How to Cook a Fresh, Whole Crab

eHow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.

Things You'll Need

  • Large pot with lid

  • Salt

  • Whole crabs

  • Tongs

  • Melted butter

  • Lemon wedges

Face off with whole, fresh crab in the kitchen.

Fresh crab is a seafood eater's delight. The flaky, tender, slightly sweet meat is unlike any other food from the sea. The two most common crab types eaten fresh in the U.S. are Dungeness and blue crab, although you can use the same cooking method for all live, whole crabs. Cooking the crabs whole preserves more of the meat and the crab roe, or eggs often referred to as crab butter. Boil in water and serve immediately with melted butter for dipping and crab forks for getting every last morsel of meat.


Step 1

Fill a very large pot with water and add salt if desired at a ratio of 1/4 cup to every gallon of water. Adding salt will help season the meat, but you can also add lemon slices, bay leaves or any other desired seasonings. If available, you can also use fresh seawater instead of normal tap water.

Video of the Day

Step 2

Heat the water and seasonings until they reach a rolling boil, before adding your live, whole crabs to the boiling water, reducing the heat slightly and covering with a lid.

Step 3

Remove the crabs with tongs when their shells turn bright red. Time will depend greatly on the size of your crabs. Large Dungeness crabs can take as long as 20 minutes while small, blue crabs can cook in just 5 minutes.

Step 4

Rinse quickly with cold water and serve whole with crab forks, shell crackers, melted butter and lemon slices.


Remove the crab gills, located near the leg's connection to the body, before consuming, as they are not good to eat.


Boiling crabs requires a very large pot of hot water. Allow the water to cool before attempting to lift and drain the pot.


Video of the Day


Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...