Swedish Crayfishparties are the best, not only for the fresh crayfish but also for the schnaps and drinking songs

It’s August which means that in Sweden the crayfish season is traditionally opened with open air parties and crayfish dinners. Yum! I just saw a photo pass by on facebook of a small conference in Sweden I attended a few years ago; the crayfish conference. What a blast that was! A full weekend of workshops, networking, parties and… Crayfish!

I thought this was a good moment to blog about a Swedish Crayfish Party this week. I will share two recipes with you this week. Today I will explain how to cook crayfish so you can serve them at your own Swedish crayfish party. I will also give some tips on what to serve with the crayfish. Later this week I will share a recipe for a delicious crayfish salad.

What do you need for a Swedish crayfish party:

For cooked crayfish you need (serves 4)

  • Fresh Crayfish 2kg for 4 persons. If you cannot get fresh crayfish then try IKEA, they sell frozen crayfish that you only need to defrost)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 liters of water
  • 2 bottles of porter beer
  • 20 sprigs of fresh dill
  • 100 gr. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. anise

How to cook the crayfish:

The crayfish are cooked in a broth with fresh dill and beer. If you were to use frozen crayfish you should follow the same steps but leave out the salt.

Crush the fresh dill and finely chop the onion. Then combine the water, beer, onion, dill, anise, sugar and salt into a large pan. Bring the broth to a boil, let it boil for 5 minutes and then set it aside.

Take another pan and fill it with water. Bring it to a boil too.

We can then start with boiling the crayfish. First cook the crayfish in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Then transfer them to the broth and boil them for another 5 minutes.

Put the crayfish in a bowl and cover them with cooled broth. Leave it in your refridgerator for one night before serving. Garnish with fresh dill.


Other items on a Crayfish Party Dinner Table: Funny hats, a booklet of drinking songs and loads of napkins.

The sides

Crayfish is absolutely delicious, but it can be a pain to get the meat out of the skeleton if you are not used to the tools that are available to you.

The other pain is the time it takes to do it. If cracking crayfish and eating crayfish is a first time thing for you, then chances are that you will end up eating very little. This can be a risky business if you are attending an actual swedish crayfish party. The crayfish are small and the schnapps shots the Swedes serve with their crayfish are big (compared to the amount of meat you get from one crayfish that is). The idea is that while eating you take breaks to sing typical Swedish drinking songs with the rest of the party. Each song ends with taking a shot of schnapps. The pace in which the Swedes go through their cantus book is fierce so you need to be careful not to get completely wasted.

This is where the side dishes come in. Your guests will appreciate a filling side dish to go with the crayfish to fill their stomachs and avoid the schnapps to kick in instantly and a big post-party hangover. You could take for example:

Chorizo quiche
Greek salad
Fluffy egg pie
Potato salad


Enjoy your party and… Skål!
Oh and if you are looking for Swedish drinking songs the website of the Spirits Museum in Stockholm may be able to help (easy PDF’s for drinking songs for different occasions). Here’s a link to the songs that are appropriate ‘all year round‘.  And if you want to know what it sounds like, then here’s the link to one of the songs ‘Jag har aldrig vatt på snusen‘ on YouTube.