How To Cook Crab Legs: A Beginner’s Guide

Crab legs are considered a luxurious meal by many people. Whether you are at a party or a wedding, having crabs on the menu is a sign that you’re in for a treat. However, making crab legs at home is an easy task.

Even beginners can cook delicious legs on their first try. That is because the recipes are easy, and you don’t need complex utensils. This guide will teach you all about crab legs and how to cook crab legs to perfection.

Before we go into the specifics, there are some things you should be aware of if you’re a beginner at making seafood. Below are the details each one of you should know before you decide to cook crab legs.

What Crab Legs Can You Buy?

There are many types of crabs that you can eat all over the world. But, only some of them are used for making crab legs. That is because not all varieties have good taste.

Below are the readily available crab legs that you can find at the fish market or grocery stores.

Snow Crab Legs

These are one of the famous crab legs that people love. The meat is very white hence the name snow. Besides that, due to fine fibers, the crab has a delicate taste.

The legs also have a sweet flavor which enhances the taste of your dish. The size of the legs is medium and contains fine meat. When you buy snow crab legs, you should get them in clusters.

Clusters have legs attached, and you will get extra meat with them.  The price varies from $10 to $15 per pound. 

King Crab Legs

King Crab legs are quite popular in the markets. If you ever had good crab legs at buffets or events, you probably ate this variety. They are very meaty and have the best taste.

These crabs are enormous; hence the legs are pretty long, which is why they have gained popularity. The meat is soft and flavorful, just like lobsters. However, the shell is tough, and you will require extra tools to crack it. 

Many fishmongers do break the shell before selling, so you shouldn’t worry much. The legs will cost $25 or above, a little expensive, but the meat is worth the price.

Stone Crab Legs

The stone crabs are known for having large meaty claws. However, the size of the legs is small. Despite that, these crab legs are succulent and sweet, which will please your taste buds. Unfortunately, they are rare to find in the market and expensive because of their excellent taste.

Their shells are rigid and require proper equipment such as a hammer for breaking. Luckily at the market, many sellers offer to do this for you in exchange for a small fee. However, some of them do this for free to make your life easy.

Where Can You Buy Crab Legs?

Unless you prefer to catch a live crab yourself, you will have to purchase them from a supermarket or a fishmonger. All crabs at the market are pre-cooked.

You can buy frozen legs or thawed legs. Our recommendation is the thawed ones as they are easier to cook and more fresh than frozen. Besides that, the meat of thawed legs is softer and easy to chew.

Which Ones Are The Best?

When you’re preparing for two persons, you should choose snow crab legs. Their size is perfect for filling your stomach and blessing your taste buds.

However, if you’re having a party or a large family dinner, King crab legs are the one you want at your table. Their long legs quickly catch attention, and you will get extra praises for serving such good seafood.

If you can’t ingest large seafood, then stone crab legs are suitable. The size is small, and the taste is impeccable. But in the end, the best crab legs are those that you can afford and easily prepare.

Now that you know the basic details about seafood, let’s talk about the things you will need for cooking.

What Do You Need for Preparing Crab Legs?


  • Water
  • Salt
  • Crab legs
  • Melted butter
  • Lemon wedges


  • Stockpot preferably of large size
  • Tongs with a long handle
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Seafood cracker or a hammer
  • Steam basket

These are all the items that should be present in your kitchen. Here is how you can prepare the seafood.

How To Cook Crab Legs: 4 Different Ways to Try!

There is no fixed way of cooking crab legs. The diverse methods are one of the reasons why it’s so easy to make them. Below are four ways that you can use to cook crab legs.

1. Boiling

It is a well-known fact that that boiling is one of the best methods to make crab legs. The water diffuses into the shell and meat, making them juicy and soft. Since the legs are pre-cooked, you just need to heat them correctly, and you will have a delicious meal prepared.

Following are the steps to do:

Boil The Water

The first thing you should do is find a pot that is huge enough to contain your crab legs. Once you have the pot, fill it with water and put some salt in it. If you want to make your dish more flavorful, you can add some seasoning or lemon wedges as well.

After adding the ingredients, place the utensil on the stove and heat until the water boils.

Place The Crab Legs

While the water is boiling, place the legs into the pot gradually using the tongs. You should bend them at joints to ensure they will be entirely under the water. After boiling the legs for about five minutes, slow down the heat.

Let the crab legs cook for another five minutes at slow heat. Once the time is up, take out the legs from the pot and put them aside. After they’ve cooled, you can serve the dish.

2. Steaming

The process of steaming is similar to boiling. Many people prefer this method because they find steamed crab legs more flavorful. Here are the steps to follow.

Prepare And Boil

Find a large stockpot that can hold the crab legs. Over an inch of water, place your steam basket. Then put the crab legs on the basket and boil the water.


Once the water has boiled, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and place a cover on the pot. Let the legs steam for five to seven minutes at the same heat. After you see the white steam over the pot, you can take out the legs. The steam is a sign that they’ve fully cooked.

3. Broiling

Using the oven to broil crab legs is an excellent method to provide a buttery flavor to them. The extra heat of the oven also caramelizes the legs a bit and enhances the taste. Below are the steps you should stick to.

Preheat Your Oven

Set your oven to a high setting. Prepare a large enough baking pan that the legs can fit in. Line the pan with aluminum foil or a baking sheet.

Broil The Legs

Put the crab legs on the pan you’ve prepared. Then use a brush to apply one tablespoon of melted butter. If you don’t like butter, you can put olive oil instead. Next, place them into the oven and bake until the crab legs are thoroughly heated. 

4. Grilling

One of the favorite ways to enjoy the outdoors is by grilling something. By grilling crab legs, you can minimize the cleaning you will have to do after cooking. Whether you have a propane grill or a charcoal grill, both will assist you in preparing delicious crab legs.

Follow these steps to cook the most fantastic crab legs.

Prepare Your Grill

Take out your grill to cook at medium heat. Clean the grates with a wire brush properly to ensure that the legs don’t stick while grilling.

Start Grilling

Apply one tablespoon of olive oil to the crab legs. This will give them extra flavor and prevent them from sticking. Cook the legs directly on the grates for about five minutes. To ensure proper heating, cover the grill while the legs cook.

How To Crack Crab Legs?

Before you can eat your crab legs, there is still one thing to do – cracking.  A common way to crack meat is by using a hammer or a cracker. All you have to do is beat the shell a little, and it will break open. 

However, sometimes small pieces of the shell can remain on meat. That is why it is best to use kitchen scissors. First, cut the cover from in between to create two pieces of legs. Then you can remove the shell sides and take out the meat. 

Final Thoughts

Those were all the details you will ever require about cooking crab legs. So what are you waiting for?

Grab crab legs from the market and use any one way to cook them. We guarantee you the meal will be delicious and the highlight of your day.

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