How to Choose Crab and the Best Ways to Cook It

Here are some tips on how to choose crab along with the best ways to cook it in your own kitchen.

smoked crab claws

Have you ever prepared a crab feast for your family? It is easier than you think! If you have a crab lover in your family, pick a crab type listed below and choose your favorite method of cooking. Cook at home to save tons of money while enjoying crab.

Why Is Crab So Expensive?

Crab is expensive because of supply and demand, and because it’s inconvenient to catch, ship, stock, store, and sell. Unless frozen, it is highly perishable, and it is also subject to more government regulations. In restaurants, crab is expensive typically because it is based on market price.

What Are the Different Types of Crabs?

  • King crab has the largest claws, which you can easily crack open to retrieve large pieces of meat. The meat is sweet and similar to lobster.
  • Snow crabs have very long thin legs that don’t contain as much meat as king crabs. It will take more work to open the slim legs, which contain small amounts of meat.
  • Queen crab is a larger version of the snow crab that is easy to eat because of its large legs. The claw meat is especially firm and sweet. 
  • Jonah crabs are one of the smallest crab varieties and are often sold as “cocktail” claws. Most of the shell comes removed for easy access to the meat.
  • Dungeness crab is similar to King crab with legs that are fairly large. The Dungeness crab is very meaty and tender with a sweet flavor.
  • Blue crab is quite sweet, and they can be sold frozen, live, cooked, or as picked meat. The meat of the blue crab is considered by many to be the sweetest and best tasting of all crabs.
  • Soft-shell crabs are blue crabs that have shed their old shell to form a new one. During this process, the crabs are without their hard covering for only a few days, and they’re only truly soft-shells for a few hours. Soft-shell crabs are a delicacy and are eaten whole after minimal cleaning.
Jonah crab claws
Jonah crab claws

How Many Pounds of Crab Legs Per Person?

You can figure roughly one pound of crab legs per person if crab legs are the main entrée. If you’re doing surf and turf, allow for ½ pound per person. A surf and turf meal will typically include seafood and steak, along with sides such as baked potatoes, salad, or steamed vegetables.

King crab claws
King crab claws

What Is The Best Way to Cook Crab?

Crab can be eaten in myriad ways: fried, steamed, grilled, boiled, fried, smoked, etc….I share the most common methods below, along with recipes for my favorite methods of cooking crab: fried, smoked, and steamed. Since buying a RecTeq pellet grill, I’ve discovered the joy of smoking food as easily as pressing a button. I now smoke crab legs on the pellet grill; they are outstanding. 

How Do I Boil Crab Legs?

Fill a large stockpot with 4 quarts of water. Add 1 box of Old Bay and the juice and rinds of 3-4 lemons. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add crabs. Cook over medium-high heat until the crab legs are warmed through, about 5 minutes. Remove the crab legs to a large serving bowl or platter.

How Do I Steam Crab Legs?

Bring 1-2 cups of water in a large stockpot.  Place a steamer basket inside the pot; bring the water to a boil. Place crab legs in the stockpot on top of the steamer basket.  Put the lid on to cover and steam for 5 minutes (if thawed) and 9-10 minutes (if frozen). Remove to a serving platter.

How Do I Broil Crab Legs?

Preheat your oven on the broiler setting. Place crab legs on a baking sheet. Brush legs with EVOO or melted butter. Place tray 6 to 8 inches beneath the broiler. Broil 3 to 4 minutes per side flipping halfway through. Remove to a serving platter.

How Do I Fry Crab Claws?

fried crab claws
My recipe for fried crab claws.

I LOVE fried crab claws, especially the small ones like you might eat at the beach. They are so fun to pull between your teeth to get the delicate, sweet crab meat.  I love these so much that I learned how to fry them myself. If you like fried crab claws, I share my recipe for fried crab claws + cocktail sauce in this blog post.

A Short Video on Crab:

In the short video below, I share a few crab tips. The best crab to choose, ingredients to have on hand to enjoy crab, and how to eat crab.

I hope that this post inspires you to buy some crab and prepare it for your family. It is so easy and makes such a fabulous meal. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

smoked crab claws

Smoked Crab Legs

Yield: 5 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

How to smoke crab legs on a pellet grill, adapted from Malcolm Reed of How to BBQ Right.


  • 5 pounds crab legs (King, Snow or Dungeness)
  • 2 sticks (1/2 lb) real butter
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun or BBQ rub seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • Juice from 1 lemon


    Turn pellet grill to 250⁰.

    Melt butter. Add rub + all seasonings.
    Dip or dredge crab claws in butter (or pour butter over crabs on all sides).

    Reserve the remaining butter mixture for basting.

    Smoke crab claws for 30 minutes while basting with butter every 10 minutes.

    Serve crab with remaining butter & lemon wedges.


smoked crab claws

Steamed Crab Claws

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

How to steam King crab (or similar large crabs).


  • 2-3 clusters of King crab
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Kosher salt
  • Lemons


  1. Place steamer basket in large stockpot.
  2. Add 1-2 cups water; season with salt & Old Bay.
  3. Bring water to boil.
  4. Place crab legs in pot; cover with lid.
  5. Steam 5-10 minutes until crabs are heated through.
  6. Squeeze lemon juice over.
Nutrition Information
Yield 2 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 208Total Fat 3gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 107mgSodium 2523mgCarbohydrates 4gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 39g

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  1. Hi Barbara! Thank you!!!! As for Alaskan crab, you can find at most large grocery stores in the frozen seafood section. You might also google to see if any online retailers are decently priced!!

  2. Hmmmm I’ve never had this happen? I would just not add any extra salt, and I would probably ask the supplier his/her solution. Let me know what they say!

  3. Got some snow crab legs that were there any way to fix this? They were from the supplier and frozen.

  4. Hi Jason! I am SO happy to hear that my post helped you cook crab legs!!! Once you discover how easy it is, you can eat like a King whenever you want. It is amazing!!! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!!!

  5. I bought some crab legs impulsively and was told to cook them for 5 minutes, or 10. I came home, read your different ways, and put them in my instapot. They came out beautifully.

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