A Simple Method for Cooking Fresh Blue Claw Crabs

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One of our family's favorite ways to enjoy a quick and easy summer meal is by catching and cooking blue crabs from the waters off Cape Cod.

Basket of crabs Crabs, Blue, Just Caught

What a cheap way to travel! On Cape Cod, you can catch Atlantic blue crabs at no cost.

A pot of water, a stove, or a campfire are all you need to have your very own crab feast.

Blue crabs are caught in Cape Cod in this way, and you can see how it's done by clicking here!

Preparing blue crabs couldn't be easier. The entire process, from cooking to serving, takes about 20 minutes. Taking care of this is a breeze

Working with Real Crabs

If there's one thing that can be tricky about preparing blue crab, it's getting it nice and hot. That's when the little devils try to use their claws to defend themselves from you as you transfer them from their storage container into the pot.

Fingers should be kept well away from a blue crab's claws when being handled.

The claws of a blue crab are formidable. Furthermore, they possess a high degree of sharpness. And the crab is a very resilient creature. Once they've attached themselves, they won't easily let go.

Blue crab claw pinching a finger Ouchhhh

Thankfully, the thing caught in the crab's claw isn't my thumb.

I discovered many years ago (yes, the hard way) ) that using a pair of long-handled barbecue tongs to remove a live blue crab from its shell is the most secure method.

I reach behind me with my tongs and grab the crab, holding it by the top and bottom of its shell, its claws pointing away from me. If that's the case, I'm in charge.

How to Get Those Blue Crabs Ready for Cooking

Little maintenance is required beyond rinsing them.

In most cases, blue claw crabs purchased from a seafood market will already be cleaned and ready to go.

In a sporting manner, if you have caught your own fish,

Live crab in the net A Smorgasbord of Blue Crabs Is Just Getting Started

You can easily clean them by rinsing them in the sink or outside with the hose. That usually is sufficient to get rid of any remaining seaweed or gunk.

As an optional extra, you can scrub their shells with a brush. I usually don't bother, but you can decide if you want me to.

Procedures for Preparing Blue Crabs

I am a purist when it comes to preparing and serving freshly caught blue crabs.

Water and live crabs are the only ingredients in our cooking pot.

A few dashes of vinegar, a mug of beer, and some "crab boil" spices like Old Bay Seasoning are just a few of the extras that some people like to throw into the mix.

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever

It's not necessary to add anything to the flavor of blue crab meat; it's already delicious. Why anyone would want to mess with that taste is beyond me.   

Blue claw crabs in the cooking pot True Blue Crabs, Soon to Be Slaughtered for Dinner

I'll share the one and only way I've ever had success with cooking blue crab:

  • In a large, sturdy pot, pour a few inches of water. Bring the water to a full, rolling boil in a covered pot over a hot stove or campfire.
  • Drop the crabs into the boiling water as soon as you hear the sizzle. Don't cram them in there too tightly.
  • Cover the pot and keep cooking for another 20 minutes over high heat.  
  • When your crabs are ready to eat, you'll notice their shells have turned a vibrant orange.   

The cleanup from this party is as simple as spreading newspaper over the table, melting some butter for dipping, and digging in.

Family around the table enjoying a crab feast Dinner We Enjoy Most During the Summer

Extra Advice on Food Preparation and Storage

Preparing to Steam Crabs by Putting Them to "Sleep"

Putting live crabs, live lobsters, or really anything alive into a pot of boiling water makes me a nervous wreck. For this reason, my husband typically gets to carry out these tasks. while I stay hidden until the dirty deed is finished

When I have to pot 'em up myself, which isn't often, I like to "put my live crabs to sleep" first.


Placing live crabs in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes causes them to go into a state of hibernation, making their eventual death less distressing.

Retaining Live Blue Crabs

Keeping crabs alive overnight so you can cook them tomorrow It's easy To keep them fresh, just mist them with water, but don't put them in a bucket of water. Crabs cannot survive in still water for more than a few minutes because they consume all the oxygen. And once they expire, the meat spoils quickly. Bad crabmeat can seriously affect health. Take no chances

How to keep crabs alive until they are cooked is as follows:

  • Put the crabs in a wooden crate that you have lined with wet burlap and then cover them with more wet burlap. Keep the crate's burlap damp and stow it somewhere cool and shady. OR
  • Find an old, drain-capable cooler or ice chest to use. Fill the bottom of the ice chest or cooler with ice. Wrap the ice in wet burlap or old newspapers. Cover the burlap or newspaper with the crabs. To protect the crabs from the rain, place another layer of wet burlap or newspaper over them. It would be nice to have some extra ice on top.

    Make sure the chest or cooler is ventilated by leaving the top ajar and removing the drain plug to release any accumulated melt water. Keep in a cool, dry, and shady location.  

  • Refrigerate the live crabs by placing them in a damp paper bag. Wet the bag down until it's time to cook it.

Your crabs, if properly stored, should have a 12- to 24-hour shelf life.  

Food Preparation Essentials: Crab

Those guys are done thanks to you. I hope you're ready to dive in and devour all of this delicious crabmeat.


Where does one begin their journey to the delicious meat? One option is to use one's bare hands to crack the shells, though this could result in injury or even blood loss.

Put these shell-cracking forks and meat-skewers to good use. When it comes to getting every last morsel from a meal, we always turn to them.

Grab your crab-eating gear by clicking here!


Guide to handling, preparing and cooking freshly caught blue claw crabs

Clam-digging as a Hobby

New England Fish Chowder, as Prepared by Jackie Kennedy

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The photo of the blue crab basket was taken by
Photobulb|Dreamstime.com Thanks to Pinching Crab for the Image "Blue Water" Other than that one image, all the pictures on this page about cooking blue crab are property of Affordable-Cape-Cod-Vacations. com

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