What’s Boudin & Why Louisiana Is The Best Place To Find It

Boudin Louisiana

Like many of you, I didn’t know what boudin was before first arriving into Southwest Louisiana. I like to consider myself somewhat worldly and at least aware of many foods, but somehow boudin had escaped my culinary lexicon for 40 years. But if you are from Louisiana, and particularly the areas around Lake Charles, then boudin isn’t just familiar to you, it’s a big part of everyday life. As I discovered though, it’s a lot more than just a snack, it’s an important part of Louisiana’s culinary traditions.

What Is Boudin?

To say that boudin is a type of sausage is wrong, although when you first see it that’s exactly what it looks like. To really understand boudin, we have to go back to those Acadians who originally settled in Southwestern Louisiana. Who we now call Cajuns, these French-speaking settlers were forced out of Canada, but took with them their proud French culture and traditions, including boudin. Boudin in Louisiana is different though from versions you’ll find in other parts of the world. At its simplest, boudin is a combination of cooked rice, pork, onions, green peppers and seasonings. The mixture is pulverized in a meat grinder before being stuffed into sausage casings. It is then steamed for on-the-spot eating. But those are just the basics, boudin changes in taste and flavor from cook to cook, no two are exactly the same and are based on recipes that have been handed down through the generations. That’s why it’s so much fun to drive around Southwest Louisiana sampling different versions, to experience new tastes and flavors in what is this area’s go-to food.

When And How Do You Eat It?

Asking around, I soon discovered that there is no perfect time to enjoy boudin. It’s very common for people to buy some in the morning to take to work for the office to enjoy, and no proper road trip in Southwest Louisiana would be complete without some boudin links to snack on. Pronounced “Boodan” (never say “Boodin”), this is as simple a snack as you can get, and slowly eating the link whole is very normal. But there are many variations, including the most common, fried boudin. Cut into smaller pieces, breaded and then fried, you’ll find fried boudin balls in everything from breakfast sandwiches to serving as an entire meal in their own right. While you can certainly buy them in grocery stores in the area, homemade is best and there are any number of small meat shops and independent butchers and grocers in and around Lake Charles that specialize in their own versions of boudin. To best enjoy this regional delicacy, a culinary route was established to help locals and visitors alike discover different variations of boudin on what is now called the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail.

Map courtesy of Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail

The sign read, “Napa Valley has wine. New York has pizza. Wisconsin has cheese. Southwest Louisiana has boudin.” To say that boudin is an important part of foodie life in Lake Charles would be a massive understatement. That’s where I started my culinary adventures in Louisiana and in addition to offering a lot to see and do for visitors, locals consider themselves to also be the home of boudin. It’s also from Lake Charles where you should start your trek along the Boudin Trail – just make sure you skipped breakfast.

Truly the best way to understand and certainly enjoy the importance of boudin is to actually taste it. In Southwest Louisiana that means traveling the Boudin Trail along US Interstate 10 and stopping off at the many independent businesses all verified to be serving up some of the best versions of boudin in the area. For my own boudin experience, I was invited into the kitchens of a local favorite – B&O Kitchen & Grocery.

Jeff Benoit is a third generation Benoit to own the B&O Kitchen and Grocery, which specializes in of course boudin, but also cracklins and other tasty meats. Walking into his kitchens, Jeff first took me back to the fryers where new batches of cracklins were being prepared. The aromas were heavy in what can only be called porky goodness. Pork fat with skin that’s fried to within an inch of its life and then salted, these treats are delicious and as I discovered, somewhat addictive. I was there though for my first lesson in boudin, which Jeff’s daughter had prepared for me.

True to form, Jeff wouldn’t tell me exactly what seasonings he uses, but just smiled and promised that they were delicious. I picked up the small sausage link, taking a peek at the rice and meat before enjoying that oh-so-important first bite. A gentle but not intense heat from the spices was the first thing I noticed, but then the combination of well seasoned meats and rice came into play, creating an overall bite that can only be called perfectly constructed. I then took my second, third and fourth bites, quickly understanding why boudin is so popular. Simple, easy to eat and not expensive, they really are the perfect go-to food for almost anything. Next to the “normal” boudin links, Jeff had also prepared some fried boudin balls and since nothing fried can be bad, I knew right away that I’d love this version even more.

Jeff and the B&O is just one of more than 25 small, independent businesses along the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail, each offering their own unique takes on this Southwest Louisiana staple. It’s not just about the food though; it’s also about the culture. Many of us who don’t live in Lake Charles or surrounding towns don’t really know a lot about Cajun culture. But it’s more than what we see on TV, it has a long and proud history and it’s still very much alive. Food teaches us about new cultures when we travel; it emphasizes what is and is not important. In Lake Charles and other neighboring communities, that first step in better understanding what makes this part of the world tick starts first and foremost in the kitchens of the local boudin experts lining US 10.

