How To Cook and Eat Blue Crab

August 6, 2012 | By | Comments (4)
Crab Cakes

Crunchy Crab Cakes Recipe, Photo by Jennifer Davick

Crabs are prized for their delicately flavored, sweet white meat, and along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, blue crabs are the catch. From selection to storage, here’s how to properly enjoy this seaside favorite.

Selection: Purchase crab alive or already cooked. If alive, look for the friskiest ones. If cooked, check for a fresh, sweet aroma. The best grades are lump or backfin, while flaked contains small pieces of meat.

Test Kitchen Tip: Crab is expensive, and determining how much to buy can be confusing. We suggest 1 pound of blue crabs or 3-4 ounces per person if buying flaked or lump crabmeat. 

Blue crabs are hard-shelled crabs that turn bright red when cooked. They’re the source for much of the cooked and canned crabmeat. They’re frequently freshly steamed, coaxed from the shell, drenched in clarified butter, and heartily devoured with little more than the aid of a crab cracker, cocktail fork, and plastic bib to protect the connoisseur’s clothing.

Test Kitchen Tip: Keep crabs cool and moist until you’re ready to cook them. They travel well in an ice chest, but should be used the day they’re caught. Don’t add water or they’ll drown. Never cook a dead crab.

Lump Blue Crab Salad Wraps

Lump Blue Crab Salad Wraps Recipe
Yield: Makes 8 servings


  • 2/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked and drained
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • Bibb lettuce leaves

Whisk together first 5 ingredients. Add crabmeat and next 4 ingredients to dressing, tossing gently to coat. Cover and chill 8 hours. Drain crabmeat mixture, reserving 1/4 cup dressing. Spoon mixture into lettuce leaves, and serve with reserved dressing.

Removing the meat: (see video below)
1. To get to cooked meat, first twist off crab legs and claws intact. Crack claws, and remove meat with a small cocktail fork.
2. Invert the crab, and pry off the apron (or tail flap), and discard it. Turn crab right side up again.
3. Insert thumb under shell by apron hinge; pry off the top shell, and discard it.
4. Pull away the inedible gray gills; discard them along with internal organs. Break the body; remove meat from pockets.

  • Freshen the Taste of Canned Crabmeat: To make canned crabmeat taste fresher, soak it in ice water 10 minutes, then drain, and pat dry. This helps remove some of the metallic taste.

Storage: Use live crabs on the day they’re purchased or caught; refrigerate until just before cooking. Leftover cooked crabmeat stores well: Put it in a heavy duty zip-top plastic bag, add milk (to prevent freezer burn), carefully squeeze out the air, close, and freeze. It keeps in a refrigerator freezer 2 months or in a deep freezer for 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and drain off milk before using.

See the simple way our Test Kitchen removes meat from blue crab:


  1. Ralph Pinedo

    Recipe for crab coconut rice .
    Use the meat of one ripe coconut for one and a half pound of rice. Break the coconut, take out the meat and cut it in small cubes.Grind the coconut cubes in the blender using the amount of water needed to cook 1.5 pounds of rice.Use a strainer to separate fiber from oily white liquid by queezing the fiber up to getting it almost dry, discard the ground fiber.Put the “coconut milk” in the recipient you normally cook rice, add the rice , add 2 to 3 teaspoonful of salt and 2 spoonfuls of sugar.Put all the crab meat in the recipient. Female crabs have yellow or reddish dots that are the begining of eggs, these crab bodies are more tasty than male ones, just the same as in humans,clean 2 bodies per person leaving on the eggs and put them in the recipient. When selecting the coconuts check that they have water inside.No water , means no taste at all.

    August 6, 2012 at 9:39 pm
  2. Henry

    Thank you for the recipe!

    August 6, 2012 at 8:48 pm
  3. Janet

    These crabcakes are the best!!!!

    August 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm
  4. Dave

    Wow, can’t wait to try this!

    August 6, 2012 at 1:56 pm

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