How to Steam Dungeness Crab

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Things You'll Need

  • 12-quart pot with steamer basket

  • Metal colander

  • 1 to 2 Dungeness crabs

  • Melted butter

  • Lemon wedges

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Dungeness crabs are a species found on the West Coast between Alaska and Northern California. The crabs reach a size of up to 10 inches across and have five legs on each side. Dungeness crab fishing season begins in November and peaks in the month of January. Fresh steamed Dungeness crab is considered a delicacy because of the flavor and amount of meat available. Approximately 25 percent of the weight of a crab is usable meat.


Step 1

Prepare a 12-quart or larger pot with steamer insert by filling it with 3 to 4 inches of water. Place a metal colander in the bottom of the pot if you do not have a steamer basket that is large enough. This will place the crabs above the water line.

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Step 2

Set the stove to high and bring the water to a boil.

Step 3

Place the crabs in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes while the water is boiling. This will stun them for easier handling. Do not let the crabs fully freeze.

Step 4

Remove the crabs from the freezer and rinse them in water. Place the crabs in the steamer basket in the pot. Cover the pot and steam for 10 to 15 minutes per crab or until the shells turn bright red. Add additional hot water to the pot if the water level gets low.


Step 5

Remove the crabs once they are finished cooking. Rinse under cold water if serving immediately to cool the shell temperature.

Step 6

Served steamed Dungeness crab with melted butter and lemon wedges.


Use caution when cracking the crab shell, as water may collect under the shell. Steam one to two crabs at a time. The safest place to hold a live crab is on its back because the claws cannot reach this area.


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