How To Cook Live Crabs

I had never done this. Live Crab? I don’t know how to cook live crabs. The thought of boiling Mr. Crab alive made my heart wince. Visions of standing over boiling water, not being able to drop Mr. Crab to its demise were strong. I’m a sensitive shellfish type – wimpy wimpy wimpy.

The answer was Chef Jon. He brought over the crab bounty, purchased from a local Newport Beach Fresh Seafood Market. Yes, the bag was moving when he asked “where shall we put these?”.  Knowing cold temperatures put crabs into a state of dormancy, I said “outside fridge, it runs icy”. An hour later we placed those cold crabs in the sink, they were, forgive the expression, chill. Nobody was trying to escape, making a final attemp for freedom.

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Chef Jon went to work, swiftly, by just dumping them into their oversized cauldron. No hesitation

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All were submerged quickly and then

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he plopped the lid down, smiled and walked away.

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12 minutes later he muscled this hot pot to the sink and strained the cooked crab.

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Obviously, they were hot. We rinsed them in cold water until they were cool enough to handle.

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Next up Chef Jon demonstrated how to clean cooked crab by removing the back. You hold the base of the crab with one hand and pull the shell away from the body with the other hand.  Turn the crab over and pull on the triangular-shaped section and lift it away. Gently scrape away the inside material leaving only the white meat. Rinse the rest of the body under cold water and break it in half. Kitchen shears really help in the cracking.

I was ready for a lemon wedge and melted butter, but, Chef Jon had bigger and better ideas. Of course, there are many sauces and recipes you can experiment with, here is his humdinger.

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Spicy Asian infusion mixture brimming with garlic, ginger, butter, and chilis. (recipe below).

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So there you have it.  How to cook live crabs. Time to crack the legs with crab claws and dig out the meat with forks or picks or however you can get to it. Eating crab is a messy affair, so just dig in and enjoy.

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4.5 from 2 reviews
Asian Spicy Crab Boil
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 12 pounds live crab
  • 8 seeded jalapeño peppers
  • 2 jalapeño peppers with seeds
  • 4 serrano chilies
  • 1 head of garlic (A head of garlic usually has about 10 cloves. 1 clove = 1 teaspoon. 10 tsp. = ⅔ cups minced garlic)
  • ½ cup minced ginger
  • ¼ minced scallions
  • 3 tbls oyster sauce
  • 2 tbls sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  1. In blender or food processor add, jalapeño peppers, chilies, garlic, ginger, scallion, oyster sauce and sugar. Blend to mince.
  2. Boil live crab for 12 minutes. Drain, rinse and clean.
  3. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the crushed jalapeño peppers, chilies, garlic, ginger, scallion, oyster sauce and sugar mixture; cook and stir until combined. About 2 minutes. Add crab, tossing, until combined.
  4. Serve immediately.

BON APPETIT and thank you Chef  Jon,


  1. I do love me some crab. I’m like you though, I don’t think I could be the one to toss them to their death though! 🙂

  2. Next time please add me to the reservations list, I would love to reserve a table at this crab cook out. Delicious is an understatement!

  3. I was indoctrinated into what Northern Californians call the “Crab Feast” last year during the holidays. Oh. My. God. DELICIOUS. Any way you cook ’em. Although this sounds especially amazing. We did our crab live this year as well and i think because they were so dormant from the ice, I didn’t have too hard of a time of it. And because one of them looked mean and nasty, i just chucked that bad boy in the pot because he could clip off a couple of my fingers.

    I find that cleaning them is easier than you would imagine, and doing it yourself generally means that the crab are going to taste fresher, since they haven’t had any time to sit…

    I’m sad that crab season is coming to an end up here. 🙁 I’ll have to come to your house next!

    • Ashley, you are welcome at Ksugarandspice headquarters anytime, doors are always open. When we made these, the big guy DID give us a little fist pump when he went down. He also had a claw that could clip off a few fingers, too. He made me anxious but tasted divine. 😉

  4. I’d love a chef Jon! That sauce looks sooo good. I’ve made live lobster before but not crab because I’ve never been able to source it locally.

    • Are you close enough to get them in Newport Beach? The sauce was amazing, you can adjust the heat up or down to your liking! Glad you liked it.

  5. That sauce looks so good! I am salivating over here and thinking I need to cook crab this weekend. Your photos and explanation makes it seem fool-proof. I’ll let you know after the weekend, if in fact, I am a fool.
    Heather recent posted..Helpless


  1. […] psst…need helping cooking live crab. Here is a Ksugar how to, thanks to Chef Jon. Click HERE […]

  2. […] a fancy dinner with Chef Jon and sparklers the night before made up for missing the 4th.  Our family was content with this […]

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