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How to cook Alaskan King Crabs

April 19, 2020

king crab

Make The Most Of Your Meals With Alaskan King Crab Legs

When you are getting ready to buy Alaska King Crab, you are probably dreaming about different ways to cook crab for yourself or for your family. Depending on where you purchase your King Crab, it may or may not already arrive cooked, frozen, and glazed. Most Alaska King Crab is cooked either as soon as they are caught or as soon as the fishing boats land. This keeps the crab fresh and preserves that delicious flavor.

There are many ways to ways to cook king crab legs depending on your taste preferences, the event you have planned, or even the amount of time you have on hand. No matter what your plans, I have plenty of recipes to help. If you want to know more about the best way to cook Alaskan king crab at home, keep on reading.


Easy Entertaining With Alaskan King Crab

While you may be wondering what is the best way to cook king crab legs, I am going to let you in on a little secret – it's extremely simple. Many of my favorite crab leg recipes can go from the freezer to the plate in under 30 minutes. For me, time efficiency is important because along with a hungry spouse, I also have kids that command my constant attention. The final method of cooking your crab legs will depend on your presentation and your preferences, but I quite prefer to cook king crab legs oven over roasting or boiling.

Anytime my friends ask me about how they should cook crab claws for their next party or informal event, I always suggest that keeping things simple is the best way to impress. Depending on how you cook Alaskan king crab legs, you might be able to create a mouth-watering meal with no more than freshly churned butter and a few drops of hot sauce! From stews and gumbos to crispy king crab legs and delicate entrees,  my recipes will have your dinner table the talk of the town in no time.

King Crab & Low-Carb Vegetables For Keto

Before I tell you how to roast crab with only a few simple ingredients, I wanted to take a moment to talk about seafood and dieting. With so many people looking to watch their weight, many have turned away from food that offers rich flavors such as roasted garlic crab in their desire to lose weight. While anything can be eaten in moderation, seafood such as crab roast is actually very good for those looking to eat healthier. King crab is rich in good fats, low in calories, and is even high in proteins which makes it a perfect option for those who are following the keto diet.

When I first started keto, I thought that I would have to give up those all you can eat king crab legs events that my husband and I love so much. Fish and other seafood such as King Crab is one of the best keto-friendly carbohydrates you can eat. Not only is seafood full of potassium, B vitamins, and Selenium, it is almost completely free of carbs. Just about all fish can easily be added to your keto meal plan, but just make sure that you double-check the number of carbs each has prior to wolfing them down. For example, shrimp has no carbs, but other shellfish have a small amount. If you are wondering is crab a shellfish, yes, it is, but there are only about 330 calories in crab meat per 1 pound.

Once I learned that I can cook crab as part of a healthy diet plan, my next logical question was what to cook with crab legs, specifically, which veggies. You would think any diet would have you load up on vegetables, but contrary to popular belief, some vegetables can actually derail your keto diet. Vegetables that have little or no starch, however, are ideal to add to your keto meal plan. Instead of potatoes or other starchy veggies alongside my crab, I like to pair leafy greens and seaweed with my roasted garlic crab recipe. By adding these types of veggies to your diet, you will ensure that you are getting enough vitamin C, fiber, and minerals your body needs to survive. 


An Easy Way To Prepare Baked King Crab Legs

When I first tried my hand at cooking crab, I thought the only way was to toss a live critter in a boiling pot of water like often shown on television. Once I got tired of fighting with the clampy little beast, I started to wonder, can you cook crab legs in the oven? After doing a little bit of research on how to clean a crab, I discovered a new way of cooking the same delicious recipes with half of the fuss.

Baking is actually the best way to cook king crab legs in my opinion. I have found that when I bake crab in the oven, it captures and enhances the flavors that I add to my dishes during the cooking process. Whether that be adding roasted garlic or infusing the crab meat with rosemary, dill, and lemon. If you have been sidestepping adding crab to your menu because you thought it is hard to cook, get ready to be blown out of the water.

Once learning the best way to cook crab legs in the oven, the rest of the process was mainly preparation and plating. I will give you a great roast garlic crab recipe below, but you can wing it and create unique dishes all on your own. Cooking crab legs in the oven is as simple as heating your oven to 350 degrees, layering your crab in a shallow pan along with your preferred spices, and then adding about an 8th of an inch of water. Make sure to cover the pan with foil and then toss it in the oven for ten minutes.

king crab

My Favorite Roasted Crab Dish For The Holidays

Now that you are ready to cook crab, I want to share a special recipe that I employ during family gatherings. You can use this roasted crab recipe for the holidays, parties, or anytime you want to give your family a simple but luxurious treat.

