Crawfish Monica is a New Orleans pasta dish that is loaded with crawfish that are smothered in a buttery wine and cream sauce. The sauce has a kick from Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper that’s balanced out with fresh green onions and parsley. It’s so good.

Crawfish Monica is a pasta dish served at Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Jazz Fest, otherwise known as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival has a special place in our hearts – my husband and his dad have a lot of great memories from there (and there is a poster on our wall from one of his favorite years at jazz fest!) Now you can enjoy this delicious crawfish dish at home!

A bowl of crawfish monica in front of a jazz fest poster.

My mother-in-law has taught me how to make so many delicious recipes using crawfish tails and when she sent us home this weekend with some leftovers from a crawfish boil, I knew we had to make a batch of Crawfish Monica to share the recipe.

A paper plate of leftover peeled crawfish tails from a crawfish boil.

Crawfish Monica is a fairly simple pasta dish – rotini pasta coated in a rich cream sauce made from butter, white wine, onions, garlic, and of course – crawfish. Plus, an entire cup of parmesan cheese. 

This is a really easy crawfish pasta recipe, but it looks like a really impressive and elegant dish when it comes together. The sauce is rich, creamy, and flavorful and the spicy crawfish are delicious. Using leftover crawfish tails is great because the crawfish already have a lot of flavor from cooking in all the flavors of the crawfish boil. 

If you ever have the opportunity to visit New Orleans, I highly recommend that you go during French Quarter Fest so that you can try small portions of all of the wonderful food that New Orleans has to offer.

🥘 Ingredient Notes

The ingredients in crawfish monica, laid out and labeled.
  • Rotini Pasta – Rotini Pasta is easier for festival-goers to eat, but when we make this at home, we actually really like to eat this dish with linguine or fettuccine – the creamy sauce coats the long noodles really well.
  • Butter
  • Onions – I like to use yellow onions or sweet onions to make this dish. Often times I just use whatever I have at home.
  • Fresh Garlic – Dice up fresh cloves of garlic to add the most flavor.
  • Cajun Seasoning – We like to use this recipe to make homemade Cajun Seasoning. It is also referred to as Bayou Blast or Essence. If you don’t want to make Cajun Seasoning, you can use Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Dry White Wine – You don’t have to go out and get a special wine for this. Sometimes when cooking with wine, I use whatever I have that is already open. I happened to have a bottle of Pinot Grigio in the fridge that we didn’t really like. The perfect excuse to use it up!
  • Heavy Cream
  • Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Crawfish Tails – You can use a package of crawfish tails from the grocery store or use leftover crawfish tails from a crawfish boil. Packaged crawfish tails are Crawfish Tails – You can use a package of crawfish tails from the grocery store or use leftover crawfish tails from a crawfish boil. Packaged crawfish tails are usually sold in a 12 or 16-ounce package. You will need a pound of crawfish tails.
    Look for Louisiana Crawfish (they will likely be farmed) but you don’t want farmed crawfish from China. If you look at pictures of this dish from Jazz Fest, you’ll notice that the sauce has more of an orange color – your sauce might not end up this color. It depends on how fatty your crawfish are, where they are from, and if they are fresh or frozen when you cook the pasta. We have made this dish using leftover crawfish tails from a boil and the sauce was a pretty pale color because the crawfish were cleaned off pretty well. When we used crawfish that were frozen in all of their fat and juices, the sauce was a vibrant orange color.
  • Green Onions – Use a fresh bunch of green onions, which is about 1/2 cup chopped up.
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese

Serve with lots of french bread, extra parmesan cheese, green onions, and fresh parsley.

Where to Buy Crawfish

To make this meal, we used leftover crawfish from a crawfish boil, but we normally get our crawfish tails from Rouses in Louisiana. If you are not local to Louisiana, there are a lot of online grocery stores that will ship frozen (and live) crawfish.

Online Crawfish Grocers

You can also order Crawfish Monica directly from Kajun Kettle Foods (their site is currently down, though.)

🍽 Equipment Needed

  • A Large Skillet
  • A Large Pot & Colander
  • A Cutting Board/Knife

🥣 How to Make It

Bring a large pot of really salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions, removing it from the water when it is al dente – which means it still has a little bit of chew to it. It will cook a little bit more when it is mixed into the hot sauce. (I start boiling the water while dicing the onions and getting everything together. I found that the pasta cooks in a similar amount of time as it takes to make the sauce – in about 10 minutes.)

