Can you eat the eggs in crawfish?

Quick Answer

The eggs inside a female crawfish are known as roe. Roe is edible and safe to eat. Many people enjoy eating crawfish roe as it has a soft texture and adds extra flavor to crawfish dishes. The roe is considered a delicacy by some.

What is Crawfish Roe?

Crawfish roe refers to the eggs inside of a female crawfish. Roe is the fish egg mass or ovaries. When preparing boiled crawfish, the roe is found inside the tail shell of female crawfish. The roe looks like a grainy yellow or orange mass within the tail. Crawfish roe has a soft creamy texture and a rich seafood flavor.


Crawfish roe is composed of egg cells that are bound in a mass. Each egg globule contains a tiny crawfish embryo that would hatch under natural conditions in the wild. Boiling causes the eggs to solidify from liquid and turn opaque in color.

Differences from Male Crawfish

The tails of male crawfish do not contain roe. Instead, the upper tail of males contains the crawfish testes which appear more thin, translucent, and stringy compared to the thicker roe of females. Female tails are often shorter and wider to accommodate the roe.

Is Crawfish Roe Edible?

Yes, crawfish roe is edible and safe to eat. Crawfish roe has a creamy, custard-like texture and a concentrated seafood flavor. Many people enjoy eating the roe along with the crawfish tail meat.

Flavors and Texture

The roe has a soft, smooth texture that contrasts nicely with the firm crawfish tail meat. The roe does not have a tough or rubbery consistency. Instead, it has a rich, sweet, and buttery taste that perfectly complements the leaner tail meat.

Nutritional Value

Crawfish roe is high in healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals:

  • High in omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA
  • High in vitamin B12
  • Contains minerals like iron, magnesium, and phosphorus
  • An excellent source of protein

Therefore, crawfish roe can be a nutritious addition to your diet.

How to Eat Crawfish Roe

There are several delicious ways to eat crawfish roe:

In the Crawfish Tail

Many crawfish lovers will suck or scoop the roe out of the tail shell to enjoy it along with the tail meat. Allowing the roe to mingle with the juices of the meat enhances the flavors.

On Crawfish Etouffee

Adding some crawfish roe into a simmering pot of crawfish etouffee can provide a creamy, seafood boost to this Cajun classic dish.

As a Topping

The cooked roe can be used as a topping on dishes like fried rice, pasta, or shellfish boils. The rich roe adds extra umami pop.

As Crawfish Butter

The roe can be blended into a compound butter. Spread the crawfish roe butter over bread, seafood, or vegetables.

In Stuffing

Mix some chopped crawfish roe into seafood stuffing or breadcrumb stuffing for extra decadence. The richness pairs perfectly with poultry like chicken or turkey.

Benefits and Risks of Eating Crawfish Roe

Here are some of the benefits and potential risks to consider when eating crawfish roe:


  • Delicious, buttery, seafood flavor
  • Smooth, creamy texture
  • Nutrient-dense – high in healthy fats, vitamins and minerals
  • May support heart, brain, eye health due to omega-3 content


  • Potential food safety issues if undercooked
  • Possible contaminants like heavy metals
  • High cholesterol content – may be unhealthy in large amounts

Overall, crawfish roe is considered safe and healthy to eat in moderation as part of a balanced seafood-rich diet. As with any animal product, proper cooking and storage is important.

Purchasing Crawfish with Roe

When buying live or boiled crawfish, look for females with roe-filled tails. Here are some tips:

  • Inspect the underside – mature females may have wider tail openings
  • Look for rounded, filled out tails
  • Ask fishmongers for crawfish with roe
  • Buy extra females if roe is desired

Females tend to be smaller than males on average. But the roe makes the tails appear fuller. Keep in mind only mature females will contain developed orange/yellow roe.

Storing and Cooking Crawfish Roe

Proper storage and cooking is key to enjoying crawfish roe safely:

Storage Tips

  • Keep live crawfish chilled below 40°F
  • Cook roe within a day or two for best quality
  • Refrigerate boiled/shelled crawfish at 34–40°F for up to 4 days
  • Ensure proper chilling if saving roe after boiling crawfish
  • Freeze excess roe for longer term storage

Cooking Guidelines

  • Boil or steam crawfish to an internal temp of 165°F
  • Ensure roe is opaque and firm when cooked
  • Avoid overcooking roe into a rubbery texture
  • Take care not to undercook roe, which poses safety issues

Cooking the crawfish thoroughly will render the roe safe to eat. Take care not to overcook the roe into a tough, unappetizing state.

Crawfish Roe Season

The availability of crawfish roe will depend on the season:

  • Peak roe season is March – June
  • Roe is scarce outside peak breeding months
  • Roe quantity and quality declines in early spring
  • No roe is present in cold winter months

Late spring through early summer is the best time to enjoy prime, abundant crawfish roe. Supply will wane outside the peak spawning season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common crawfish roe FAQs:

Is crawfish roe healthier than shrimp roe?

Crawfish and shrimp roe have a similar nutrition profile – both are high in healthy omega-3s. Shrimp roe has a more fishy taste with a firm/crunchy texture. Crawfish roe is softer with a richer, more buttery flavor.

Can you eat crawfish roe raw?

It is not recommended to eat crawfish roe raw due to potential foodborne illness risks. Cooking the roe thoroughly destroys any dangerous microbes.

Is the roe the same as crab fat?

Crab roe and fat have differences. Crab fat is the yellowish substance in the body cavity. Crab roe refers specifically to the ovary eggs found in female crabs. Both crab fat and roe are edible.

Does crawfish roe need to be cleaned before eating?

No cleaning or preparation is needed – crawfish roe can be consumed straight from the boiled tails. Some people may remove the roe sac membrane, but this is optional.

Can you eat crawfish roe if you’re allergic to shellfish?

No, you should avoid crawfish roe if you have a shellfish allergy, as it may trigger an allergic reaction. Crawfish are crustaceans that can cause reactions similar to shrimp.


Crawfish roe is a highly prized delicacy among crawfish lovers. The eggs offer a soft, creamy texture and concentrated shellfish essence that perfectly complements the tail meat. Crawfish roe is safe and nutritious to eat when properly cooked. Boiling, steaming, or frying the crawfish with roe will yield delicious results. Keep an eye out for those short, bulging tails during crawfish season to enjoy this special treat. With proper handling, crawfish roe can be a fantastic addition to seafood boils, etouffees, pasta, rice, and much more.

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