What Does Crawfish Taste Like?

Crawfish, crayfish, or crawdad, whatever you call them these crustaceans are delicious. With multiple ways to cook them, they might just become your favorite seafood.

Crawfish are sweet and somewhat salty. If you suck the juices out of the removed head from the crawfish, you’ll find it tastes briny and sweet. Overall crawfish tastes roughly like a cross between crab and shrimp.

Parts of the Crawfish

Different parts of the crawfish have different flavors. The preparation also lends itself to changes in the flavor and texture.

Crawfish Tails

The tails of the crawfish are generally the largest part of the crawfish. They are the part that is most commonly served.

The meat in this part of the crawfish is sweet, thick, and somewhat tough.

Crawfish Claws

The claws of the crawfish aren’t always large enough to be served alone. They are often very small pieces of meat.

However, the meat in the claws has a sweet, light flavor. It’s much less tough than the tail meat and should be smooth and easy to chew.


Roe is the eggs of the crawfish. They generally taste salty and perhaps a little like ocean water. They have a somewhat milder taste than caviar.


Tomalley essentially is the head contents of the crawfish which contains the liver and pancreas. Yes, this definitely sounds disgusting. But the flavor makes it easy to get past how unseemly it appears.

While you don’t actually eat the head of the crawfish, you can, in fact, suck the yellow juice in the head cavity. It’s sweet, slightly briny, and absolutely delicious.

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We’ve touched briefly on texture. Now let’s go a little more in-depth about the texture of each part. 

The Tail

The tail of the crawfish generally has a dense, somewhat chewy texture. 

When cooked it doesn’t crumble or fall apart and tends to hold its shape well.

The Claws

Unlike the tail, the claws of the crawfish are light smooth and will easily melt in your mouth. 

If you’re putting the claws in other dishes, they will flake easily and break apart. It will be difficult to use them in liquids as they will melt. 

The Roe

Crawfish roe should be smooth and soft. If you bite into it should burst and pop in your mouth.

Keep in mind that crawfish roe needs to be cooked. When cooked they are bright red, if they are black they are not cooked and should not be eaten.


Those sweet, briny, yellow head contents should be incredibly smooth and have a consistency somewhat like paste. 

It should be creamy and blend well with other foods.

Cooking Method

The preparation of crawfish can change its flavor depending on whether it is boiled or grilled.

Boiled Crawfish

If you boil your crawfish in water, you will get a pure crawfish flavor. After boiling your crawfish should taste fairly sweet and have a light consistency.

By serving your crawfish with some browned butter, you can also coax a nutty flavor out of it.

If you want a different or more intense flavor, you can boil your crawfish in a flavored liquid. These might include beef or seafood stock, or Old Bay Seasoning.

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Grilled Crawfish

When crawfish are cooked on the grill they get a nice sweet flavor with additional caramelizing on the outside of the fish. The flame also helps give the crawfish a somewhat smoky taste. 

Grilled crawfish is probably only ideal for the tails, as the claws are too delicate and may fall apart.

Overall Thoughts

Crawfish is sweet, slightly salty, and delicious. Suck out some tomalley for a sweet, briny treat. 

You can eat different parts of the crustacean, made in different ways to get the flavor you want.  Essentially, you can customize your meal to the flavors you are looking for. How versatile is that!