How to Eat Crab

  • 01 of 08

    Start with Cooked, Cleaned Crabs

    Cleaned Crab
    Cleaned Crab. Photo © Molly Watson

    Whether you're having a crab boil or cracked crab, sitting around a table with everyone picking their own meat out of the crabs, or picking crab meat to make crab cakes or crab salad, this guide will show you how to pick crab meat out of crab legs and claws with ease.

    Cooking and cleaning crabs is a fairly easy operation (see How to Cook Crab and How to Clean Crab, respectively), but you can also buy most types of crab already cooked and cleaned. The largest varieties are sold already partially...MORE broken down (Alaskan king crab legs, for example).

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  • 02 of 08

    Break Crabs

    Break Crab Apart
    Break Crab Apart. Photo © Molly Watson

    Start picking crabs by breaking them in half (or quarters for larger specimens). Most varieties can be broken by hand, but tougher shells can be tackled with a heavy knife or cleaver, if necessary.

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  • 03 of 08

    Separate the Legs

    Separate Crab Legs
    Separate Crab Legs. Photo © Molly Watson

    With a simple twist and a pull, most crab legs will separate easily. Larger crabs may require a nut cracker to ease the separation.

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  • 04 of 08

    Crack the Claws

    Crack Crab Claw
    Crack Crab Claw. Photo © Molly Watson

    Some people start with the body meat, but I like to treat myself to the sweetest nuggets of meat in the claws straight away. Even smaller crab claws will need to be cracked. A nut cracker or lobster cracker is a popular choice. I prefer a flat meat tenderizer—one solid whack and the claw cracks open enough to pull apart, usually without too much shattering of the shell and thus minimal shards of shell in the crabmeat.

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  • 05 of 08

    Remove Claw Meat

    Remove Crab Claw Meat
    Remove Crab Claw Meat. Photo © Molly Watson

    Use a small fork (skewers and chopsticks work well, too) to remove the meat from the cracked claw. Once you have a claw picked clean, you can use the pointy pincer to pick out meat from the rest of the crab.

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  • 06 of 08

    Split Crab Legs

    Cut Crab Legs
    Cut Crab Legs. Photo © Molly Watson

    You can crack the legs just like the claws, but many crabs have soft enough shells on their legs to you can snip them open with a pair of kitchen scissors. The choice is yours!

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  • 07 of 08

    Remove Leg Meat

    Remove Crab Leg Meat
    Remove Crab Leg Meat. Photo © Molly Watson

    If you've split the leg shell cleanly, you'll be able to pull out a solid piece of tender, sweet crab meat as a reward.

    Continue to 8 of 8 below.
  • 08 of 08

    Picked Crab

    Picked Crab
    Picked Crab. Photo © Molly Watson

    Some crabs, such as blue crabs and stone crabs, won't have much meat in their bodies to bother with. Larger crabs will have a fair amount. The body meat isn't, generally speaking, as tender or sweet as the claw and leg meat, but it can still be worth getting - especially since it's fairly easy to remove. Just use a small fork, pick, or pincer to pull out the meat from the different sections of the body.

    Once done, you'll have a nice pile of fresh crab meat - if you haven't been eating it...MORE as you go, that is.