In-Depth Guide on How to Prepare Crab Legs

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cooked crab legs with butter saucePhoto by BrokerBaden is marked with CC BY 2.0

Any seafood aficionado can appreciate the salty, yet buttery sweetness of crab legs. While it  can be enjoyable to dine on this delicious delicacy at a seafood restaurant, there’s no better  way to enjoy crab legs than from the comfort of home. With our in-depth guide to cooking crab  legs, you’ll have all the tools and tricks you need to craft a meal that is as easy as it is  delicious. Whether preparing a special dinner for your family, or feeding a crowd at a large  celebration, these methods will provide you with all of the knowledge you’ll need to prepare an  incredible seafood meal right in your own kitchen.  

In this guide, we’ll cover a classic preparation of steaming crab legs, as well as methods for  grilling and baking them. 

As with any recipe, the key to success is starting with the best ingredients, plus the right tools,  for a seamless preparation and a delectable final result. At Maine Lobster House we source  only the finest Alaskan King Crab Legs, which are unmatched in size and unparalleled in flavor.  With these crab legs in hand and our recipes in tow, you’re in for an incredible meal that you  and your guests are sure to savor.  

Keep reading to learn how to steam, grill and bake crab legs so you can skip the restaurant  and enjoy this impeccable seafood delicacy all from the comfort of home. 

How To Steam Crab Legs  

First, we’ll cover the most classic preparation: Steaming Crab Legs. This method for cooking  crab legs is actually incredibly simple, requiring just a few tools and ingredients. 

To begin, we recommend fully defrosting your crab legs before starting to cook. Once your legs  are defrosted, usually overnight – it takes just a few minutes to steam crab legs and have a  delicious meal on your table.  

  1. To defrost your crab legs, remove vacuum packaging and add crab legs to a zip-top bag. Place the bag of frozen crab legs in a bowl in the refrigerator for approximately 8-12 hours. Doing so ensures that the crab legs remain at a safe temperature for the duration of defrosting, and will keep their freshness and flavor intact.  
  2. Once your crab legs are fully defrosted, you’ll want to prep your steamer basket. 
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat. The water should fill the pot a few  inches high, but not too much. You don’t want your crab legs to be submerged in water  while steaming.  
  4. Once the water is boiling, carefully place your steamer basket on top.
  5. Fill the basket with crab legs, making sure not to overcrowd the pot. Cover and let steam. If  the lid of the pot does not fit comfortably with the crab legs inside, carefully cover the pot  with foil and let steam.  
  6. Steam crab legs for 5-7 minutes until heated through. Larger crab legs may take a few  extra minutes. 
  7. If cooking crab legs from raw, you can test doneness by the color of the shell which will  turn from greenish brown to pinkish red. The meat will be an opaque white. 
  8. If crab legs are precooked, you can test for doneness by cracking open one crab leg to  confirm that they are steaming hot and heated through.  
  9. Serve steamed crab legs alongside a flavored butter dipping sauce and fresh lemon  wedges.  
  10. Make sure to have plenty of seafood crackers on-hand for serving.  

It’s that easy to steam crab legs at home! This method is fast, ensuring an easy and flavorful  meal that you can prepare for family and friends in no time.  

Next, we’ll cover how to grill crab legs, an excellent method for summer cookouts. 

Check out our Ultimate Guide on How to Steam Crab Legs

How to Grill Crab Legs  

Grilling crab legs is an incredible cooking method, providing unbeatable grilled flavor that’s  perfect for summertime feasts. A few simple ingredients is all you need to prepare crab legs on  the grill. 

  1. As with all of our methods, begin with defrosted crab legs. This ensures that the crab legs  will cook evenly through.  
  2. Thaw crab legs in the fridge overnight for approximately 8-12 hours. Thawing them in the  refrigerator ensures that they remain at a safe temperature, keeping their flavor and  freshness intact.  
  3. Once your crab legs are fully defrosted, you’ll want to split the shell to expose some of the  meat. Doing so ensures that the crab meat absorbs all the delicious flavors of your  seasonings and of the grill.  
  4. Using kitchen scissors, carefully cut the shell lengthwise so that the crab meat is visible. 
  5. Next, preheat your grill to a medium heat, about 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  6. While the grill is heating up, prepare a butter sauce with melted butter and seasonings of  your choice, such as garlic and lemon or Old Bay Seasoning.  
  7. Brush the sauce onto the crab legs split side up, allowing the seasonings to penetrate the  meat.  
  8. Place crab legs on the grill with the split side facing up. Close the grill. Cook for  approximately 10 minutes until heated through.  
  9. Check for doneness by ensuring that the crab meat is opaque white and the shell a pinkish  red.  
  10. Serve crab legs fresh off the grill with additional butter sauce and fresh lemon. 

This tantalizing preparation of crab legs combines the best of summertime grilling with a few  simple ingredients for a meal that is sure to please.  

Lastly, we’ll cover how to bake crab legs, a preparation that’s perfect for any time of year. 

Check out our Ultimate Guide on How to Grill Crab Legs

How to Bake Crab Legs  

Baking crab legs is an excellent cooking method, yielding incredible flavor in just a few simple  steps. This preparation is perfect for any time of year, ensuring you can enjoy crab legs  regardless of the season.  

Similar to the cooking methods detailed above, you’ll want to make sure you begin with  defrosted crab legs. Doing so ensures even cooking, for perfectly cooked crab every time.  

  1. To begin, place your crab legs in the refrigerator overnight (approximately 8-12 hours). 
  2. Once defrosted, you’re ready to begin cooking.  
  3. For optimal flavor, we recommend splitting your crab legs to expose some of the meat. This  ensures that any added flavors are imparted directly onto the crab meat. 
  4. Using kitchen scissors, split the shell of the crab lengthwise, exposing the meat. You may  want to break larger crab legs at the joint, for smaller pieces that are easier to split. 
  5. Once all of your crab legs are prepped, place them in a baking dish. Make sure not to  overcrowd or pile the crab legs on top of one another. Use multiple baking dishes if  necessary. 
  6. Next, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  7. While the oven is heating, prepare a butter sauce with unsalted butter and seasonings of  your choice, such as garlic and parsley or Old Bay Seasoning.  
  8. Pour the sauce over the crab legs, using a spoon or a pastry brush to evenly distribute the  sauce over each crab leg.  
  9. Place the baking dish in the center of the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes. Keep in mind  that snow crab legs may take less time to cook than King Crab Legs. Be sure the check for  doneness at around 15 minutes, as to not overcook the legs.  
  10. Check for doneness. Cooked crab legs will emit a sweet seafood aroma, while having a  bright red/orange shell and opaque meat. Crab meat should be hot to the touch. 
  11. Serve baked crab legs with fresh lemon slices and any remaining butter sauce.  

This simple preparation is as easy as it is delicious! Full of great flavor, it’s a relatively hands-off cooking method that makes for a great meal any time of year.  

Check out our Ultimate Guide on How to Bake Crab Legs

Regardless of which preparation you choose, with a few fresh ingredients you can have an  unforgettable meal from the comfort of home. Explore more recipes by visiting our Seafood  University or order your Alaskan King Crab Legs from Maine Lobster House today.