a real pain to wait when you are ready to eat!” I loved how everyone hovered over the big steamy pot with flashlights.

Hosting a Crawfish Boil

And after slurping and sipping and getting to know everyone a little better, we got a lesson in eating crawfish and then got down to the business of digging in and making a mess.

Hosting a Crawfish Boil
Hosting a Crawfish Boil

And those plastic sheets on the table meant that all that mess just got rolled right up. Brilliant.

Hosting a Crawfish Boil

Would you host a messy dinner party like this? A crawfish or a crab feed (with Old Bay) seems like such a great equalizer for bringing friends together. Thanks for the tips, Emarie!

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Let’s Discuss

  1. Leah PS

    Looks delicious! I’ve never had a glass of champagne or enjoyed a fizzy Pellegrino with crawfish – so fancy! You know at a real crawfish boil the crawish is dumped straight from the pot onto a table covered in newspaper, right? What’s with the plastic bags?

    • A clever way to get them from that huge heavy pot to the table! They were then spread. But it would have been a long, drippy walk otherwise. Interesting to learn about the newsprint!

  2. Natalie

    I actually did have a huge shrimp boil last spring–right here in Davis. I got everyone plastic bibs and covered the table in newspaper. It was one of the best meals of our lives. We also added some wonderful homemade cornbread and finished it all off with a homemade crepe cake and homemade cream puffs. I’m planning on having another one this June to celebrate my husband and I graduating from Davis with our PhDs. You can actually find the huge pots for shrimp/craw boils on Amazon for a great price (with the burner). And, I have to say, I put a big role of paper towels out for people and it was much appreciated (along with wet wipes). I’m glad for the idea to include oysters in the party! That will be great! I still feel like Nugget gets significantly better seafood that the Davis WF (and as ecologically sound), so I’ll probably stick with them for that (though WFs produce and other stuff wins out).

  3. Al

    Remember in Casis, France when you ordered lobster only to get a plate full of “crawfish” looking back at you with those little black eyes?

    • Ashley

      Definitely! I’ve been scarred by the image of their acrobatics on ice. They were staring at me! I actually told that story… haha. “Like father…

  4. Elizabeth

    I’m from Maryland so crab feasts are basically sacred gatherings. One of my friends did one for their rehearsal dinner, SO much fun!

  5. What’s not to love about a great crawfish boil?! (And equalizer indeed!) I too grew up laying out newsprint over a long table with big garbage bins at the end of each table, but as of late, we’ve been dumping the cooked mud-bugs into an ice chest and then we use cardboard coke flats to carry your own to your seat. (You can see our mother’s day gathering here: This post makes me happy and really looking forward to our next crawfish boil scheduled for May (combo graduation/mother’s day celebration)!

  6. Summer

    My very first thought was, “I would NEVER have a crawfish boil for yankees!” Hahaha! I didn’t know yall would appreciate it, but I’m glad you do! It’s one of my favorite meals. :)

  7. Jeffrey Bero

    Up here in Gilberts, IL we have a real special Memorial Day boil every year; craw-dads, shrimp, mussels, crab legs, oysters, sausage, potatoes & corn. The shrimp, mussels, oysters and crab legs come from Linton’s Seafood out of Maryland and the crawfish are shipped live from Louisiana, either Cajun Crawfish or Louisiana Crawfish Co.

    Crawfish boils are the very best of fun!

  8. Betsy

    This looks so perfect, what a great idea for a party. We are heading into autumn over here, this would be a great way to celebrate with friends on a cool night around the steaming pot of crawfish. Thanks for sharing Ashley