Fried crab legs are one of those dishes that everyone loves and it’s easy to see why – they are delicious, crunchy, and full of flavor.
However, there are a few things that many people don’t know about how to prepare them properly.
If you want to get the most out of this dish, then keep reading because we’ve got all the information you need right here in our guide on how to make fried crab legs.
How Do You Make Fried Crab Legs?
The first thing you should do when making fried crab legs is to ask yourself whether or not you want to deep fry these items.
The reason why you would choose to deep fry is because frying them at lower temperatures produces much less oil compared to other cooking methods.
Deep-frying means using high heat which can lead to some issues such as food sticking together or burning up too quickly.
However, if you are willing to go through with it, then you can use this method of preparation where you place the crab legs into hot oil until golden brown before draining them off and serving them immediately.
If you prefer not to deep fry your crab legs, then another option is pan-frying.
This involves placing the crab legs onto a heated pan where you let them sit until they turn golden brown before removing them from the pan and serving them straight away.
While either method is great, it’s important to note what type of oil you use and how long you leave the crabs in the oil for.
As mentioned previously, frying crab legs requires quite a lot of oil since they tend to stick together.
For this reason, it’s important to only use a medium temperature oil (a little below 400 degrees Fahrenheit) and allow the crab legs to stay in the oil for no longer than 10 minutes.
There are also various ways to season your crab legs once cooked.
You can sprinkle salt over them after they come out of the oil to help give them an extra kick of flavor, but you can also add spices like paprika or Old Bay seasoning to spice up their taste even further.
What Is The Best Way To Cook Crab Legs?
The first thing you should consider when preparing fried crab legs is whether or not they are raw.
The meat inside the shells must be fully cooked before serving as raw meats can carry bacteria which makes you sick if consumed.
To check if the meat has been fully cooked, insert a small knife into the thick part of the shell.
When done correctly, the meat inside should pull away easily from the bone without any resistance.
If the meat does not come off the shell easily, then it needs to be cooked further until completely tender.
Once you’re confident that the meat is fully cooked, you can move onto cooking the rest of the ingredients.
We recommend using an air fryer with a basket style tray for frying the legs because it allows you to cook everything at once while keeping the temperature consistent throughout.
Step 1: Cleaning the Legs Before Cooking
- Rinse the crabs under cold water to remove excess sand and dirt
- Wipe down both sides with paper towel
- Remove the claws by cutting through the top of the claw and popping it out (it may take some force)
- Gently twist and bend the claw back towards the body making sure not to break anything along the way
Step 2: Make Your Seasoning Mix
- Mix together equal parts of flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and baking soda
- Place mixture into a bowl and set aside
Step 3: Heat Up Some Oil In A Deep Fry Basket
- Fill each compartment of your deep-fry basket halfway up with oil
- Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Carefully place the cleaned crabs into the basket one at a time
- Cook the crabs for five minutes per side
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 two additional times
Step 4: Check On Your Crab Legs
- After six total minutes of frying, carefully flip each piece of crab, allowing the other side to cook for another three minutes
- Turn off the heat and allow the crabs to cool slightly
- Serve immediately!
How Do You Make Sure Crab Legs Are Cooked Evenly?
The first thing to remember when preparing these tasty treats is that if you buy them already cleaned up and pre-cooked, then you should leave them alone.
You don’t want to mess with something that has been prepared by someone else.
That being said, you can still give some attention to what you purchase.
Here’s what you should look for when buying fresh crab legs:
- A healthy appearance – check that the shells aren’t cracked or broken and that the meat inside looks bright red and firm. Also, avoid any that seem overly slimy, as this may mean they were frozen at some point.
- Freshness – if possible, take a peek behind the shell and make sure they haven’t expired. Don’t worry too much though, if they’re over two months old you won’t notice much difference in taste anyway.
- Healthy smell – once again, this isn’t going to affect the actual taste but it could indicate that the crabs have been exposed to harmful bacteria which could put you off having them around the house.
Now that you understand how to tell if the crab legs you purchase are safe to eat, let us move onto the next question…
What Is The Best Oil To Use For Frying Crab Legs?
