What to Serve with Crab Legs: 6 Fun Side Dishes

by Ella

Cracking into a succulent serving of crab legs is a delightful seafood experience that deserves equally delectable accompaniments. Elevating your crab leg feast with the perfect sides can turn an already indulgent meal into a symphony of flavors that dance harmoniously on your palate. In this culinary exploration, we uncover an array of the best sides to complement and enhance the enjoyment of crab legs, from buttery starches and vibrant vegetables to zesty dips and refreshing salads.

The Importance of Sides

Sides are more than just accompaniments; they are the supporting cast that elevates the star of the show – crab legs. The right sides can provide contrasting flavors, textures, and temperatures, enhancing the overall dining experience and creating a symphony of delight on your plate.


6 Fun Side Dishes to Serve with Crab Legs

1. Sumptuous Starches:

Rich and Creamy Mashed Potatoes: Indulge in velvety mashed potatoes enriched with butter and cream. Their luxurious texture pairs perfectly with tender crab meat, creating a balance of richness and delicacy.


Buttery Garlic Bread: Delight in slices of warm, buttery garlic bread that provide a satisfying crunch and a burst of flavor. The garlic notes harmonize with the sweetness of crab.


Fluffy Coconut Rice: Transport your taste buds with fragrant coconut rice. Its subtle sweetness and lightness complement the sweet and briny flavors of crab legs.


2. Vibrant Vegetable Companions:

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon Zest: Experience the crisp bite of grilled asparagus with a zing of lemon zest. The bright, citrusy notes contrast with the richness of crab meat.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze: Savor the nutty and caramelized flavors of roasted Brussels sprouts drizzled with balsamic glaze. Their hearty character complements the delicacy of crab.

Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Pine Nuts: Enjoy sautéed spinach adorned with garlic and toasted pine nuts. Its earthiness and slight bitterness provide a satisfying contrast to the sweetness of crab.

3. Sauces and Condiments:

Classic Drawn Butter with a Twist: Elevate the classic drawn butter by infusing it with aromatic herbs like thyme or rosemary. The fragrant butter adds a layer of depth to the crab leg experience.

Tangy Cocktail Sauce with Horseradish Kick: Dip your crab legs into tangy cocktail sauce with a bold horseradish kick. The combination of sweet, spicy, and tangy flavors creates a dynamic flavor profile.

Creamy Avocado and Lime Dip: Dive into a luscious avocado dip brightened by zesty lime. Its creamy texture and refreshing acidity harmonize with the succulent crab meat.

4. Refreshing Salads:

Citrusy Cucumber Salad: Relish a refreshing cucumber salad adorned with citrus segments and a drizzle of olive oil. Its cool and crisp character provides a palate-cleansing interlude.

Watermelon and Feta Salad with Mint: Delight in the contrast of sweet watermelon, tangy feta, and aromatic mint. This salad adds a burst of freshness that complements the richness of crab.

Crisp Coleslaw with Citrus Vinaigrette: Enjoy the crunch of coleslaw dressed in a zesty citrus vinaigrette. Its vibrant flavors and textures provide a delightful contrast to the crab.

5. Crafting the Perfect Beverage Pairing:

Crisp Chardonnay for White Wine Lovers: Embrace the elegance of a chilled Chardonnay with notes of apple and citrus. Its crisp acidity and buttery finish enhance the flavors of crab.

Sparkling Prosecco for Bubbly Enthusiasts: Celebrate with the effervescence of Prosecco, offering a delightful dance of bubbles that cleanses the palate between succulent bites.

Zesty Lemonade or Herbal Infusions: Opt for non-alcoholic options like zesty lemonade or herbal infusions. Their refreshing qualities complement the seafood experience without overpowering it.

See Also: 6 Healthiest Shellfish & Their Health benefits

What sauces can I serve with crab legs?

An array of flavorful sauces can elevate the enjoyment of crab legs by adding complementary and contrasting tastes. Here are some delectable sauce options to serve alongside crab legs:

1. Classic Drawn Butter: Melted butter infused with a hint of lemon juice is a timeless companion for crab legs. Its rich and velvety texture complements the sweetness of the crab meat.

2. Tangy Cocktail Sauce: A blend of ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce offers a zesty and slightly spicy kick that contrasts with the delicate crab flavors.

3. Creamy Avocado Dip: Mashed avocado mixed with lime juice, minced garlic, and a touch of cilantro creates a creamy and refreshing dip that complements the crab’s natural sweetness.

4. Garlic Herb Butter: Infuse melted butter with minced garlic, fresh herbs like parsley and thyme, and a squeeze of lemon for an aromatic and flavorful dipping option.

5.Spicy Mayo: A combination of mayonnaise, sriracha sauce, and a splash of soy sauce results in a creamy and spicy dip that adds a bold kick to the crab legs.

