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How To Cook Blue Crabs (10 Easy Steps)

How To Cook Blue Crabs

Dive into the flavorful world of seafood as we guide you on how to cook blue crabs. With their rich, sweet meat and distinct taste, blue crabs are a treat that shouldn’t be missed. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice, follow our comprehensive guide to whip up a seafood delicacy that will impress everyone at the table.

Required Materials: How To Cook Blue Crabs

  • Fresh blue crabs (as many as needed)
  • Large pot or steamer with lid
  • Water or beer for boiling/steaming
  • 2 cups of sea salt
  • Optional: Crab seasoning (like Old Bay)
  • Tongs
  • Ice
  • A bucket or basin
  • A sharp knife
  • Vinegar (optional)

How To Cook Blue Crabs

Blue crabs are a treasured culinary delight, especially in regions surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. Their sweet, succulent meat is a favorite among seafood enthusiasts. Here’s your step-by-step guide to cooking blue crabs to perfection.

1. Selecting Your Blue Crabs

Freshness is Key: Always opt for live blue crabs. Look for those that are lively and move around in the container. Avoid crabs that aren’t moving or have a foul odor.

How To Cook Blue Crabs

2. Preparing Your Workspace

Clean Workspace: Make sure your kitchen counter and sink are clean. Have a large pot, a long pair of tongs, and an ice chest or large bowl handy.

3. The Quick Chill

Before cooking, it’s humane to “numb” the crabs, making them dormant. Place the live crabs in an ice chest or a large bowl filled with ice for about 20 minutes.

4. Prepping the Cooking Pot

Fill and Season: Fill a large pot with water – about 2/3 full. Add in the seasoning of your choice. Classic choices include Old Bay, salt, vinegar, and even a can of beer.

5. Bringing to a Boil

Place your pot on the stove and turn the heat to high. Wait until the water reaches a rolling boil.

6. Adding the Blue Crabs

Once the water is boiling, carefully use tongs to pick up each crab and place it in the pot. Ensure they’re fully submerged.

7. Cooking Time

Watch the Clock: Blue crabs typically take about 10-20 minutes to cook, depending on their size. Once their shell turns from a blue/green to a bright orange/red, they’re done!

8. Removing and Cooling

Safety First: Once cooked, turn off the stove. Carefully pour out the boiling water and remove the crabs using tongs. Place them in a colander and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process.

9. Cleaning the Crab

  • Lift the Apron: On the crab’s underside, there’s a triangular flap called the apron. Lift and remove it.
  • Open the Shell: Insert a thumb or finger under the shell, near the back, and pry it open. Remove and discard the shell.
  • Remove the Gills: You’ll see feathery gills on either side of the crab. They’re not edible – pull them off.
  • Scrape Out the “Mustard”: Some people relish the yellow “mustard” (it’s the crab’s hepatopancreas), but if you prefer, scrape it out.

10. Serving and Enjoying

Now that your blue crabs are cooked and cleaned, serve them on a platter. Traditional accompaniments include corn on the cob, coleslaw, and of course, melted butter for dipping.

Cooking blue crabs might seem intimidating at first, but with the right steps, it’s a straightforward process. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or new to the kitchen, this guide provides the knowledge you need to cook blue crabs to perfection. Embrace the challenge, enjoy the process, and savor the delicious results!


What is the best way to cook blue crab?

The best way to cook blue crabs is to first ensure they are fresh and alive. Then, you can choose between boiling or steaming, based on your preference. Both methods are effective and deliver a delectable result. Simply season your water with ingredients like salt, Old Bay, vinegar, and even a touch of beer. Once your water is boiling or steaming, add the crabs and cook until their shell color turns from blue or green to a bright orange or red.

Do you have to clean blue crabs before cooking?

While it’s common for many to cook blue crabs whole and then clean them post-cooking, some people prefer to clean them before. Cleaning prior to cooking can reduce the “mustard” or yellow hepatopancreas in the final dish. However, cleaning post-cooking allows for a more flavorful crab broth and is considered the traditional method.

Should blue crabs be steamed or boiled?

Both steaming and boiling are popular methods, and the choice often comes down to personal preference. Steaming is believed to retain the crab’s natural flavors better and results in less waterlogged meat. Boiling, on the other hand, allows you to infuse the crab with flavors from seasonings in the boiling water. If you’re after a juicier texture, boiling might be the way to go. If you prefer your crab meat slightly drier and packed with its natural taste, steaming is ideal.

How do you prepare fresh blue crab?

To prepare fresh blue crab:
– Ensure they’re alive and fresh.
– Numb them by placing them in an ice chest or a large bowl filled with ice for about 20 minutes.
– If you choose to clean them first, remove the apron, lift the shell, discard the gills, and scrape out the “mustard”.
– Choose your cooking method – boiling or steaming.
– Season your water, and once it’s ready, add the crabs.
– Cook until they change color, then remove, cool, and enjoy!


Knowing how to cook blue crabs can elevate your seafood dining experience. Whether you opt for boiling or steaming, the key lies in selecting fresh crabs and seasoning the water well. While cleaning can be done either before or after cooking, the traditional method is to cook them whole, retaining the rich flavors. As with many culinary endeavors, personal preferences play a large role, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find what suits your palate best. Enjoy the process and the delicious reward of perfectly cooked blue crabs!