Crawfish Monica is a creamy, spicy crawfish sauce served over pasta. Bring New Orleans to your own home with this Jazz Fest inspired crawfish pasta recipe that is gluten free and made with less butter and no cream, so it’s rich without being too heavy.
Why you should make Crawfish Monica
There are multiple crawfish recipes on my blog, but I think this one might be my favorite because 1) it’s delicious and 2) everyone who tries this Crawfish Monica recipe loves it!
After using leftover crawfish to make Crawfish Bisque, I decided I needed to try my hand at Crawfish Monica.
What is Crawfish Monica
Crawfish Monica is a spicy, creamy crawfish sauce served over pasta. It’s oh so very tasty! Plus, it’s a staple at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (aka Jazz Fest). According to their website, over twenty tons of Crawfish Monica was served at the 2012 Jazz Fest. Sheesh!
The dish was created by chef Pierre Hilzim, founder of Kajun Kettle Foods, Inc and named it after his wife, Monica.
Why this Crawfish Monica recipe works
A quick search online will give you multiple copy-cat recipes, but I noticed that all of them were super rich. Two cups of cream and lots o’ butter & oil were the main ingredients in this saucy dish in most recipes.
Plus, there were very few veggies, and the pasta to sauce ratio was too high for my personal preference.
After making a few edits like switching milk for cream, reducing the butter, adding cornstarch, using a little less pasta, and adding more veggies, I found my winning version of Crawfish Monica.
You still get all the creamy, spiciness you’re looking for in your Monica sauce, but this nourishing version won’t leave you with a big stomachache.
How to Make Crawfish Monica
- Melt the butter and sauté the onions (and celery if using).
- Meanwhile, boil the water to make pasta.
- Stir garlic and spices, and add in wine.
- Add in cornstarch and milk, and cook until the mixture thickens. It helps to stay close to the pot while doing this so it doesn’t burn.
- Add in crawfish.
- Add in lemon juice, parsley, and green onions to brighten the flavor.
- Stir in the cheese until it melts.
- Serve the sauce with pasta, and enjoy!
Tips for Making this Crawfish Monica
Ingredients for this crawfish pasta recipe
Milk: I tested the recipe using whole milk as well as 2% milk. I honestly saw no difference in the two. I would definitely not recommend using low fat or fat free.
Cornstarch: the cornstarch helps thicken the sauce so you can use a little less butter and no cream. I like using cornstarch in recipes because it is gluten free, so it’s an allergy friendly option.
Be sure to add your cornstarch to cold liquid and whisk until no lumps remain before adding to a hot dish.
Pasta: Crawfish Monica is served with rotini or fusilli at Jazz Fest, but I think all pasta tastes great with this sauce. I recommend using a whole grain pasta for more nutrients, and be sure to use a gluten free option if needed.
This recipe was tested with whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, and chickpea pastas. Because the sauce is quite flavorful, you probably won’t taste much of the pasta itself.
Vegetables: Compared to most Crawfish Monica recipes, I added more onions as well as parsley to boost the nutritional value of this dish. After testing with only onions, I also added celery and really enjoyed that version. The video only shows onions, but I highly recommend adding celery if you have it on hand.
Wine: the recipe was tested using Chardonnay as well as Sauvignon Blanc. If you do not want to use wine, use water, chicken broth, vegetable broth, or seafood stock in its place.
Parmesan: you do not want the cheese to overpower the crawfish sauce, so I recommend using a basic Parmesan. I tried Romano Cheese in one test version and thought it was too much for the sauce.
Lemon juice, Parsley, Green onions: to be honest, none of these are 100% mandatory. They make your Crawfish Monica taste amazing and brighten the dish, but if you forget one, it will not be the end of the world.
Make Ahead Tips
You can make the sauce beforehand and reheat when ready to serve. Do not make the pasta until just before serving.
Crawfish: If you are not a fan of crawfish, feel free to use cooked & peeled shrimp or crabmeat in it’s place. With shrimp, I recommend chopping into bitesized pieces before adding. Be gentle when stirring in the crabmeat as you don’t want to break up any lumps.
Another option would be to add cooked, chopped chicken in place of the crawfish.
Garlic: if you don’t have fresh garlic, garlic powder works just as well. About 1 teaspoon in place of the 6 cloves will do the trick. You can always add a little more at the end if you want.
Wine: If you do not want to use wine, use water, chicken broth, vegetable broth, or seafood stock in its place.
Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Seafood does not stay fresh as long, so freeze if needed.
The sauce keeps in the freezer in an airtight container for up to one month.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you freeze Crawfish Monica?
Yes, you can freeze Crawfish Monica. Freeze the sauce without pasta in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
To reheat, let defrost in the fridge and add to a saucepan to reheat over medium-low. In the microwave, heat on defrost in 2 minute increments until completely defrosted. Then heat at full power just until warmed through.
Where can I get crawfish?
Obviously it’s best if you live in a place where crawfish is easy to find. If you don’t, you can easily order online. I ordered from Louisiana Crawfish Co. and highly recommend them! I ordered 5 pounds peeled crawfish tails and it got to my house in San Diego still frozen and delivered on the date I specified.
What to serve with Crawfish Monica
Crawfish Monica is great served by itself or with a side salad topped with strawberry dressing and maybe add a slice of bread to soak up any excess sauce. Add a glass of white wine (I usually serve whatever wine I used in the recipe) to make it even better.
If you are a fan of crawfish, this is a must-make recipe! Don’t let the long ingredients list intimidate you; it’s mainly spices & seasoning.
Once you make this Crawfish Monica, you’ll understand why so much is sold at Jazz Fest every year: it’s that good! Bonus is that you don’t have to go to New Orleans to enjoy this in the comfort of your own home.
MORE CRAWFISH RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE:
- Crawfish Nachos
- Crawfish Bisque
- Mini Crawfish Pies
- Crawfish Boil Tacos
- Cajun Crawfish Bread
- Egg Stuffed Portobellos with Crawfish
- 6 ounces whole grain rotini or any pasta
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 medium yellow onions diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/3 cup white wine or water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1.75 cups 2% milk or whole milk, divided
- 1 pound peeled crawfish tails
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion to melted butter, and saute for 7-10 minutes until softened.
- Meanwhile, Bring a pot of water to a boil and add pasta. Cook until al dente, and drain. Set aside.
- Stir in garlic, paprika, salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, and pepper. Stir constantly for 30 seconds then add in wine. Cook until almost all of the wine has evaporated.
- Whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl. Add into pot and slowly stir in remaining milk. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes until thickened.
- Stir in crawfish tails and cook for 2 minutes. Add in lemon juice, green onion, and parsley, and stir well to combine. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.
- Serve sauce with cooked pasta. Enjoy!
This recipe was originally published April 29, 2014. Text, recipe, and photos have been updated.
Doesn’t this recipe look good?! You should probably pin it for later:24