How to Make The Best Viet-Cajun Crawfish

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My dad has the best Viet-Cajun crawfish recipe and nothing beats his backyard boils! This style of crawfish was popularized in the Houston area and is an awesome blend of the Vietnamese and Cajun cultures there. It’s known for being coated in rich garlic butter and for its fresh orange citrus flavors.


Updated April 24, 2024

Viet-Cajun crawfish

What is Viet-Cajun Crawfish?

Viet-Cajun is a popular style of crawfish in the Houston area.

Houston is home to a large population of Vietnamese immigrants and Louisiana transplants. As a result, a wonderful fusion of two delicious food cultures was created.

Viet-Cajun crawfish is known for being tossed in a garlic butter sauce after it is boiled.

Traditional Louisiana crawfish on the other hand is not covered in sauce.

Everyone has a unique way of making their boil. Some Viet-Cajun boils may include lemongrass, ginger, scallions, etc.

My dad’s recipe features oranges which enhances the natural sweetness of the crawfish meat and adds a nice balance to the salty seasonings.

If you haven’t already check out Netflix’s Ugly Delicious, Season 1, Shrimp & Crawfish episode to learn more about Viet-Cajun crawfish!

RELATED: CHICKEN AND SAUSAGE GUMBO

Viet-Cajun Crawfish Ingredients

Before you begin making Viet-Cajun crawfish, you’ll need to get the following ingredients for the crawfish boil and garlic butter sauce:

Crawfish Boil

  • Crawfish: Of course you’ll need crawfish but you can add other seafood like shrimp, crab, or lobster.
  • Water: Water is the neutral base for the crawfish boil to cook everything in.
  • Orange: Fresh oranges and orange juice add a sweet citrus flavor and balances out the saltiness.
  • Crawfish Seasoning: We always use Louisiana Crawfish, Shrimp, & Crab Boil Seasoning.
  • Aromatics: Onion and garlic enhances the flavor of the boil.
  • Add-Ins: Add additional ingredients that you like to eat with crawfish to make it heartier such as andouille sausage, red potatoes, corn on the cob, and boiled peanuts. They don’t change the flavor of the boil much but soaks up the delicious seasonings.
  • Celery: Celery adds a nice freshness and subtle earthy flavor to the boiling liquid.
  • Orange Juice: 2 gallons orange juice

Garlic Butter Sauce

  • Butter: Butter is the base of the sauce and adds a super rich and irresistible flavor.
  • Aromatics: Similar to the crawfish boil liquid, onion and garlic adds so much flavor to the sauce.
  • Crawfish Seasoning: The same Louisiana Crawfish, Shrimp, & Crab Boil Seasoning used for the boil is used for the sauce.
Viet-Cajun crawfish boil ingredients

How to Wash Crawfish

It is very important before you begin cooking that you wash the crawfish.

They are nicknamed mud bugs for a reason.

My dad typically places the crawfish in a large tub and fills it up with water.

You can also add salt to the water to purge the crawfish.

The tub typically starts off looking pretty murky.

However he usually rinses and dumps the water from tub a few times until the water is clear.

He also carefully washes them off individually to remove mud and any debris.

Also make sure to discard any dead crawfish.

Dead crawfish will typically float to the top, appear pale, limp, and/or do not move.

Similar to other seafood like lobster and oysters, you should only cook and eat live crawfish.

Crawfish spoils quickly once they die, therefore the meat will be mushy, it’ll taste bad, and can make you sick.

This step can be tedious but is very much necessary.

How to Make Viet-Cajun Crawfish

Viet-Cajun crawfish is so flavorful and perfect for sharing with family and friends!

I might be biased but I think my dad makes the best and I’m going to share all of his tips and tricks.

Let’s walk through this Viet-Cajun crawfish recipe step-by-step so you can recreate this at home!

As always a video tutorial and recipe card is at the end that you can print out, pin to Pinterest, or save for later.

Step 1: Crawfish Boil

This recipes makes 15 pounds of crawfish so you will need a large pot.

I recommend a 64 quart boiler pot with strainer pot or a 32 quart pot at minimum.

You may have to cook the crawfish in multiple batches depending on the size of your pot.

To the pot add water, oranges, seasoning, garlic, onions, sausage, boiled peanuts, celery, and orange juice.

Bring it to a boil on high heat.

Then add corn and potatoes and let it boil for 15 minutes.

Next, add in the cleaned crawfish and boil for 5 minutes.

Crawfish are small so they cook very quickly.

Turn off the heat and let them soak in that flavorful liquid for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Garlic Butter Sauce

Next, make the sauce to toss with the cooked crawfish.

In a medium pot add all ingredients for the garlic butter sauce: butter, garlic, onion, and crawfish seasoning.

Cook on medium heat until garlic and onions are soft and translucent.

Step 3: Serve & Enjoy!

Lastly, remove crawfish with the strainer pot or a strainer.

Toss the cooked crawfish in the garlic butter sauce.

Serve Viet-Cajun crawish with fresh lemon, lime, melted butter, mayo, ketchup, and extra crawfish boil seasoning.

Our family likes to make these simple sauces to dip the crawfish tails in:

  • Sauce 1: ketchup + mayo
  • Sauce 2: crawfish seasoning + lime

How to Eat Crawfish

My favorite way to eat crawfish is to squeeze fresh lemon and/or lime on top right before eating.

You can eat the crawfish tails plain or dipped in the sauces I mentioned above.

Although tails are universally loved, the crawfish heads are where all the flavor is.

Suck on the heads to really savor all the delicious seasonings from the boil.

Then crack it open and eat the yellow stuff inside the ribs. Don’t forget to suck on the ribs too!

