Crab Legs – 4 Easy Ways (VIDEO)

Learn how to make Crab Legs 4 easy ways; from the Instant Pot to steaming, baking and grilling. We love to serve crab meat with this incredible garlic lemon butter which tastes restaurant-quality.

Home cooked crab legs couldn’t get any easier so you can enjoy a crab feast at home for much less than you would pay to dine out. Watch the video tutorial below and you will crave it until you make it.

Cooked Crab legs on a serving platter with butter dipping sauce and lemon wedges

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Did You Know?

Crabs must be sold live or cooked. In most grocery stores, crab legs will be sold pre-cooked and either frozen or thawed from frozen. Since most crabs are sold already cooked, the process of “cooking” them is really easy – you are basically adequately heating them up while maintaining their juiciness and natural flavor. Can you guess our favorite method?

Ingredients for home cooked crab with lemon garlic butter dipping sauce

The Best Crab Dipping Sauce:

The combination of butter, garlic and lemon pairs so well with seafood. We used a similar flavor profile with our Broiled Lobster Tails and Baked Salmon.

This doesn’t get any easier: In a small saucepan melt 4 Tbsp butter then stir in 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Stir for just 30 seconds and take off the heat. Squeeze in 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice.

Crab Dipping Sauce in ramekin surrounded by crab legs

Take My Money!! This is going to become your new favorite seafood dip. Try it with shrimp or lobster next.

Crab meat dipped into homemade crab dipping sauce

How to Cook Crab Legs:

We’ve covered all of the best ways to cook crabs, from instant pot to steaming, grilling and even baking in the oven. If I had to pick a favorite, I would go with Instant Pot crab legs when cooking for 2 because it is so fast, and steamed crab when feeding a larger crowd.

Instant Pot Crab Legs:

  1. Place a trivet into a 6 qt Instant Pot and add 1 cup water. Add 3-4 clusters of fresh or frozen crab legs per batch folding the legs to fit more in (thawed fit easier than frozen since they are more flexible).
  2. Close the lid and cook on manual high pressure 4 minutes with quick release. You can repeat with another batch right away using the same water.

Pro Tip: Set up your instant pot outside or let it vent under the stove hood or your kitchen will be quite fragrant!

Crab Legs in Instant Pot

Steamed Crab Legs:

Place a steam basket at the bottom of a large stockpot with 1 cup of water. Add as many crab legs as your pot will accommodate and still close the lid tightly. Bring the water to a boil then cover and steam cook until fragrant and steaming hot (about 5 minutes for thawed or 10 minutes for frozen crab legs).

Crab legs in pot with steaming basket

Grilled Crab Legs:

Using heavy-duty aluminum foil, create a foil pack for 4 clusters of crab legs. Bring the two ends together in the center, and fold them together twice. Then fold the other two ends together twice to seal the foil packet. Do not add water to the foil pack. It will steam cook with the natural moisture from the crab legs.

Grill over medium/high heat or about 450˚F for 15-20 minutes if frozen or 10 minutes if thawed. It’s ready when you see steaming as you open the foil pack.

Crab legs in foil packs for grilling and baking

Oven-Baked Crab Legs:

Create the same foil pack as in the grilling method with 4 crab leg clusters. Place on a baking sheet and bake on the center rack of a preheated oven at 450˚F for 25 minutes for frozen or 15 minutes for thawed crab legs. They are ready when steaming as you open the foil pack.

Pro Tips for Success:

  • Avoid Boiling: We don’t love the boiled crab method because you end up with a watery mess when you crack the legs open and boiling in water tends to dilute the crab meat flavor.
  • Cook Until Steaming and Fragrant: In every method, the crab legs are done when they are uniformly steaming and fragrant. If you don’t see hot steam coming off of them, you haven’t cooked them long enough.
  • Use a Crab Cracker or a nutcracker. The shells can be tough and sharp, especially at the claw. You can also use good kitchen shears if you don’t have a crab cracker.
  • Serve Hot or Cold: the juicy meat is just as tasty cold or hot so don’t worry about serving them still hot.

