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How Long to Boil Crab Legs

Crab legs are perfect for a date night entree or perhaps even a dinner party, but maybe you feel a little intimidated about cooking them. Let’s face it –  overcooked seafood is never appealing! However, these handy tips will help you learn how to boil crab legs to perfection.

Crab Legs Photo

Why boiled crab legs taste so good!

As opposed to steaming or grilling crab legs, boiling them allows the water to permeate into the shells. This keeps the meat moist and succulent.

Boiling crab legs is also convenient, as it tends to warm them through quite quickly.

How to boil crab legs

Generally, most crab legs are pre-cooked when you buy them frozen, unless you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some fresh ones. Buying them pre-cooked means that you simply need to warm them in boiling water. You don’t even need to do a whole lot with crab legs to serve a fancy meal, as they are perfect with drawn butter. 

Crab Legs Picture

Before boiling your crab legs, ensure they are thoroughly thawed. The best way to do this is to put them in the fridge the night before you plan to use them. Alternatively, you can put them in a strainer and place them under cold running water until thawed. 

Once the crab legs are ready to boil…

1. Use a large pot and fill roughly half-way to two-thirds full with water. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and bring to the boil.

2. Once the water is boiling, add 4-8 oz of crab legs, bending them slightly so they fit into the pot and are covered by the water. Allow the water to come back to the boil. 

3. Once the water is boiling again, allow the crab legs to cook, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes. Turn the crab legs with tongs halfway through the cooking time to ensure they heat evenly and thoroughly. 

4. Remove the crab legs from the water, then rinse and drain. Cool before handling.

Crab Legs Image

Extracting the meat from cooked crab legs

The real challenge of eating crab legs is removing the meat!

As you twist the crab legs at the joints, you should be able to pull the meat away from the shell; we recommend holding the legs in a dishcloth as you handle them as some parts of the shell can be sharp.

Alternatively, you can use kitchen shears to split the legs and help dig out any chunks of meat that don’t come out with ease.

Crab Legs Pic

If you haven’t used kitchen shears to split the legs, you should provide your guests with seafood forks and shears to help them remove the meat. 

Serve your boiled crab legs with drawn (or clarified) butter. Don’t forget to have lots of napkins at the ready as they can be quite messy to eat… but so delicious! 

More ideas with crab

Avocado Crab Mango Salad

Crispy Crab Cakes with Avocado Salsa

Tex Mex Crab Cakes