6. Citrusy Dijon Vinaigrette: Whisk together Dijon mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, and a pinch of salt for a tangy vinaigrette that balances the richness of the crab.

7. Cilantro Lime Crema: Blend sour cream with fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro, and a pinch of salt to create a cooling and tangy dip with a hint of herbal brightness.

8. Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce: Mix soy sauce, grated ginger, minced garlic, rice vinegar, and a touch of sesame oil for an umami-packed dipping sauce with an Asian flair.

9. Mango Salsa: Combine diced mango, red onion, bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and a touch of jalapeno for a fruity and vibrant salsa that adds a burst of tropical sweetness.

10. Herb-Infused Olive Oil: Drizzle high-quality extra virgin olive oil infused with herbs like rosemary, thyme, and basil for a simple yet elegant dipping option.

See Also: 8 Most Expensive Crabs in the World

FAQs About Serving Crab Legs

Q1: How do I prepare crab legs before cooking?

A1: Before cooking crab legs, ensure they are properly thawed if frozen. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or place them under cold running water until they are fully thawed. Once thawed, give them a gentle rinse to remove any excess ice. Thoroughly pat them dry with paper towels to prevent excess moisture during cooking. This process ensures that the crab legs cook evenly and retain their natural flavors and textures.

Q2: What cooking methods can I use for crab legs?

A2: Crab legs can be cooked using various methods, each imparting a unique flavor profile. Steaming preserves their natural sweetness and tenderness. Boiling offers a simple and effective way to cook crab legs, infusing them with flavor. Grilling lends a smoky char and enhances their richness. Baking provides a hands-off approach, yielding a slightly roasted taste. Ultimately, the chosen method depends on personal preference and the desired culinary outcome.

Q3: How do I steam crab legs?

A3: To steam crab legs, fill a pot with about an inch of water and add a touch of salt. Place a steamer basket or rack inside the pot and bring the water to a simmer. Arrange the crab legs on the steamer, cover the pot, and steam for 5-7 minutes if thawed, or 10-12 minutes if frozen, until the crab meat is opaque and easily flakes. Once cooked, carefully remove the crab legs from the steamer and serve them hot with your choice of dipping sauces. Steaming preserves the crab’s natural flavors and moisture, resulting in tender and succulent meat.

Q4: What’s the best way to boil crab legs?

A4: The best way to boil crab legs is to bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt and any desired aromatics, such as lemon slices or bay leaves, to infuse flavor. Gently place the crab legs in the boiling water and cook for about 4-5 minutes for thawed legs or 7-8 minutes for frozen legs. The shells will turn a vibrant red, and the meat will become opaque and easily flake away from the shell. Once cooked, remove the crab legs from the water and serve them hot with your favorite dipping sauces for a delectable seafood experience.

Q5: How can I tell if crab legs are cooked?

A5: To determine if crab legs are cooked, look for vibrant color changes and meat separation. Cooked crab legs will display a reddish or pinkish hue, with the shells becoming more vivid. The meat should appear opaque and easily detach from the shell. If cracked open, the flesh should be tender, moist, and flaky, devoid of any translucent or raw appearance. Additionally, an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) ensures thorough cooking. As a final indicator, a pleasant aroma should emanate from the crab meat, confirming its readiness for consumption.

Q6: How do I crack crab legs open?

A6: To crack crab legs open, start by holding a segment in one hand and gently bend it at the joint to create a crack. Use a crab cracker, kitchen shears, or the back of a knife to carefully break the shell along the crack. Slowly peel the shell apart to reveal the tender meat inside. Repeat this process for each segment, taking care not to apply excessive force to prevent damaging the meat. With a little practice and patience, you’ll master the art of cracking crab legs open and be rewarded with the delicious, succulent crab meat within.

Q7: How do I store leftover crab legs?

A13: To store leftover crab legs, ensure they are cooled to room temperature and then promptly refrigerate them in an airtight container. Keeping the crab meat in its shell helps retain moisture and flavor. Store the container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. To further extend their shelf life, you can place the crab legs in a sealable freezer bag and freeze them for up to 2-3 months. Thaw frozen crab legs in the refrigerator before reheating or consuming. Proper storage ensures that your leftover crab legs remain safe to eat and maintain their delicious taste and texture.

See Also: How Long Do Crab Legs Last in The Freezer?

Q8: Are there any vegetarian alternatives to crab legs?

A15: While there are plant-based seafood alternatives available, there’s no direct substitute for crab legs. However, you can explore creative vegetarian and vegan dishes that capture the essence of seafood flavors.

See Also: Imitation Crab: What is it & what is it good for?


Pairing sides with crab legs is an art that involves creating harmonious contrasts and enriching the dining experience. From starches that provide comfort to refreshing salads and zesty dips that cleanse the palate, each side dish adds depth and dimension to the feast. By selecting the perfect sides, you create a symphony of flavors that elevates the star of the show – crab legs – to new heights of culinary delight.



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