How to Cook King Crab Legs

Four Methods:

King crab, or stone crab, is a type of shellfish with extremely long legs. They are usually cooked after they are caught and frozen to preserve freshness. The tender white meat is cooked for only a few minutes and served with butter. You can learn how to cook king crab legs by steaming, baking, boiling or grilling.


Steaming King Crab Legs

  1. Place the king crab legs in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.Leave them there for 24 hours, if you have a large batch to defrost.
  2. Fill a large stock pot with water.Cover it. Set it to boil on your stove.
    • Make sure you have a cover and steamer insert for this method of cooking.
    • Consider beer steaming your crab legs. Pour a ratio of one part beer to one part water in your steamer.
  3. Cut two lemons into slices and place them in the water.
  4. Cut two cloves of garlic in half horizontally.Place them in the water.
  5. Remove the lid and place the steamer basket inside once it is boiling.
  6. Use kitchen shears to cut king crab legs at the joints.Place them in the steamer basket.
  7. Cover the stockpot and basket.Set your timer for 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the cooked crab after 5 minutes.Do additional batches as needed.
  9. Serve with melted butter.You should cut the crab shells vertically or serve the legs with a crab cracker.

Baking King Crab Legs

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
  2. Grab a large cooking sheet.Cover it with aluminum foil.
  3. Cut the crab legs at the joint with kitchen shears.Place them atop the lined baking sheet.
  4. Boil some water in the microwave or in a kettle.Pour 1/2 cup (118ml) of water into the baking sheet. The water should cover the bottom of the pan.
    • Cooking shellfish with some steam or water will keep it from getting dry and rubbery.
  5. Sprinkle the surface of the legs with herbs, such as garlic or dill.
  6. Squeeze lemon wedges over the legs.Place extra lemon wedges in the pan.
  7. Cover the crab legs with a layer of aluminum foil.Seal it as tightly as possible.
  8. Place the baking sheet in the oven.Cook for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove the pan.Crack a leg to see if it is hot in the middle. If so, serve with melted butter and crab crackers immediately.

Grilling King Crab Legs

  1. Cut your defrosted king crab legs so that they will fit onto your grill.Make sure to cut them at the joints.
  2. Preheat your grill on low.You only want it to get to a temperature of about 325 degrees Fahrenheit (162 degrees Celsius).
  3. Brush the surface of the crab legs with oil.
  4. Set the crab legs on the surface of the grill.Close the top. Let them grill for 5 minutes.
  5. Flip over the crab legs.Remove after 5 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately with melted butter and lemon wedges.

Boiling King Crab Legs

  1. Fill a large stockpot with water.Set it to boil on your stove with the lid on.
  2. Reduce the temperature to set at a simmer.Insert the king crab legs into the boiling water. Cover the pot.
  3. Set your timer for 5 to 7 minutes.Remove with tongs and drain. Serve with melted butter and lemon wedges.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Do I defrost the crab before boiling it?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    For best results, you should definitely defrost the crab before boiling in order to maintain the crab's meat texture.
  • Question
    Can king crab be steamed in an electric roaster?
    Top Answerer
    If your roaster allows for liquids, then yes. You can steam crab in any heated container that will bring water at least to a simmer.
  • Question
    How do I reheat crab legs that have previously been steamed?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Just microwave them until your desired temperature is reached .
  • Question
    Can king crab legs be defrosted in the microwave?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Yes, but it is much easier to just boil them from frozen. When you do, use salt in the water, because if you don't, it will pull a lot of flavor out of the crabmeat.
  • Question
    How do I prepare king crab legs that have been split and frozen?
    Top Answerer
    The same as you would unsplit, though you might not need as much time to heat them up.
  • Question
    Can I cook them frozen?
    Top Answerer
    King crab legs are precooked at the site of capture. Since all you're really doing is reheating them, the answer is yes, you can reheat them from frozen. Just add a few minutes to the time whether you steam, boil, grill or bake.
  • Question
    Do I put the crab legs into the pot after they're thawed?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You should use a steamer basket, if possible; but yes, once thawed and the water in the pot is boiling, into the pot they go.
  • Question
    How do I cook shelled Alaska king crab legs?
    Top Answerer
    If the meat is already out of the shell, you can do several things with it. Make crab cakes. Sauté them in butter and a little garlic. Make a gratin. Make crab dumplings.
  • Question
    How long should I microwave crab legs for?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It is not recommended to microwave them, as they will get very hard and may not be edible afterwards.
  • Question
    For grilling Alaska king crab, do I flip the legs and cook for 5 more minutes (for a total of 10 minutes)?
    Top Answerer
    Yes. You're reheating already-cooked crab, so 10 minutes should be enough time to heat through.
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Quick Summary

Before cooking king crab legs on the grill, preheat the grill on low. Then, cut the legs at the joints to make sure they fit on the grill and brush the legs with oil. Once the grill is heated, set the legs on the surface of the grill and cook them for 5 minutes on each side before serving them with melted butter and lemon wedges. Alternatively, boil crab legs by filling a large pot with water and bringing it to a boil. Once it boils, add the crab legs, reduce heat to keep the water simmering and cook the legs for 5 to 7 minutes before removing with tongs, and serving with butter and lemon.

Did this summary help you?
  • Always defrost the king crab legs fully before cooking them.
  • Since king crab is already cooked, the aim of any cooking method is to heat up the flesh evenly. Test a leg when your timer goes off to avoid overcooking it.
  • You can also dip the king crab legs in melted butter to give them more flavor.

Things You'll Need

  • King crab legs
  • Butter
  • Lemon wedges
  • Stockpot
  • Water
  • Steamer basket
  • Herbs
  • Cooking sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Marinade brush
  • Grill
  • Crab crackers
  • Tongs
  • Kitchen shears
  • Beer (optional)
  • Garlic

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