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Crab Legs – 4 Easy Ways (VIDEO)

Learn how to make Crab Legs 4 easy ways; from the Instant Pot to steaming, baking and grilling. We love to serve crab meat with this incredible garlic lemon butter which tastes restaurant-quality.

Home cooked crab legs couldn’t get any easier so you can enjoy a crab feast at home for much less than you would pay to dine out. Watch the video tutorial below and you will crave it until you make it.

Cooked Crab legs on a serving platter with butter dipping sauce and lemon wedges

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Did You Know?

Crabs must be sold live or cooked. In most grocery stores, crab legs will be sold pre-cooked and either frozen or thawed from frozen. Since most crabs are sold already cooked, the process of “cooking” them is really easy – you are basically adequately heating them up while maintaining their juiciness and natural flavor. Can you guess our favorite method?

Ingredients for home cooked crab with lemon garlic butter dipping sauce

The Best Crab Dipping Sauce:

The combination of butter, garlic and lemon pairs so well with seafood. We used a similar flavor profile with our Broiled Lobster Tails and Baked Salmon.

This doesn’t get any easier: In a small saucepan melt 4 Tbsp butter then stir in 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Stir for just 30 seconds and take off the heat. Squeeze in 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice.

Crab Dipping Sauce in ramekin surrounded by crab legs

Take My Money!! This is going to become your new favorite seafood dip. Try it with shrimp or lobster next.

Crab meat dipped into homemade crab dipping sauce

How to Cook Crab Legs:

We’ve covered all of the best ways to cook crabs, from instant pot to steaming, grilling and even baking in the oven. If I had to pick a favorite, I would go with Instant Pot crab legs when cooking for 2 because it is so fast, and steamed crab when feeding a larger crowd.

Instant Pot Crab Legs:

  1. Place a trivet into a 6 qt Instant Pot and add 1 cup water. Add 3-4 clusters of fresh or frozen crab legs per batch folding the legs to fit more in (thawed fit easier than frozen since they are more flexible).
  2. Close the lid and cook on manual high pressure 4 minutes with quick release. You can repeat with another batch right away using the same water.

Pro Tip: Set up your instant pot outside or let it vent under the stove hood or your kitchen will be quite fragrant!

Crab Legs in Instant Pot

Steamed Crab Legs:

Place a steam basket at the bottom of a large stockpot with 1 cup of water. Add as many crab legs as your pot will accommodate and still close the lid tightly. Bring the water to a boil then cover and steam cook until fragrant and steaming hot (about 5 minutes for thawed or 10 minutes for frozen crab legs).

Crab legs in pot with steaming basket

Grilled Crab Legs:

Using heavy-duty aluminum foil, create a foil pack for 4 clusters of crab legs. Bring the two ends together in the center, and fold them together twice. Then fold the other two ends together twice to seal the foil packet. Do not add water to the foil pack. It will steam cook with the natural moisture from the crab legs.

Grill over medium/high heat or about 450˚F for 15-20 minutes if frozen or 10 minutes if thawed. It’s ready when you see steaming as you open the foil pack.

Crab legs in foil packs for grilling and baking

Oven-Baked Crab Legs:

Create the same foil pack as in the grilling method with 4 crab leg clusters. Place on a baking sheet and bake on the center rack of a preheated oven at 450˚F for 25 minutes for frozen or 15 minutes for thawed crab legs. They are ready when steaming as you open the foil pack.

Pro Tips for Success:

  • Avoid Boiling: We don’t love the boiled crab method because you end up with a watery mess when you crack the legs open and boiling in water tends to dilute the crab meat flavor.
  • Cook Until Steaming and Fragrant: In every method, the crab legs are done when they are uniformly steaming and fragrant. If you don’t see hot steam coming off of them, you haven’t cooked them long enough.
  • Use a Crab Cracker or a nutcracker. The shells can be tough and sharp, especially at the claw. You can also use good kitchen shears if you don’t have a crab cracker.
  • Serve Hot or Cold: the juicy meat is just as tasty cold or hot so don’t worry about serving them still hot.

