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How to Cook Red Crabs: A Step-by-Step Guide

September 17, 2023

How to Cook Red Crabs

You've successfully caught a batch of delicious red crabs, and now you're wondering how to transform them into a mouthwatering meal. Look no further! In this step-by-step guide, we'll walk you through the process of cooking red crabs to perfection, ensuring a delightful culinary experience in the comfort of your home.

Step 1: Cleaning the Crabs

Before cooking, it's essential to clean the red crabs thoroughly. Follow these steps:

  1. Rinse the Crabs: Place the live crabs in a large bowl or bucket of clean, cold water to remove any sand or debris. Let them soak for a few minutes.

  2. Scrub the Shells: Use a soft brush or scrubber to clean the shells gently, especially if they are muddy or covered in algae.

  3. Remove the Gills: Flip the crab over, and you'll see a set of feathery gills on either side of the body. These must be removed, as they are not edible.

Step 2: Cooking Red Crabs

Now that your crabs are cleaned and ready, it's time to cook them. Here are two popular methods:

1. Boiling Method

  1. Bring a Pot of Water to a Boil: Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the crabs completely. Add salt and bring it to a rolling boil.

  2. Add the Crabs: Gently place the crabs into the boiling water. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for about 10-15 minutes.

  3. Remove and Drain: Once the crabs turn bright red and the shells become firm, use tongs to remove them from the boiling water. Drain the crabs in a colander.

2. Steaming Method

  1. Prepare a Steamer: Fill a steamer pot with water and bring it to a boil.

  2. Place the Crabs in the Steamer: Put the cleaned crabs in the steamer basket, stacking them if necessary.

  3. Steam the Crabs: Steam the crabs for about 20-25 minutes, depending on their size. They should turn bright red and the meat should be opaque.

  4. Serve: Remove the crabs from the steamer and serve them hot.

Step 3: Seasoning and Serving

Whether you choose to boil or steam, seasoning is the key to delicious red crab dishes. Here's how to do it:

  1. Butter and Garlic: Melt some butter and sauté minced garlic until fragrant. Drizzle this over the cooked crabs for a classic and flavorful touch.

  2. Cajun Spice: For a spicy kick, sprinkle Cajun seasoning over the crabs. Serve with lemon wedges for added zing.

  3. Old Bay Seasoning: The iconic seafood seasoning, Old Bay, is a popular choice for crab lovers. Shake it generously over your cooked crabs.

FAQs About Cooking Red Crabs

Q1: Can I cook red crabs immediately after catching them? A1: Yes, it's best to cook red crabs as soon as possible after catching them for the freshest taste.

Q2: What's the best way to crack crab shells? A2: Use a crab cracker or the back of a heavy knife to gently crack the shells, making it easier to access the meat.

Q3: Are there any safety tips for handling live crabs before cooking? A3: Handle live crabs carefully to avoid pinches. Place them in the freezer for about 20 minutes before cooking to numb them.


Cooking red crabs is a rewarding experience that allows you to savor the fruits of your crabbing adventure. By following this step-by-step guide, you'll clean, cook, season, and enjoy red crabs like a true culinary pro. Whether you prefer the simplicity of boiled crabs or the flavorful delights of steamed and seasoned ones, your taste buds are in for a treat!

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