Fried crab legs are one of those dishes that people either love or hate, but no matter what camp they fall into, it’s hard not to agree on how good these delicacies can be.
But just how does one go about making them at home?
How Do You Make Fried Crab Legs?
The first step to making your very own fried crab legs is to find some fresh fishy meat.
You don’t need much as long as there is enough for two servings, so if you aren’t buying from a seafood market, try going to your local grocery store where they usually sell live crabs already cooked.
To prepare the crab legs, remove all of the innards from each leg (including the intestinal tract) and then cut off any excess skin.
Next, rinse the legs with cold water until the water runs clear.
This helps clean out the slime from the inside of the shells, which would otherwise cause an unpleasant taste when cooking.
Once the legs are cleaned, place them in a bowl filled with ice water to keep them cool while you prep everything else.
When the time comes to cook them, fill up a large pot with oil and heat over medium-high heat.
Once hot, carefully add the legs to the pan, without overcrowding it — this ensures even heating throughout the entire batch.
When all of the legs are added to the fryer, allow the temperature to rise another couple degrees before lowering the flame down to low-medium heat.
The key here is to let the oil reach around 350° F before adding the crab legs.
If you turn the heat too high right away, the oil could start smoking and burn before the crab reaches its desired state.
After five minutes, check the legs to see whether they are starting to curl slightly.
That means their outer coating has started to crisp up.
Remove the crab legs from the heat, drain the oil, and pour fresh filtered oil back into the pot.
Repeat this process twice more, allowing the oil to return to 350° F between each cycle.
Now that the legs are ready to be dipped in batter, take some flour and mix it together with salt and pepper.
Then, dip each leg in a separate dish and coat both sides thoroughly using the flour mixture.
After the legs are completely covered in flour, toss them in seasoned cornstarch.
Next, set the legs aside and get the rest of the ingredients ready.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream cheese, mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.
Now, combine all ingredients except the crab legs in a large shallow plate and set it by the stove.
Fill a second deep baking sheet with vegetable oil and set it close by the other ingredients.
Finally, once again, add new batches of crab legs to the frying pan, ensuring to avoid crowding — if you don’t, the oil won’t get hot enough to properly fry the crust.
Continue to repeat this process until all of the crab legs are finished.
What Is In A Fried Crab Legs Recipe?
The first thing to know about this dish is that there isn’t really an “official” way of cooking it.
You could say that most recipes are based off of two main components: the meat itself, which typically comes from the lower abdomen (the flipper) of the blue swimmer crab, and the coating used to keep things nice and crunchy while frying.
Both parts of the equation give this seafood its unique flavor profile.
The flesh of the crab leg has been compared to lobster tail, with its sweet notes, and the outer layer provides the crispiness we all crave when eating fried foods.
To get started, you need fresh crab legs.
If your local grocery store doesn’t carry any, you can buy frozen ones instead, though the taste may differ slightly depending on where you live.
If you don’t want to fry your own crab legs, you can also find ready-made versions online.
But if you do decide to take matters into your own hands, here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 pound of fresh crab legs
- 3 cups of flour (you can use breadcrumbs as well)
- ¼ cup baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup corn meal
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- Pepper sauce for dipping
How Do You Cook Fried Crab Legs?
To make your own fried crab legs, you need a few key things, including fresh meat from an actual live crab (if possible), some kind of breading, and a deep fryer.
Crab legs should only come with two claws attached, and if there are more than four, split them up so as to get all the meat out.
Next, take each leg and place it in between two pieces of wax paper and pound it gently with a mallet until it breaks down into small pieces.
If you don’t have access to a mallet, you can use a rolling pin instead.
Next, mix together three cups of flour, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 2 teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.
Then, add water slowly while mixing well until you reach the consistency of thick pancake batter.
At this point, dip each piece of crab in the mixture, then roll it around so as to coat it thoroughly.
Now, let the crumbed legs air dry for about 30 minutes before frying them in oil heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
While waiting for them to cool slightly, prepare a spice blend by combining 3 tablespoons paprika, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon chili powder, and 1 tablespoon celery seed.
Once cooled, toss them back in the batter and repeat the drying process again.
Finally, drop them into hot oil and cook them until golden brown.
Once cooked through, remove them from the pan using tongs and drain them on some paper towels.
Repeat the entire process until your basket is full.
What Is The Best Way To Cook Fried Crab Legs?
The most popular method for cooking crab legs is deep-frying them.