The first thing you should consider when making fried crab legs is what type of oil to use.
There are two types of oil that you can choose from – vegetable or animal fat.
Both oils work well but each has its own benefits.
- Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil is the cheapest option available which makes it perfect if you only plan on cooking with it once or twice before disposing of it.
- Animal Fat: Animal fats are better suited to longer-term storage as they won’t go rancid as quickly. It also means you can store these for much longer than vegetable oil without worrying about spoilage.
- Butter/Margarine: Butter and margarines are great options too since they melt at lower temperatures meaning they cook faster and retain their “mouth feel” for longer.
- Canola Oil: Canola oil is another healthy choice that works well for both short-term and long-term storage.
- Mixed Fats: Mixed fats are a combination of different oils. For example, canola oil mixed with olive oil or peanut oil.
- Soybean Oil: Soybean oil is an excellent option for frying foods like fish, chicken, or even vegetables.
What type of oil do you prefer when frying crab legs?
If you aren’t sure about which type of oil you would prefer to buy, you might want to try mixing up some combinations yourself.
Try using half canola oil and half vegetable oil and compare the results against regular butter.
You could also add some extra virgin olive oil to mix things up just slightly.
When you combine two kinds of oils together, you create something called an emulsion.
The mixture becomes incredibly stable due to hydrogen bonds between fatty acids within the oil molecules.
These bonds mean that the oil doesn’t separate into layers.
This stability allows you to store the mixture for much longer periods of time without risk of spoiling or going rancid.
However, not every oil is suitable for creating an emulsion.
For example, coconut oil isn’t compatible with other oils, such as soybean oil or canola oil.
Instead, you’d need to find another oil that does work well with coconut oil instead.
What Is The Ideal Temperature To Fry Crab Legs?
The first thing you need to do when preparing any type of seafood is to check its safe cooking time, which can vary depending on what fish or shellfish it is.
The safest way to determine this is by checking the packaging or website where you purchased it from.
If you aren’t sure if what you bought had an accurate safe cooking time, then you can always cook it yourself at home using some basic guidelines.
To start, place the crab legs into a pot with enough water until the bottom of each leg touches the surface of the water.
Then bring the pot to a boil over high heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
Once cooked through, drain the crabs and allow them to cool before serving.
Now, onto the second part of determining the perfect cooking method for these tasty treats – finding the right oil.
There are several different types of oils that are used for deep-frying, but the two most popular ones are vegetable oil (like corn oil) and peanut oil.
Both work well as far as getting your food crispy, but peanut oil has a much stronger smell than other types of oil.
So, if you like the taste, go with peanut oil, otherwise stick with vegetable oil.
You shouldn’t worry too much about using either of these cooking methods though, because both are just fine for frying crab legs.
However, if you want to try something completely different, then you might want to look into grilling your crustaceans instead.
How Long Should You Fry Crab Legs For?
The first thing you should consider when making these treats is how long you plan on frying them.
The standard rule of thumb is to let them cook until just done, but if you want to take matters into your own hands, you can always fry them longer than usual.
You may think that deep-frying means that you’re going to spend hours cooking your food, but it isn’t as bad as you might imagine.
You can easily cut down on the time by using a large pot with enough oil to cover the entire surface area of the vessel.
Then, place your pots over high heat before adding your ingredients.
Once everything has been added, reduce the heat slightly and allow the mixture to simmer slowly while the oil heats up.
When the oil reaches the perfect temperature (about 350º), add your pieces of meat to the pan and use tongs or a slotted spoon to carefully move them around occasionally.
After five minutes, check to ensure that they are cooked through.
If you find yourself with some extra time after removing your crab legs from the oil, you can pop them back in to finish off the process.
Once you remove them again, turn off the heat and set aside to cool completely.
Once cooled, put them in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to three days.
What Is The Best Way To Serve Fried Crab Legs?
The beauty of fried crab legs is that they can go from being just another side dish to something much more special depending on what you do with them afterwards.
You could serve them as an appetizer at your next dinner party or even pair them up with a nice salad.
