In the 21st century, it doesn’t take a lot of work for a customer to enjoy fresh crab. No matter the season or your location, improved shipping methods and infrastructure has made it easy to order fresh crab right to your door – or to your local seafood method. Whether you prefer Maryland blue crabs in the summer or California Dungeness crabs in the winter, it’s always a great time to put this crustacean on the menu–so long as you know how to cook the crab.

The question, then, becomes: What to do with the crab. It seems like there are as many cooking methods as there are crab varieties, and some methods work better for some types over others. If you’re stumped over how to prepare your crab dinner, this guide is for you. Here are a few top crab cooking methods.

 

Boiling

Boiling is among the most common ways to cook fresh crabs. Because it is a relatively soft method, it works well for crabs of all varieties. Here’s how you do it.

  1. Fill your boiling pot with water and add plenty of salt – enough so that it tastes like ocean water. Some people like to add beer or white wine to the water for added flavor. You can also add seasonings at this step.
  2. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then turn off the burner.
  3. Add the crabs quickly, one after the other, making sure they’re in the water for similar periods. This will ensure uniform cooking. Bring the water back to a boil and cook until the crabs begin to float. While it will depend on the crab size and shell thickness, this will happen in 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Use tongs to remove the crabs. Set them out until they are cool enough to handle. Enjoy!

 

Steaming

Steaming is another popular crab cooking method. It helps the crab retain flavor and moisture without becoming water-logged, which can happen with boiling. Blue crabs are traditionally steamed, but Dungeness crabs are also great candidates for this cooking method.

  1. Pour around one inch of water into your pot and add a generous amount of salt. Some people prefer to add vinegar, which can improve flavor.
  2. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Add your crabs to the steamer basket in the pot.
  4. Cover and cook for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your crabs.
  5. Remove the steamer and pull the crabs out of the pot, then let them sit until cool enough to serve. Run the cooked crabs under cool water to speed up this process.

 

Grilling

Grilling is a popular option for larger, tougher crabs, like king crabs or stone crab. To speed up the process, boil or steam your crabs until they are cooked halfway through. The grill is great for finishing up the cooking while adding excellent flavor. However, it is important to clean the crabs thoroughly before you grill them. Dirt and grime are harder to spot on grilled crabs, so get rid of it before cooking. If you plan to grill soft-shell crabs, the grilling process is slightly different than the one outlined below.

  1. Steam or boil your crabs for around five minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes, then clean them thoroughly.
  2. If your crabs are on the larger side, consider halving or quartering them.
  3. Toss your cleaned crabs with olive oil and spices, like rosemary, thyme, and garlic.
  4. Place the crabs on the hot grill until cook through and sufficiently browned. This should take around 4 minutes per side.