The only thing better than getting your hands all sticky with delicious seafood goodness is having perfectly cooked crab legs ready in less time than it takes to get an order from your favorite restaurant.
Deep-frying is also the easiest way to prepare this dish because there isn’t much prep involved besides cleaning the meat and cutting up some lemons.
If you don’t want to use oil like I did, you can always try baking them instead.
This method uses more ingredients (like flour) and requires a bit of extra work, so if you aren’t feeling particularly creative, frying might be easier.
You could even steam them, though that would take longer than deep-frying.
If you prefer steaming over any other cooking method, check out our guide to steamed crabs here.
Deep-frying is great if you’re looking for a quick fix when you need some fresh food fast, but if you want something special, you may want to consider trying a different preparation method.
How Do You Make Crispy Fried Crab Legs?
First things first, if you haven’t had fried crab legs before then this is definitely going to be your first time.
You know that feeling when you try something new and there isn’t much information out there about it? Well, that’s exactly what you feel like right now.
But don’t worry because we’re here to help and give you all the knowledge you need to get started with frying crab legs.
The most important thing to remember when cooking any food item is to start by choosing a high quality oil.
A lot of restaurants use vegetable oils as their main ingredient which may contain additives such as soybean oil, corn oil, palm oil, etc., so always opt for an organic extra virgin olive oil from Italy or France.
The reason why using a high-quality oil is essential is because it helps retain flavor and prevents foods from drying up too quickly.
Now let’s talk about the actual process of preparing the dish itself.
First off, take some fresh whole crabs (legs only), dip them in flour, then coat them in seasoned breadcrumbs.
Then, place them back onto the baking sheet and repeat until you run out of crumb mix.
Lastly, cover each leg with more crumbs and lightly shake the pan to ensure everything gets covered evenly.
Next, heat up your deep fat fryer or large pot filled with enough oil to submerge the entire batch of crabs.
When the temperature reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit, add the legs to the hot oil and allow them to cook for approximately five minutes before carefully removing them with tongs.
Once cooked through, remove the legs from the skillet and set aside to cool down completely.
Now that they’ve cooled off, transfer them to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess grease.
Once the legs have cooled off, they should be ready to serve.
To finish the meal, season them with salt and pepper, and enjoy!
What Is The Best Way To Fry Crab Legs?
The first thing to know when frying anything is oil temperature.
You want your oil to get hot enough so that any food you drop in it immediately sizzles and fries up nicely.
But you don’t want to burn the food because then all the flavor goes out of it too quickly.
So you need to find an oil that has the right amount of smoke point (the highest temp) without being too high to start with.
A lot of cooking oils have smoke points around 375º F (190º C), which means you would probably only use them if you were frying something like chicken wings or deep-frying a whole fish.
A better option is to use peanut oil, which is great for frying things like shrimp, pork chops, and even vegetables.
It has a higher smoking point than regular vegetable oil—about 450º F (230º C).
And since most of us aren’t going to deep-fry our own seafood every day, we can always use this as a substitute.
If you don’t happen to have peanut oil handy, olive oil should work fine too.
Now that we know what kind of oil we’re using, let’s talk about the other important component of any good fried dish: coating the food.
There are two ways to do this: dry, and wet.
The dry method involves sprinkling some flour over the meat before dipping it in egg wash and dredging it through seasoned breadcrumbs.
Wet is much easier, though, and uses nothing more than a simple glaze made by mixing equal parts melted butter and lemon juice together.
Whichever method works for you, here’s how to do it properly.
How Do You Keep Fried Crab Legs From Sticking To The Pan?
When frying crab, there are two main things to worry about: The first being keeping your hands from getting too greasy (a great tip here is to use paper towels after handling raw meat) and the second being ensuring your crab legs don’t stick to the surface of the skillet during cooking.
There are several tricks to help with both problems, including coating the crab legs in flour before dredging them in breadcrumbs or seasoned rice cereal.
But if you want to get really creative, we suggest throwing some baking soda into the mix as well.
Baking soda is an ideal ingredient because its pH level is neutral, which means it won’t affect the taste of any other ingredients used in the dish.
It also has properties similar to cornstarch, so it helps prevent the crab legs from sticking to themselves while cooking.
We found this method works best when using a cast iron skillet since it doesn’t react well to acidic foods like vinegar or lemon juice, which can cause the crust to break down.
We tested out our favorite recipes below, all of which were delicious, but we recommend starting with our Fried Crab Legs Recipe for a simple yet tasty start.
