Can I reheat cooked crawfish?

Crawfish are a delicious shellfish that are popular in many cuisines around the world. However, like most cooked foods, leftovers are common after a crawfish boil or crawfish étouffée. This raises the question – can you safely reheat cooked crawfish? The short answer is yes, you can reheat previously cooked crawfish, but proper storage and reheating methods should be followed.

Can you reheat boiled crawfish?

Boiled crawfish that have been cooked properly and handled safely can definitely be reheated and enjoyed again. The keys are proper cooling, storage, and reheating techniques.

After boiling crawfish, it is important to cool them down quickly to prevent bacterial growth. Spread the crawfish out on a baking sheet so they cool faster, rather than leaving them in a big pot. Refrigerate boiled crawfish within 2 hours of cooking. Store in an airtight container once cooled.

When ready to reheat, boiled crawfish can be reheated in the oven or on the stovetop. For the oven, spread crawfish out on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Heat at 325°F until warmed through, 15-20 minutes. On the stovetop, place crawfish in a pan with a little water or stock and heat over medium heat until hot, stirring occasionally.

Properly reheated boiled crawfish will be hot and steaming when ready to eat again. It’s best to limit reheating to once, and only reheat the amount that will be consumed in one sitting. Reheating more than once increases risk of bacterial growth.

Can you reheat crawfish étouffée?

Like boiled crawfish, leftover crawfish étouffée can also be safely reheated. Crawfish étouffée is a thick, stew-like dish, so it reheats a little differently than plain boiled crawfish.

To properly reheat crawfish étouffée, place portions in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add a couple tablespoons of water or stock to prevent scorching. Stir frequently and heat until steaming hot throughout, about 15 minutes. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until hot.

Again, limit reheating to just once and don’t keep reheated portions for longer than a day. The sauce has potential to grow bacteria faster than plain boiled crawfish.

Tips for safely reheating cooked crawfish

Follow these tips for safe reheating of previously cooked crawfish:

  • Refrigerate within 2 hours of initial cooking
  • Store in airtight containers in the fridge no longer than 3-4 days
  • Reheat only once
  • Discard any crawfish with an off smell or appearance
  • Heat thoroughly until steaming hot, at least 165°F internal temperature
  • Don’t keep reheated crawfish for longer than a day

Can you reheat whole boiled crawfish?

While boiled crawfish tails can be easily reheated, reheating whole boiled crawfish is a bit trickier. This is because the whole crawfish have cavities that are prone to bacterial growth during storage.

If properly cooled and stored, whole crawfish can be briefly reheated in a hot oven or boiling broth to warm through. However, they won’t have quite the same texture as freshly boiled crawfish. For best results, it’s recommended to remove the tails from the body before storage and reheat only the tails.

Signs your reheated crawfish have gone bad

Even with proper cooling and storage, reheated crawfish can still spoil. Look for these signs your crawfish have gone bad and should be discarded:

  • Slimy texture
  • Off odors like ammonia, rotten eggs, or sour milk
  • Mold growth
  • Discoloration
  • Soft, mushy meat

Don’t taste or eat crawfish exhibiting any signs of spoilage. This can lead to foodborne illness.

How long can cooked crawfish last in the fridge?

For safe consumption, properly cooked crawfish stored in the fridge should last:

  • Whole, unpeeled crawfish – 1-2 days
  • Crawfish tails – 3-4 days
  • Crawfish étouffée – 3-4 days

The tails will keep the longest since the meat has been removed from the shell and head cavities. Cooked whole crawfish have shorter fridge life.

Keep cooked crawfish stored in airtight containers at 40°F or colder. Don’t let them sit at room temperature for longer than 2 hours before refrigerating.

Can you freeze cooked crawfish?

Cooked crawfish freeze well for longer term storage. Follow these steps for freezing crawfish:

  1. Cook and peel crawfish tails. Freeze peeled tails for best texture.
  2. Cool crawfish tails completely, spread out on a sheet pan.
  3. Transfer to airtight freezer bags or containers, removing excess air.
  4. Label bags with date and contents.
  5. Freeze for up to 2-3 months at 0°F.

To reheat frozen crawfish, thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating on the stove or in the oven until hot. Don’t re-freeze thawed crawfish.

Freezing whole boiled crawfish

It’s best to only freeze peeled crawfish tails, but you can freeze whole boiled crawfish for 1-2 months with slightly diminished quality. Flash freeze on a sheet pan before transferring to bags.

Can you eat reheated crawfish cold?

It’s not recommended to eat reheated crawfish cold. Thoroughly reheated crawfish need to be eaten immediately while hot. Cooling reheated crawfish allows bacteria to regrow and pose a health risk if consumed cold later on.

For dishes like crawfish salad or cold crawfish dip, it’s safest to use freshly cooked crawfish or crawfish that were frozen after the initial cooking. Don’t use refrigerated leftovers that were already reheated.


Reheating cooked crawfish is safe when done properly. Quickly cool, store in the fridge 3-4 days maximum, and reheat only once until steaming hot. Limit reheating to crawfish tails rather than whole crawfish. Check for signs of spoilage before consuming reheated crawfish. Following these guidelines will help you safely enjoy your boiled, étouffée, or any other crawfish dish for a second time.

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