How Long to Boil Fresh Crab Legs

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Crab legs provide meat that is succulent, sweet and a little salty but very tender and flavorful. To boil crab legs is also rather simple. Just add enough water to cover the crab legs and bring it to a boil. Then place the crab legs into the pot. Boiling them produces the best flavor and juicier meat because the water flows into the shell and surrounds the meat.

General Boiling Time

Fresh crab legs are unfrozen and typically hold just a small amount of meat between the layers of hardened shell. That means the legs do not need to be cooked for very long. To cook one pound of crab legs, expect to boil them for about 8 minutes. This should thoroughly cook the crab leg meat without making it stringy, tough or rubbery. If you want the legs undercooked and juicier, cook them for 6 or 7 minutes. For tougher meat, boil for up to 10 minutes. If the legs are underdone, you can always place the crab legs that have not been cracked open back in the pot.

Smaller Legs

Smaller crab legs may cook a lot faster because there is less meat to cook. A general rule for cooking smaller crab legs is about 5 to 6 minutes in boiling water. Of course, you need to consider other factors like the temperature of the water. In a rolling boil the legs may cook in five minutes, while a slow boil will cook the legs in 7 minutes. In addition, if you are cooking many crab legs in one pot, you may want to give them more time, 8 to 10 minutes.

King Crab Legs

King crab legs are the largest of the crab legs and in some cases can be 2 inches in diameter. When you cook larger crab legs, be sure to cook them more thoroughly. A large batch of king crab legs will take between 8 to 10 minutes to completely cook through. Cook king crab legs in a large pot with enough water to completely submerge the crab legs. It is a good idea to test the crab legs by cracking one of the larger ones open and testing the meat to see if it is done. If not, the legs can be set back into the pot for another minute or two.

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