Cooked crab legs on blue platter served with dipping sauce

How to Buy Crab Legs:

All crab will come either precooked (sold frozen or thawed from frozen), or live. Since most crab is sold pre-cooked and frozen, you can stock up when it goes on sale (it often does around Valentine’s Day) and keep frozen for later). I love to buy them frozen and thaw when I need them for maximum freshness. Thawed crabs should be refrigerated and consumed within 1-2 days.

  • Snow Crab Legs ($10-$15 /lb) is what we used to make this recipe. Tip: Buy legs attached together as a cluster. The cluster is filled with meat.
  • Dungeness Crabs ($8-$12 /lb) will work just as well. Tip: Ask the fish department in your grocery store to help with cleaning/removing the shell to make your life easier).
  • King Crab legs ($25+ per pound) are significantly more expensive but very meaty and a real treat.

Snow crab legs on platter

Seafood Recipes for Special Occasions:

Watch the Crab Legs Video Tutorial:

Let me know which was your favorite method for cooking crab legs in a comment below. If you enjoyed this video, please subscribe to our Youtube Channel and make sure to click the bell icon so you can be the first to know when we post a new video.

How to Cook Crab Legs (4 Easy Ways)

5 from 1 vote

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Crab legs served on platter with butter dipping sauce

Learn how to make easy Crab Legs 4 ways; from the instant pot to steaming, baking and grilling. We love to dip crab meat into the incredible crab dipping sauce.

Skill Level: Easy

Cost to Make: $20-$25 (varies by season)

Keyword: crab legs

Calories: 397 kcal

Servings: 2 people

What You Will Need to Cook Crab:

  • 2 lbs snow crab legs (4 clusters)
  • 1 cup water (for Instant pot or steaming methods)

Ingredients for Crab Dipping Sauce:

How to Make Crab Dipping Sauce:

  1. In a medium saucepan melt 4 Tbsp butter and add 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp black pepper. Stir 30 seconds until fragrant then remove from heat. Off the heat, squeeze in 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice. Divide between ramekins to serve.

Instant Pot Crab Legs:

  1. Place a trivet in a 6 qt Instant Pot and add 1 cup water. Add 3-4 clusters of fresh or frozen crab legs per batch folding the legs to fit more in (thawed are easier to fit than frozen).

  2. Close the lid, set vent to sealing position and cook on manual high pressure 4 minutes then switch vent to venting position and do a quick release* of remaining pressure.

Steamed Cook Crab Legs:

  1. Place wire rack or basket at the bottom of a large stockpot. Add 1 cup of water. Place crab legs over the rack (as many as your pot will accommodate). Bring the water to a boil then cover and steam cook until fragrant and steaming hot (5-10 minutes). Frozen crab legs will take longer, thawed crab legs cook faster).

Grilled Crab Legs:

  1. Using heavy-duty aluminum foil, create a foil pack with 4 clusters of crab legs. Using a long sheet of foil with the crab legs in the center, bring the two ends together and fold them together twice. Fold the other two ends together twice to seal the foil packet. Do not add water since it will steam cook with the natural moisture from the crab legs.

  2. Grill over medium/high heat at 450˚F for 15 minutes if frozen or 10 minutes if thawed. Crab legs are ready when you see steaming as you open the foil pack.

Oven-Baked Crab Legs:

  1. Create the same foil pack of 4 crab leg clusters. Place on a baking sheet and onto the center rack of a preheated oven at 450˚F for 25 minutes if frozen or 15 minutes if thawed. The crab legs are ready when you open the foil pack and they are steaming.

*Pro Tip: Set up your Instant Pot outside or to depressurize under the range vent. otherwise your kitchen will be quite fragrant! Also, You can repeat with a second batch right away using the same water at the bottom.

Nutrition Facts

How to Cook Crab Legs (4 Easy Ways)

Amount Per Serving

Calories 397 Calories from Fat 216

% Daily Value*

Fat 24g37%

Saturated Fat 15g94%

Cholesterol 155mg52%

Sodium 2197mg96%

Potassium 463mg13%

Carbohydrates 1g0%

Sugar 1g1%

Protein 42g84%

Vitamin A 754IU15%

Vitamin C 18mg22%

Calcium 116mg12%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen