How To Cook Crab Legs in 4 Simple Cooking Steps

Now You’ve picked up different kinds of crab legs from your local market because you love to eat all of them.

Now, a very wise question crosses your mind after making a purchase, “do I know how to cook crab legs? ” at that moment you realize that unfortunately, cooking crab legs had never been your cup of tea until now. Well, you cannot possibly eat crab legs, raw, without any seasonings, and claim that you still love them. This is why I’m here to tell you the various steps required and also free recipes on how to cook crab legs at home, all by yourself, and keep your love for crab legs alive.

How to cook crab legs
Image by dannadavis from Pixabay copyright 2017

When it comes to selecting the finest crab legs, it is essential to consider the type of crab. Although the options may appear limited, it is crucial to choose the right one to achieve the best results in your cooking endeavours. The availability of these varieties may vary depending on your region but fret not, as I will provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you decide which texture and taste suits best the kinds of crab legs you purchased.

Step 1: Know Your Crab Legs

1) King Crab –

The majestic King Crab is known for its enormous size and sturdy, pointed shells. The harvesting season for this regal creature lasts only a few weeks, contributing to its higher cost. The rich and buttery texture of its sweet, succulent meat is reminiscent of that of a lobster, making it the preferred choice for creating the finest crab legs.

2) Dungeness Crab –

The Dungeness Crab is found on the West Coast and boasts a broad, large shell with five pairs of legs. It is typically served whole or “half backing,” where the inside is scooped out before cooking. These kinds of crabs are not typically recommended for crab leg recipes.

3) Snow Crab –

With long legs and a smaller size, the Snow Crab is typically found in the colder Northern seas. When cooked, its snow-white flesh boasts a firm texture and sweet, briny flavour. This variety is a favourite for crab leg recipes due to its clusters of crab legs being a perfect size and less expensive than the King Crab.

Snow crabs
Image by a74362604 from Pixabay copyright 2017

4) Blue Crab –

The Blue Crab is a beloved variety and is on the smaller side. Its mild ocean flavour, combined with its tender and flaky meat, makes it sweeter than other types of crab. Although you can cook crab legs from Blue Crab, their small size makes it less ideal for creating crab legs.

5) Stone Crab –

The Florida Stone Crab, also known as the Stone Crab, has a distinct brownish-red colour and massive claws with black tips. The flavour of this crab is often compared to that of a blend between shrimp and lobster, making it a perfect choice for crab claws or chilled appetizers. Its legs are small and short, which makes it less suitable for crab leg recipes.

Step 2: To Break Open the Shell to Get Your Crab Meat

Now you may not always want to cook crab legs along with the shell. For example, if you are making shredded crab meat linguine, you would like to remove the crab shell after boiling it. And in this case, you might need some help in getting the crab meat out of the shell. Here are 9 steps to guide you on how to obtain crab meat from crab legs:

  1. Place the crab legs on a cutting board or a clean work surface.
  2. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut through the shell along one side of the crab leg. Exercise caution not to slice through the succulent meat.
  3. Delicately nudge apart the shell to unveil the delectable meat hidden within.
  4.  Use your fingers or a fork to carefully remove the meat from the shell.
  5. If you encounter any cartilage or shell fragments while removing the meat, use a small pick or a toothpick to gently remove them.
  6. Repeat this process for each leg until you have removed all of the meat.
  7. If you’re using crab meat in a recipe, chop or shred it into smaller pieces as needed.
  8. Discard the empty shells and any inedible parts of the crab.
  9. Be sure to wash your hands and any utensils or surfaces that came into contact with the raw crab to prevent cross-contamination.

Note that some crab legs may have a harder outer shell than others, which may require more effort to crack open. Additionally, some crab meat may be harder to remove than others, so be patient and take your time to ensure you get all of the meat out of the legs.

Step 3: Select the Various Ways On How to Cook Crab Legs:

1) Boiling:

This is a common and simple method for cooking crab legs. Place crab legs in a pot of boiling water and simmer until heated through.

2) Steaming:

Steaming is another popular method for cooking crab legs. Place crab legs in a steamer basket or on a rack over boiling water and cook until heated through.

3) Grilling:

Grilling is a delicious way to cook crab legs, as it adds a smoky flavour to the meat. The crab legs are brushed with butter and seasonings and then we grill crab legs until heated through and lightly charred.

