How To Reheat Crab Legs

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If you’re lucky enough to get access to fresh crabs, the cooking process is fairly simple; crab, meet hot steam.

However, many of us are not able to purchase fresh crab and need to learn to prepare flash frozen crab legs. In this guide you will learn how to reheat crab legs by boiling, steaming, or in the microwave.

Cooking Frozen Crab Legs

Flash frozen king crab is a product as close to fresh as you can purchase. You don’t need to thaw frozen crab legs to cook them, just adjust your steaming time to make sure the crab meat gets to a safe temperature once it’s thawed.

Steaming crab legs:

  1. Fill your steamer pot to the fill line, or until the water comes up to the bottom of the steamer insert.
  2. Heat the water to a boil, and then carefully place the crab legs into the steamer.
  3. Once the water comes to a boil again, steam the crab legs for six to eight minutes.​

Thawing Crab Legs

The frozen cooking method really only works well if you have a large enough pot. If you need to bend your crab legs to get them in your steaming pot, you can thaw them in the refrigerator.

Crab legs can be thawed in an airtight container, refrigerated overnight. In a pinch, you can thaw your crab legs under cold running water in a colander.

Once thawed, you can bend crab legs as needed to fit them in your cooking pot. If you don’t have a steamer, you can boil your thawed crab legs for four to five minutes.​

Other Cooking Methods

Unless you live close to a crabbing area, you’ll be buying pre-cooked, frozen King crab.

To reheat this delicious crab meat, you can steam it. What’s Cooking America does not recommend boiling King crab.

Bake or microwave crab legs:

  1. Once they’re thawed, place the King crab legs in a microwave safe container with 1 tbsp. of water per 8 ounces of crab legs.
  2. Microwave on high for three to four minutes per 8 ounces of crab.

For oven preparation:

  1. Lay the crab legs in a shallow baking dish that you can cover, or cover it with aluminum foil.
  2. Add just enough water to reach 1/8 inch of standing water in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit / 177 degrees Celsius for 7 to 10 minutes.​

Can You Reheat Crab Legs?

If you’re working with frozen crab meat, you’re technically reheating it when you cook it. However, once you’ve steamed your crab it’s critical you get it out of the shell. If left in the shell too long, the meat can cling to the shell and make extraction a slippery mess.

First, break the crab legs at the joint to remove the fibrous tissue that connects them per this video from eHow.

Using either a scissor or cracking tools, cut lengthwise through the shell to get to the meat. Peel back the split shell to get to the meat. Serve with fresh lemon wedges and drawn butter.

Once your crab is cooked and shelled, you can refrigerate it safely for up to 24 hours. However, it will be safest (and tastiest) to enjoy it as soon as possible.

Safety Considerations

Whether you’re steaming or boiling, always use tongs or other long handled tools. While we’ve all learned to stay away from boiling water, steam will cook your flesh as well as the crab legs. Take care when removing lids from steamers and boiling pots of water.

Per the FDA, spoiled seafood has an odor similar to ammonia. This odor will get stronger as you cook your crab legs. Should you note any strange odor, let your fishmonger know and discard this set of crab legs.

Final Thoughts

Crab legs and freshly steamed crab is a great treat no matter the season. As summer heats up and picnic season begins remember to always store any dish with prepared seafood at 40 degrees Fahrenheit /4 degrees Celsius and never leave it at room temperature for more than an hour.​

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.