3 Ways to Perfectly Cook Crab Legs

3 Ways to Perfectly Cook Crab Legs

Crab boils are always a great time to sit down with friends and family. Knocking out the meat from a tough crab shell can be work, but it pays off when you get to dip that tender piece of crab into freshly melted butter. Cooking crab legs is not a daunting thing—it’s actually rather easy.

If you are eager to cook crab at home but do not know which ones to get, most grocery stores usually carry two varieties. The first and most common are snow crab. The other is king crab. Both are equally delicious. Snow crab legs are usually sold in clusters with several legs attached to a body. King crab legs are much larger and typically sold by the individual leg.

Unfortunately, there are very limited opportunities to harvest your own snow or king crab because of where they live. However, these cooking techniques also work for dungeness, stone, and blue crabs.

Here are my three favorite ways to cook crab legs.

How to Steam Crab Legs In a large stockpot, add about two cups of water, a sliced lemon, a tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning, and a teaspoon of ground black pepper. Add the steam basket to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the crab legs, cover, and let cook for about 5 to 6 minutes. Serve with my favorite crab leg butter sauce.

How to Broil Crab Legs Preheat your oven to the broil setting. Place the crab on a sheet tray and use a pastry brush to brush high temperature oil all over the legs. Place the sheet tray with the crab legs about 6 to 8 inches from the broiler and broil the crab legs for about 3 to 4 minutes. Then turn the crab legs over to the opposite side and broil them again for another 3 to 4 minutes. Broiled crab legs also go great with a crab leg butter sauce.

How to Grill Crab Legs Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. If you are using a pellet smoker, set the temperature to 450°F. Use a pastry brush to brush a thin coat of olive oil over the crab legs, then place them on the grill and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes on each side. Just like with steamed or broiled crab legs, you can serve them with a delicious butter sauce.

How to Crack Crab Legs Now that you have cooked your crab legs, you might be curious how to actually go about eating them if you have never broken into crab before. King crab legs are rather easy—just take a pair of kitchen shears and cut down the shell of the leg lengthwise. Then simply open it up by folding each side down to expose the meat.

Snow crabs are not as easy as king crab, but still the process is quite simple. Start by removing all the legs from the cluster so you are working with individual legs. Break each leg into two parts by snapping at the joint. Then take a leg section and gently bend back and forth using one hand at each end; keep bending until the shell breaks and the meat slides right out.

If you have any claws, the best way to remove the claw meat it to use a cracker. Gently use the cracker to break the claw shell, making sure not to hit too hard—you do not want to damage the meat. Once the claw shell is cracked, you should be able to easily slide the meat out.

You've cooked and cracked into your crabs, but it wouldn't be complete without warm melted butter to dip into. Be sure to check out my recipe for the tastiest butter sauce for crab legs.

Sign In or Create a Free Account

Access the newest seasons of MeatEater, save content, and join in discussions with the Crew and others in the MeatEater community.
Save this article