What Do Crawfish Taste Like? Find The Answer Here

Have you ever tried crawfish? It’s a unique kind of seafood, also called crayfish, crawdads, crayfish, mudbugs, or yabbies. Maybe you’re nervous about trying this odd-looking crustacean for the first time. What do crawfish taste like?

Crawfish taste sweet and tender, with a subtle flavor more like juicy lobster than chewy shrimp. The flavor of the crawfish depends on if you’re eating the tail or head, and how the crawfish is cooked. Pregnant women can safely eat cooked crawfish as they are nutritious and low in mercury.

People are sometimes put off by the crawfish’s many claws, legs, and feelers.

However, if you know how to open up the shell and extract the juicy meat, you’ll be a fan of this freshwater delicacy.

What Do Crawfish Taste Like?

It’s easiest to start by saying what crawfish don’t taste like: although crawfish live in water, they don’t taste like fish. 

Descriptions of how crawfish taste vary from one person to the next.

Some fans describe crawfish as sweet, while others say it’s salty. Some even say it is earthy and muddy.

These descriptions differ because the crawfish’s flavor depends on:

  • which part of the crawfish you’re eating
  • how it has been prepared
  • what sauces it’s cooked with.

Do Crawfish Taste Like Lobster?

You’re right if you think crawfish look like miniature lobsters with their long pointy legs and little claws (which can give a hearty pinch).

Crawfish and lobsters are both crustaceans, meaning water animals with shells and lots of legs.

If you’ve tasted lobster, you will find that crawfish have the same sweet, tender flavor.

However, being freshwater crustaceans, crawdads are less salty – they won’t remind you of the ocean in the same way lobster does.

Crawfish are also lighter than lobster, so the meal is less rich and lower in calories.

If crawfish and lobster are cooked and served in the same way, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference.

Do Crawfish Taste Like Shrimp?

Many people describe crawfish as freshwater prawns or shrimp.

Prawns and shrimp are also crustaceans related to crawfish but are slightly different creatures.

In flavor, crawfish is similar to prawns in that it is buttery and subtle, with a firm texture. However, crawfish are closer in taste to lobster than shrimp.

What Does Crawfish Tail Taste Like? 

Most of the meat in a crawfish is in its tail.

It’s this tail meat that tastes similar to lobster.

You pinch off the crayfish’s tail and squeeze out the meat to get at this tender morsel.

Most people eat only the tail and leave the rest of the crawfish on the plate like you would with a shrimp, prawn, or langoustine.

What Do Crawfish Heads Taste Like?

Die-hard mudbug fans swear by the delicious contents of the crawfish’s head.

They say that you’re wasting the tastiest, juiciest part of the crawfish by ignoring the head.

Just as many seafood lovers eat the heads of prawns, you can also suck the flavor from the head of the crawfish.

Inside a crawfish’s head, you will find the crawfish’s hepatopancreas, a body part that functions something like our brain and liver.

Foodies call this succulent meat “crawfish butter” or the “foie gras or goose liver of the sea.”

Crawfish butter is entirely edible and tastes sweet, rich, and salty.

To get at the meat in the head, you have to tear the head of the crawfish, pinch it in your fingers, and gently suck out the butter and juices.

Take care that the juices don’t come rushing out and spray all over your shirt.

What Do Different Crawfish Recipes Taste Like?

For the best tasting crawfish, always buy them live to make them as fresh as possible.

The best cooking method is boiling.

Because crayfish have a delicate and subtle flavor, the meat takes on the flavor of the ingredients it’s cooked with.

The Louisiana Crawfish Boil

A common way of cooking crawfish is the Louisiana crawfish boil.

This traditional recipe involves cooking the crawfish with andouille sausage, potatoes, onions, and corn.

Seasonings are Cajun-style and spicy, including piquant cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic, and oregano.

These flavors soak into the crawfish and pool in the head, making the crawfish butter even more juicy and delicious.

At a typical Louisana Boil, the food is dumped directly onto long tables covered in plastic or paper tableclothes.

You dig in with your hands and fingers – no forks. You use paper towels, not napkins to clean your hands.

As soon as the table empties, another pot of crawfish gets dumped on the table.

Crawfish Étouffée

This Southern recipe is for “smothered” crawfish which uses only crawfish tails.

The crawfish tastes like the rich sauce you make from tomatoes, peppers, onions, celery, and garlic. 

Chinese Crawfish Recipes

In a completely different cooking style, Chinese crawfish recipes often involve stir-frying the crawfish with spices like garlic, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaves.

The crawfish is slightly charred and tastes like the sweet and savory spices.

Swedish Crawfish Recipes

In Sweden, crawfish are eaten on the long summer evenings in August when the sun stays up for hours.

Crawfish are also boiled but flavored with dill and eaten cold, along with cheese, beer, or schnapps.

Can Pregnant Women Eat Crawfish?

Crawfish is one of the safest foods pregnant women can eat.

The most common reason doctors and nutritionists advise pregnant women to avoid seafood is the high mercury levels found in fish and shellfish, which can harm the developing baby. 

Another reason is that undercooked or spoiled seafood can carry bacteria, pathogens, and parasites, causing food poisoning and other food-borne diseases.

Pregnant women can suffer from weaker immune systems, so it is essential not to expose yourself or your baby to any contaminants.

Crawfish are an excellent choice for pregnant women.

American crawfish are low in mercury, with only 0.033 parts per million (ppm) of mercury, well below the 0.1 ppm required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

If you avoid imported crawfish and stick to farmed US crawfish, you need to have no concerns about mercury.

Eating well-cooked, fresh crawfish is also very nutritious and healthy for the mother and baby.

Crawfish provides vitamin B, iron, selenium, and low-calorie protein.

In addition, you are unlikely to eat raw crawfish, as it is typically well-cooked in your favorite boil.

However, take care when handling and preparing raw crawfish.

Follow food safety guidelines like washing your hands thoroughly, avoiding cross-contamination, using separate cutting boards, sterilizing utensils, and sanitizing preparation surfaces that have come into contact with raw crawfish.

When cooking crawfish, use a cooking thermometer to make sure that it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to be fully cooked.

If you’ve boiled the crawfish, you need not worry, as boiling point is between 200 and 212°F (100°C).

Conclusion

How a crawfish tastes will depend on which part of the crawfish you are eating and how it is cooked.

The meat in a crawfish’s tail tastes sweet and tender, like lobster.

The meat from a crawfish’s head is salty and rich.

In the US, crawfish are usually cooked Cajun-style, with cayenne pepper, paprika, and garlic, so the seafood will have these flavors.

Crawfish is a healthy choice for pregnant women as it is usually well-cooked, low in mercury, and high in vitamins and minerals.