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Roasted Alaskan Snow Crab Recipe

February 11, 2020

Roasted Snow Crab

Snow Crab Grill

Rich, flavorful Alaskan snow crab legs, fresh from the shell. Is there anything better? There are many great boiled and steamed snow crab legs recipes, but these aren't your only option. Especially if you have the chance to enjoy a nice cookout with chilled beer and good company. Snow crab is great on the grill, and most baked snow crab legs recipes can be adapted to suit your next summer cookout. This Grilled Chipotle Lime Alaskan Snow Crab Legs Recipe is a win-win, balancing the rich flavor of grilled crab and the smoky tease of Latin American cuisine. Here's the story and the recipe to make it yourself.

Summer Cookout

It's the middle of summer and there's almost no breeze from the sound. No air conditioning, you never need it, until days like this. The heat wave has been going on for two weeks. They say there's another week of it. But all the same, things are good. Really good.

The team just closed another new deal. Everyone's happy and we're having a little get-together to celebrate this weekend. It will be at my new place and I'm looking forward to a backyard cookout. But I'm not sure how it will go. Some VIPs are coming in from out of town. So it will have to be something special.

Last year we had a nice catered party, rented out the best patio downtown and everyone had their fill of Crab Louie. It was a hit with everyone. I'm wondering how I can impress the guests this time.

A crab cookout would be fantastic. I just know they'd love it. The only thing? Figuring out how to pull it off. I throw out an idea at work. Alaskan snow crab legs. Is there anything better? It's the Tuesday morning team standup. Can you do a cookout with crab? they ask. Why not? I've got a great group recipe idea, I explain. Perfect for a hot day. There'll be a lot of people, says my boss. Yeah, that's the trick, I admit. I'll have to shop around and figure out where to buy snow crab for that many people. My boss smiles. Well, I'd love for you to do it if you can pull it off, he says.

Where to Buy Snow Crab?

After work, I'm on the hunt. I've got to find a snow crab legs sale near me. But it's no easy task. The nearest supermarket doesn't even have as many snow crab claws for sale in the display case as I need this for weekend. I notice they also don't have the best looking looking Alaskan snow crab clusters and I have no idea how long this stock has been sitting on the shelves. I decide to keep looking.

I head to the best seafood market in town. I'm still looking for crab, but I'm starting to rethink my idea for snow crab. There are a lot of varieties here. First, I notice the king crab. If you're comparing Alaskan king crab vs snow crab, the king crab would definitely win in a fight. These crab have thick spiky legs, with each leg weight in at almost a pound. Alaska snow crab legs are more slender and don't have spikes. But bigger isn't always better.

The advantage of snow crab is that the legs are sold as a cluster of a claw, four walking legs and a portion of the body meat. Each of these clusters can weigh almost a pound. And the snow crab cluster meat is just perfect for the marinade and grill recipe I'm thinking of doing. So I think I am going to go with snow crab for the cookout after all. But then I notice something strange. I'm looking at snow crab in the display case, but this seafood market has a different name on the sign I've never heard of.

What's the difference between Bairdi crab vs snow crab, I ask the guy at the counter. He smiles. Bairdi crab is the best variety of Alaskan snow crab legs you can buy, he says, and he tells me all about them. Bairdi crabs are found only in the Bering and Chukchi Seas between Alaska and Russia, where they live 600 feet below the surface. These snow crab are caught during the coldest winter months, with the average catch weighing in at 2–4 lbs. Between Bairdi crab vs snow crab, the Bairdi is also the best tasting snow crab, he adds.

I'm sold on the idea of Bairdi snow crab for our cookout, but it's already the end of the day and I mention it looks like he must have sold a lot of Bairdi crab today. The seafood market doesn't have as much crab as I'd like to buy. To my surprise, he asks if I've checked for snow crab claws for sale online.

Order Snow Crab Legs Online?

You can order snow crab legs online? I ask amazed. He laughs. Yes, they cook the crab at sea and flash freeze them, and then they just ship the order overnight to your door in a special temperature-controlled dry ice packaging. This is news to me, so I head home to look up where to buy snow crab online. 

A quick internet search later, and I'm wowed by the selection of fresh seafood available on the internet. It's true what they say, even if your local market has snow crab legs, it may not have the best selection or price. Looking online, it looks like I'll be able to find not only plenty of the Bairdi crab I want but also a really good price for snow crab legs for the cookout.

I find a great seafood website, which offers high-quality Bairdi snow crab, and has sustainable fishing practices, fast shipping and even a money-back guarantee. Plus, they have plenty of fresh crab. I'm sold. With a few clicks, I've bought two whole boxes of Alaskan snow crab clusters and I turn in for the night.

The next morning at work, I get an email order confirmation for my crab, just as my boss is walking by. Crab will be here tomorrow, I say. Tomorrow? Yup, ordered it online and they're shipping it overnight. You really can buy anything online, he says.

Thursday afternoon, I head home early. Before I know it, the delivery guy is at my door with two boxes of fresh Alaskan snow crab legs, right on schedule. The crab is very well packaged and ice cold, even with the heat wave. Now everything is nearly set for Saturday's cookout.


How Long Does It Take to Cook Snow Crab Legs?

