What Parts of a Red King Crab Can Be Eaten?


Red king crabs are crustaceans that are harvested as a source of meat. Crab meat is high in protein and low in fat making it an excellent choice as part of a healthy diet. Red king crabs are found in oceans all around the world but most of what is eaten in America comes from the waters around Alaska. U.S. legislation states only male crabs, which are larger than females, can be commercially caught and sold.

Which Parts to Eat

  • The parts of the red king crab that are eaten are its legs and to a lesser extent the claws. All crabs have five pairs of legs, with the foremost set having developed into a set of pincers. On red king crabs, the three sets of legs nearest the pincers are the largest and meatiest, with the fifth set small and tucked under the shell. Most harvested males weigh between 4 and 9 pounds while the record leg span for an adult is nearly 5 feet -- so there's plenty of meat in them.

Commercial Preparation

  • Live crabs are cleaned and the body split to divide the legs into two separate sections. The legs are then boiled immediately in salted water then quickly bathed in cold salted water to stop the residual heat cooking the meat further which can cause toughness. The sections are then frozen for distribution commercial distribution.

Crab Bodies

  • Although the legs and claws of the red king crab provide the juiciest meat and are shipped to consumers, the shells are often dispatched to canners, which pick the bodies of any remaining meat to use in canned crab products.

Home Cooking

  • Tackling a king crab at home is also straightforward. Clean the crabs then pull off the legs and boil or steam them for 20 to 30 minutes. The flesh is obtained by cracking open the legs and claws using nut crackers or a small hammer.

Recipe Ideas

  • Fresh crab meat can be enjoyed as part of a salad with chopped avocado and a zesty dressing. You can also serve crab meat seasoned with fresh chillies as a sauce for spaghetti for a classic Italian dish or just use it for sandwiches.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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