How to cook and eat crab
rypson / iStock / Getty Images Plus

How to Cook and Eat Blue Crab

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A step-by-step guide
How to cook and eat crab
rypson / iStock / Getty Images Plus

If you grew up in a seaside town eating shellfish by the bucket, then chances are you're a pro at eating crab. But for the rest of us, being faced with an armored shell and spiny legs can be intimidating, no matter how delicious we know the reward will be. Even if you know the basics, do you get every bit of sweet meat you can from this delectable bit of sefood? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to pick a crab clean. Once you do, eat it as is or use it to make chilled crab dip,  deviled crab, creamy crab and clam soup or, of course, crab cakes.

Step 1: Steam the crabs

Steam the crabs
Jane Bruce / The Daily Meal

After making sure the crabs are still alive, set up a double-boiler or steamer. Boil a little bit of water, add your crabs and double-check that the crabs are only exposed to steam, not water so as not to make the meat soggy. Once the crabs are in, apply a very liberal amount of Old Bay, cover and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the crabs' size. When they’re bright red, they’re done. 

Step 2: Dump out the crabs

Dump out the crabs
Jane Bruce / The Daily Meal

Empty the whole pot (minus the water) onto a table that’s been lined with newspaper. Trust us, this will make cleanup much easier. 

Step 3: Season with Old Bay (again)

Season with Old Bay
Jane Bruce / The Daily Meal

Add another liberal dose of Old Bay to the top of the crabs, and make a couple piles out of it for easy dipping. 

Step 4: Pop off the legs and claws

Pop off the legs
Jane Bruce / The Daily Meal

Pop off the small legs, suck the little nubs of meat off the ends of them if you like, and discard. Pull the claws off as well, and set those on the side for now.

Step 5: Crack open the crab

Crack open the crab
Jane Bruce / The Daily Meal

Here’s where you might need to face your fear. Grab a hold of the crab from the rear, with your two thumbs on the shell and body, and crack it open like a book, separating the top shell, which you can discard. (For die-hards, there are some juices in there you can scoop out.)

Step 6: Strip the crab of inedible parts

Strip the crab
Jane Bruce / The Daily Meal

Looking at the crab, you’ll be able to tell right away what’s edible and what’s not. The feathery things on the side are the gills, which you should strip off. Anything that’s not meat can go, and there won’t be too much of it exposed right now. 

Step 7: Crack the crab again

Crack the crab again
Jane Bruce / The Daily Meal

What you’re left with should be a little white bottom shell, with pockets on either side filled with meat. Hold it firmly with both hands and crack that in half down the middle.

Step 8: Get the jumbo lump meat

Get the jumbo lump meat
Jane Bruce / The Daily Meal

Meat from the big pockets is the best part of the crab, the fabled jumbo lump. You’ve just got to get in there and extract as much meat from the shell as you can. You can eat it as you go or pile it up on the side, but make sure that you give it a drag through the Old Bay before you eat it. 

Step 9: Eat the claw meat

Don't forget the claws
Jane Bruce / The Daily Meal

Don’t forget about the claws! There’s some good meat in there, and it’s also a great way for those who are too squeamish to crack the body open to still get a little bit of enjoyment out of it. You can bang the claw with a mallet to get at the meat, but we advise placing a knife high up on the claw, near the pincer, then hitting that with the mallet, in order to make a clean break. Then carefully pull the claw meat out, and scrape the meat off with your teeth. 

Step 10: Repeat and enjoy!

Repeat and enjoy!
Jane Bruce / The Daily Meal

Congratulations, you’ve just picked a blue crab! And the good part is, you’ll get even better with practice, and will be an expert in no time. Happy pickin'! Once you master crab, keep going with more fish recipes to satify pescatarians and meat eaters alike.

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