The yellow stuff is commonly mistaken for poop but it is actually the hepatopancreas which is like the crawfish’s version of a liver according to LSU AgCenter.

It is rich and creamy like seafood butter or foie gras of the sea (or bayou), as I like to call it.

Some say it tastes similar to uni!

RELATED: Easy One Pot Jambalaya with Shrimp, Chicken, and Sausage

crawfish ketchup mayo sauce

Viet-Cajun Crawfish FAQs

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions I’ve gotten about this Viet-Cajun crawfish recipe.

How many pounds of crawfish per person?

A good rule of thumb is 3-5 pounds per person but it also depends on who you’re feeding.

Remember most of the weight is in the shells!

Why do you add boiled peanuts?

My family loves boiled peanuts with our crawfish!

Boiled peanuts are a popular snack in the south.

It soaks up the flavors of the boil really well and is just fun to snack on when you need a break from peeling crawfish.

Like potatoes, it doesn’t add flavor to the boil so you can omit them if you’re allergic or not a fan.

Do the oranges make it sweet?

Oranges add a nice citrusy flavor and balance out the saltiness. It adds a slight sweetness that enhances the crawfish meat.

It won’t make the boil taste like dessert or a fruit juice.

I wouldn’t omit these ingredients because I think this is what makes my dad’s Viet-Cajun crawfish recipe special!

Viet-Cajun crawfish family recipe

More Cajun Recipes To Try:

If you’re a fan crawfish, then here are some more delicious and flavorful Cajun recipes you should try!

Save This Viet-Cajun Crawfish Recipe!

I hope this step-by-step tutorial for how to make Viet-Cajun crawfish is helpful and that you try to recreate it in your own home!

It’s so flavorful and fun to gather around and share.

Be sure to save this recipe and share with your family and friends!

If you try it, then please leave a rating and comment below. I’d love to know what you think!

Did you make this recipe? I would love to see! Tag me on IG @feedmi_ or TikTok @feedmi

Viet-Cajun Crawfish

Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 5

Equipment

  • 64 quart boiler pot with strainer pot (may have to cook crawfish in multiple batches, 32 quart pot minimum)
  • propane stove
  • propane

Ingredients

CRAWFISH BOIL:

  • 15 lbs live crawfish
  • 2 gallons water
  • 4 navel oranges, halved
  • 2 lbs Louisiana Crawfish, Shrimp, & Crab Boil Seasoning
  • 2 garlic bulbs, halved
  • 2 onions, halved
  • 3 12 oz andouille sausage links, cut into chunks
  • 1 lb boiled peanuts, shell on
  • 1 stalk celery, sticks cut in thirds
  • 2 gallons orange juice
  • 12 frozen corn on the cob mini
  • 7 red potatoes

GARLIC BUTTER SAUCE:

  • 3 cups butter
  • 1/2 cup Louisiana Crawfish, Shrimp, & Crab Boil Seasoning
  • 5 garlic bulbs, minced
  • 2 onions, chopped

SERVE WITH:

  • fresh lemons
  • fresh limes
  • melted butter
  • ketchup
  • mayo
  • Louisiana Fish Fry Products Crawfish, Shrimp, & Crab Boil Seasoning

Instructions

Wash Crawfish

  • Places crawfish in a large tub and fill it up with water. You can also add salt to the water to purge the crawfish.
  • Individually wash crawfish to remove mud and any debris. Rinse and dump the water from tub a few times until the water is clear.
  • Discard any dead crawfish that float to the top, appear pale, limp, and/or do not move.

Crawfish Boil

  • To the pot add water, oranges, seasoning, garlic, onions, sausage, boiled peanuts, celery, and orange juice. Bring to a boil.
  • Add corn and potatoes. Cook and boil for 15 minutes.
  • Add crawfish and boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it soak for 10 minutes.

Garlic Butter Sauce

  • In a medium pot add all ingredients for the garlic butter sauce.
  • Cook on medium heat until garlic and onions are soft and translucent.

Serve

  • Remove crawfish with the strainer pot or strainer.
  • Toss in garlic butter sauce.
  • Serve with fresh lemon, lime, melted butter, mayo ketchup, and crawfish boil seasoning.

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4 thoughts on “How to Make The Best Viet-Cajun Crawfish”

  • Hi! I have a 42 quart boiler pot and about 33 lbs of crawfish to cook, how would you recommend I go about this? I’m not sure if the exact amounts from your recipe will fit in my 42 quart pot. I was wondering if I would have to maybe half your recipe and then only cook about 7.5 lbs every time and then pour out every thing from the pot with it and then do another whole batch? because I have to double this recipe so that there’s enough sausage and corn for my entire family. Or do you think it’ll all still fit fine in my pot? I’m assuming it wont because my pot is much smaller and I doubled it.

    • Hello! I would definitely do it in batches! The ingredients + liquids in my recipe fills up almost 32 quarts, so you will have some room to cook the crawfish but not the whole 33 pounds at once. You can reuse the liquid for each batch instead of pouring it all out and starting over. Just add in new crawfish, potatoes, sausage and corn for each batch, remove it with the strainer pot when it’s done cooking, and repeat. Sausage and corn won’t really affect the flavor of the boiling liquid much so you can just add in extra of those without increasing the other ingredients proportionally. Hope this helps and that your boil turns out amazing!

  • It has been a few years since I saw that Ugly Delicious episode. We live in the Houston area and I have wanted to try this vietnamese-cajun fusion for a long time. It has been hard to get away from our traditional cajun style boil. I am going to give this a shot this weekend. I will report back.

    • I hope you liked it! Since you are in Houston, next time crawfish season rolls around, I recommend trying Crawfish Cafe (Bellaire/Hong Kong location) when you don’t feel like cooking. It is my favorite for Viet-Cajun style!

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