Cooked crab legs on blue platter served with dipping sauce

How to Buy Crab Legs:

All crab will come either precooked (sold frozen or thawed from frozen), or live. Since most crab is sold pre-cooked and frozen, you can stock up when it goes on sale (it often does around Valentine’s Day) and keep frozen for later). I love to buy them frozen and thaw when I need them for maximum freshness. Thawed crabs should be refrigerated and consumed within 1-2 days.

  • Snow Crab Legs ($10-$15 /lb) is what we used to make this recipe. Tip: Buy legs attached together as a cluster. The cluster is filled with meat.
  • Dungeness Crabs ($8-$12 /lb) will work just as well. Tip: Ask the fish department in your grocery store to help with cleaning/removing the shell to make your life easier).
  • King Crab legs ($25+ per pound) are significantly more expensive but very meaty and a real treat.

Snow crab legs on platter

Seafood Recipes for Special Occasions:

Watch the Crab Legs Video Tutorial:

Let me know which was your favorite method for cooking crab legs in a comment below. If you enjoyed this video, please subscribe to our Youtube Channel and make sure to click the bell icon so you can be the first to know when we post a new video.

How to Cook Crab Legs (4 Easy Ways)

4.88 from 8 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Crab legs served on platter with butter dipping sauce
Learn how to make easy Crab Legs 4 ways; from the instant pot to steaming, baking and grilling. We love to dip crab meat into the incredible crab dipping sauce.
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $20-$25 (varies by season)
Keyword: crab legs
Cuisine: American
Course: Main Course
Calories: 397 kcal
Servings: 2 people

Ingredients

What You Will Need to Cook Crab:

  • 2 lbs snow crab legs (4 clusters)
  • 1 cup water (for Instant pot or steaming methods)

Ingredients for Crab Dipping Sauce:

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves minced or pressed
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed

Instructions

How to Make Crab Dipping Sauce:

  1. In a medium saucepan melt 4 Tbsp butter and add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp black pepper. Stir 30 seconds until fragrant then remove from heat. Off the heat, squeeze in 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice. Divide between ramekins to serve.

Instant Pot Crab Legs:

  1. Place a trivet in a 6 qt Instant Pot and add 1 cup water. Add 3-4 clusters of fresh or frozen crab legs per batch folding the legs to fit more in (thawed are easier to fit than frozen).

  2. Close the lid, set vent to sealing position and cook on manual high pressure 4 minutes then switch vent to venting position and do a quick release* of remaining pressure.

Steamed Cook Crab Legs:

  1. Place wire rack or basket at the bottom of a large stockpot. Add 1 cup of water. Place crab legs over the rack (as many as your pot will accommodate). Bring the water to a boil then cover and steam cook until fragrant and steaming hot (5-10 minutes). Frozen crab legs will take longer, thawed crab legs cook faster).

Grilled Crab Legs:

  1. Using heavy-duty aluminum foil, create a foil pack with 4 clusters of crab legs. Using a long sheet of foil with the crab legs in the center, bring the two ends together and fold them together twice. Fold the other two ends together twice to seal the foil packet. Do not add water since it will steam cook with the natural moisture from the crab legs.

  2. Grill over medium/high heat at 450˚F for 15 minutes if frozen or 10 minutes if thawed. Crab legs are ready when you see steaming as you open the foil pack.

Oven-Baked Crab Legs:

  1. Create the same foil pack of 4 crab leg clusters. Place on a baking sheet and onto the center rack of a preheated oven at 450˚F for 25 minutes if frozen or 15 minutes if thawed. The crab legs are ready when you open the foil pack and they are steaming.

Recipe Notes

*Pro Tip: Set up your Instant Pot outside or to depressurize under the range vent. otherwise your kitchen will be quite fragrant! Also, You can repeat with a second batch right away using the same water at the bottom.

Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Crab Legs (4 Easy Ways)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 397 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Fat 24g37%
Saturated Fat 15g94%
Cholesterol 155mg52%
Sodium 2197mg96%
Potassium 463mg13%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 42g84%
Vitamin A 754IU15%
Vitamin C 18mg22%
Calcium 116mg12%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen

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Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Stella
    July 13, 2020

    I love crab legs and usually steam them with a little water & apple cider vinegar.I also sprinkle a little old bay seasoning over them. To keep them out of the water I use my metal colander inside the pot.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      July 13, 2020

      Thanks for sharing that info with us, Stella. We appreciate it!

      Reply

  • Susan
    July 6, 2020

    I bought some crab legs impulsively and was told to cook them for 5 minutes, or 10. I came home, read your different ways, and put them in my instapot. They came out beautifully.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 6, 2020

      I’m so happy you tried and enjoyed our version, Susan! That’s so great!

      Reply

  • Jane
    April 10, 2020

    I LOVE Crab Legs! Can’t wait to make in the InstantPot!
    Will it work to add Old Bay and Bay Leaves to the water???

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 10, 2020

      Hi Jane, I haven’t tested that but I imagine it should work. If you experiment, let me know how you liked the recipe.

      Reply

      • Lisa
        July 18, 2020

        Having them tomorrow night. I’m going to use my instant pot…
        I love plain crab legs with no other additives, don’t want to ruin that yummy taste!

        Reply

        • Natashas Kitchen
          July 18, 2020

          I hope you love this recipe Lisa!

          Reply

  • Julia Frey
    February 11, 2020

    I lOVED that you included so many different methods for cooking them and that sauce is to die for!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      February 11, 2020

      There are so many great ways to cook crab legs (and not everyone has an instant pot). I’m so glad you loved the crab dipping sauce.

      Reply

  • Stephanie
    February 11, 2020

    I love crab legs! I’ve never tried cooking them on the grill before so I tried that method and they came out perfect! Thanks.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      February 11, 2020

      Hi Stephanie, I’m so glad you enjoyed that method. I love that they can go on the grill thawed or frozen.

      Reply

  • Jen
    February 11, 2020

    Thank you for going over all the options! I love trying them different ways because you never know what will end up your favorite. So delicious!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 11, 2020

      Isn’t it the best! & the flavor is amazing!

      Reply

  • Kristin
    February 10, 2020

    I made these this weekend and added them to a sheet pan corn boil with shrimp, sausage, corn, onions, and baby potatoes. What a hit!

    I steamed the crab in a regular pot as I don’t have an instant pot. I also made my usual garlic butter (just crushed garlic and butter in a pan) and had Old Bay seasoning, lemon wedges, and Sriracha on the side for company to add to their liking.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      February 10, 2020

      I’m so glad you loved the recipe! thanks for sharing your version of the garlic butter with old bay seasoning – that sounds wonderful!

      Reply

  • Savanna
    February 8, 2020

    I tried making these in instant pot tonight, followed directions to a T. But my grab came out bone dry. Not sure if it needs more water or less cook time with snow crab legs or not.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 8, 2020

      Hi Savanna, I’m more than happy to troubleshoot, I haven’t had that experience in the past. Was anything altered? Maybe the settings were off?

      Reply

    • Vicki Smiley
      July 24, 2020

      I cooked my crab legs for four minutes if thawed. Cook 8 to 10 minutes if frozen. Love the instapot.

      Reply

      • Natashas Kitchen
        July 24, 2020

        Thank you so much for sharing that with us Vicki!

        Reply

  • Melissa
    February 7, 2020

    We love crab legs! I love being able to use the instant pot for this recipe.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      February 7, 2020

      It’s one of my new favorite ways to use the instant pot – so fast and the meat stays tender and so juicy.

      Reply

  • April
    February 7, 2020

    I’ve never made crab legs before! I had no idea it was so easy!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 7, 2020

      Amazing isn’t it! So much flavor too! Thank you for stopping by!

      Reply

  • Rachael Yerkes
    February 7, 2020

    The perfect recipe for valentines day dinner! This is awesome!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 7, 2020

      Isn’t it the best! I hope you try this soon!

      Reply

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