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King Crab Legs in the Oven

Learn how to make king crab legs in the oven! This simple recipe is the easiest way to enjoy crab legs in under 30 minutes! Baked with butter and Old Bay seasoning, the tender, succulent meat slips right out of the shell when cracked!

Learn how to make king crab legs in the oven! This simple recipe is the easiest way to enjoy crab legs in under 30 minutes! Baked with butter and Old Bay seasoning, the tender, succulent meat slips right out of the shell when cracked!

crab meat

Baked king crab legs is made all on one pan with rich, tender pieces of large crab that slip right out of the shell. It’s way easier than you think and half the work steaming crab legs require!

Baking crab legs in the shell creates a steaming effect, which helps the meat separate from shell. This process makes it super easy to crack and peel without losing all that delicious crab meat! Plus, the butter and Old Bay add even more richness to the crab meat.

Why I love this recipe

One major hassle when it comes to eating crab: all the work that comes with it! With the steaming effect of the oven, giant pieces of crab meat pulls away from the shell so perfectly.

Plus, I LOVE dipping the giant pieces of crab meat into warm, garlic butter. Definitely a must when serving crab legs!

This recipe is perfect for a large family gathering or a special occasion. You can make large batches of crab legs all at once without fooling with a steaming pot. All you need are a few simple pantry staples, like butter, Old Bay seasoning, and lemon.

crab leg cluster on aluminum foil

Ingredient notes

  • King crab: Definitely my first choice for crab legs! King crab legs are much larger than other alternatives. They provide large hunks of tender, sweet meat. Make sure you are purchasing wild caught crab legs – not farm-raised.
  • Seasonings: This recipe has a lot of cajun flare, but feel free to use another seafood seasoning if you prefer. Any cajun spice mix will work for this recipe.

Substitutions

There’s been some questions about using snow crab or other types of crab for this recipe. For this recipe, Alaskan King Crab is my recommendation, as the legs yield a much heartier meat. If you prefer snow crab, here are three different ways to cook snow crab legs.

Also, your crab legs should be fresh, not frozen. Click here for 3 ways to to cook frozen crab legs.

While cracking tools are recommended when shelling crab, you can easily use your hands and a pair of good kitchen shears to reach the meat, too.

How to Cook King Crab Legs in the Oven

As an alternative to steaming, baked crab legs are a delicious way to prepare king crab. By preparing them in the oven, you eliminate the fuss and hassle of filling a giant boiler pot, boiling the water, timing the crab, and draining that huge vat of hot water. The oven method is much easier and less of a hassle overall.

Preparation

First, I like to prepare the Old Bay and lemon butter sauce and set aside half of the mixture for dipping later.

Melting butter in sauce pan with metal wire whisk

Before you begin cooking the crab legs, give them a good rinse under cool water. You do not need to separate any of the clusters.

Cooking

Place the crab legs on top of a large baking sheet, lined with aluminum foil. Brush the butter mixture over the crab legs with a pastry brush. Feel free to add extra Old Bay seasoning here!

Next, tent another piece of foil on top of the baking sheet, securing at the left and right ends of the pan. This creates a “steaming packet” around the crab legs.

Bake in a 400F degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Make sure to let the crab legs cool off a bit before you begin cracking!

Eating Crab Legs

This is the tricky and messy part. Sometimes you just have to get in there with your hands, but a good pair of kitchen scissors and “crackers” will make the job easier.

  1. Crack the leg away from the cluster. Then, crack at the joints to work with different sections.
  2. Working one section at a time, bend the pieces back and they should snap in half to expose the meat inside. 
  3. Slide the meat out, dip in butter and enjoy!
Dipping crab meat into melted butter

Cooking Tips

If there was one piece of advice I would give you about this recipe, it would be to choose your seafood carefully. I’m big on sustainable seafood and high quality ingredients. While farm-raised crab legs are more affordable, they are damaging to the environment and lack nutrients and quality from the wild-caught seafood.

Choosing crab legs

  • Purchase wild-caught instead of farm-raised. This means the crabs were harvested from their natural environment, instead of “manufactured” from a farm and fed and pumped with who knows what to make them larger.
  • Look for harvesting locations in/around Alaska and Russia. King crab has a limited harvesting season and requires a cold water habitat, so they are most commonly found in and around the Bering Sea.

Serving Suggestions

Serve crab legs with simple side dishes, like smashed potatoes, southern cornbread, or twice baked sweet potatoes.

Crabmeat is also delicious served cold over a salad, mixed in pasta and pesto sauce, or prepared as a seafood salad.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you overcook crab legs?

Yes, cooking too long will result in tough meat with a brittle shell.

What is the difference between snow crab legs and king crab legs?

Mainly the size and harvest location. King crab requires a much colder climate than snow crab.

Tips for reheating, storing, and leftovers

Fridge

For easy storing, crack the crab and remove the remaining meat. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Reheating

  • To reheat crab legs in the shell, preheat your oven to 350F degrees, wrap the crab legs in foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. 
  • To reheat crab meat, add to a hot skillet and saute for 3 minutes or until warmed through.

More seafood recipes and tips

cooking crab legs

King Crab Legs in the Oven

Learn how to make king crab legs in the oven! This simple recipe is the easiest way to enjoy crab legs in under 30 minutes! Baked with butter and Old Bay seasoning, the tender, succulent meat slips right out of the shell when cracked!
Print Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings 3

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds king crab legs
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a baking pan with large pieces of aluminum foil. Place crab legs on top of the foil in a single layer. Set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning, the lemon juice, and garlic. Reserve half of the mixture for dipping later.
  • Using a pastry brush, brush crab legs with butter mixture. Season with to taste with additional Old Bay if desired.
  • Tent the foil by bringing together all four sides of the aluminum foil to create a “packet” around the crab legs.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. 
  • For easy handling, allow the crab legs to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with the reserved Old Bay butter mixture for dipping.

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
King Crab Legs in the Oven
Amount per Serving
Calories
302
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
23
g
35
%
Saturated Fat
 
15
g
94
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
6
g
Cholesterol
 
108
mg
36
%
Sodium
 
1129
mg
49
%
Potassium
 
253
mg
7
%
Carbohydrates
 
1
g
0
%
Fiber
 
0.2
g
1
%
Sugar
 
0.1
g
0
%
Protein
 
21
g
42
%
Calcium
 
74
mg
7
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutritional values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.
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4.06 from 72 votes (72 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating




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Ruth Danza

Wednesday 27th of December 2023

I’m sorry I don’t mean to appear stupid but I think I might you are talking about crab legs that have been cooked on the boat and then frozen right? Or are you talking about Are you talking about absolutely fresh crab legs not cooked like right from the ocean which I have absolutely no access to. Because I live in Illinois.

Anna Kate

Wednesday 27th of December 2023

Hi Ruth, No stupid questions! This recipe is for uncooked crab legs - fresh or frozen. You can purchase these from a seafood shop or butcher or as frozen from a grocery store. No boat required :)

Kem

Sunday 16th of July 2023

I wonder if you use frozen snow crab legs, and bake for 20-25 minutes? Too long

Nick

Thursday 3rd of August 2023

@Anna Kate, just made it on the bbq tonight with snow crab and it turned out awesome about 15 mins. Turned one side of the bbq off so it would not burn.

Anna Kate

Monday 17th of July 2023

Hi Kem,

This recipe has not been tested with snow crab legs or frozen crab legs, so attempt at your own risk. :) If I were to guess, I would reduce the cooking time by 10 minutes or so. Again, I haven't tested this recipe with snow crab or frozen crab so I can't say for sure. The notes in the recipe card on this post might be helpful as well.

Thanks!

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