Or if you’re feeling adventurous, you could try putting them inside tacos.
Whatever you decide to do with these tasty treats, they are sure to please both adults and kids alike.
So let’s take a look at different ways you can enjoy them.
Crab Legs Appetizers
There are tons of different options when it comes to serving fried crab legs as an appetizer, but my favorite option would definitely be to put them inside a taco shell.
That way you can really taste everything that goes into making these delicacies – the meat, the seasoning, and the crispiness of the shells.
You could also use a tortilla instead of a taco shell if you prefer.
Just remember, you want the tortillas to cook through before adding the filling so that they stay crispy longer.
A Crab Leg Salad
If you like seafood salads, then I highly recommend trying to make a salad using only fried crab legs.
The flavors are amazing, and the texture makes it feel extra fresh.
You can add almost anything to a salad, but I think shrimp would work especially well with the strong flavor of the crab legs.
And if you want to make it even better, try pairing it with a little lemon juice and olive oil dressing.
Soup With Fried Crab Legs
Another great way to eat fried crab legs is by putting them straight in your mouth after frying them.
Yes, I said “putting them straight in your mouth,” not eating them straight away.
Why? Because the saltiness of the crab legs is perfect for dipping into any type of soup.
Try making a chicken noodle or vegetable broth base for this dish, then top it off with a bit of cream cheese and sour cream.
Add a couple pieces of cooked bacon, and you’re ready to dig in!
What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make When Cooking Crab Legs?
There are several mistakes that people often make when preparing their crab legs, but these three are the biggest ones that you should avoid at all costs.
- Overcooking or undercooking them.
- Not allowing them enough time to cook thoroughly.
- Not using enough oil to fry with.
If you follow these steps, then you won’t end up disappointed by your first batch of fried crab legs.
Let’s take a look at what each of these mistakes involves next.
1) Over-Cooking Your Crab Legs
The key to getting the perfect crispy crust on your crab legs is to not overheat them.
You definitely don’t want to boil them, as this would destroy all of the taste and texture in the meat itself.
The only thing worse than boiled crab legs is burnt crab legs, so never let them burn while frying.
One trick to keeping the meat from burning is to put them into cold water after boiling.
After letting them soak, drain them completely before putting them back onto the stovetop and frying them.
Another option is to use a deep fryer instead of a skillet, which allows you to submerge the crab legs in hot oil without worrying about them burning.
You just need to watch carefully to ensure that they do not scorch.
2) Not Allowing Them Enough Time to Cook
While crabs can easily be cooked in an oven, you still need to allow plenty of time for them to finish cooking.
A quick dip in boiling water beforehand doesn’t cut it either, since it simply cooks the outside shell, leaving the insides raw.
To make sure that you get the juiciest and tastiest crab legs possible, give them a total cooking time of 45 minutes.
You also need to pay close attention to the oil temperature during the entire process.
Ideally, you want to maintain a temperature between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit (180 to 205 Celsius).
When the oil reaches this temperature, you’re ready to begin frying.
3) Using Too Little Oil
A lot of recipes call for 2 cups of vegetable oil per 1 pound of crab legs, however, this isn’t always necessary.
In fact, you could even go down to half that amount, giving you room for error.
When making fried crab legs, you really want to work with a large pan, which has a capacity of around 6 quarts.
Once you pour your oil into the pan, you want to wait until it hits 325 degrees F (160 C), ensuring that you’re able to create a nice golden brown color throughout the meat.
At this point, place your crab legs in the oil and leave them alone until they reach 145 degrees F (63 C) Once they come out of the oil, you can start to season them with salt and pepper.
Next, you’ll add any additional spices, like Old Bay seasoning or lemon juice.
Finally, you’ll transfer them to serving plates to enjoy.
By following these simple tips, you’ll soon find yourself enjoying the best fried crab legs you’ve ever had.
How Can You Tell If Crab Legs Are Overcooked?
One thing that can ruin a great meal is over-cooking food.
When you cook something, the inside should always stay moist while the outside gets crispy or browned.
However, sometimes people forget that every part of their food needs to be cooked thoroughly before serving.