4) Baking:

Crab legs can also be baked in the oven, either wrapped in foil or placed on a baking sheet. They are brushed with butter and seasonings before baking.

Here are 2 Free Recipes Using Each of the Above-Mentioned Cooking Methods Using Different Kinds of Crab Legs:

1) Boiling:

1) Dungeness Crab Boil

Ingredients to Use:

  • 4-6 live Dungeness crabs
  • 1-gallon water
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 lemons, cut in half
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning
  • lemon wedges
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions to Follow:

  1. In a large instant pot, bring the water, white wine, lemons, onion, garlic, bay leaves, Old Bay seasoning, salt, and pepper to a boil.
  2. Once the water is boiling, carefully add the live Dungeness crabs to the pot.
  3. Cover the pot with a lid and let the crabs cook for about 15-20 minutes, bring it to a boil and wait until they turn bright red and are cooked through.
  4. Using tongs, remove the boiled crab legs from the large pot and place them on a large platter or large baking sheet.
  5. Let the crabs cool for a few minutes before serving.
  6. Serve crab legs with melted butter, lemon wedges, and additional Old Bay seasoning, if desired.

2) Snow Crab Legs with Garlic Butter:

Ingredients to Use:

  • 2 pounds of snow crab legs
  • 1-gallon water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Fresh herbs seasoning
  • Lemon wedges
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions to Follow:

  1. Add salt and water to a large pot. Bring the pot to boil.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the snow crab legs to the large pot.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and let the crab legs simmer in the water for about 5-6 minutes, or until they are thoroughly heated through.
  4. Boil crab legs and while it is doing that, prepare the dipping sauce which will be your garlic butter.
  5. Heat and melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  6. Add the minced garlic to the melted butter, and adding fresh herbs seasoning, cook for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  7. Remove the butter mixture from the heat and set it aside.
  8. Once the crab legs are fully heated, use tongs to remove them from the pot and place them on a large plate or serving platter.
  9. Drizzle the garlic butter over the crab legs.
  10. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the crab legs.
  11. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  12. Serve hot crab legs, with additional, lemon wedges and garlic butter on the side for dipping.

You can also use King crab legs for making this recipe, it will still turn out to be delicious and rich in flavour every time you make it

2) Using Steaming as a Cooking Method:

1) Crab Dumplings:

Ingredients to Use:

  • 1 pound lump crabmeat from crab legs
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 24-30 wonton wrappers
  • Water, for steaming
  • Soy sauce, for serving

Instructions to Follow:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the lump crabmeat, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, grated ginger, and beaten egg.
  2. Stir the mixture until well combined.
  3. Place a full tablespoon of the crab mixture in the centre of each wonton sheet/wrapper.
  4. Use a little bit of water to wet the edges of the wonton sheet/wrapper.
  5. Fold the wrapper over the crab mixture to create a dumpling.
  6. Repeat this process until you have filled all of the wonton wrappers.
  7. Place the dumplings in a steamer basket.
  8. Place the steamer basket in a large pot and add enough water to come about 1 inch up the sides
  9. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  10. Once the water is boiling, place the steamer basket over the pot, making sure that the dumplings are not touching the water.
  11. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and steam the dumplings for about 6-8 minutes, or until the wrappers are translucent and the filling is hot.
  12. Use tongs to remove the dumplings from the steamer basket and transfer them to a serving plate.
  13. Serve the dumplings hot, with soy sauce for dipping. Enjoy!

2) Steamed Red Crab Legs with Soy-Ginger Sauce:

Ingredients to Use:

  • 2 pounds red crab legs
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 1 green onion, sliced

Instructions to Follow:

  1. If the crab legs are frozen, thaw them.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, ginger, and garlic.
  3. Place the crab legs in a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water.
  4. Cover the pot and steam crab legs for 5-7 minutes.
  5. Remove the crab legs from the steamer basket and serve with the soy-ginger sauce and sliced green onions.

You can enjoy the delicious steamed red crab legs with the flavorful soy-ginger sauce and garnish with sliced green onions. The combination of the sweet and savoury soy sauce with the slight kick of ginger adds a nice touch to the succulent and juicy crab meat. This dish can be served as a main course cuisine or as an appetizer for a seafood feast. It’s easy to make and perfect for impressing your guests at a dinner party or a special occasion. Don’t forget to have plenty of napkins on hand, as things may get a little messy when cracking and enjoying the crab legs!

