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.
- About Crawfish Monica
- How to Make Crawfish Monica
- Crawfish Pasta Recipe Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
About Crawfish Monica
Looking for a crowd-pleasing, delicious crawfish pasta recipe? You've come to the right place!
Enter this Crawfish Monica recipe that consistently gets positive reviews.
While the original Kajun Kettle Foods' Crawfish Monica recipe has never been released by the creators, there are multiple copycat recipes online.
Yet they all seem to be super rich with sticks of butter, cups of heavy cream, and only a few veggies.
Not a big deal, except for the inevitable stomachache that follows.
Plus, the pasta-to-sauce ratio was too high for my personal preference. I prefer more sauce on pasta, especially this crawfish monica sauce.
After making a few edits like switching milk for cream, adding cornstarch, reducing the butter, adding more veggies, and using a little less pasta, I found my own winning version of Crawfish Monica.
And I know you'll love it too!
You still get all the creamy, spiciness you're looking for in your Monica sauce without it being too rich and heavy.
What is Crawfish Monica
Crawfish Monica is a spicy, creamy crawfish sauce served over pasta. It's absolutely delicious! 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!
The dish was created by New Orleans' chef Pierre Hilzim, founder of Kajun Kettle Foods, Inc, and the recipe is named after his wife, Monica.
Pasta: Crawfish Monica is usually served with rotini or fusilli at Jazz Fest, but all pasta tastes great with this crawfish monica sauce.
The recipe was tested using multiple types of pasta all with great results: regular, whole wheat pasta, gluten-free quinoa pasta, gluten-free brown rice pasta, and gluten-free chickpea pasta. Because the sauce is quite flavorful, you probably won't taste much of the pasta itself.
Butter: To sauté the veggies, you'll use butter. Avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil, or bacon grease are all good options.
Milk: I tested the recipe using whole milk as well as 2% milk, and there was no difference between the two. Definitely do 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.
Vegetables: Compared to most Crawfish Monica recipes, this recipe has additional onions as well as parsley to boost the nutritional value of this dish. You can also add celery.
Wine: This crawfish monica sauce 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 its strong flavor was too much for the sauce. Mild white cheddar could work in a pinch.
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.
- rotini 6 ounces: $0.36
- butter 1 tablespoon: $0.12
- onions 2 large: $1.00
- garlic 6 cloves: $0.36
- paprika 1 teaspoon: $0.15
- salt ¾ teaspoon: $0.01
- garlic powder ½ teaspoon: $0.04
- cayenne pepper ¼ teaspoon: $0.02
- oregano ⅛ teaspoon: $0.01
- thyme ⅛ teaspoon: $0.01
- black pepper ⅛ teaspoon: $0.01
- white wine ⅓ cup: $1.10
- cornstarch 1 tablespoon: $0.06
- milk 14 ounces: $0.42
- crawfish tails 12 ounces: $13.44
- lemon juice 1 tablespoon: $0.12
- green onions ¼ cup: $0.10
- parsley ½ cup: $0.50
- parmesan cheese ½ cup: $1.29
TOTAL COST: $19.12 or $4.78/serving (Based on San Diego grocery stores 2023)
Note that this is not the recipe; it's simply to show the cost breakdown of ingredients. Scroll down to the full recipe to see the specific ingredients and directions.
How to Make Crawfish Monica
Time needed: 40 minutes
Making this crawfish pasta recipe at home is simple. Here's how:
- Melt the butter and sauté the onions.
Add celery if using.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta.
Drain and set aside.
- Stir garlic and spices into the sauteed onions.
Add in wine.
- Whisk together cornstarch and milk, and stir in.
Stir together until the mixture thickens.
- Pour in the remaining milk.
Stir constantly until it becomes a thick sauce.
- Add in crawfish.
- Add lemon juice, parsley, and green onions.
- Stir in the cheese until it melts.
Serve the sauce with pasta, and enjoy!
Prefer to watch how to make the recipe? There's a full recipe video with commentary in the recipe card below or watch on YouTube.
