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How to Cook Frozen Crab Legs

This is how to cook frozen crab legs to tender. Boiled snow crab legs, boiled King crab legs, Instant Pot Frozen Crab Legs or baked in the oven served with a buttery garlic sauce for dinner is mouth watering.

how to cook frozen snow crab legs

Cooking frozen snow crab legs or King at home is easier than you’d think. If you’re a seafood lover this is a cheap way to enjoy them right at home with succulent meat that’s as flavorful drenched in butter. While fresh is a delicacy, frozen crab legs are convenient and a great alternative that can be enjoyed year round. (affiliate links present)

Cooking frozen crab legs may seem daunting, but with the right methods and a little know how, you can create a mouthwatering crab boil feast right in your own kitchen. In this article, we’ll explore the steps and techniques to cook them from frozen to perfection.

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How to Cook Frozen Snow Crab Legs

There are several types out there, well 2 primarily that you will see on a menu or at the local fish market. Before diving into cooking methods, it’s essential to understand the two primary types of legs available in the market:

  1. Snow crab legs are known for their slender, delicate appearance and sweet, tender meat. They are typically sold in clusters, with multiple legs attached.
  2. King crab legs are larger and thicker than snow crab legs, with a meaty texture and a slightly sweeter flavor. They are usually sold individually, and each leg can be quite substantial.
how to cook frozen crab legs

How to Cook Frozen King Crab Legs

The cooking time for king crab legs and snow crab legs can vary depending on their size, whether they are frozen or thawed, and the cooking method you choose. Here are general guidelines for cooking both types of crab legs:

King Crab Legs:

  1. Boiling: If you’re boiling king crab legs, follow these approximate times:
    • For frozen king crab legs: 10-12 minutes.
    • For thawed king crab legs: 4-6 minutes.
    • For frozen snow crab legs: 5-7 minutes.
    • For thawed snow crab legs: 3-4 minutes.
  2. Steaming: When steaming king crab legs, you can expect the following times:
    • For frozen king crab legs: 12-15 minutes.
    • For thawed king crab legs: 6-8 minutes.
    • For frozen snow crab legs: 7-9 minutes.
    • For thawed snow crab legs: 4-5 minutes.
  3. Baking: If you’re baking king crab legs, consider these times:
    • For frozen king crab legs: 15-18 minutes.
    • For thawed king crab legs: 10-12 minutes.
    • For frozen snow crab legs: 12-15 minutes.
    • For thawed snow crab legs: 8-10 minutes.

I know, not long at all. I mean in under 15 minutes for the most part you can have them warmed and ready to be cracked for enjoying as is or in a recipe.

frozen crab recipes

How to Thaw Frozen Crab Legs

While you can cook them directly, thawing them first can help ensure more even cooking and quicker preparation. In some cases I don’t heat them at all if they were bought precooked and the meat just needs to be thawed.

Just like shrimp you can buy these frozen from raw or cooked and then frozen. Which you want to buy would depend on what you want to make. Like if you wanted to make our Crab Deviled Eggs I would buy precooked and just thaw, crack open and make from there. There are two methods for thawing frozen crab legs:

  1. Refrigerator Method: Place the number of pieces you want to us in a sealed plastic bag or container. Refrigerate them for 24 hours or until they are fully thawed.
  2. Quick-Thaw Method: If you’re short on time, you can quick thaw them by placing them in a sealed plastic bag and submerging them in cold water. You always want to change the water every 30 minutes until thawed, which usually takes about 1-2 hours.

Either way you “cut it” you need to leave yourself some time to get this done. Do NOT rush the process. Use the timing as directed above or cook from frozen from the get go, there is no great in between to choose from.

Cooking Frozen Crab Legs

Cooking Frozen Crab Legs

Ok let’s talk about some timing now right? I have a quick guide here but will list it below in the recipe card as well if you want to print that out and keep it handy too.