When it comes to roasted crab recipes you can make them on the stove, or you can make them in the oven. I already mentioned that I prefer to cook crab in the oven, but for those that like the stovetop, it will work equally well.

Chile & Roasted Dungeness Crab

 What you will need:

  • 1 1/2 of teaspoons of salt
  • 1 minced head garlic, save the peels
  • 1 cup of olive oil
  • 4 Dungeness crabs at least 1 1/2 pounds each
  • 1 thinly sliced lemon
  • minced onion, save the peels
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter
  • 8 fresh red chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup of chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Cooking Instructions

For this roasted crab dish, you can use the stove or the oven, the recipe will remain the same, simply the cooking time will differ slightly. For a crab pan roast, you will need to cook at a slightly lower heat, but for a longer duration.

Take a stockpot and fill it with water up to two-thirds of its depth. Add a liberal amount of salt to mimic the sea. Add in your onion and garlic peels along with half of the thinly sliced lemon. Turn it on high and allow it to reach a rolling boil. Next, toss your crabs into the pot and boil for five minutes. Drain, and then set them aside to cool.

For roasted crab legs on the stove, use a large deep dish for the next potion. For oven roasted crab legs, set your oven to 450 degrees and allow it to heat during your preparation. Once the crabs are cool, remove the apron and the top shell of the crab. Next, clean away the crab fat, transparent cartilage, and the gills. Rinse under clean cold water and then cut them in half with the bottom facing down.

Next, add your garlic, salt, onions, olive oil, butter, pepper, and other spices into your cooking dish. For baked roast crab legs this will be a large size roasting pan, for stovetop, a deep cooking pot. Put the pan on the bottom rack in the oven, or over a medium flame for the stovetop. Stir periodically as the dish cooks for 8-10 minutes. The onions and garlic should be a toasty brown. Next, add in your crab and incorporate it well. Return to the flame or oven and allow it to cook for 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the flame, or oven, plate, and garnish with cilantro and a twist of fresh lemon.

How Should You Cook Frozen King Crab Legs?

The majority of crab legs you will find in the store are frozen, though you can also find fresh crab and live crab in the seafood aisle. Fresh King Crab is always preferable, but I understand it is not always available everywhere. Even when a fresh crab is on hand, I will sometimes choose frozen crab just to cut down on my preparation time. Of course, cooking fresh crab and cooking frozen crab is different. Don’t worry though, I am going to tell you the best way to cook frozen king crab legs that will make it literally impossible to tell them apart from a fresh catch.

Most, if not all frozen cab are pre-cooked once they are caught, or as soon as the fishing boat hits landfall. The main difference between fresh and frozen is that you will not have to cook the crab meat as long when using frozen King crab. You may also be wondering do you cook crab legs frozen or thawed, and they most certainly need to be thawed if you want the flavor to develop properly when you cook them. You can steam frozen crab legs over boiling water, or you can allow them to thaw in a bath of cold water.

Also, if you are wondering how long does it take to cook frozen crab legs, the answer might surprise you. Thawed crab legs can be ready to plate in as little as 5 minutes, or up to 8 minutes if they are larger in size. Frozen crab also can be store for up to a year, so you can purchase in bulk and take out any amount that you need all year long.

Delicious Steamed King Crab Legs

When I was pregnant with my most recent child, I had a mad hankering for crab legs. While most people crave easy items like pickles or ice cream, nothing less than crabs legs would work to soothe my cravings. For a while, I avoided them out of fear, but then I asked my OB/GYN can you eat crab legs when you are pregnant, and she let me know that they are a wonderful source of Omega-3’s. Of course, that let me to my next dilemma, where can I buy king crab legs near me?

Depending on where you live, you can run out to your local harbor and grab crab legs in bulk. For me, well, I’m lazy when it comes to driving anywhere so I like to order online. The pricing is great and I can even set up my deliveries to come on a regular schedule which keeps me swimming in crab legs all year long. For those times when I don’t feel like cooking, or when the family wants a treat, it is good to know where can you get all you can eat crab legs with an affordable per-person rate. Or, you can always steam them by the bucket at home.