The big day is finally here and the guests are starting to arrive. How long does it take to cook snow crab legs, asks my brother standing at the grill. I've talked him into helping out with the cookout. Not very long at all, I tell him. About 4–5 minutes, per side, for each snow crab cluster.

Some people wonder how to cook frozen snow crab, thinking it must be difficult. But it's not very hard, because the crab is already cooked. As soon as it's caught, it's cooked in sea salt and then blast frozen, often right on the boat.

This is the best way to lock in all the taste and the sweet snow crab flavor. Plus it makes sense for food safety, since fast cooking inactivates any harmful enzymes. So when you're cooking snow crab legs at home, you're really just warming them up to serve.

Snow Crab Legs Cooking Times — Frozen and Thawed

  • Boiled: From frozen 8–9 minutes, thawed 4–5 minutes
  • Steamed: From frozen 10–12 minutes, thawed 5–6 minutes
  • Baked (375ºF): From frozen 20–25 minutes, thawed 5–7 minutes
  • Roasted (400ºF): From frozen 18–20 minutes, thawed 4–6 minutes
  • Grilled: From frozen 9–12 minutes, thawed 8–10 minutes

Well, I know how to cook snow crab legs in ovens, my brother reminds me. We've already made this summery chipotle lime recipe last summer, but that time we made it by roasting the snow crab in the oven. Of course, there are many tasty ways to prepare crab. Roasting the crab releases wonderful flavors from the shell of the snow crab into the meat and I know the grill add even more flavor to that delicate snow-white crab meat, especially with this special Lime Chipotle Alaskan Snow Crab Legs recipe.

Lime Chipotle Alaskan Snow Crab Legs Recipe

This spicy snow crab recipe is great for a party on a hot summer day. Since the crab will be marinated there's no need to thaw the Alaskan snow crab clusters before you begin. The recipe that follows serves 4–6, but can be doubled or tripled for a larger party.


Lime Chipotle Vinaigrette:

  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
  • Zest and juice from 5 limes (1/2 cup fresh lime juice)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 Cup honey or agave nectar
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons chipotle puree*
  • 1 Cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2-1/2 Cups canola or olive oil

*For the chipotle puree, look for canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the Mexican foods department of your supermarket. These small cans of smoked jalapeños are packed with flavor. If you have leftover peppers, they'll keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.


For the Vinaigrette:

1. In a blender or food processor, combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients except for the oil.

2. Blend until smooth and then slowly drizzle in the oil to complete the vinaigrette.

For the Crab:

1. Rinse the Alaskan snow crab clusters with cold water to remove any ice glaze, then pat dry with paper towels.

2. Marinate the crab clusters in the vinaigrette with the chopped cilantro for 20 minutes in order to allow the flavor into shells.

If Roasting the Oven:

3. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

4. Place the crab clusters on a sheet tray and roast for 10 minutes, turning and basting every 4 minutes.

If Cooking on the Grill:

3. Heat the grill to 300ºF.

4. Place the crab clusters about 4–6 inches from the hot coals. Turn them so that the meatiest parts of the cluster and legs are closer to the heat and the the smaller tips of the legs are a little further away. Grill for 4–5 minutes on one side. Then turn, and grill the other side another 4–5 minutes.

Lime Chipotle Snow Crab Legs Nutritional Values:

Nutrients Per Serving:

Calories: 637, 25% calories from fat

Fat: 17.5g total, 1.5g saturated fat

Cholesterol: 322mg

Protein: 108g

Carbohydrate: 4g

Fiber: 0.5g

Sodium: 3138mg

Calcium: 154mg

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 3210mg 

Serves: 4–6

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 8–10 minutes

Original Recipe: Chef Erik Slater

Great Food, Great Party

One of the VIPs has been talking with my brother at the grill and walks over. Is this your party, she ask. It sure is, I answer. It's great food, and a great party. I've never had grilled crab before, but I love it. I think it's the best way to eat snow crab, I answer. How many calories in snow crab legs? she asks. Oh, they're very good for you, I tell her, remembering the details I've learned this week from the web. Snow crab leg nutrition includes protein, omega-3, and selenium. They're under 200 calories a serving usually, but with the marinade these are a little more hearty. That's good, I love this summery recipe, she says smiling.

The grilled crab is a hit with the whole group. Everyone tells me they love grilled crab now. It seems that grilling helps give the snow crab a more meaty texture and the top joint of the cluster has an even more flavorful taste than normal. Plus the grill seems to keep the crab warm longer thanks to the direct heating of the shells.

I have to show a few people how to eat snow crab and how to crack snow crab legs shells, since they have never had crab in the shell before. I don't have enough seafood cracker tools for everyone. So my brother, the chef, improvises and gives each claw a good solid tap with a meat tenderizer hammer before plating the crab out to our guests.

For a special treat, I hold back a couple pounds of the snow crab to make a chilled Crab Louie appetizer the day before. Just like the main course, it's got a slight citrus kick to it, thanks to a tangy chili sauce and twist of lemon. For the sides we have grilled corn on the cob and grilled vegetable skewers with peppers, onions. Everyone is enjoying the great food, great conversation, and chilled beer. A nice breeze has just started to drift in off the sound. 

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