How to Cook Hermit Crabs

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When hermit crabs are small, they take the shells of other shellfish.
When hermit crabs are small, they take the shells of other shellfish. (Image: Jeffrey Hamilton/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Hermit crabs are typically used as novelty pets in the U.S. But in many tropical regions, hermit crabs that thrive on the meat of coconuts are larger and are called coconut crabs or robber crabs. Any size hermit crab can be cooked and eaten, but small hermit crabs do not have much meat on them, so it may not be worth shelling it to eat. It is best to cook larger hermit crab that are at least 4-inches wide, to get a decent amount of meat.

Things You'll Need

  • 12 live hermit crabs
  • Colander
  • Stock pot
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 strips of bacon
  • Vegetables

Place the hermit crabs in the colander and thoroughly clean the shells free of any dirt or debris under warm running water.

Fill the stock pot with about 2 qt. water and place it on the stove to boil. Add 3 tbsp. salt and 1/4 cup of Old Bay seasoning. Peel the garlic cloves and drop them in the water.

Drop the hermit crabs in the boiling seasoned water and allow it to boil for about five minutes or until the crabs float to the top.

Add your choice of chopped vegetables such as celery, carrots and onions that will flavor the crabs, and pair with them as a side. Drop in the three slices of bacon to flavor the crabs and vegetables.

Cook the crabs and vegetables for another 15 minutes. Drain the mixture in the colander and serve hot.

Tips & Warnings

  • To get to the meat, crack the hermit crab shells with a crab cracking tool or a hammer after they are cooked.
  • You can make the crabs and vegetables into stew by thickening the seasoned water with flour.

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