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How to Cook Frozen Crab Legs

If you want to know how to cook frozen crab legs, you’re in the right place! Find out everything there is to know about boiling, steaming, and baking. With these techniques, you’ll have juicy and tender crab meat ready in no time! Plus, I’ll share some bonus tips on picking and prepping the best crab legs for your needs.

cooking crab legs

Cooking crab legs at home is easier than you think! When you buy crab legs from your local seafood shop, they’ve already been cooked and flash-frozen right after being caught. Essentially, all you need to do is warm them up, and they’re ready in just a few minutes!

You can enjoy crab legs with classic garlic butter dipping sauce, or use them in dishes like crab cakes and seafood lasagna. The pre-cooked nature of crab legs makes them a super versatile and easy-to-prepare seafood option.

Types of Crab Legs

Before you learn how to cook frozen crab legs, you need to know the varieties you’ll be working with. There are many types, but you’ll likely find these main three at your local market.

Dungeness Crabs

These are common for home cooking, and you may even be able to find them fresh if you live on the West Coast in the fall and winter. They’re sold in clusters of about 4-5 legs, so they’re quite affordable. They have tender, sweet, and slightly nutty meat, making them perfect for crab cakes, salads, or dips!

King Crabs

Nothing is quite like king crab legs, especially if you’re looking for a show-stopping presentation. They are a bit pricier and sold individually rather than in clusters, but their meat is sweet, tender, and lobster-like, so they’re great for a seafood feast.

Snow Crabs

Known for their sweet, savory, and slightly briny meat, snow crabs are ideal for recipes that call for shredded crab. They have much whiter meat than the king crab’s red, but they’re getting pricier due to environmental factors and decreasing populations. You will likely have more luck sourcing the other two varieties.

How to Cook Frozen Crab Legs (3 Ways)

Once you’ve sourced them, it’s time to learn how to cook frozen crab legs! No method is better than the other, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Just remember not to overcook them, or they’ll turn rubbery and tough.

Boiling Crab Legs

For optimal flavor, boil a pot of salted water. You can add aromatics, like lemon wedges or bay leaves, to infuse the crab legs with more flavor.

Gently place the crab legs in, ensuring they’re fully submerged, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 6-8 minutes. This method is ideal for evenly heating the crab and retaining moisture.

Steaming Crab Legs

Fill a pot with an inch of water, adding aromatics if desired, and place a steamer basket on top. Once boiling, add the crab legs to the basket and steam for 10 minutes.

Steaming helps to preserve the crab’s natural flavor and texture, making it a great option if you are enjoying the crab legs on their own or in a recipe where their flavor will be prominent.

Baking Crab Legs

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the crab legs in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, optionally brushing them with butter mixed with crab leg seasoning.

king crab legs

Tent the foil around the crab legs and bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on the variety and size of the legs. Baking is a great method for achieving a slightly roasted flavor and is ideal for larger quantities.

For more information and tips on baking crab, take a peek at my baked crab legs recipe.

How To Eat Crab Legs

Depending on the type, you might need a crab cracker, kitchen scissors, or just your hands. Break the leg at the joint and crack open the shell to pull out the meat.

Serve the meat with butter dipping sauce, lemon wedges, and a dash of Old Bay seasoning or crab leg seasoning for a simple yet delicious meal.

You can mix melted unsalted butter, fresh garlic, lemon juice, and salt for the dipping sauce. It’s a classic combo that pairs perfectly with seafood!

How Many Crab Legs Per Person?

If you’re planning a seafood feast, determining the right amount of crab legs per person is essential for a satisfying meal. Use the following recommendations to help you.

Types of Crab Legs

King crab legs are the largest, with the most meat, so you’ll need fewer legs per person. Snow crab legs are typically smaller than king crab legs, offering a moderate amount of meat. And while Dungeness crabs are the smallest, they are sold in clusters that include a little body meat with the legs.

Standard Serving Size

As a general rule of thumb, you should allocate about 1-1 ½ pounds of crab legs per person. This amount is usually sufficient for an average adult. It’s important to note that one pound of crab legs yields about ½ to ⅔ pounds of actual crab meat, depending on the crab variety.

For Hearty Appetites

If you know your guests are particularly fond of seafood, or if crab legs are the main attraction of the meal, you may want to increase the portion to two pounds per person. I’d recommend opting for king crab legs in this case.

Mixed Meals (Surf and Turf)

You can reduce the portion sizes when crab legs are part of a larger menu, such as a surf and turf with steak. In these situations, a half-pound per person should be more than enough to complement the other proteins like steak or lobster.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know when my crab legs are done?

To determine if crab legs are properly heated, check for a hot interior and look for tender, opaque, and slightly flaky meat, indicating they are warmed through without being overcooked.

How long do cooked crab legs from frozen last?

Cooked crab legs from frozen will last for around 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator if stored properly in an airtight container.

What is the best way to reheat crab legs?

You can steam or boil them again for about 4-5 minutes. Avoid microwaving crab legs, as this heating method can make the meat rubbery.

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