How To Prepare, Serve & Eat Crab Legs

These are quite the treat and they’re so easy to make too! You’ll likely be purchasing them frozen (and pre-cooked) so keep in mind that all you need to do is thaw then heat in your preferred method.

Melted ButterI have four different ways to make them below (Broiled, Baked, Boiled, Steamed) along with a few tips to help you get started (including a quick tip for microwaving).

These directions will apply to both Alaskan King Crab and Snow Crab legs (heating times will depend on their size).

First, here’s how to prep them…

  • For best results, thaw first if frozen.
  • Soak them in cold water for about 5 minutes, drain & rinse; Repeat soak and rinse process one more time.

Baked or Broiled:

*For each pound you’re making, you’ll need approximately 2 tablespoons of melted butter (unsalted) and 2/3 tablespoon lemon juice

  • To Broil: Set oven rack about 5″ below top element and preheat oven to broil. To Bake: Preheat oven to 350°F, with the oven rack set in the middle.
  • After soaking and rinsing them, pat them dry then split them each from end to end by cutting through the shell with a sharp pair of scissors (cut them on the underside). You can also use a sharp knife to slice them open while they are still frozen.
  • Arrange them on a roasting or baking pan in a single layer (with the cut side facing up) and brush with the lemon juice & butter mixture. Sprinkle with paprika if you wish.
  • How long? Broiling: approximately 3 to 4 minutes; Baking: approximately 8 minutes.


*Per 3 to 4 quarts of water: Add approximately 3 tablespoons vinegar or 1 lemon cut in wedges + 2 tablespoons vinegar

  • Bring water to a boil, add vinegar (and lemon if using) then drop them in. Once the water begins to boil again, reduce the heat a bit (about medium-high).
  • Cook until done (from 5 to 8 minutes depending on size).
  • Remove them from water, shake each and drain well then pat with paper towels to remove excess water. Serve and enjoy!


  • Bring water to a boil then add the pieces to steamer basket and cover.
  • Wait for water to begin boiling again then steam for approximately 5 minutes (depending on size). Remove from heat & serve.

A few tips:

  • How many to make? One pound per person should do the trick.
  • You can first brush them with olive oil instead of butter if you prefer (when broiling or baking in the oven).
  • Try adding a bit of minced garlic to melted butter for dipping, yum!
  • How to tell if they’ve been pre-cooked? They are usually frozen when buying, if the shells are red you’ll know they have been.
  • Keep in mind that overcooking will affect both the flavor and the texture (for instance they’ll be mushy if boiled too long), as soon as they’re heated through they’re ready to eat.
  • Did you know: once thawed you can eat them cold (if pre-cooked).
  • Can you microwave them? Sure! But in my opinion the results aren’t as delicious as the methods above. If you want to try microwaving, wrap them in damp paper towel then heat for 2 minutes. Check and if they’re not quite done, heat in 30 second intervals.
  • You can serve them with melted butter, but clarified butter is especially nice. See this page for directions.

Not sure how to eat them or get at the succulent meat trapped inside the shell? It couldn’t be easier to do! You can use pliers, a fork (stab an end with one tine then run it up the leg to split), a sharp knife, lobster crackers or even a nutcracker. Pull out the meat and dig out any chunks of white flesh clinging in the joints. Dip meat in melted butter or your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

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