Save a big cup of the pasta water – at least 1/2 cup, more if you can. (If the pasta is done a long time before the sauce is ready, you can toss it with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together.)

How to Make Crawfish Monica Sauce

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat, then add the onions. (Pictures 1 – 2) Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. (Picture 3)

To the softened onions, add the minced garlic, Cajun seasoning (also known as Bayou Blast), cayenne pepper, and salt. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are orange from the Cajun seasoning, 1 – 2 minutes. It will smell really good.

A collage of images showing how to make crawfish monica, steps 1 - 5.

“Deglaze” the pan with the white wine and cook until the onions have absorbed most of the wine and the alcohol has evaporated. (Pictures 6 – 8)

Next, add the lemon juice and heavy cream and reduce the heat to medium-low heat. (Pictures 9 – 10) (Around this time, you’ll drain the pasta – remember to save some pasta water! Picture 11)

A collage of images showing how to make crawfish monica sauce, steps 6 - 10.

Cook this until the cream reduces a bit. When you can run your spoon across the bottom of the pan, and the sauce doesn’t immediately run back across, it is ready. (Picture 12)

Now add the cooked pasta, green onions, parsley, and crawfish, and mix well. (Picture 13 – 14) Cook until the crawfish is heated through, about 2 minutes, then add half of the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. (Picture 15)

A collage of images showing how to make crawfish monica, steps 11 - 15.

The sauce will look great, but you will want to add some of the reserved pasta water. Slowly pour in the cooking liquid until the sauce is luscious and creamy. Start with half a cup; you might need a whole cup – you might not – but you can’t take it out, so add it a little at a time.

A skillet filled with rotini pasta, crawfish, and creamy crawfish monica sauce.

This will make a huge difference in making sure the pasta is fully coated in the luscious sauce. Stir until the water combines with the sauce, then turn off the heat.

Toss the pasta in the sauce to fully coat it a few more times, then serve topped with the remaining parmesan and more fresh herbs if desired. 

A skillet filled with rotini pasta, crawfish, and creamy crawfish monica sauce.

Recipe Yield

This recipe will feed 8 – 10 people, or in our case, it feeds two people, 4 or 5 times.

Substitutions and Variations

  • I mentioned this above, but when making Crawfish Monica at home, we like to use linguine or fettuccine instead of rotini. We often use fresh pasta – I love to make sourdough pasta and the tang from the sourdough pasta combined with the creamy sauce is so good!
  • If you don’t have access to crawfish, you can make this with shrimp. Coat the shrimp in cajun seasoning and pan-fry them in 2 tablespoons of butter before cooking the onions. Remove them from the butter and set them off to the side, then follow the recipe as directed, adding the 6 tablespoons of butter for the recipe directly to the leftover shrimp butter in the pan. It will flavor the sauce. Add the cooked shrimp when you would add the crawfish in the recipe to warm back up – yum! 
  • If you don’t have a full pound of crawfish (sometimes you won’t if you’re using leftovers from a crawfish boil) you can add shrimp, lump crabmeat, or use tasso. Dice the tasso, then sear it to get it nice and hot and crispy on the outside. Toss it with the pasta and it will add a little spice and a lot of flavor to the sauce. (Crabmeat is delicious, but I understand if you look at the price of it right now and gasp!) Shrimp and crawfish pasta is delicious!
A blue bowl of crawfish Monica.

🙋‍♀️ Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference Between Crawfish and Crayfish?

A crayfish is the same thing as a crawfish – where you are from determines which name you use. (Just like how people say soda, pop, coke, soda pop, etc.) People in the Northern part of the U.S. say crayfish, whereas people in the Southern U.S. say crawfish – and some people say crawdad. This is important to note because if you say crayfish in Louisiana, someone is going to make fun of you.

Who is the “Monica” in Crawfish Monica?

According to Wikipedia, the dish was created by chef Pierre Hilzim who is the head of Kajun Kettle Foods. He named the dish after his wife Monica Davidson.

Button linking to the Pinterest page for Southern Bytes.

How to Store Leftover Crawfish Monica

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat with a little bit of extra heavy cream to bring the sauce back to life and top with more cheese.