Crawfish Pasta Recipe Tips
*After testing the recipe with only yellow onions, I also added diced celery and really enjoyed that version. The video only shows onions, but I highly recommend adding 1 cup of diced celery if you have it on hand.
*Be sure to add your cornstarch to cold liquid and whisk until no lumps remain before adding it to the sauce.
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.
Pasta: All pasta types will work.
Onions: You can use 5 stalks of celery (diced) in place of one of the onions.
Green onion: Because there are already onions in the sauce, you don't need the green onions. They simply add an extra layer of flavor and freshness. You can use ¼ cup chopped chives if desired.
Parsley: This is optional and is added to enhance the flavor as well as increase the color of the dish. You can add 1 teaspoon of dried parsley to the dish when adding in. the other spices if you want.
How to Make Allergy-Friendly
This Crawfish Monica recipe is already egg-free, nut-free, and soy-free. To make gluten-free, simply use gluten-free pasta. The recipe was tested using multiple different kinds of gluten-free pasta with great results.
For a dairy-free version, use oil or bacon grease to sauté the veggies. For the milk, use an equal amount of unsweetened almond or soy milk in its place.
How to Fix a Mistake
Sauce is too thick: Add an extra ¼ cup of wine, seafood broth, vegetable broth, or water. Stir and let cook for 5 minutes. If needed, add more liquid in tablespoon increments until it reaches your desired consistency.
Sauce is too thin: Allow the sauce to cook for an extra few minutes on medium-low heat until it thickens. Another option is to add ¼ cup extra cheese.
No crawfish available: Shrimp is a great substitute for crawfish in this recipe. Use an equal amount of peeled, deveined shrimp. You might want to chop them if they are large. Make sure the shrimp are completely cooked before stirring in the parmesan.
You can make the sauce beforehand and reheat when ready to serve. Do not make the pasta until just before serving. The sauce can also be frozen.
It's best to store the Crawfish Monica sauce separate from the pasta.
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
Monica sauce is made with butter, onions, spices, and milk with crawfish for a lighter take on the classic with heavy cream and butter.
Yes, you can freeze Crawfish Monica. Freeze the sauce without pasta in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
To reheat, let the Monica sauce 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.
Obviously, it's best if you live in a place where crawfish is easy to find.
However, I was able to find frozen Louisiana crawfish tails at my local Walmart in San Diego.
You can easily order online, too. I highly recommend Louisiana Crawfish Co. I ordered 5 pounds of peeled crawfish tails, and they got to my house in San Diego still frozen and delivered on the date I specified.
The dish was created by chef Pierre Hilzim, founder of Kajun Kettle Foods, Inc, and the recipe is named after his wife, Monica.
Kajun Kettle Foods, Inc created and trademarked Crawfish Monica. It is served at New Orleans Jazz Fest.
This version of Crawfish Monica is a great source of vitamins and minerals like 26% RDA of Vitamin A, 23% Vitamin C, 33% calcium, and 39% iron.
One bowl also has 30 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. If you use a whole grain pasta, you'll get even more fiber. Plus, it provides 19% of the RDA for potassium.
The best part of this recipe is that it is incredibly satisfying, creamy, and delicious without being too rich.
What to Serve with Crawfish Monica
Crawfish Monica is great served by itself, with a slice of bread to soak up any excess sauce, and/or add a side salad topped with strawberry dressing.
Add a glass of white wine - the wine that you used in the recipe is a great option. Or make some Strawberry Kombucha Sangria to serve alongside your tasty crawfish pasta.
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 fight the crowds and can 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 rotini or any pasta
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 medium yellow onions diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon dried thyme
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅓ cup white wine or water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1.75 cups milk whole or 2%, divided
- 12 ounces peeled crawfish tails
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup chopped green onions optional
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley optional
- ½ 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 ¼ 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!
Crawfish Monica recipe inspired by Kajun Kettle Foods and adapted from a recipe from Go NOLA.
This post was originally published on April 29, 2014. Text, recipe, and photos have been updated.