Follow our step-by-step instructions to learn how to make crab legs like a pro!
If you’ve only had the imitation crab that fills your California sushi rolls, you’re missing out. Real crab has a rich, sweet flavor that is impossible to emulate. Once you’ve enjoyed a few crab legs dipped in some garlic butter (or added to your low country boil), you may never go back!
You’ll Need for making the crab legs:
- 8 quarts water
- 1/4 cup salt
- 2 pounds fresh or frozen cooked snow crab legs, thawed
- Melted butter and lemon wedges
- A large stockpot
- Long-handled tongs
- Kitchen shears, a seafood cracker or mallet, or a nutcracker
- A steamer basket (optional)
Boiling is one of the best ways to cook crab legs. The water gets in between the cooked meat and the shell, keeping everything moist and juicy. Since frozen crab legs have already been cooked, all you need to do is heat them through.
Step 1: Boil the Water
The most important part of this step is to locate a stock pot large enough to fit your crab legs. Most large stock pots or Dutch ovens can fit about 2 pounds of crab legs without overflowing. Once you’ve found your pot, fill it with cold tap water and add the salt. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil.
Step 2: Add the Crab Legs
Once the water is boiling, slowly lower the crab legs using long-handled tongs. Bend the crabs at the joints and tuck them in so that the hot water fully covers them. Return the water to a boil before reducing the heat to a simmer.
Method 2: Steaming Crab Legs
Steaming crab legs is very similar to boiling them. Some people say that steaming is actually better because it allows all of the crab flavor to stay within the shell instead of leaking out into the cooking water. Most steamer baskets only hold about 1 pound of crab legs, so if you’re cooking the full 2 pounds in this recipe, plan accordingly.
As with boiling crab legs, make sure you have a stock pot large enough to fit your crab legs. Place the steamer basket over 1 inch of water. Place the crabs in the steamer basket and bring the water to a boil.
Step 2: Steam for 5-7 Minutes
When the water has reached a boil, reduce the heat a simmer and cover the stockpot. Maintain a simmer as you steam the crab legs until they are heated through, 5-7 minutes. When the crab is heated, remove the legs with long-handled tongs and set them aside to cool slightly.
Method 3: Broiling Crab Legs
Broiling crab legs in the oven is a great way to infuse some good buttery flavor into the crab legs as they reheat. Thanks to the high heat of the broiler, the crab legs will also gain a little bit of caramelization using this method, adding an extra layer of flavor. Most sheet pans can only hold about 1 pound of crab legs at a time.
Step 1: Preheat the Oven
Set the oven to the “high” broiler setting. Prepare a 15x10x1-inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Place the crab legs on the prepared baking pan and brush them with 1 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter. Place the sheet pan 5 to 6 inches from the broiler and bake until the crab legs are heated through, about 3-4 minutes a side.