How do you smoke a crayfish/crawfish & how do you eat it?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  January 2, 2022

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If you love to smoke lobster, you have to try smoked crayfish – it has delicious, delicate meat that tastes amazing when smoked.

In Louisiana, this crustacean is called a crawfish, whereas, up North, they just use the term crayfish. It’s also known as crawdad in Arkansas, Kansas, and some Western states.

But, regardless of what it’s called in your area, you shouldn’t skip out on smoked crayfish. It’s popular during the spring months, so prep your smoker and give this Texas-style recipe a try.

How do you smoke a crayfish:crawfish? Full recipe + gear explained

Unfortunately, not many people know that you can smoke this tasty crustacean.

Check out this easy smoked crayfish recipe which doesn’t take a long time, and you can use any smoker.

How to smoke crayfish

When you smoke crayfish, you can smoke the whole crawfish or just smoke the tails. It’s similar to smoking lobster tails.

Usually, the crayfish is cooked in a Cajun-style with their well-known spices to bring out the sweet flavors of the tail meat.

But, in many modern restaurants, it’s smoked the same way as lobster tails. The crayfish is seasoned with a butter sauce mixed with garlic and spices.

Here’s how we are going to smoke the crayfish. But first, you need to boil it.

If you already have boiled and frozen crayfish, skip step one and move to step two directly.

Step one: boil the crayfish

Before you smoke crayfish, you need to boil it, so it’s properly cooked.

This method works for about 40 lbs of crawfish. If you’re using a lot less, reduce the boiling time.

First, place your fresh or frozen crawfish into a cooking basket or steaming basket and place it in a large pot filled with water.

Next, bring the water and crustaceans to a boil and let them cook for approximately 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the crayfish in the simmering water for an extra 15 minutes.

Now, you can remove them and prep them for the smoker.

Step two: seasoning

After boiling the crayfish, you can whip up a mixture of seasoning ingredients to cover the fish.

First, you want to place the boiled crayfish in an aluminum pan or metal pan and add a couple of tablespoons of water. This creates moisture, so the crayfish don’t dry out while smoking.

Melt some butter, and add your favorite herbs, minced garlic, paprika, and Cajun seasoning. Then pour onto the crayfish and squeeze the juice of one lemon on top.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and poke some holes at the top.

Step three: smoke the crayfish

Once seasoned, use a low, slow smoke method for 60 minutes. Set your smoker to between 100 – 120 degrees so as not to cook the crayfish.

You want to flavor it, not cook it, or else it becomes too tough and chewy.

Just a heads up, smoking crayfish is done in an aluminum pan, not straight on the smoker grates like other foods. Place the pan you prepared in step two into your smoker.

Add some flavored wood chips or pellets to the smoker (here’s how to use wood chips in your smoker).

I recommend fruit wood like apple, pear, or cherry. These woods impart the crayfish with a delicate sweetness that doesn’t overpower the seasoned meat.

Take one piece out of the smoker to check if your crayfish is ready to eat.

Using a very sharp knife, poke the thickest part of the tail. Once the tail is sliced open a bit, check the color.

The flesh must have an opaque creamy white color. It shouldn’t be raw-looking or completely white.

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How to serve smoked crayfish

Once you’ve got your tasty smoked crayfish, it’s time to enjoy their yummy flavor,

If you’ve already smoked other meats and seafood or grilled some tasty side dishes, you can just eat the crayfish as is with some potatoes.

Some people just remove the juicy tail meat from the shell and eat it on its own.

This video shows you how to take it apart:

Alternatively, you can make an étouffée-style dish that combines a creamy crawfish sauce and rice.

The crawfish étouffée is a Cajun dish made with tasty roux gravy, onions, bell peppers, celery, herbs, garlic, and all kinds of spicy Cajun seasonings.

Then, the crawfish meat is added to the gravy and served over steamed rice.

You can even use smoked crawfish tails in gumbo and stews.


The spring season is the best time to fish crayfish, but if you want it all throughout the year, you can probably find it frozen.

There’s no need to wait for spring to enjoy this smoked delicacy. Not many people know how to cook crayfish, so I hope this guide inspired you to try smoking them.

The flavors are really delicate but tasty, especially if you use a spicy Cajun seasoning mix – it will upgrade basic smoked crayfish!

For more seafood inspiration, these are the top 10 fishes to smoke in your smoker

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.