How to Steam Frozen Crab

  1. Fill a large pot with about 1 inch of water and insert a steaming rack or basket.
    • Place the thawed or frozen crab leg clusters on the rack, ensuring they are not submerged in the water.
    • Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil.
      • Frozen king crab legs: 12-15 minutes.
      • For thawed king crab legs: 6-8 minutes.
      • Frozen snow crab legs: 7-9 minutes.
      • For thawed snow crab legs: 4-5 minutes.
    • To steam in pressure cooker place in steamer basket with 1.5 cups of water in pot for 5 minutes under high pressure with a quick release when done.
    • Serve with melted, cowboy butter and your choice of seasonings.

Boiling Frozen Crab Legs

  1. Fill a large pot with enough water to fully submerge the pieces over medium high heat.
    • Add seasonings to the water, such as Old Bay seasoning, lemon slices, or bay leaves, for extra flavor.
    • Once you have boiling water consistently, then add the thawed or frozen pieces
      • Frozen king crab legs: 10-12 minutes.
      • For thawed king crab legs: 4-6 minutes.
      • Frozen snow crab legs: 5-7 minutes.
      • For thawed snow crab legs: 3-4 minutes.
    • Drain and serve hot with butter and your preferred dipping sauces.

How to Bake Frozen Snow Crab Legs

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F or 175°C.
    • Place the thawed or frozen legs on a baking sheet.
    • Brush the legs with melted butter and your choice of seasonings, such as garlic, herbs, or lemon juice.
      • For frozen king crab legs: 15-18 minutes.
      • For thawed king crab legs: 10-12 minutes.
      • For frozen snow crab legs: 12-15 minutes.
      • For thawed snow crab legs: 8-10 minutes.

Serve hot with additional melted butter for dipping. I love to add roasted air fryer garlic diced into that and drizzle it on the legs themselves AND have some to dip too.

Frozen Crab Legs in Pressure Cooker

How to Open Crab Legs

Cooked and/or precooked and thawed crab legs are often served with melted butter, lemon wedges, and a variety of dipping sauces like cocktail sauce or garlic aioli. To enjoy, simply crack the crab legs open using a crab cracker or kitchen shears, exposing the meat inside….sounds simple right?? Sometimes not so much, I get it.

  1. Examine the cooked crab legs to identify the joints or segments. Crab legs consist of a series of connected segments, and the joints are the areas where they bend.
  2. Starting at one end of the crab leg, place the crab cracker or nutcracker over one of the joints. Apply gentle pressure to crack the shell open. Be careful not to crush the shell and damage the meat inside.
  3. Once the joint is cracked open, use your fingers to carefully split the shell apart along the length of the leg. This will expose the crab meat inside.
  4. Gently pull the meat out of the shell using a seafood fork or pick. Start from one end of the leg and work your way toward the other end. Be cautious not to leave any pieces of shell behind.
  5. As you remove the meat, inspect it for any cartilage or tough bits. Meat should be smooth and tender, so discard any unwanted parts.
  6. Continue this process for each segment of the crab leg. King crab legs typically have larger segments, while snow crab legs are smaller and may require less effort.
  7. Once you’ve extracted all the meat, you can enjoy it as is or use it in various recipes like salads, make Homemade Air Fryer Crab Cakes, or as a garnish for pasta dishes….we will talk about more below too….

Remember that practice makes perfect when it comes to opening them, so don’t be discouraged if you find it a bit challenging at first. With a little patience and the right tools, you’ll become a pro at cracking and savoring the delicious meat inside.

recipes with crab meat

Frozen Crab Legs Recipes

These recipes offer a range of options for enjoying the delightful taste of crab meat, whether you prefer it in a comforting soup, as the star of a seafood pasta dish, or as a delicious appetizer. You’ll want to remove it from the shell but can add into the dish to cook together from there.

