How to Make Appetizer Crab Claws 3 Ways


Here is how to make fabulous appetizer crab claws 3 ways PLUS homemade cocktail sauce to serve alongside them. 

fried crab claws
Fried appetizer crab claws


fried crab claws
Fried crab claws

What are appetizer crab claws?

Appetizer crab claws are often referred to as crab fingers or cocktail crab claws. They are popular appetizers at steak house and seafood restaurants. They are typically listed as appetizers, but some menus include them with seafood platters.

What is the difference between crab claws and crab legs?

The main difference between crab claws and crab legs is that the crab claws are generally more savory than the legs. Crab claws have more meat and are typically fattier than the legs. For a more savory and delicious recipe, crabs claws are the way to go.  

How do you make appetizer crab claws?

First, you buy fresh crab claws. Then decide whether you want to make them fried, sauteed, or steamed. Then you follow the recipe(s) below. Be sure to make a homemade cocktail sauce to serve alongside the appetizer crab claws. 

Where do you buy fresh crab claws?

You can buy fresh crab claws at many grocery stores, but the best place to get them is at a seafood market. This will ensure that you get the freshest catch. Most seafood markets get daily shipments of all types of seafood. 

What crab do you use for appetizer crab claws?

The crab that I use for my appetizer crab claws is usually labeled “blue crab claws” or sometimes “cocktail crab claws.” These are the smaller crab claws that have the claw at one end with exposed claw meat on the other end. 

Are crab claws healthy?

Absolutely! As always, it depends on what you eat with them, but by themselves, crab claws are loaded with protein! They contain vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids. All of these make crab a pretty nutritious and energizing meal, or in this case, appetizer. Those omega 3’s and minerals found in crab are super beneficial in heart and brain health. 

What is in cocktail sauce?

Cocktail sauce is a cold sauce that has ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, and a little dash of hot sauce. Cocktail sauce is typically used with some form of seafood like shrimp, oysters or crab. This sauce is the perfect pairing for the fried crab claws. The flavors come together so nicely and if you are going to prepare the fried crab claws, then the cocktail sauce is a must. 

How do you eat appetizer crab claws?

Appetizer crab claws are easy and fun to eat! First, dip the cooked crab claw into homemade cocktail sauce. Then, hold the crab claw and pull the crab meat between your teeth. The claws are discarded, so make sure to have a separate plate for the leftover claws. 

How to make homemade cocktail sauce:

You can follow the recipe below, or you can learn to make your own cocktail sauce by tasting along the way. This is easy, and it ensures that your cocktail sauce will have just the right amount of spicy heat. In the video below, I share how I make cocktail sauce without a recipe.

For all of my favorite crab recipes, go to my blog post on How to choose crab and the best way to cook it. It has a wealth of information on the types of crabs to choose from as well as various ways to cook crab.


fried crab claws

Fried Crab Claws & Cocktail Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

These are easy to make and so delicious!


  • 2 pounds crab claws
  • 1 cup cornmeal *see notes
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-2 tsp Creole seasoning
  • 2 cups oil (I used peanut oil)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 4 TB horseradish (for spicy; use less for mild)
  • 1 TB fresh lemon juice
  • dash hot sauce (optional)



  1. Beat eggs; pour into a shallow pan.
  2. Put cornmeal and panko crumbs into a large bowl; mix well.
  3. Place large container aside to transfer breaded claws to hot oil.
  4. Heat oil in a large 12" skillet on medium-high heat..
  5. Dip claws in egg until coated on all sides.
  6. Toss claws in breading--shaking off excess.
  7. Fry claws in batches (roughly 15-20 claws) for 2-3 minutes or just until golden.
  8. Remove claws and drain on paper towels.
  9. Repeat until all claws are fried. Discard oil.
  10. Serve with cocktail sauce.


  1. Mix all ingredients well, tasting as you go.
  2. To make it spicier, add more horseradish. To make it less spicy, add more ketchup.
  3. Keep covered in the fridge for up to one week.


McEwen & Sons Cornmeal is my favorite.

Zatarain's and Tony Chachere's Creole are my favorites.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 1496Total Fat 120gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 105gCholesterol 215mgSodium 2033mgCarbohydrates 68gFiber 4gSugar 18gProtein 33g
appetizer crab claws

Sautéed Crab Claws

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes


  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb. fresh crab claws
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
  • Juice of half a lemon


    1. In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat.
    2. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly (do not brown garlic).
    3. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning, and cayenne pepper.
    4. Add crab claws and toss them to coat in the sauce.
    5. Cook for about 5 minutes and remove from heat.
    6. Add parsley and lemon juice, toss once more and serve.
Nutrition Information
Yield 2 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 680Total Fat 48gSaturated Fat 30gTrans Fat 2gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 341mgSodium 1956mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 1gSugar 16gProtein 42g

What to serve with appetizer crab claws:

We love to serve appetizer crab claws with steak for a lovely “surf and turf” that is company-worthy and delicious. You can link to my favorite recipes below.

Kensington Club Filet Mignons
Gourmet Gruyere Cheese Grits
Roasted Asparagus with fresh Parmesan
Kale Salad with homemade honey balsamic vinaigrette


How to boil Alaskan King Crab Claws

If you want to know how to select all varieties and sizes of crab claws, you can find out in this blog post~How to Choose Crab and the Best Way to Cook It. If you want a sneak peek into how I cook larger crab claws, check out the short video below. 

I hope this post was helpful. If you make any of the crab recipes or have any questions, feel free to leave comments below. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!!








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  1. I made crab claws last weekend on gas stove with garlic butter sauce just mixing slowly not to break crab off claw , My husband loved this tommorrow i am going to try your way i have to get some corn meal i keep panko bread crumbs, a regular in my house look forward to trying them one of my husbands favorites

  2. Hi Elizabeth! I get mine at Snapper Grabbers in Birmingham; where do you live? I would think you could google fish markets in your area. I would call first, as claws are sometimes out of stock. Let me know if you find them. XoXo

  3. I have checked at walmart, and several fresh seafood markets and have not found where to purchase the crab claws. Where did you purchase the crab claws?

  4. Hi Jane! I usually have a little bit of breading left over but not enough to do another pound. I’d go ahead and double the breading ingredients to be safe. Thankfully they are inexpensive so it won’t matter if you have to toss leftover:-) Let me know how the claws turn out; they are my fave!!!

  5. Your recipe calls for one pound of crab claws. If using two pounds of crab craws, would you double the recipe, or, would there be enough
    for the second pound?

  6. So glad I found this blog!! I’m from Birmingham too!! Where did you purchase the crab claws? Can’t wait to try the recipe.

  7. Hi Jack!!!! I mix all seasonings together before frying, but it might work both ways!!!! I’ve heard of Ed’s Shed but haven’t been there. Hope these turn out well for you. Please let me hear back!!!!

  8. do you mix the creole seasoning with the cornmeal/breadcrumb mixture or season after frying? We eat these at eds shed outside of mobile and they are awesome! thank you for sharing.

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