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

68 thoughts on “What’s Boudin & Why Louisiana Is The Best Place To Find It”

  1. Kind of offended that the “boudin trail” runs only through Lake Charles and surrounding areas. St. Landry, Avoyelles, Evangeline, Rapides, Vermillion, and Lafayette parishes also have some amazing boudin. Someone needs to revise this, STAT! :)

      1. It’s okay Matt.. if you only have a limited amount of time, you go with what you know. :)

      2. Yes Boudin is definitely a Cajun delicacy which brings me to the question…..Lake Charles?!!!
        Throughout the area defined as Acadiana or Cajun Country, of which Lafayette is the hub, boudin is ubiquitous: Signs and banners signal passersby to stop and grab a link of HOT BOUDIN where it will be pulled from a steamer or slow cooker, weighed, wrapped in butcher paper, and usually handed over along with some napkins or paper towels so it can be eaten right on the spot.

    1. Agreed! It definitely should start in Port Arthur and run through at least Lafayette. Regardless, it’s great to see that part of the world getting some well deserved coverage in the travel blogosphere.

    2. Kristen Anderson

      I was going to say the same thing! This article completely neglect the heart of Cajun Country, even through St. Charles Parish.

    3. I was thinking the same thing… nothing wrong with the “boudin trail” you have shed light on… it’s just a lot longer than SW La. One thing for certain Matt, I hope you get a chance to visit and taste all the other trails in the Parishes of Louisiana. My particular fave for boudin…. smoked in/on the pit with a nice chunk of pecan wood, taken out and dipped in a homemade bbq sauce w/tabasco and allowed to caramelize back on the smoker for another 15-20 mins or until the links burst open. Pure heaven my friend.

    4. This is referencing the Southwest Boudin Trail for the Lake Charles area. However, there are multiple Boudin Trails depending on the area you visit, like the Cajun Boudin trail for the Lafayette area.

    5. OH yes Sir…that place called Lafayette LA was just visited by this Tampa Girl and Boudin is some sort of delicious. I had some from “The Best” meat market and let me tell you…..I’ve never had anything like it before. It was quite a treat indeed.

    6. Jarrod S. Segura

      I agree. I wouldn’t eat boudin in Lake Charles. If you want Boudin, they had better try Lafayette and not Lake Charles. But what do I know, I’m only a local.

    1. Yes Boudin is definitely a Cajun delicacy which brings me to the question…..Lake Charles?!!!
      Throughout the area defined as Acadiana or Cajun Country, of which Lafayette is the hub, boudin is ubiquitous: Signs and banners signal passersby to stop and grab a link of HOT BOUDIN where it will be pulled from a steamer or slow cooker, weighed, wrapped in butcher paper, and usually handed over along with some napkins or paper towels so it can be eaten right on the spot.

    2. Jennings- Boudin Capital of the Universe…Also Lafayette Boudin is mediocre. Lake Charles, Market Basket on Nelson…that boudin will change your life…especially the smoked

      1. Jarrod S. Segura

        Jennings boudin ? Lafayette boudin mediocre? Haha okay if you say so. I suggest you take a trip to Billy’s and stop the craziness.

    1. Andre LeBlanc

      Best stop north of the interstate in Scott has great links. Billy’s (south of the interstate in Scott ) boudin balls are awesome. Trust me, I live work and travel all over Louisiana. Louisiana born and raised coonass.

      1. Kristi Marchand

        Best Stop is, well, the BEST! Smoked boudin is to die for. I live in Houston now, but still go home frequently and pick up Best Stop every trip back to Texas.

  2. Get off of I10 and get on Old Hwy 90…In Jennings La….Dallas Cormier put Boudin on the map years ago when he opened Boudin King…It’s still there and it’s still the best!!! And voted #1 in the state many times over!!!

      1. Richard Esthay

        I have to agree with you. It’s not what it once was. Which is a shame because at one time the food was really great. I always thought that Mr. Ellis could have franchised his brand of boudin and fried chicken……………..

    1. Richard Esthay

      Ellis Cormier was the Boudin King and the owner, operator, and creator of Boudin King. Not Dallas Comier. Dallas was sheriff for many years.

  3. I have eaten boudin my entire life and have had it from the Texas border to New Orleans in all of the southern areas. BY FAR the best boudin that I have had is from Scott, Lafayette & Broussard. We have a good place in Thibodaux but the Lafayette area has the best………..

  4. Marksville , Krotz Springs, I could go on but why? We all know boudin is everywhere we love it. I love some crackling too. Crawfish boudin is fantastic.

  5. Left LC in 2011. Besides good friends, I miss B&O cracklins and Abes Boudin the most. Got to Mississippi 2 years ago and some people think Boudin is blood sausage. If they only knew. Basically rice dressing in sausage form. Would kill for crawfish. Thanks for making me hungry……

  6. Lake Charles is fair, I guess. You really need to be around Lafayette – Scott, Maurice, Youngsville, etc. (as others have mentioned or will mention). It’s like you went to Indy for Chicago-style pizza.

