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crab legs on a table
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5 from 1 vote

How to Cook Frozen Crab Legs

Sweet tender and perfectly cooked! You need to know how to cook frozen crab legs for the perfect dinner!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time28 mins
Course: main
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to cook frozen crab legs
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 388kcal
Author: Wendi Spraker
Cost: $15


  • Stock Pot
  • lid
  • steamer or colander
  • Stove
  • tongs


For the Crab Legs

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 oz Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 lbs crab legs
  • 1 whole lemon cut into slices

For the Butter Dipping Sauce

  • 4 Tbs Butter unsalted
  • 2 Cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 sprig thyme optional


For the Crab Legs

  • Soak the frozen crab legs in enough cool water to cover them in a large bowl or stock pot until the joints are loose and move back and forth freely (about 20 minutes).
  • Pour the water off of the crab legs and move the crab legs to the steamer basket or the colander (whichever you are using).
  • Heat 4 cups of water on the stove over high heat until the water is boiling well. Make sure the steamer basket does not touch the water. Pour the Old Bay Seasoning into the water and allow to boil for about 1 minute.
  • Place the crab legs in the steamer basket over the top of the boiling pan of water and Old Bay. Place the lid on the top of the steamer and set your timer for 8 minutes. Allow to steam.
  • After 8 minutes, remove the crab legs to a warmed platter and serve immediately with the butter dip and lemon slices. Squeeze the lemon juice over the crab as ready to eat.

For the Butter Dip

  • Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over low heat on the stove top, add the garlic, salt and thyme and turn the heat off. Allow to sit while the crab legs are steaming.
  • When crab legs are done steaming, you can strain the butter or just leave the garlic and thyme in the butter for dipping. Either way is acceptable and tasty!



  • Buy the freshest crab legs you can. Often you'll find that the freshest ones in your area (especially if you aren't near an ocean) are frozen.
  • You'll sometimes see ice clinging to the crab legs in the frozen bag. Look at the color of the crab legs and as long as they don't look pale, you should be fine.
  • Keep the crab legs frozen until you are within 24 hours of wanting to cook them and then thaw them by one of the methods described above.
  • Season the water generously (and more than seems reasonable) with the old bay. Remember that the flavor is leaving via steam and it will require more than feels prudent.
  • It probably goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway, the crab legs will be HOT. The lid is HOT. The Stock pot is HOT. Everything is VERY HOT by the time the legs are done cooking. So, use pot holders and tongs. Don't try to remove the crab legs with your bare hands.
  • You'll only need enough water in the bottom of the stock pot to steam the crab legs. You don't need an entire pot full of water. A few inches should do it.
  • Make sure that the water level in the stock pot does not touch your steamer basket (or colander), we aren't boiling the crab legs, we are steaming them.
  • Set a timer and you'll want to steam them for 8 minutes or until thoroughly heated through. It's a given that it will take you a bit to get them all collected from the basket and that steam will still be raising while you are removing them.


Serving: 1lb | Calories: 388kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 1199mg | Potassium: 447mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1497IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 363mg | Iron: 11mg