How Do You Know When Fried Crab Legs Are Done?
The first step is to prepare your crabs according to package directions.
The next thing to remember is that you want to make sure the oil temperature has reached 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
If you don’t get this right, some parts of the meat could cook too quickly while other areas won’t cook enough.
It may take several tries before you nail down the perfect temp so be patient.
Once your oil reaches the correct temperature, add two cups (480ml) of flour to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Combine well to form a thick paste.
Now pour half of the remaining cup of flour mixture into another bowl.
Pour the rest of the flour mixture into the second bowl along with 3/4 cup (180 ml) of water and 1 tablespoon (15ml) of baking powder.
Mix until combined.
Next, coat each piece of crab leg in the seasoned flour by dipping both sides and tapping off any excess.
Finally, dip the pieces in the egg wash and then back in the seasoned flour again.
Place the crab legs in the bowl containing the dry ingredients and toss gently to ensure all the pieces are evenly covered.
Place the crab legs inside the hot oil and fry until golden brown and cooked through, approximately 4 minutes per side.
As soon as the legs turn golden-brown, remove them from the heat using tongs and place on paper towels to drain.
What Do You Serve With Fried Crab Legs?
While this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, there are some common accompaniments to fried crab legs that everyone enjoys.
- Spicy remoulade sauce
- Honey mustard
- Creamed corn (also known as creamed oysters)
- Crab cakes
- Sauces such as tartar, cocktail, horseradish, etc.
When cooking at home, it’s always important to use fresh ingredients whenever possible so that you don’t end up wasting anything.
The same goes for this recipe, so make sure to buy quality seafood if you want to cook at home.
You should also make sure that your crabs are fresh before purchasing them too – if they smell bad, throw them out immediately.
To start off, we need to prepare our frying pan.
To do this, first wash the pan well with soap and water, then dry it thoroughly using paper towels.
Next, coat the inside of the pan with vegetable oil using another piece of paper towel.
Then, add enough flour to form a thick paste around the sides of the pan.
Make sure the mixture doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan so that it won’t burn while frying.
Once the pan has been properly prepared, heat it over medium-high heat until the oil begins to bubble slightly.
Once that happens, place the crab legs and seasonings in the oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.
Let each side fry for three minutes before flipping them once more.
Repeat this process two more times.
After all four sides have been cooked, remove the crab legs from the pan and transfer them to a plate lined with a clean kitchen towel.
Allow them to rest for five minutes, then repeat steps 1 through 4 again, this time adding salt to the seasoning mix after placing the crab legs in the pan.
Serve hot with whatever you choose to accompany them, whether that’s spicy remoulade, honey mustard, creamed corn, or even crab cakes!
What Is Your Favorite Fried Crab Legs Recipe?
I personally prefer my crabs prepared this way because I find the flavor of the seasoning more than enough without having to add too many other ingredients.
Plus, if you ask me, there is nothing better than eating something cooked outside when the weather is nice and warm.
If you want to try out some variations on the classic Fried Crab Legs recipe, here are three recipes you might like:
- Classic Fried Crab Legs Recipe – This is the most basic version of frying up some crab legs. It takes about 30 minutes to make the dish with an additional 10-15 minutes needed for final preparation.
- Crispy Pan Fries – These pan fries take only 5 minutes to prepare, which makes them perfect for impromptu entertaining. You can also use left over rice cakes as well.
- Crab Leg Cakes (aka Crab Kebabs) – If you don’t mind spending a little bit of time preparing your crab leg kebabs, then this is definitely a great option.
And, before we move on, let us know how much you think these cost per serving.
- 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
- Large, heavy-bottomed skillet with vegetable oil added till it is 1-inch up the side. Heat the oil until it shimmers over medium-high heat.
- Crack the crab legs at the joints while wearing gloves to prevent tearing the meat. For the tiny joints, you might need to use kitchen shears.
- Cut the shell open lengthwise using kitchen shears. Open the shell slowly, then take out the meat.
- Mix the eggs, spicy sauce, half the Old Bay, and half the garlic salt in a medium bowl.
- Combine the remaining flour, yellow cornmeal, Old Bay, and garlic salt in a different medium basin.
- After dipping the crab meat in the egg mixture, coat it completely with the flour mixture. Set on a wire rack. Continue with the remaining crab.
- Cook crab until brown and crispy for two to three minutes on each side. On paper towels, drain.