If you are wondering how to eat king crab legs, the best way I can suggest that takes the least amount of work is by steaming. All you have to do is bring salt and water to a boil in a large pot. Make sure it is only filled a third of the way so you can fit a metal strainer or colander in the pot. Once the water is boiling, toss your crab legs in, cover with a lid, and let them steam for about ten minutes. You can tell they are cooked when they give off that delicious nutty cooked crab aroma.

As tempting as it may be to sit and eat an entire bucket of crab legs on its own, it might be helpful if I also tell you what to serve with crab legs for dinner. There are a few options, but one of the easiest is pairing crab legs with freshly steamed seasonal vegetables. You can make a garlic and herb seafood sauce to drizzle over your vegetables and your crab legs to bring the meal together. I am the type that needs a bit of starch with my meal so I love to add hush puppies as a side for most of my crab leg meals. Pasta or quinoa are also options for those looking for a healthier pairing for their crab leg dinner. 

Everything You Need To Know About Crab To Make A Perfect Meal

While I am not the foremost authority on crab, I like to call myself knowledgeable about many of the ins and outs of cooking the little sea creatures. During my kitchen adventures, I have come across literal boatloads of information that I think will be helpful if you are just starting out. For example, there are several different types of crab, and while all delicious, they each have their own unique flavor profile. There are literally thousands of different crabs across the 850 species crustacean. Don’t let that overwhelm you, even with that large variety, not all are edible, and there are only seven main types of crab that are hunted for food.

Blue Crab is the most common in the USA and has a noticeable blue exterior that turns red when it is cooked. And in case you are wondering what parts of a crab can you eat, the entire crab with exception of the eyes, gills, and shell are edible.

Dungeness Crab is one most often found in Alaska but can be caught all the way across to Baja, Mexico. Its color ranges from brown to purple and only male crabs are commercial legal to eat. The meat is a light pink color and has a sweet flavor profile. You will see many of my meals call for this crab, which makes you think 1 lb of crab legs how much meat exactly.  A crab that weighs 2 lbs will produce about ½ pound of meat from its whole body. 1lb of crab legs alone will be about 3 ounces without the shell.

Horseshoe Crab has a unique look that is the source of its name. It has been around for at least 500 million years and is found along the Atlantic coast all the way to India. This crab is still eaten, although it is considered a living fossil. Since they only have five legs, they are a bit different than other of their kind. I often asked myself how many crab legs are in a pound of a horseshoe crab, and due to their cost, very few people find out lol! You can only catch five at a time by hand accord to the law, so the legs are not sold by the pound.

King Crab is one of the most well-loved crabs of all. They can reach as large as 25 pounds in the wild. Like many crabs, only the males can be sold for consumption to help maintain the population. They have a bright red exterior with a snow-white interior. The meat has a delicate flavor, and while you are thinking how much is a pound of crab legs from the King Crab, keep in mind the price depends on the weight. Typically, there are six to eight legs in a pound for medium to large crabs.

Peekytoe Crab is found mostly in Maine and is a local favorite but not widely consumed outside of the metro area. Rock Crab is also called Snow Crab and found up and down the East coast in deep water. The legs of this crab look like a spider and hold very little meat, yet they have a supple earthy flavored from the deep waters they reside in.

Stone Crab is one of the best for its meat. The majority are farmed from Florida in a very unique manner. Unlike other crabs, only Stone crab claws are eaten. The claws of the stone crab will grow back over a period of 18 months, so when they are caught, one claw is removed and the critter is released back into the wild. Only one claw is taken so the crab can still defend itself. You may be wondering how these claws stay fresh if they are removed from the live animal. As soon as they are removed, they are either boiled for 7 minutes, or they are immediately flash-frozen to get rid of the iodine taste in the meat. One question I often get is how to tell if crab meat is bad.  If the meat smells like anything other than crab, it is spoiled. If the meat is shiny or discolored, it is also no longer safe to eat. 

How To Make Amazing Old Bay Boiled King Crab Legs

Boiling is the easiest way to make King crab, but that doesn’t mean that it will be lacking in flavor. My husband shared a quick Old Bay King Crab recipe with me the other day when I asked him how long do I boil king crab legs. Surprisingly, crab legs only take about six to ten minutes to be fully cooked when they are boiled before you can eat them. Much quicker and healthier than tossing a burger on the grill for sure.