If you try eating a piece of meat with soft insides but hard crust, it won’t taste very good at all.
So, before you put anything into the oven, grill, fry pan, or microwave, check to make sure that everything has been seared well enough to avoid any undercooked bits.
Check the color of the flesh
The first step in checking whether your fish or shellfish is done is to look at its appearance.
The flesh should be opaque white and firm to touch.
If you poke around the area where you think the center might be, you should feel resistance.
A bit of texture isn’t necessarily bad, though – especially since these types of foods tend to dry up faster than other proteins once they start cooking.
Another way to know whether your seafood is fully cooked is by using your cheek.
You may not use this method often, but it works surprisingly well.
Once you’re ready to eat, stick two pieces of bread together and dip both sides of each bite in water.
After a minute or so, remove the bread from the water and give it a quick sniff.
If it smells like fish, then your seafood is probably done.
Otherwise, it could still be slightly raw.
You may not care much about what your food tastes like as long as it looks halfway decent, but if you’d prefer to do a little research ahead of time, you can also go by taste alone.
To find out if your fish is good or not, cut off a small portion of the meat and chew on it.
If it doesn’t have any discernible flavors, you can assume that the rest of the food is pretty bland too.
What Are Some Tips For Making The Perfect Fried Crab Legs?
The first thing you should do when preparing any seafood, especially crabs, is to wash them thoroughly under running water.
This helps remove any dirt or sand that may be stuck to the meat before cooking.
You also want to make sure that you only use fresh seafood and avoid anything with an off-putting smell, like old fish or other decaying food items.
Next up, you need to pick up a bag of ice from the grocery store.
Using ice during preparation makes the process much easier as it prevents the meat from drying out which makes it less likely to break apart while frying.
When choosing ice, always go with the largest possible size you can find since smaller pieces freeze faster than larger ones.
Once you have your ice, you need to season the meat well by rubbing it down with salt and Old Bay seasoning.
The latter is actually optional but highly recommended as it adds nice flavor to the meat without overpowering it.
Next, place the seasoned legs into the freezer for at least 30 minutes so that they become firm enough to handle.
When preparing fried crab legs, it’s important to cut each one in half lengthwise.
Doing this ensures that you end up with two perfectly cooked halves instead of having one over-cooked half and another underdone one.
In addition, it allows you to easily scoop out the meat once fully cooked.
After doing this, you can begin frying these babies.
You’re going to need a deep fryer basket (or wok) filled halfway with vegetable oil.
To start heating up the oil, grab a large pot and fill it almost completely with hot tap water.
Once the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat.
Then carefully pour the hot water out of the pot and put the pot back on the stove burner.
Now add 2 cups of vegetable oil to the pot and wait until the temperature reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that the oil is ready, gently lower the crab legs into the hot oil using tongs.
Be careful not to overcrowd the pot as this could lead to splattering.
Once the legs are submerged, cook them for 4 minutes per side.
Afterward, remove the legs from the oil and let them cool slightly on a rack set inside paper towels.
To serve, dip the cooled legs into either cocktail sauce or tartar sauce.
It doesn’t matter what kind of sauce you choose as long as it has no added sugar.
- Large heavy bottomed skillet or deep fryer
- Cut resistant gloves
- Kitchen scissors
- 5 King crab leg claws
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Old Bay seasoning divided
- 1 Tablespoon garlic salt divided
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- vegetable oil for frying
- Fill a large heavy-bottomed skillet halfway with vegetable oil, about 1 inch up the side. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
- Crack the crab legs at the joints with gloved hands, being careful not to tear the meat inside. For the smaller joints, you may need to use kitchen shears.
- Cut the shell open lengthwise with kitchen shears. Open the shell carefully and remove the meat.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, hot sauce, half of the Old Bay seasoning, and half of the garlic salt.
- In a separate medium mixing bowl, combine the yellow cornmeal, flour, remaining Old Bay, and garlic salt.
- Dip crab meat in egg mixture, then in flour mixture until completely coated. Arrange on a wire rack. Rep with the remaining crab.
- Cook the crab for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden and crispy. Dry with paper towels.