3) By Grilling

1) Indian-Style Grilled King Crab Legs:

Ingredients to Use:

  • 2 pounds of king crab legs
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of minced ginger or garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red chilli powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Lemon wedges and chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Instructions to Follow:

  1. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Thaw crab legs (king crab legs here) if they are frozen.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the ghee over medium heat.
  4. Add the minced garlic and ginger and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  5. Stir in the cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and red chilli powder.
  6. Season the mixture with salt to taste.
  7. Brush the spiced ghee mixture generously over the king crab legs.
  8. Place the crab legs on the grill and let the cooking time be for 5-7 minutes. Now flipping halfway, let the crab legs be grilled on each side, or until heated through and lightly charred.
  9. Serve the grilled crab legs hot with lemon wedges and chopped fresh cilantro. Note: You can adjust the amount of red chilli powder to make the dish more or less spicy according to your preference.
How to cook crab legs
Image by pmvchamara .com from Pixabay copyright 2015

 2) Grilled King Crab with Garlic Butter (North America)

Ingredients to Use:

  • 2 lbs King Crab legs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions to Follow:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter, minced garlic, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper.
  3. Cut the King Crab legs into sections, and brush with the garlic butter mixture.
  4. Place the crab legs on the grill and cook for 5-6 minutes per side or until heated through and lightly charred.
  5. Serve hot with extra garlic butter sauce on the side.

 4) By Baking

1) Italian-Style Baked Crab Legs

Ingredients to Use:

  • 2 lbs crab legs
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Instructions to Follow:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Rinse the crab legs under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.
  3. Take a small saucepan and heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes, until it is fragrant.
  4. Add the white wine and parsley to the saucepan and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened.
  5. Arrange the crab legs in a single layer in a baking dish. Brush the garlic and wine mixture over the crab legs.
  6. Preheat oven for 10 minutes.
  7. Bake the crab legs in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until heated through.
  8. Serve the crab legs hot, garnished with lemon wedges.
  9. Enjoy your delicious Italian-style baked crab legs!

2) Delicious Crab Legs Pie:

Ingredients to Use:

  • 1 pound cooked crab meat
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pre-made pie crust
  • 1 egg, beaten

Instructions to Follow:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the crab meat, mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, green onions, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Roll out the pie crust and place it in a pie dish. Trim the edges if needed.
  4. Pour the crab mixture into the pie crust.
  5. Brush the edges of the crust with the beaten egg.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is hot and bubbly and the crust is golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
How to cook crab legs pie
Image by saritalarson from Pixabay copyright 2017

Crab legs are a delicious and popular seafood delicacy enjoyed around the world. Whether steamed, grilled, baked, or boiled, crab legs are versatile ingredients that can be prepared in a variety of ways to create flavorful and satisfying dishes. However, if you have leftover crab legs or want to stock up on crab legs for future meals, it’s important to know how to properly store and freeze them to maintain their quality and freshness. With the right storage and freezing techniques, you can enjoy crab legs at any time without compromising their taste or texture.

Step 4: Here are Some Storage and Freezing Instructions for Crab Legs:

1) Storage:

  • If you have purchased live crabs, you should cook them as soon as possible. Live crabs can be stored in a cool and damp place, such as the refrigerator, for up to 24 hours.
  • Cooked crab legs can be stored in the refrigerator for approximately 3 to 4 days. Make sure that you place the cooked crab legs in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap.
  • If you have leftover crab meat, store it in an airtight container or zip-top bag in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.

2) Freezing:

  • Crab legs can be frozen to extend their shelf life. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminium foil, or place them in an airtight container or freezer bag.
  • Make sure to label the container or bag with the date to track how long the crab legs have been frozen.
  • Frozen crab legs can be stored in the freezer for 3-4 months.
  • When you are ready to use the frozen crab legs, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or under cold running water.
  • Do not refreeze the thawed crab legs.

Step 5: Enjoy

Cooking crab legs can be a delicious and satisfying experience, and it all starts with choosing the best crab legs to buy. Whether you prefer to buy crab legs that are the sweet flavour of king crab, the briny taste of snow crab, or the tender texture of blue crab, there are many options to choose from. No matter which type of crab legs you choose, cooking them to perfection is easy and can be done through boiling, steaming, grilling, or baking. So go ahead and enjoy as many crab legs as you like, and experiment with different cooking methods to find your perfect recipe!

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