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finished recipe laid out on a table on parchment with butter sauce, lime wedges and a bottle of beer.

Vietnamese Cajun Crawfish Boil Recipe

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Christina
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 1x



For the crawfish boil:

6 pounds crawfish

2 onions, quartered

1 head garlic

8-10 small red potatoes

2-3 ears of corn on the cob

2 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning

2 bay leaves

Lime wedges, for serving

Viet-cajun butter sauce (for serving)

2 sticks butter

8 cloves garlic

1/2 cup green onions (white and light green parts)

2 tablespoons diced red chili

2 tablespoons fresh ginger

2 tablespoons lemongrass

2 tablespoons Old Bay or Cajun seasoning

1 cups seafood stock

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoon fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

3 tablespoons cilantro


  1. To begin, make your butter sauce for the Viet-cajun seafood boil. Melt 2 sticks of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped garlic, green onion, red chili, grated ginger, diced lemongrass, Old Bay or cajun seasoning, white pepper and fish sauce to the butter. Saute the vegetables for 5-6 minutes until they are tender and fragrant. Add 1 cup of seafood stock and lime juice and bring the Viet-cajun garlic-butter sauce to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. I like to use an immersion blender to emulsify the butter sauce at this point - I think it creates a far better dipping sauce and soaking product for the seafood. So I use the immersion blender right in the saucepan and mix for about 10-15 seconds, until the sauce turns a creamy orange color and is fully emulsified. Add in the diced cilantro. Taste again and adjust seasoning, as needed. Set aside.
  2. If using fresh crawfish, wash crawfish very well under running cool water. (Anything they call "mud bugs" will require a good cleaning) Fill a stock pot or Dutch oven about 3/4 full of water (for 6 pounds of crawfish I used a very large Dutch oven.)
  3. Add 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt, 2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning, 3 quartered onions, two bay leaves and a head of garlic cut in half to your pot of water. Bring the entire mixture to a boil over high heat. 
  4. Add tiny red potatoes and corn. Cook 8 minutes (if your potatoes are larger, cut them in half, or plan to boil at this stage for 10-12 minutes and wait to add the corn until the potatoes have boiled about 5 minutes). Add crawfish. Bring the mixture back up to a boil. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes, until the crawfish float to the surface and turn deep red.
  5. Transfer cooked crawfish, potatoes, corn, onions and garlic to a second stock pot or large container with a lid. Pour over the Vietnamese cajun butter sauce.
  6. Cover and let the crawfish soak in the butter sauce for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with additional fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges. Serve with extra sides of Viet-cajun butter sauce and spicy aioli.


After making seafood boils for years, I heard a Louisiana chef say that seasoning the crawfish boil recipe water didn't do very much to season the crawfish - that was the job of the cajun butter sauce. Seasoning the water just makes it smell delicious as your guests arrive. Ever since, I've cut way back on the crawfish boil seasoning I add to the boiling water. I want the water to be seasoned lightly, but I focus much more on adding flavor and spicy seasonings to the Viet-cajun butter sauce. And it's been a winning philosophy for me!

All of the crawfish I've seen in fish markets around our village are whole, in the shell, and already blanched and bright red. But since live crawfish have such a short cook-time (about 3-5 minutes) - reheating these blanched crawfish require the same process. So the pictures below show bright red crawfish at the beginning of the process, and if you're in the US using live or raw crawfish, your starting product will be a darker brown color when you first add them to your large pot of seasoned water at a rolling boil. Once they are cooked, they will float to the top of the pot a bright red color, and that's how you know they're cooked.

  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Easy Recipes
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American, Cajun