How to Boil Live Crabs


Crabs have been a part of the human diet at least since the days of ancient Greece and Rome, according to Food Timeline. In medieval Britain, they were added to soups and stews. They were also boiled, then allowed to cool, and consumed with vinegar. In North America today, popular crabs are caught in particular regions: Blue crab comes from the Chesapeake Bay, Dungeness from the Pacific coast and Alaska King crab from the northern regions of the Atlantic and the Pacific. No matter what kind of crabs you are preparing, boiling them while they are alive is the way to go.

Things You'll Need

  • Stockpot, or large pot
  • Crab seasoning (optional)
  • Large slotted spoon or tongs
  • Fill the stockpot, or large pot, with water and bring it to a rolling boil.

  • Throw the crabs into the boiling water while they are still alive.

  • Monitor the crabs for doneness. According to Ochef, blue crabs will cook in six minutes, while Dungeness take eight to 10 minutes.

  • Remove the crabs from the water and allow them to cool before consuming.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some crab shell varieties take on a red color when the meat inside is done.
  • You can add seasoning to the water if you like.
  • Be careful lowering the crabs into the boiling water and removing them. Boiling water can scald skin, so avoid splatter. In addition, be sure children are at a safe distance during the boiling process.

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