How to Cook the Tastiest Crabs: A Step-by-Step Guide


How to Cook the Tastiest Crabs


Crabs are a delicacy enjoyed by seafood lovers around the world. Whether you're hosting a dinner party or simply craving a mouthwatering meal, knowing how to cook crabs to perfection is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of cooking the tastiest crabs right in your own kitchen. From selecting the freshest crabs to preparing them with flavorful ingredients, we've got you covered. So let's dive in and discover the secrets to cooking tender and succulent crabs!

1. Selecting the Perfect Crabs

When it comes to cooking crabs, selecting the right ones is crucial for a delicious outcome. Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect crabs:

1.1. Live or Pre-Cooked Crabs?

You have two options when it comes to buying crabs: live or pre-cooked. Live crabs are preferred by many because they ensure freshness and allow you to cook them according to your desired method. However, pre-cooked crabs can be a convenient option if you're short on time. Just make sure to choose ones that are still fresh and have been properly stored.

1.2. Checking for Freshness

To ensure the crabs are fresh, look for the following signs:

  • Movement: If you're buying live crabs, they should show some signs of movement, such as moving their legs or claws.
  • Odor: Fresh crabs should have a pleasant, oceanic smell. Avoid crabs with a strong, unpleasant odor.
  • Shells: Check the shells for any cracks or damage. Crabs with intact shells indicate freshness.

1.3. Crab Sizes

Crabs come in various sizes, and the size you choose depends on your preference and recipe requirements. Larger crabs will yield more meat, while smaller ones are often more tender. Consider the number of servings you need and the cooking method when selecting the size of your crabs.

2. Preparing the Crabs

Before you start cooking, it's essential to prepare the crabs properly. Follow these steps to ensure your crabs are ready to be cooked:

2.1. Cleaning the Crabs

Cleaning the crabs is an important step to remove any impurities and ensure a clean and tasty final dish. Follow these steps to clean the crabs:

  1. Fill a large basin or sink with cold water and add a generous amount of salt.
  2. Rinse the crabs under running water to remove any dirt or debris.
  3. Place the crabs in the saltwater solution and let them soak for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Use a stiff brush to scrub the shells and remove any remaining dirt or algae.
  5. Rinse the crabs thoroughly under running water to remove the saltwater and any loose debris.

2.2. Prepping the Crabs

After cleaning, it's time to prep the crabs for cooking. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Hold the crab firmly and lift the top shell, known as the carapace, with your fingers or a utensil.
  2. Remove the gills, also known as the "dead man's fingers," located on either side of the crab's body. These are not edible and should be discarded.
  3. Break off the crab's mouthparts, known as the mandibles, by pulling them away from the body.
  4. Snap the crab in half, separating the top and bottom shells.
  5. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the crab into quarters or desired serving sizes.

3. Cooking Methods for Crabs

There are several cooking methods you can choose from when it comes to preparing crabs. Each method imparts a unique flavor and texture to the crabs. Here are some popular cooking methods:

3.1. Steaming

Steaming is a gentle cooking method that preserves the natural flavors and tenderness of the crab meat. Here's how to steam crabs:

  1. Fill a large pot with water, ensuring it's deep enough to accommodate the crabs.
  2. Add aromatic ingredients like bay leaves, lemon slices, and herbs to the water for added flavor.
  3. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
  4. Place a steaming rack or basket in the pot, making sure it's above the water level.
  5. Arrange the prepared crabs on the rack or in the basket, ensuring they are not stacked on top of each other.
  6. Cover the pot and steam the crabs for about 15-20 minutes, or until the shells turn bright orange and the meat is cooked through.

3.2. Boiling

Boiling crabs is a popular method that cooks them quickly and infuses them with flavors. Follow these steps to boil crabs:

  1. Fill a large pot with water and add salt to create a flavorful brine.
  2. Add aromatic ingredients like bay leaves, whole peppercorns, and spices to the water.
  3. Bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat.
  4. Carefully add the prepared crabs to the boiling water, ensuring they are fully submerged.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-high and continue boiling for about 10-12 minutes, or until the crabs are fully cooked.
  6. Remove the crabs from the pot using tongs or a slotted spoon and let them drain before serving.

3.3. Grilling

Grilling crabs adds a smoky and charred flavor to the meat, complementing its natural sweetness. Here's how to grill crabs:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Brush the cleaned and prepped crabs with oil to prevent sticking and add flavor.
  3. Place the crabs directly on the grill grates, shell side down.
  4. Grill the crabs for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the shells turn bright orange and the meat is cooked through.
  5. Remove the crabs from the grill and let them cool for a few minutes before serving.

Table: Cooking Methods for Crabs

Cooking MethodDescription
SteamingGentle cooking method that preserves natural flavors and tenderness.
BoilingQuick cooking method that infuses the crabs with flavors.
GrillingAdds a smoky and charred flavor to the crab meat.

4. Flavorful Crab Recipes

Now that you know how to cook crabs using different methods, let's explore some delicious and flavorful crab recipes:

4.1. Crab Curry

Crab curry is a rich and aromatic dish that combines the sweetness of crab meat with fragrant spices. Here's a simple recipe to try:


  • Fresh crabs (cleaned and prepped)
  • Onion (finely chopped)
  • Garlic cloves (minced)
  • Ginger (grated)
  • Curry powder
  • Turmeric powder
  • Red chili powder
  • Coconut milk
  • Tomato (diced)
  • Cilantro (chopped)
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil


  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large pan or pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and sauté until golden brown.
  3. Stir in the minced garlic and grated ginger, cooking for another minute.
  4. Add the curry powder, turmeric powder, and red chili powder. Cook for a few seconds to release the flavors.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  6. Add the diced tomato and season with salt.
  7. Gently place the cleaned crabs into the simmering curry sauce.
  8. Cover the pan and let the crabs cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are fully cooked and the flavors have melded together.
  9. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro before serving.

4.2. Garlic Butter Crabs

Garlic butter crabs are a classic dish that brings together the richness of butter and the aromatic flavors of garlic. Here's how to make them:


  • Fresh crabs (cleaned and prepped)
  • Butter
  • Garlic cloves (minced)
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Parsley (chopped)
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  3. Place the cleaned crabs in the skillet, ensuring they are in a single layer.
  4. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the crabs and season with salt.
  5. Cook the crabs for about 5-7 minutes on each side, or until the shells turn bright orange and the meat is cooked through.
  6. Sprinkle chopped parsley and red pepper flakes (if desired) over the crabs before serving.

5. Serving and Enjoying Crab

Once your crabs are cooked to perfection, it's time to serve and enjoy them. Here are some tips for serving and enjoying crab:

  • Serve the crabs with drawn butter, lemon wedges, and your favorite dipping sauces.
  • Provide plenty of napkins or wet wipes since eating crabs can be a messy affair.
  • Use a crab cracker or a small mallet to crack open the shells and extract the meat.
  • Enjoy the succulent crab meat on its own or incorporate it into other dishes like crab cakes or pasta.


Cooking crabs may seem intimidating at first, but with the right techniques and a little practice, you can easily master the art of preparing the tastiest crabs. Whether you choose to steam, boil, or grill them, the key is to select fresh crabs and infuse them with flavorful ingredients. With the recipes and tips provided in this guide, you're now equipped to impress your family and friends with a delicious crab feast. So go ahead, unleash your culinary skills, and indulge in the mouthwatering world of crab cooking!

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