  1. A classic favorite, crab cakes are made with lump crab meat, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, and seasonings. They are typically pan fried to golden perfection and served with a dipping sauce.
  2. Add diced meat, avocado, cucumber, red onion, into a salad with a zesty dressing. Great for a light lunch or appetizer.
  3. Make a hearty soup like our Instant Pot Potato Corn Chowder with diced meat inside. Use sweet corn kernels, potatoes, and bacon is fabulous too.
  4. Use large mushroom caps fill with a mixture of shredded meat, cream cheese, herbs, and seasonings, then bake until bubbly and golden.
  5. Make a creamy pasta dish featuring fettuccine and Alfredo sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Crab Meat Recipes

Explore these recipes to savor the flavors of crab in different culinary contexts. Gather your ingredients, pick your favorite cooking method, and get ready to indulge in a crab feast that’s sure to delight your taste buds.

  1. A creamy and cheesy dip made with crab meat, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, and spices is amazing for parties and gatherings.
  2. Crab Rangoon in air fryer is a popular appetizer in Asian cuisine, these deep-fried wonton wrappers are filled with a mixture of crab meat, cream cheese, and seasonings.
  3. Delicate flounder fillets stuffed with a meat mixture, then baked or broiled to perfection.
  4. Crab and spinach stuffed shells are filled with a mixture of crab meat, spinach, ricotta cheese, and herbs, then baked in a marinara sauce.
  5. Crab tacos soft or crispy taco shells are filled with crab meat, slaw, avocado, and your favorite taco toppings, then drizzled with a flavorful sauce.

Cooking from frozen at home is a rewarding and delicious endeavor that brings the flavors of the sea to your dining table. Whether you prefer the delicate sweetness of snow or richness of king, following these simple cooking methods will ensure perfectly cooked bites.

Cooking Frozen Crab Legs

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How to Cook Frozen Crab Legs

Course Appetizer, Entree
Cuisine American
Keyword crab, frozen crab legs, how to cook
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 3kcal
Author The Typical Mom

Equipment

  • 1 pot pressure cooker or baking sheet

Ingredients

Instructions

  • How to Steam Frozen Crab Legs – Fill a large pot with about 1 inch of water and insert a steaming rack or basket. Place the thawed or frozen crab leg clusters on the rack, ensuring they are not submerged in the water. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Frozen king crab legs: 12-15 minutes. For thawed king crab legs: 6-8 minutes. Frozen snow crab legs: 7-9 minutes. For thawed snow crab legs: 4-5 minutes.
  • Instant Pot Frozen Crab Legs – To steam in pressure cooker place in steamer basket with 1.5 cups of water in pot for 5 minutes under high pressure with a quick release when done.
  • How to Boil Frozen Crab Legs – Fill a large pot with enough water to fully submerge the pieces over medium high heat. Add seasonings to the water, such as Old Bay, lemon slices, bay leaves extra flavor. Once you have boiling water consistently, then add the thawed or frozen legs. Frozen king crab legs: 10-12 minutes. For thawed king crab legs: 4-6 minutes. Frozen snow crab legs: 5-7 minutes. For thawed snow crab legs: 3-4 minutes. Drain and serve hot with butter and your preferred dipping sauces.
  • How to Bake Frozen Crab Legs in Oven – Preheat your oven to 350° F or 175°C. Place the thawed or frozen legs on a baking sheet. Brush the legs with melted butter and your choice of seasonings such as minced garlic, herbs, or lemon juice. For frozen king crab legs: 15-18 minutes. For thawed king crab legs: 10-12 minutes. For frozen snow crab legs: 12-15 minutes. For thawed snow crab legs: 8-10 minutes.

Video

Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Frozen Crab Legs
Amount Per Serving (2 oz)
Calories 3 Calories from Fat 1
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.1g0%
Saturated Fat 0.03g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.02g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.01g
Sodium 3mg0%
Potassium 7mg0%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Fiber 0.1g0%
Sugar 0.03g0%
Protein 0.1g0%
Vitamin A 26IU1%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 12mg1%
Iron 0.4mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Recipe Rating




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