How Long to Boil Crab Legs?

How Long to Boil Crab Legs

If you’re a seafood lover like me, you probably LOVE crab legs! From snow crab to king crab, my family loves them all! When I first started cooking, I was afraid to boil crab legs because I was scared I’d overboil them. I always bought them precooked at the grocery. Chances are, unless you’re at a fresh seafood market, you won’t find raw crab legs. So, overboiling or overcooking crab legs is often a concern of people!

I realized I had this fear because I didn’t understand how easy it was to actually boil crab legs. It doesn’t take long at all.

So, today I’m going to cover exactly how long it takes to boil crab legs and how you can do easily and efficiently!

Read on to learn more!

So, How Long Does it Take to Boil Crab Legs?

It doesn’t take long at all to boil crab legs. And there isn’t really a big difference between boiling different types of crab legs. Whether you’re boiling snow crab or king crab legs, I have found the that the below times work just the same!

The biggest thing to pay attention to when boiling crab legs to whether they are cooked or raw, and fresh or frozen.

Boiling Fresh or Thawed Out Crab Legs

You’ll want to follow the below boiling times if you’re crab legs are fresh or previously thawed out.

  • Precooked thawed out crab legs– 3 to 5 minutes
  • Raw fresh crab legs– 6 to 8 minutes

Boiling Frozen Crab Legs

I recommend thawing out frozen crab legs prior to boiling if possible! In my experience, they taste better. You can place them in your refrigerator overnight to thaw. However, if you are the spontaneous eater who doesn’t know until 5 minutes prior to eating what you want, you’ll just need to add a couple more minutes to the boil time.

  • Precooked frozen crab legs– 6 to 8 minutes
  • Raw frozen crab legs– 8 to 10 minutes

How to Boil Crab Legs: Step by Step

Here is my step-by-step guide on boiling crab legs for perfection every time!

Related:  How Long Should I Boil Eggs?

Step 1: Find a large pot and fill with water. The pot has to be large enough to hold crab legs that can be submerged in water, while leaving an inch at the top. You have to be careful of water boiling over the top by not filling it completely with crab legs! Boil multiple pots as needed.

Step 2: Bring water to a boil. Bring your water to a boil on high heat. Add a dash of salt to help speed up the boiling time. And to add some flavor to the water!

Step 3: Boiling Time. I have included the boiling times below for your reference! These are the times I use and have found to work best when boiling crab legs. Use the minimum times listed if you want to boil just enough to heat up the meat! Use the maximum time listed for a bit of additional cook time of the meat. Either way, as long as you stay in this range, your crab legs will come out tasty and ready to eat!

  • Precooked thawed out crab legs– 3 to 5 minutes
  • Raw fresh crab legs– 6 to 8 minutes
  • Precooked frozen crab legs– 6 to 8 minutes
  • Raw frozen crab legs– 8 to 10 minutes

Add Your crab legs to the boiling water!

Step 4: Reduce heat. But only to a medium high. Set the timer for the appropriate boiling time you have chosen from above. You may need to use tongs to keep pushing the crab legs into the water.

Step 5: Remove from heat and water. If you’re boiling raw crab legs, you’ll know they are ready because the outer shell should be an orange and opaque white color! Turn the stove off and remove the pot from the heat. Carefully pour the water out being mindful of the steam.

Step 6: (Optional) Prepare a bowl of melted butter and Old Bay seasoning. Might I also share with you my family’s favorite way to eat boiled crab legs? It literally just involves melted butter with Old Bay seasoning sprinkle in and stirred. I see too many people trying to season their crab legs still in the shell. That doesn’t season the meat though, the part you want to eat!

Step 7: Serve and enjoy! Time to eat and enjoy your deliciously boiled crab legs!

Tips for Boiling the Perfect Crab Legs Every Time

Here are some more tips I have to make boiling crab legs an enjoyable experience!

  • Rinse off frozen crab legs. If you can’t thaw them out, rinse them under cool running water to get any ice chunks off and the thin layer of ice covering the crab legs.
  • Do NOT put precooked crab legs into the water prior to boiling. Precooked crab legs just need to be heated with boiling water. They don’t need to be in the water any longer than they absolutely need to be! For the raw crab legs, the times I included on the reference guide start from the time of placing them in boiling water. Adding them sooner could overcook!
Related:  [Full Guide] How Long To Boil Lotus Root

You Have Boiled Crab Legs, Now What?

One of the best things about crab meat is that you can add it to so many meals! Here’s a few of my favorite ways to use the meat from boiled crab legs:

  • In salads
  • Soups
  • In a surf n’ turf
  • As the main entree

Want my Secret on Seasoning Boiled Crab Legs?

Do NOT season the outer shell of the boiled crab legs! You will be cracking the legs open and eating the meat inside. Try this instead:

  • Melt a small bowl of butter
  • Sprinkle some Old Bay (or seasoning of choice) into the butter
  • Mix the two together very well
  • As you crack the crab legs open, dip the meat into the butter mixture
  • Drop me a comment saying how much better that is!

Wrapping Up

So, as you can see, you can easily and quickly boil crab legs and not have to worry about overdoing it! Whether you have frozen, raw, fresh, or precooked, it doesn’t matter. I have the boiling times laid out for you. You just need to make sure you have a large enough pot! Because once you realize how easy it is, you’ll be boiling crab legs every night!

Let me know in the comments how it works out for you!