How to Cook Blue Crab (Plus Cleaning Tips!)

I have always loved the tender and slightly sweet meat of a crab since I was a little girl. But it was just recently that I discovered that its taste could get better.

I figured out this when I visited a few beaches last summer. I ordered steamed crabs and was surprised with its taste—it is much more flavorful and a lot more tender. I asked one of the locals there, and they let me in on their little secrets—the crabs they used are fresh!

I know, cooking fresh crabs can be a bit intimidating and there are lots of work involved. But don’t you worry, I am here to give you some tips on how to cook blue crab. I will also share with you some of the cleaning tips that I have learned from the locals.

What You Will Need

Before we start our short tutorial, please prepare the following items first:

  • Fresh Blue Crabs
  • Knife
  • Crab Cracker
  • Steamer Pot
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 to 4 bottles or cans of beer
  • Water
  • Protective Gloves

How to Cook Blue Crab: The Steps You Need to Take

Here are the steps you need to take to cook your blue crab:

Step 1. Kill the crab (humanely).

If you are using a live blue crab for your recipe, you may have to kill it first. But please do that as humanely as possible.

You can do this by submerging the crab in a bowl that contains ice cold water for 2 to 3 minutes.

Another option is to place the crab in the freezer for about 15 minutes. After that, put it in a pot of boiling water. Allow it to boil for a minute. The pot must be uncovered. After a minute, remove the crab from the pot of boiling water and place it in a basin with cold water to prevent further cooking.

Pro Tip: Wear protective glovbes as the crabs can get a little feisty.

NOTE: If you like to eat the crab the hassle-free way, you can proceed with cleaning the crab before cooking. But if you are like me and you believe that creating a big mess is the exciting part of eating the crab, you can proceed to step 4.  

Step 2. Dissect the crab.

Lay the crab on its back. Insert a knife 1 inch below the mouth of the crab.

Place your thumbs in the small opening found at the back of the crab. Pull the opening in different directions until the shell has been completely removed from the body of the crab. Throw away the top part of the crab’s shell.

Here’s a short video on how to do it:

Step 3. Clean the insides of the crab.

Once opened, remove the gills of the crab. In addition to that, scoop out its guts. The key here is to remove anything that is not white, including the thick yellow substance that you can find inside the crab.

After that, rinse the crab in a bowl of ice water, or you can place it under a running faucet.

Step 4. Steam the crab.

Place water and beer in the pot that is enough to get a roiling boil. To determine the right amount, check the manufacturer’s instructions on using your steamer.

Get the steamer pot and arrange the crabs in a single layer. Sprinkle a thin coating of Old Bay seasoning over the crab. Rub it in.  After that, proceed with placing another layer of crabs on top of the first layer. Pour seasoning and rub it in again.

Pro Tip: If you want to achieve the perfect cook, the maximum number of crab layers is only two. If you are cooking a big batch of blue crab, don’t try to fit it all in. You can simply cook them in batches.

Place the steam pot over the boiling water.  Steam the crabs until they have been cooked through. The amount of time needed to cook the crabs may vary depending on how big the pot is, and how many crabs you were able to place in the steaming pot.

But make sure to check the crabs after 15 minutes. You will know that the crabs are already cooked when they take on a beautiful and bright red color.

Step 5. Remove the crab from the steamer. 

Once the crabs are already bright red, you can remove the steamer pot from the water. Pour the first batch in a serving dish then proceed on steaming the next few batches, following the instructions in step 4. 

Pro Tip: Since the water can get too hot, you can use oven mitts when removing the steamer pot to avoid accidents.  

Step 6. Serve the crabs.

Serve the crabs hot and with a few side dishes and bottles of beer—you’ll be amazed at how these things complement each other!

You can serve the crab in a serving dish, but if you wish to eat crabs at its finest, the best thing you can do is to cover your dining table with newspapers. And serve the crabs over the papers (without the need for serving dishes). Make sure to place a roll of paper towel on each side of the table for your guests.


Blue crab is probably the most flavorful type of crab that you can ever get your hands on. If you wish to really enjoy the taste of crabs, choose fresh crabs instead of the frozen ones. Cooking a live and fresh crab may be a bit of work, but I assure you—it is well worth it!

It can be challenging to cook blue crab, but with the tips that I have mentioned above, you will be sure that you can end up with a tasty crab dish that you and your guests can enjoy!

Do you know someone who is in need of tips on how to cook blue crab? Please share this article with them!

Reference Links:

Leave a Comment