How Long To Steam Frozen Crab Legs (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 5 to 10 Minutes

Crab legs are in high demand in raw bars and restaurants, stacked high atop a bed of ice on cold seafood dishes or provided on buffet tables at weddings and big parties. They’re the kind of luxury one might munch on when they see them outside but never consider making them at home, considering cooking them needs exceptional material or culinary specialization to pull off.

One does not realize that crab legs are easy to prepare if one learns to steam them. All that is needed is a large pot and a steamer basket or a pinch or a colander.

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How Long To Steam Frozen Crab Legs?

Type Of CrabsDuration To Steam
Snow Crab4 to 5 Minutes
King Crab5 to 7 Minutes
Stone Crab10 to 12 Minutes
Blue Crab25 to 30 Minutes

For steaming crabs, choose a pot that is big enough to hold crab legs, as well as a steamer basket with a tight lid. Fill in the pot with one to two inches of water and arrange the basket on top of it. At the slightest, one might want to add some salt to the water. Some chefs intensify the water with bay leaves, Old Bay seasoning, lemon wedges, or a dash of white wine, but that’s up to the person cooking.

Doing so will amplify the flavor of the crab meat or crab legs, but the meat is itself delicious on its own that’s why it does not need any exaggeration. Bring the water to a boiling temperature and drop the crab legs in the steamer basket. Lid the pot, and allow the legs to steam till it’s cooked. It will take four to five minutes for thawed ones and a few more if the legs were frozen when put in the steamer.

Crab legs are noticeable when done cooking by their fragrance. The crab meat must be hot throughout, and the flesh should have a reddish-pink appearance and be juicy. One should cool the legs a little before serving. Adding lemon wedges is recommended and also some melted butter.

If a steamer basket isn’t available, one can try devising with a colander if the pot is large enough to hold the crab legs and the lid fits securely. If it doesn’t cover entirely, try using aluminum foil below the lid to seal it. Be careful while removing the foil and releasing out the steam.

Why Does It Take That Long To Steam Frozen Crab Legs?

The duration of steaming crabs depends on loads of delicious types, depending on where the person lives and what kind is available in that particular season. Crabs have seasons when they are the most abundant and most suitable for eating. But the most sought crabs for their legs are king and snow crab. Blue and Stone crabs are all delicious, with their unique flavor, but their sales are whole instead of parts such as legs. King crabs are way bigger than Snow crabs, with thick, fleshy legs.

They are known as the Alaskan King crab as the crustaceans are abundant by the coastline. One can find the Snow crabs in the cold waters of the Northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans. They are smaller than King crabs, with longer, skinnier, and less fleshy legs. Both the types are available frozen all year, from big box stores, specialty markets, online sources. The Wild Alaskan crab is recognized as the tastiest but is also the most expensive out of all.

Crab legs sold pre-cooked and frozen. Steaming them is the best way to cook them. The mild and moist heat helps preserve the sweet, pure taste and tender texture of the meat. Thawing the crab legs before cooking is arbitrary, but if there is time, it is worth it. The legs will steam quicker and more uniformly if thawed. One can thaw in a bowl overnight in the refrigerator, but if there is a lack of time, one can place them in a colander under cool running water until no ice is left.


Conclusively, many prefer boiling over steaming and vice versa, sometimes even grilling. So, if someone can’t decide, pick the instant pot to boil when cooking for two for quick comfort, and steam the crab legs while feeding a larger group. Steaming is always preferred more by seafood chefs worldwide.

If anyone is not a fan of the monotonous seafood smell remaining throughout the house, they can grill or set up a pot outside. While boiling, one should not overboil, or that might dilute the meat flavor, and the shells of the crab will become tender and hard to crack open.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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