How to Eat Crab: 3 Easy Steps

by Ella

Crabs are a delectable seafood delicacy enjoyed by people all around the world. From their succulent meat to their distinct flavors, crabs offer a unique culinary experience. However, eating crab can be a bit challenging for those unfamiliar with the proper techniques. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the art of eating crab, from selecting the best crab to mastering the various eating techniques and etiquettes.

Tools You’ll Need

To enjoy crab without frustration, you’ll need a few essential tools:


Crab Crackers: These are sturdy utensils designed to crack the hard shell of the crab legs and claws.


Seafood Forks: These thin forks are designed to extract the meat from intricate crevices.


Crab Mallet: For cracking tougher shells and getting to the sweet meat inside.


Bib and Wet Wipes: Eating crab can get messy, so a bib and some wet wipes will come in handy.

Crack and Extract the Meat

Eating crab requires a bit of finesse, but it’s worth the effort. Follow these steps to extract the meat from different parts of the crab:

1. For the Claws:

Hold a crab claw with one hand and a crab cracker with the other.

Gently crack the claw shell by applying slight pressure along the length of the claw.

Use a seafood fork to carefully pull out the meat from the cracked shell.

2. For the Legs:

Hold a crab leg firmly and bend it at the joints to separate them.

Use a crab cracker or your fingers to crack the segments along the leg.

Use a seafood fork to extract the meat from the cracked segments.

3. For the Body:

Flip the crab upside down to expose the underside of the body.

Lift the pointed “apron” located on the underside of the crab.

Gently peel off the top shell to reveal the lump crabmeat inside.

Use your fingers or a seafood fork to remove the meat from the body.

See Also: How to Eat a Whole Lobster: A Beginner’s Guide

Which part of the crab is the most nutritious?

The most nutritious part of a crab is generally the meat found in the body, often referred to as the “body meat” or “lump crabmeat.” This meat is usually white and tender and is found within the main body cavity of the crab, after removing the top shell.

Lump crabmeat is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s a good source of essential nutrients such as:

1. Protein: Crab meat is a high-quality source of protein, which is essential for muscle growth, repair, and overall body function.

2. Vitamin B12: This vitamin is crucial for maintaining healthy nerve cells, producing DNA, and forming red blood cells. It also plays a role in energy metabolism.

3. Selenium: Crab meat is a good source of selenium, an important mineral that acts as an antioxidant and helps support immune function.

4. Phosphorus: Phosphorus is necessary for bone health, kidney function, and energy metabolism.

5. Zinc: Zinc is essential for immune system function, wound healing, and various enzymatic reactions in the body.

6. Copper: Copper is involved in the formation of collagen, a protein essential for healthy skin, connective tissues, and bones.

It’s important to note that different parts of the crab, such as the claws and legs, also contain meat that is nutritious, but the body meat tends to have a higher concentration of these essential nutrients. When consuming crab, it’s beneficial to enjoy a variety of meat from different parts to ensure you’re getting a diverse range of nutrients.

However, keep in mind that crab meat can be relatively high in cholesterol, so it’s best enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. Additionally, individuals with shellfish allergies or dietary restrictions should avoid crab consumption and consult with a healthcare professional if they have any concerns about nutrient intake.

Classic Crab Dishes

1. Crab Cakes: Crab cakes are a popular dish made from a mixture of crab meat, breadcrumbs, herbs, and seasonings. The mixture is formed into patties and typically pan-fried until golden brown. They are often served with a side of tartar sauce or remoulade. Crab cakes are a staple in coastal regions and are appreciated for their crispy exterior and tender, flavorful interior.

2. Crab Bisque: Crab bisque is a creamy soup that features the delicate taste of crab. It’s made by sautéing onions, celery, and carrots, then adding crab meat, seafood or vegetable stock, and cream. The mixture is simmered and pureed to create a smooth and luscious soup. Crab bisque is a luxurious and comforting dish often enjoyed as an appetizer or a light meal.

3. Crab Salad: Crab salad is a refreshing and light dish that combines crab meat with various fresh vegetables and herbs. It can be served as a side dish, appetizer, or even as a filling for sandwiches or wraps. The salad is typically dressed with a light vinaigrette or citrus-based dressing to enhance the natural flavors of the crab.

4. Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich: Soft-shell crabs are crabs that have recently molted and shed their hard outer shells. These crabs can be eaten whole, including the shell, as they are still tender. Soft-shell crab sandwiches are a popular choice, where the crab is lightly breaded and fried until crispy. The crab is often served in a bun with lettuce, tomato, and a tangy sauce.

5. Crab Legs and Claws: Serving crab legs and claws simply steamed or boiled is a classic way to enjoy the sweet and succulent meat. The crab legs are cracked open to reveal the meat inside, and they are often served with drawn butter for dipping. This straightforward preparation allows the natural flavor of the crab to shine.

6. Singaporean Chili Crab: This iconic dish from Singapore features crab cooked in a spicy tomato-based chili sauce. The sauce is typically made with chili paste, tomato sauce, garlic, ginger, and other seasonings. The crab is stir-fried in the flavorful sauce until coated and served with steamed buns or rice to soak up the delicious flavors.

7. Crab Stuffed Mushrooms: Crab stuffed mushrooms are a delightful appetizer where mushrooms caps are filled with a mixture of crab meat, cream cheese, breadcrumbs, and herbs. The stuffed mushrooms are baked until the filling is golden and bubbling. This dish offers a perfect combination of flavors and textures.

8. Crab and Corn Chowder: Crab and corn chowder is a hearty and comforting soup that combines sweet crab meat with tender corn kernels in a creamy base. Along with crab and corn, the chowder often includes potatoes, onions, celery, and seasonings. It’s a rich and satisfying dish that’s perfect for cooler months.

9. Crab Pasta: Crab pasta dishes incorporate crab meat into a variety of pasta preparations. From linguine with crab and garlic to creamy crab Alfredo, these dishes combine the delicate taste of crab with pasta for a satisfying and elegant meal.

See Also: What to Serve with Crab Legs: 6 Fun Side Dishes

How to Cook Crab

1. Prepare the Crabs:

Before cooking, you’ll need to clean and prepare the crabs:

Cleaning: Rinse the crabs under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris from the shells.

Removing the Top Shell: Gently lift and remove the top shell (carapace) from the crab’s body. This will expose the internal organs, including the gills, which should be removed and discarded.

Removing the Gills: Pull away the feathery gills located on either side of the body. These are inedible and should be discarded.

Breaking the Crab in Half: To make the cooking process more efficient and even, you can break the crab in half by using a sharp knife or kitchen shears. This is especially helpful if you’re planning to steam or boil the crab.

2. Steaming:

Steaming is a gentle cooking method that helps retain the delicate flavors of crab:

Place a steamer basket in a large pot, and add enough water to reach just below the basket.

Bring the water to a boil.

Arrange the cleaned crab halves or whole crabs in the steamer basket, ensuring they’re not overcrowded.

Cover the pot with a lid and steam the crabs for about 20-30 minutes, depending on their size. The crab shells will turn red when cooked.

Remove the crabs from the steamer and let them cool slightly before cracking and enjoying.

3. Boiling:

Boiling is a simple and straightforward method for cooking crab:

Fill a large pot with enough water to fully submerge the crabs.

Add aromatics like bay leaves, lemon slices, and spices to enhance the flavor.

Bring the water to a boil and add the cleaned crab halves or whole crabs.

Boil the crabs for about 10-15 minutes, again depending on their size. The shells will turn red when cooked.

Use tongs to carefully remove the crabs from the pot, and allow them to cool slightly before cracking and serving.

See Also: Boiling vs. Steaming: Which is Better for Crab Legs?

4. Grilling:

Grilling adds a smoky flavor to crab while creating a slightly crispy texture:

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Brush the crab halves or whole crabs with oil to prevent sticking.

Place the crabs on the grill, shell-side down.

Grill for about 5-7 minutes per side, until the shells are red and slightly charred.

Remove the crabs from the grill and let them cool slightly before cracking and enjoying.

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


As you near the end of your crab feast, take a moment to savor the satisfaction of a delicious meal. Eating crab is not just about satisfying your appetite; it’s an experience that engages your senses and brings joy to the table.

In conclusion, eating crab is a rewarding adventure that requires a combination of tools, techniques, and a willingness to embrace the messy joy of cracking shells. By following this step-by-step guide, you’ll be well-equipped to savor the delectable meat of the crab and create lasting memories around the dining table. So, don your bib, grab your tools, and embark on a delightful crab-eating journey that’s sure to be a hit with both novice and seasoned seafood lovers alike.



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