✏️ Helpful Tips

  • This is a great recipe for using up leftover crawfish from a crawfish boil. Don’t rinse the crawfish tails after they are peeled – keep the fat and flavor on them.
  • Add extra heavy cream when reheating Crawfish Monica. It will rejuvenate the sauce and keep the pasta from drying out.
  • If you don’t have a lot of crawfish, add shrimp or diced tasso to the pasta – yum!
Crawfish Monica in a large skillet with a wooden spoon and two towels.

What to Serve with Crawfish Monica

Honestly, Crawfish Monica is a meal in itself, but you could serve it with a side of French bread, a cold beer, and a side salad. You can find more side dish ideas here.

Looking for More Leftover Crawfish Recipes

There’s always a strange amount of crawfish leftover after a crawfish boil. Not quite enough for a huge meal, but always too much to finish at the boil without feeling totally stuffed. We like to peel the crawfish tails and use them to make some delicious dinners. Here are some of our favorite leftover crawfish dishes:

cropped-crawfish-monica-in-a-pan.jpeg

Have You Tried This Recipe?
Please rate it and leave a comment below. I would love to hear what you think!

A close up image of creamy crawfish pasta and a white wine, cream, & butter sauce.

Crawfish Monica

4.91 from 11 votes
Crawfish Monica is a New Orleans pasta dish that is loaded with crawfish that are smothered in a buttery wine and cream sauce. The sauce has a kick from Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper that’s balanced out with fresh green onions and parsley. It’s so good.
Author: Kari
Servings: 10
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 30 mins

Equipment

  • 1 large skillet
  • 1 a large pot

Ingredients  

  • 1 pound rotini pasta
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup yellow onion diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dry white wine
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pound crawfish tails
  • ½ cup green onions chopped
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves chopped
  • ½ cup grated parmesan for cooking
  • ½ cup grated parmesan for serving

Instructions 

  • Cook pasta according to the package directions, removing it from the water when it is al dente. Save a big cup of the pasta water – about 1 cup.
  • In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat, then add the onions. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
    6 tablespoons butter, 1 cup yellow onion
  • To the softened onions, add the minced garlic, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, and salt.
    2 tablespoons garlic, 2 tablespoons cajun seasoning, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Cook until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are orange from the Cajun seasoning.
  • Then "deglaze" the pan with the white wine and cook until the onions have absorbed most of the wine and the alcohol has evaporated. 
    ¼ teaspoon dry white wine
  • Next, add the lemon juice and heavy cream and reduce the heat to medium-low heat. Cook this until the cream reduces a bit. 
    2 cups heavy cream, 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Now add the cooked pasta, green onions, parsley, and crawfish and cook until the crawfish are warmed through.
    1 pound crawfish tails, ½ cup green onions, ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, 1 pound rotini pasta
  • Now add half of the parmesan cheese and stir until it is melted.
    ½ cup grated parmesan
  • Now, add the reserved pasta water. Slowly pour in the cooking liquid, until the sauce is luscious and creamy. Start with half a cup, you might need a whole cup – you might not – but you can't take it out, so add it a little at a time. 
    Stir until the water combines with the sauce, then turn off the heat. 
  • Toss the pasta in the sauce to fully coat it a few more times, then serve topped with the remaining parmesan and more fresh herbs if desired. 
    ½ cup grated parmesan

Notes

Recipe Tips

  • This is a great recipe for using up leftover crawfish from a crawfish boil. Don’t rinse the crawfish tails after they are peeled – keep the fat and flavor on them.
  • Add extra heavy cream when reheating Crawfish Monica. It will rejuvenate the sauce and keep the pasta from drying out.
  • If you don’t have a lot of crawfish, add shrimp or diced tasso to the pasta – yum!

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 453kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 12gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 371mgPotassium: 275mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 2012IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 152mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is approximate and is automatically calculated, so should only be used as a guide.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Cajun, Southern
Keyword: crawfish monica, crawfish pasta
Did you make this recipe?Mention @southernbytes or tag #southernbytes!

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Hi, I’m Kari!

I am a newlywed, food blogger, health coach, and mama to a hot mess of a border collie. I love to put a new spin on old family recipes and I try to make as many meals as possible with an Instant Pot.

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