Now that I knew how easy it was, I also asked about the best place to buy crab legs near me since my online crab leg delivery would not arrive until the following week. We went out to our local fish market to check out their offerings, and to see the difference in online and in-store king crab legs price. Online, you can find Alaskan crab legs for as little as $30 a pound, but in-store the average starting price will be around $39. Where you live also plays a part in the cost, the closer you are to the source, the cheaper crab legs will be. While we were there I also decided to grab some crab cracker tools to go with the crabs we would be buying that day. Anyhow, once we got home, I was ready to dive into the Old Bay boiled crab leg recipe my husband shared with me.


  •         3 pounds of frozen or fresh crab legs
  •         1 6-ounce box of Old Bay
  •         2 fresh lemons
  •         1 stick of unsalted butter

Cooking Old Bay Boiled King Crab Legs

To start, place the crab legs at the bottom of a deep well stockpot. Next, cover the crab legs with four quarts of water. Add in your Old Bay seasoning, and also the juice from the lemons, be sure to toss in the peels after removing the juice as well. Over a high flame brings the water to a boil, then cover and reduce to a medium flame. Cover, and cook for 5 minutes if you are using frozen crab legs, and 10 minutes if you are using fresh crab legs. Remove from the fire, drain and serve in a large bowl. I uploaded the perfect seafood garlic sauce recipe to pair with these crab legs that you can find (here).

If you are anything like me, your love of crab legs may lead you to cook more than you need. If you are curious if can you freeze crab meat, the simple answer is yes. In fact, a lot of crab meat that is sold online has been frozen upon catch or once it reached landfall. Just make sure to always thaw your crab in cold water instead of hot water to avoid overcooking the meat.

Take A Break From The Ordinary With Grilled King Crab Legs

Now that I have shared with you how to cook crab claws in the oven, by boiling, and by steam, it is time to tell you how to cook king crab legs on grill. This is usually how I will entertain the kids in the summer. Sometimes, we will even gather up our friends for the weekend and make a whole party around the grill. We have been tossing steaks on the grill for years, especially around Labor Day and Independence Day. On a whim while I was putting a batch of crab in the oven I asked my husband can you cook crab legs on the grill, and he told me that he most certainly could!

Grilling crab legs makes eating outside fun and helps keep your house from smelling like a fishing boat. For plain grilled crab legs, you will need to coat them liberally with olive oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill itself. Don’t worry about how long does it take to cook crab, five minutes on each side on a grill that is at 300 degrees is enough to cook it completely. You can serve the crab with your favorite hollandaise, garlic butter sauce, or even tangy tomato sauce. Toss on a batch of steak fries and you have yourself a full-flavored meal.

king crab

King Crab Leg Tidbits to Remember

There is a lot to know about king crab legs other than how to eat them. Everyone loves a bit of random knowledge so let me give you some nuggets to take home with you. Personally, I have always wondered how much do crab fisherman make considering how costly crab legs can be. A fishing boat captain can make $200k a year, and the crew often earns around $50k per crabbing season. The fact that a crabbing season is only three months a year makes me almost want to change professions!

The top questions that pop up in my message box are what to cook with crab and what goes with crab legs. Everyone in my house has different tastes, so I have spent a lot of time experimenting and have come up with several options that pair well with the hard-shelled dish. Some of my favorites are:

  •         Garlic and butter over steamed artichokes
  •         Block chopped avocado with a dash of lemon
  •         Cottage cut french fries with a crispy seaweed crumble
  •         Roasted Brussel sprouts a with a cucumber salad on the side
  •         Brandy infused hollandaise
  •         Onion, tomato, and bell pepper lightly roasted in olive oil
  •         cucumber, algae (seaweed) bell pepper, and tomato
  •         Almond Caesar salad

Another common question I get is what is the difference between crab legs and crab claws, and of course, what is the best way to cook crab claws. The difference depends on the type of crab, but for some species, the claws have more meat than the legs, in others, the claws have almost no meat and the legs are where the party is at. I mentioned above one type of crab where only the claws are consumed, and the best way to cook these delicious digits is by steaming them. And yes, since they come frozen 95% of the time, you no longer have to think if you can you cook crab legs frozen or not.


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