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How to Cook King Crab Legs - Boil, Steam and Bake

King crab legs are a highly sought after seasonal delicacy that will have your dinner guest pinching themselves to check they’re not dreaming! Such is the extravagance of these armoured appendages that even the most seasoned home chefs can feel intimidated when preparing them. Fortunately, we’re here to dispel the myth that these tender morsels of deliciousness are difficult to cook - because the truth of the matter is, if you can boil water, you can prepare restaurant-quality crab legs!

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about buying, preparing, cooking, and serving king crab legs. From steaming and boiling to baking and seasoning, we'll provide you with helpful tips and tricks to ensure your crab legs are cooked to perfection every single time.

Buying King Crab Legs

The first step to preparing an extravagant crab dish is buying the crab! That may sound simple enough, but there are a few things to watch out for to ensure you are getting the best catch possible:

Smell - Fresh king crab legs should have a slightly briny, ocean-like aroma. If they smell overly fishy or have an odour of ammonia, they may not be fresh.

Intact legs - Avoid buying king crab legs that are damaged or have missing pieces as these are signs that they have been mishandled or improperly transported.

Colour - King crab legs should be a rich, bright red colour. As they lose their freshness, they become dull or discoloured.

King crab legs on sale

Finding high quality king crab legs can often be the hardest part of preparing this incredible meal - but with Sealand Quality Food’s premium meat and seafood delivery service, things just got a whole lot easier! 

We source the absolute finest Alaskan-caught king crab legs and deliver them straight to your door at a time that suits you. Our Colossal King Crab Legs are individually quick frozen right after they are caught, sealing in the flavour and guaranteeing ultimate freshness! So for convenient and professional service that you can trust to feed the whole family every night of the week, THINK Sealand!

Preparing King Crab Legs

How does the old saying go? Failing to prepare means preparing to fail - well that’s not just for exams and interviews, it applies to crab legs too! But don’t worry, preparing your crab for cooking couldn’t be more straightforward, just follow these quick and simple steps:

Thawing - King crab legs are best purchased frozen to guarantee freshness, which means you will need to defrost them in the refrigerator for 24 hours before cooking.

Cleaning - Rinse the thawed crab legs thoroughly under cold running water to remove any debris or shell fragments.

Crack the shells - This is an optional step that comes down to personal preference on how you like to serve your crab legs. If you prefer them pre-split, use a pair of kitchen scissors to crack the shells before cooking. This will make it easier to remove the meat from the shells once they're cooked. Or, for ultimate convenience, let us do the heavy lifting/cracking for you with a box of our King Crab Split

Pre-split king crab legs prepared on a baking sheet

The Best Way to Cook King Crab Legs

King crab legs are almost always pre-cooked before they are frozen, which means your role as a home-chef is to simply reheat them to an internal temp of 140 - 145°F. However, this isn’t quite as simple as a quick spin in the microwave. Heating king crab legs is all about sealing in flavour and tenderness, and the best way to do so is by baking, boiling, or steaming them.  

Ultimately, there is a reason that these three methods have stood the test of time, and that’s because you can’t go wrong with any of them! In the end, it all boils down (no decision-swaying pun intended!) to personal preference, meaning the only true way to decide is to try all three! 

Steaming King Crab Legs

Steaming is a popular cooking method for king crab legs as it helps to retain their tender texture. The gentle heat of the steam also means that your crab legs are less likely to overcook or lose their sweet flavour. For the perfect steamed king crabs legs, follow these easy steps:

  1. Fill a large pot with 1-2 inches of water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Place a steaming basket or colander in the pot, making sure it's not under the water.
  3. Carefully place the crab legs in the steaming basket or colander and cover the pot with a lid.
  4. Steam the crab legs for 5-7 minutes until they're heated through.
  5. Remove the crab legs from the pot with tongs or a slotted spoon.

Boiling King Crab Legs

Aficionados of the boiling method will boast of its superiority due to the fact that the water gets into the shell, keeping the meat moist while heating it more quickly. Find out for yourself by following these simple steps:

  1. Fill a large pot with enough water to cover the crab legs.
  2. Add a tablespoon of salt to the water and bring it to a boil.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the crab legs to the pot, making sure they are fully submerged in the water.
  4. With the pot uncovered, allow the crab legs to cook for 5-7 minutes until they're heated through.
  5. Remove the crab legs from the pot with tongs or a slotted spoon.

King crab legs on a baking sheet

Baking King Crab Legs

While boiling and steaming are both quick and easy methods of preparing great quality king crab legs, they don’t allow much in the way of seasoning! So for those looking to infuse their crab legs with some favourite flavours, we suggest baking them! Follow these steps for the most delicious baked king crab legs:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F.
  2. Place the crab legs in a large baking dish or roasting pan.
  3. Melt a stick of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add minced garlic and your favourite herbs, such as parsley or dill, and stir to combine.
  4. Pour the butter mixture over the crab legs, making sure each leg is coated.
  5. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place it in the oven.
  6. Bake the crab legs for 15-20 minutes, or until they're heated through.
  7. Remove the baking dish from the oven and place them on a serving platter

For more detailed instructions that include a walkthrough video, check out our baked Colossal King Crab Legs recipe!

Serving King Crab Legs

So you purchased the best quality king crab legs and cooked them to perfection, now you’re almost ready to hand out the bibs and wait for the applause. All that's left to do is follow these final few steps when serving your crab leg extravaganza!  

Removing the crab meat - Unless you pre-cracked them or are working with our King Crab Split, then you’re going to need to liberate the juicy crab meat from its shell prison! This is best done with a sharp kitchen knife or even better, a pair of kitchen scissors. 

  1. Place the crab leg on a cutting board and cut along the length of the shell on the underside.
  2. Gently peel back the shell to expose the meat inside. If the meat is still attached to the shell, use a small fork or seafood pick to loosen it.
  3. Once the meat is exposed, grasp it firmly and pull it out of the shell. The meat should come out in one piece if it is cooked properly.
  4. Use a small fork or seafood pick to remove any remaining meat from the shell.
  5. Repeat the process with the remaining crab legs until all of the meat has been removed. 
  6. Don't throw away the crab leg shells - keep them to make a rich, flavourful seafood stock that's ideal for soups and stews.

Dips and seasoning - King crab leg meat has a delicate sweetness that pairs perfectly with a variety of seasonings and sauces. We suggest complementing your crustacean with any of these tried and true accompaniments!

  • Butter and Lemon: The combination of lemon wedges and melted butter is a classic way to serve king crab legs. Simply melt some butter in a small bowl and squeeze lemon wedges over the crab legs for a simple and delicious dish.
  • Garlic Butter: For the garlic lovers out there, melt butter in a saucepan and add minced garlic alongside herbs like parsley or chives. Drizzle the garlic butter over the crab legs for a burst of savoury flavour.
  • Old Bay Seasoning: Old Bay seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices that pairs perfectly with seafood. Sprinkle some over your king crab legs for a good, old fashioned Chesapeake Bay-style feast.

Sides - While king crab legs are delicious on their own, they're even better when served with some tasty sides. Some classic options include roasted potatoes, corn on the cob, or a simple green salad.

King crab legs on serving platter with fresh lemon and dips

Final Thoughts

You now have all the knowledge you need to cook restaurant quality king crab legs from the comfort of your own kitchen. You know what to look for when purchasing your crab legs (as well as the best place to buy them!), how to prepare and cook them and even the best ways to serve them. So put on your chef hat, grab your tongs, and get ready to shell-ebrate some seriously scrumptious seafood!

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