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Mudbug madness: It's crawfish season, y'all! How to find the best and cheapest in your area

If you're a fan of those spicy little bad boys, you'll be happy to know they're back! What you need to know before you get down and dirty with a pile of mudbugs!

HOUSTON — They're spicy, they're messy and this year, they're expensive! Crawfish season is officially underway in Houston so we've put together this guide with all the juicy details.  

  • First, get ready to shell out some cash before you crack those shells open and suck out the juicy goodness because prices are up! 
  • Second, prices and inventory fluctuate during the season but don't waste your time calling around to find the best deal. There's an app for that! 
  • And third, no reason to rush. Crawfish season in Texas typically runs from January to July with the peak from March to May, when mudbugs are the biggest.

The cost of crawfish

Most crawfish are born and raised in Louisiana, but Houstonians are quick to claim them. 

“There’s probably as much crawfish eaten in Houston as in Lafayette per person. I mean it’s huge here," co-owner of Crawfish Shack in Crosby Dan Meaux said. 

Lotus Seafood makes sure they have quality before they worry about quantity.

“We pick up sample batches first, and then we will try it out and when it’s up to par, that’s when we will start picking up a lot of crawfish and start distributing Lotus Seafood general manager Jason Ly said.

For those who can't wait, early-season crawfish will be smaller.

“We had a hard freeze during Christmas that slowed things down," crawfish specialist with LSU AgCenter Mark Shirley said. “Crawfish ponds in southwest Louisiana still have a lot of crawfish. A lot of the crawfish are kind of small, but they’re growing."

So are the prices. Both Lotus Seafood and the Crawfish Shack said they had to raise prices this year because of higher production costs, but hope they can lower them later in the season. Until then, you can expect to pay 9-10 bucks per pound.

The Crawfish App

No matter where you live in the Greater Houston Area, there are plenty of places to meet your friends, have a couple of beers and get down and dirty with a pile of mudbugs.

Like their size, crawfish costs and inventory will fluctuate during the season. 

The Crawfish App is a great way to track the price per pound, the highest-rated crawfish restaurants and locations near you. It also helps you find live mudbugs for your own crawfish boil.

Baton Rouge residents Laney and Ryan King created the app in 2017.

“We were calling around like we always do on Friday nights, trying to get crawfish prices, to boil for that weekend,” King explained. “My husband looked over at me and said, ‘I can’t believe there’s not an app for this.’”

When we first reported on the app in 2020, King said there were more than 225,000 users on the app, and 40% of them lived in Texas.

How do you eat crawfish?

If you're a crawfish virgin, no worries! VisitHoustonTexas.com breaks it down in three simple steps. 

1. Off with it's head! Hold the head firmly in one hand and the tail in the other; twist and pull. 

2. Peel to reveal: Peel away the top of the tail shell to make it easier to get to the meat.

3. Pinch and pull: Pinch the bottom of the tail and pull the meat out with your fingers or teeth. 

Some people also like to suck the yellow stuff in the head, others not so much. 

"That’s where all the good messy flavor is," Brooks Bassler, the founder of BB’s Café, explained. 

Don't worry: It's not poop, guts or brains. You can impress your friends with your crawfish knowledge by telling them it's the hepatopancreas, an organ of some invertebrates that performs the functions of the liver and pancreas. 

Last tip: You're going to need A LOT of napkins or paper towels because mudbugs are messy!

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