Recipe: Cajun and Swedish Style Crayfish Boils

Just as the Louisiana crayfish is honored with festivals and feasts, the native “noble” crayfish (Astacus astacus) is enthusiastically consumed in Sweden during parties known as kräftskivas.  It seems native European crayfish have been consumed too excessively, as the American signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus) has now been introduced as a food source in response to decreasing numbers of noble crayfish.

To honor the cultural celebrations of crayfish around the world, today’s recipes describe two popular ways to boil them up.  Imagine the good you can do by emphatically eating crayfish that threaten your regionally native species!

Boiled Rusty Crayfish served "Northwoods" Style (arranged in a minnow trap); Photo Credit: Grace Loppnow



Ingredients: Cajun Style Crayfish Boil

5 quarts water

1 medium onion, cut into wedges

1 lemon, cut into wedges

6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely sliced

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

6 tablespoons salt

2 lbs whole crayfish

Ingredients: Swedish Style Crayfish Boil

2.5 quarts water

6 tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon sugar

Generous amount of dill (fresh crowns preferred)

2 lbs whole crayfish


For either recipe, bring water to a boil before adding all ingredients except crayfish*.  Boil for 10 minutes to get the flavors acquainted.  Next, add live crayfish and boil for an additional 7 minutes.  Crayfish can be cooked in several batches, though you may want to refresh with more salt and spices.

*For a more authentic Cajun experience, you can also boil small red potatoes and corn (shucked, on the cob cut in thirds).  Add small red potatoes to the boiling boil 10 minutes before the crayfish, and add corn at the same time as the crayfish.


This recipe comes to you courtesy of guest contributor Ashley Baldridge.  Ashley is a PhD student at the University of Notre Dame whose research focuses on the impacts of invasive rusty crayfish in Wisconsin and Michigan.



5 thoughts on “Recipe: Cajun and Swedish Style Crayfish Boils

  • March 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Soooo….. Is anyone starting to fish for carp and/or lionfish commercially or is it custom fishing. How can I get to try some lion fish? Can deep frying the carp make the small bones edible?? It works on small trout.

    • March 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      There are some commerical asian carp harvesters, in fact the state
      of Illinois made a deal to send china 50million pounds of it. Frying does
      in fact make the bones kind of crunchy and edible, so I’ve heard. there’s some
      good youtube videos of how to fillet one properly though. Duane Chapman in the Asian Carp man. I don’t
      know of any commericial lionfish harvesters, but there are commercial
      guides to take people lionfish hunting.

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  • September 8, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I’d like to talk with Ashley, the author, for a story on ‘eating invasives.’ Please send me an email. Thanks! Jeff.

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