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Cooking Live King Crab: A Culinary Adventure

January 02, 2024

Introduction to King Crab

King Crab, known for its sweet, tender meat and impressive size, is a prized catch from the cold waters of the Alaskan coast. Cooking live King Crab might seem daunting, but with the right techniques, it can be a rewarding culinary experience.

Selecting and Storing Live King Crab

When selecting live King Crab, look for active, lively crabs with a fresh ocean smell. Store them in a cold environment, ideally in the refrigerator, covered with a damp cloth until you're ready to cook.

Preparing the King Crab for Cooking

Before cooking, it's important to humanely euthanize the crab. The most accepted method is to place the crab in a freezer for about 15-20 minutes. This process puts the crab into a dormant state, making it humane and safe for handling.

Boiling Live King Crab

Boiling is a classic and straightforward method of cooking King Crab.


  • 1 live King Crab
  • Large pot of water
  • Salt (1 cup per gallon of water)
  • Optional seasonings: bay leaves, lemon wedges, garlic cloves


  1. Fill a large pot with enough water to fully submerge the crab. Add salt and optional seasonings.
  2. Bring the water to a rolling boil.
  3. Gently place the crab into the boiling water and cover the pot.
  4. Cook for about 18-20 minutes.
  5. Remove the crab and place it into ice water to stop the cooking process.
  6. Once cooled, clean and crack the crab to access the meat.

Steaming Live King Crab

Steaming preserves the crab's natural flavors and is a healthier option.


  • 1 live King Crab
  • Steaming basket
  • Large pot with lid
  • Water
  • Lemon wedges and melted butter for serving


  1. Fill the pot with about 2 inches of water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Place the crab in the steaming basket and then into the pot.
  3. Cover and steam for about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the crab and serve with lemon wedges and melted butter.

Grilling Live King Crab

Grilling adds a smoky flavor to the crab.


  • 1 live King Crab
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon wedges
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Split the crab down the middle and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the crab on the grill, shell side down, and grill for about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Serve with lemon wedges.

Baking Live King Crab

Baking is a fuss-free method that results in tender, flavorful meat.


  • 1 live King Crab
  • Melted butter
  • Lemon wedges
  • Fresh herbs (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Place the crab in a baking dish and brush with melted butter. Add herbs if desired.
  3. Bake for about 25 minutes.
  4. Serve with lemon wedges.

Pairing and Serving Suggestions

King Crab meat pairs well with a variety of sides such as steamed vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes, or a simple salad. It also goes well with white wines like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.


Cooking live King Crab is an adventure that rewards you with a luxurious and delicious meal. Each method brings out different aspects of the crab's flavor, so feel free to experiment and find your favorite.


  • How do I know when the King Crab is fully cooked? The shell will turn bright red, and the meat will be opaque when it's fully cooked.

  • Can I cook King Crab in advance? Yes, you can cook King Crab and store it in the refrigerator for up to two days before serving.

  • Is it necessary to clean the crab before cooking? It's not necessary, as the crab will be cleaned after cooking when you remove the shell and access the meat.

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