Cooking your crab

Plucked from a crab pot, then plunked in a pot (as in cooking), and dipped in clarified butter-garlic, "Best Food" mayonnaise or kissed with lemon.  First figure on 1-2 Dungeness crabs per person (1-1/2 pounds of crab per person.  A 2 pound crab yields 8 ounces of crab meat). While the sweetness of the crab will flavor your meal, you can add a little spice, e.g. Old Bay Seasoning, Bay Leaves, peppercorns and sea salt to the boiling water (a few tablespoons of sea salt per gallon of water).  Ocean water is great as long as its clean and pure.  Bring a large pot water boiling hard and drop gently one crab at a time.  Do not overcrowd the pot- there should be about 3 inches of water over the crabs.  You need room for the boiling water to swirl. Put the pot lid back on.  When the water comes to a second hard boil, cook the crabs for 15 minutes at a gentle high boil.

Next if you wish to be humane, you’ll probably ‘hypnotize’ the crab. This is similar to what you do to a lobster. Simply hold the crab by the legs, then stroke the top of its head. It will soon fall asleep. No need for lullabies. Then slowly slip into the boiling water head first. 

At the end of cooking the crab, take the crabs out of the hot pot and put the crabs into a stream of cold water for a minute to quickly stop the cooking process. 

Another way to cook the crab is by steaming.  You may steam the crab for 20 minutes-- crab shell down.

Note.  Take advantage of their cold-blooded.  Chilling the crabs in the fridge or freezer just before use will slow their metabolism down so you can handle them easily.  This is the trick crab fisherman uses (with ice).  Also, putting the crab into boiling water or a steamer is best with the shell-side down.

Cracking Dungeness Crab

After cooking Dungeness crab, eating it straight from the shell is fun and oh-so yummy.

Cracking and Cooking Dungeness Crab

  • Twist off each leg (including the two large legs with claws) where they join the body. Break off the small pincer and discard.

  • Break the large claws in two at the dotted line, and crack with a nut cracker. Or place on a cutting board and give a light whack with a mallet or small hammer. Most Dungeness Crab connoisseurs consider this the best meat in the entire crab. You may wish to nibble as you go, dipping your crab meat in drawn butter or cocktail sauce, or squeeze on a spritz of fresh lemon juice.

  • Crack the next two joints of the largest legs with a nutcracker or mallet, and remove it's juicy, succulent meat. It's perfectly acceptable - if you're carried away with the proper amount of adventure - to suck meat out of the shell, as if using a straw. Or if you feel timid, use a nut pick or cocktail fork to remove.

  • Repeat the cracking procedure on the top two joints of rest of legs. Don't miss a single piece of flavorful meat.

  • Smaller joints of legs can be snapped with your fingers and the meat either sucked out or removed with a pick or fork.

  • Grasp the main body of crab with two hands and firmly snap in two. Place each section on a cutting board and strike with a mallet to break the small "bones" and loosen the meat. Or, the more flamboyant and independent crackers may simply use their fingers to separate and remove meat. A pick or cocktail fork comes in handy, too.

If you plan to save the now-ready crab for later, be sure to cover it and keep it refrigerated until you're ready. If you are going to keep it longer than two or three days, pack it in a moisture and vapor proof container (a glass jar is perfect). Crumple plastic wrap or lightweight foil and place in the top of the container to exclude all air. Cap the container tightly and freeze.

Other great recipes:

Andrew's Best Garlic-Butter Dip


1 butter stick - 1/2 cup fresh chopped garlic

1 cup chopped parsley - 1/2 Tbspn paparika

1/8 tspn kosher salt - 1/4 tspn ground black pepper

1/2 tspn olive oil

Melt butter gently and mix all ingredients with exception to pasrsley. Stir gently for about 3 minutes with low-medium heat and turn off heat and add parsley. Enjoy!



1# lump crabmeat - 2 egg yolks (lightly beaten)

2 heaping Tbspn  Mayonnaise - 2-4 Tbspn butter

1 tspn Worcestershire - 1/2 small onion (grated)

1 1/2 tspn dry mustard powder

1 small jalapeno (seeds removed, sliced thin)

12 Ritz crackers (crumbled) - Salt & Pepper to taste

Panko bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients, except crackers, and mix gently. Try to leave crabmeat in lumps. Cover and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Just before cooking, heat 2 Tbspns  butter in each of 2 large oven proof skillets skillets on medium high. Remove crab mixture from refrigerator, add crumbled crackers and shape into 8 patties approximately 2 1/2" in diameter, lightly coat with bread crumbs. Sauté 4 cakes each in the skillets until brown on bottom side - about 4 minutes. Turn cakes & place skillets in hot oven at 450° for about 5 minutes. Cakes should be crisp on the outside yet moist on the inside. Serve with Lemon Sauce (below)


3/4 c. dry white wine - 3/4 c. chicken broth

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice - 2 tspn cornstarch

1 tspn sugar - 2 tspn butter

In a 2-3 qt. saucepan, bring wine & broth to a boil over high heat. Reduce mixture to 3/4 cup (about 6 minutes). Mix together lemon juice, cornstarch & sugar. Slowly stir into broth mixture. Continue to stir until sauce boils. Stir in butter, keep warm until served.

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