  7. The Cajun Truffle. There are so many homegrown Boudin markets and alk serve delicious and authentic Cajun staples. Market Basket in Lake Charles has the best steamed and smoked ib my opinion ad well ad their sausages. If you make the trip you have to try them out.

  8. I have had the privilege of living all over the United States. Unfortunately, good Boudin is only found in Louisiana. I have had it shipped to me as far as Hawaii and cannot live without this unique delicacy. I have been buying Boudin from Best Stop since my dad took me there as a teenager. Now I swap out between Dons and Best Stop depending on whose cracklins are hotter.

  9. Bradford Jackson

    Ray’s Original Boudin on Hwy 182 south of Opelousas. 50 plus years of boudin excellence. the first time i tried boudin, i thought was the same as Scottish haggis.

  10. The fact that Lafayette is NO WHERE on your list discredits this whole article. When you leave out the Capital of all Cajun parishes where the food is clearly the best it is an insult.

  11. I retired from Louisiana to Georgia. Everytime I go back to visit in Lake Charles/Sulphur area I load up on Boudin. I always have some in my freezer. Mine comes from Hollier’s in Sulphur. Simply the best.

  12. Everybody in the Baton Rouge area knows that Jerry Lee’s on Greenwell Springs Road is “the” place to get the best boudin ever! Google him!

  13. The original boudin was known as blood sausage. It was red and made with the blood of the pig. The boudin you get today does not hold a light to the red boudin.

  14. I am from the Mid Atlantic and my wonderful friend sends me Boudin from Vinton. I am an absolute Boudin Junkie! I have never started a bucket list but after seeing the trail I now have something on my list.

  15. It’s OK Jeff . Not everyone can be from Lake Charles. There will be some jealousy! Just kidding. I’ve traveled all over South Louisiana example Boudin from everywhere, as well as cracklings. Everyone has their own taste and their own signature flavor. All are good and some are great. Thanks for the nice article about our area.

  16. I wasborn in Louisiana I missed the peoples,families and friends!!! Do your take orders online and shipped anywhere? I missed everything about Louisiana!!!!

  17. Great article…I agree boudin is like gumbo…a 100 chefs will all put their culinary taste and the outcome is usually good. Although, some much better than others…..I moved to Florida from Louisiana, after a brief 10 year stop in Colorado…I miss the delicious boudin from Louisiana..I always favored Poches boudin because I normally smoke it slightly. The moisture in their boudin together with a slight smoke flavor gives your taste buds a delightful treat of boudin ecstacy …Enjoyed the read

  18. Jordan Delcambre

    I moved to Tennessee from Delcambre, La. When I go home for a visit, I fill my icechest with boudin from Shawn’s Specialty Meats on Hwy. 14 in Delcambre. Shawn also has a GREAT ASSORTMENT of prepared meats. His signature Syrup Sausage, OH SO GOOD…..

  19. Everyone’s tastes are as different as they are. I am originally from Alabama but grew up in Louisiana. The best Boudin I’ve ever had was homemade Blood Boudin from a neighbor when I lived in the little town of Basile, LA. I’ve eaten boudin from Don’s, Lafayette and Port Arthur. Jennings Boudin Hut used to be my place of choice, but for the past few years Leonard’s on 14 in Lake Charles has my vote for steamed boudin…Shop A Lot Deli on 18th Street in Lake Charles for Chicken Fried Boudin Links and Famous Foods on 14 in Lake Charles for Smoked Boudin.
    One thing I’ve learned through the years…where ever you call home, that is where you find the best. For me…it’s all good baby.

  20. Yes the whole State of Louisiana does have excellent choices of Boudin stops, but the article was focusing on the SW. region of the State. No need to get upset over anything.

  21. Born and raised in Crowley and can say that I love Don’s (Lafayette ). I now live in Oklahoma and miss the food in Lafayette . I love Don’s, Best stop to most. NuNu’s has the best pork sausage ever for a pit Bbq. After all the comments about Billy’s I will have to give it a try. I usually bring back 25 lbs with me, when I visit.

  22. Kinder is my home .Been in Oklahoma since 1984. Kinder has several great boudin stops! Gumbo,boudin,Jack Millers BBQ sauce, large gumbo pots(lower heights but big around)from the grocery stores! Both sets of grandparents spoke Cajun French plus my Dad. But of course my mom was a Fontenot! Only in Louisiana!

  23. Not a big fan of boudin. However, I AM a big fan of cracklings. I have had cracklings from the Best Stop, and, I must admit, they are the BEST cracklings that I have EVER had!!!

  24. I’m a Texas native, but having worked 30 years in the offshore drilling industry, I did a hell of a lot of traveling around South Louisiana. Boudin may be my favorite dish. I would always stop off at Billy’s in Scott even if it took me a bit out of my way. I’d stock up before my trip back home. I made the mistake of letting friends try some, so of course most wanted more. Just might add that I tried a few places driving to Morgan City, Houma, and Grand Isle. That’s really really south.
    Never checked any out as far west as Lake Charles. I’m sure there are good chefs there, just never really thought about it. Great article by the way. Thanks!!

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