Baked Crab Legs is a luxurious meal, perfect for holidays and celebrations alike! The natural flavors in King crab meat are rich in a way similar to fresh lobster – so delicious! Chances are, if you like one, you’ll love the other. I was fortunate enough to grow up eating crab often with my family, and to this day it is one of my favorite seafood dishes. Plus, it could not be easier to make!
Typically, crab legs that you buy from a store are already cooked! The most gentle method for enjoying crab at home is to bake it.
Here’s why you’ll love it so much:
- Practically no prep time, hands off cooking, and unlikely to overcook the crab meat!
- You don’t have to cut the large legs into smaller pieces (unless you really want to)!
- No large pots of water to bring to a boil or fussing with steam baskets
This baked crab legs recipe was written out for Alaskan king crab legs, but we’re including instructions below for using snow crab or Dungeness crab legs if that’s what you’re working with!
Either way, have plenty of hot melted butter ready to dip the crab in!
What Type Of Crab Should I Use For Baked Crab Legs?
We’re using King crab legs, which reign supreme when it comes to crab meat. What’s the difference between king crab and dungeness crab or snow crab?
Dungeness crab: Similar in flavor to king crab, but shorter and contain much less meat.
Snow crab: The most similar to king crab. They’re smaller in size, but slightly sweeter. A great substitute if you can’t get king crab locally and/or want something a bit more economical and budget-friendly.
Blue crab: This East coast delicacy is only in season between April and December. Most often served with Old Bay, these are the smallest crabs of the bunch. So small, in fact, that they’re served whole, unlike the other types of crabs where you typically buy only the legs.
How Much Crab Per Person?
Great question! We recommend about ¾ lb king crab legs per person for dinner, or ~½ lb as an appetizer. If you’re serving snow crab, you’ll want to up that to 1 lb per person. There’s a lot less meat in snow crab! You can double or triple this recipe based on the size of the crowd you’re feeding.
How To Bake Crab Legs At Home
King crab legs are excessively large in the best way possible! If you’re baking them on a small baking sheet or dish, you may need to cut them into pieces. In general, a standard rimmed baking sheet works just fine, no scissors required.
Preheat an oven to 375F. Place thawed crab legs on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until warm throughout, about 15-20 minutes for king crab (check at 15 minutes!) or 10-15 minutes for snow crab legs. Crab meat retains a lot of water and moisture — by cooking them inside their shells, they’re essentially steaming in the oven.
While the crab legs are cooking, melt the butter. Place 1 stick unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Melt over medium heat, then keep warm over low heat until ready to eat.
You could also take a few extra minutes to make clarified butter: Melt butter over medium-high heat until it comes to a soft boil. Continue cooking until water evaporates and milk solids sink to the bottom. Strain through a cheesecloth. For more detailed info on clarified butter, check out this great Serious Eats article.
Fresh Crab vs Frozen Crab Legs
Most King crab is sold fresh frozen. What this means is that the crab legs were cooked shortly after the crab was caught, then immediately frozen to lock in freshness. We suggest you let the frozen crab legs thaw overnight in a refrigerator before baking.
Using frozen crab instead? No problem! Simply increase the cook time by about 10 minutes, regardless of whether you’re using snow crab, king crab, or dungeness crab.
Can I Add Seasonings?
You can, but it’s totally not necessary! Lots of people toss crab with creole seasoning or Old Bay seasoning (we get it, it’s delicious! check out our famous crab cake recipe here!), but there is something so enjoyable about fresh, sweet crab meat with melted butter that needs nothing more than a squeeze of lemon.
Chives and fresh parsley? They make for a pretty garnish, but legit not needed for serving!
Our Best Tips!
- Check baked crab legs for doneness at the beginning of the allotted cook time. For instance, check king crab legs at 15 minutes (not 20 minutes) to ensure you don’t overcook them! Remember, king crab legs are already cooked — you’re just warming them through in a preheated oven.
- How will I know when the crab is cooked through? Again, they’re already cooked! You’re just warming them throughout. Their shells will turn a bright orange and they should be sufficiently hot to the touch all the way around. That’s it!
- It can be difficult to crack the shells by hand. Use kitchen shears to cut! Crab shells are tough in general, but King crag shells are damn strong. We like to have 1 or 2 pairs of shears on standby for guests to cut through the shells easily.
- Serve with a few tablespoons melted butter and lemon wedges! Give each guest their own ramekin with hot melted butter, but serve the lemon wedges family-style in a small bowl. Guests can add fresh lemon juice as they please!
With a total prep and cook time of 20 minutes, start to finish, and a whopping 2 ingredients needed to make this crab leg recipe at home, we highly recommend you add this to your holiday menu rotation!
If you make this Baked Crab Legs recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
Our Remaining 2021 Feast Of The Seven Fishes Menu:
- Salmon Rillettes
- Crab Stuffed Shrimp
- Baked Cod With Panko
- Moules Marinières
- Broiled Scallops With Garlic Butter Sauce
- Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass with Lemon Beurre Blanc
And make sure to sign up for our newsletter and follow along on Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, and Facebook for more Well Seasoned recipes! DON’T FORGET to tag us on social channels when you make a recipe at #wellseasonedstudio !! We LOVE seeing what you’re up to in the kitchen!
More seafood recipes to try!
- Sous Vide Lobster Tail
- Pan Seared Scallops
- Salmon Piccata
- Butter Poached Cod
- Grilled Lobster Tails and Clams
20-Minute Baked Crab Legs
- 3 lbs King crab legs thawed
- 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Lemon wedges for serving
- Bake the crab legs. Preheat an oven to 375F. Place thawed king crab legs on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the crab legs. Crab is done when the shells are very warm to the touch on the outside. Serve immediately with melted butter and lemon wedges)
- Melt the butter. While the crab is in the oven, place 1 stick unsalted butter in a medium saucepan. Melt over medium heat. Keep warm over low heat until crab is ready. You can either divide this immediately between dipping bowls or remove the milk solids to make clarified butter.
- If making clarified butter: Continue cooking melted butter over medium-high heat until water fully evaporates and milk solids completely sink to the bottom of the saucepan. Strain through a cheesecloth. Full recipe linked in notes below.
- To make clarified butter, check out this great article by Serious Eats.
- How much crab per person? We recommend about ¾ lb king crab legs per person for dinner, or ~½ lb as an appetizer. If you’re serving snow crab, you’ll want to up that to 1 lb per person. There’s a lot less meat in snow crab! You can double or triple this recipe based on the size of the crowd you’re feeding.
- We recommend thawing frozen crab legs overnight in a refrigerator before baking. Using frozen crab instead? No problem! Simply increase the cook time by about 10 minutes, regardless of whether you’re using snow crab, king crab, or dungeness crab.