Crab legs make a delicious addition to any meal. Often eaten as a delicacy, they are easy to prepare at home. Crab legs can be purchased frozen or thawed at most grocery stores in various size packages. There two most popular types of crab legs are snow crab and Alaskan King crab. Snow crab legs are often less expensive, and have a more delicate, buttery taste compared to the tangy, meaty taste of Alaskan King crab. When cooking crab legs consider what will be needed to open the shells to retrieve the meat.
Snow crab legs can often be easily cracked by hand but Alaskan King crab legs have spines on them and are thicker, so plan to have a metal leg/claw cracker on hand. A tiny fork may also be useful for pulling the meat from the shells. Crab legs should be thawed prior to cooking. This can be done by either using the defrost feature of a microwave, by soaking them in cold water or letting them thaw overnight in a refrigerator. Crab legs are traditionally served with melted butter and garlic but salt or lemon may also be used to enhance the flavor.
Crab legs are often boiled or steamed but it is also possible to grill or bake them. In order to boil them, fill a large enough pot to hold them with water and bring it to a strong boil. Add a pinch of salt and slowly lower the crab legs into the boiling water. The legs are done when they turn a bright red. This often takes between two to four minutes depending on the size of the crab legs. Steamed crab legs are prepared the same way as boiling, except the legs are placed in a steamer tray or on skewers to suspend them above the water. After the legs have cooked remove them from the water or steamer tray and serve with melted butter.
In order to grill crab legs, carefully split one side of the shell and open it slightly. If desired, add butter, salt or garlic as a marinade before placing the legs split side up on the grill. The legs generally take up to five minutes to cook for thawed legs, slightly longer for frozen or thicker legs. It is not necessary to flip the legs to cook but if you choose to cook both sides take care to avoid the meat spilling out or sticking.
Crab legs can be baked in a large oven safe dish as they are, or in a marinade or sauce if desired. Pre-heat the oven to 400F and use a sharp knife to split open one side of the shell for each leg to allow the meat to cook. Baste the inside of the shell with butter and place the legs in the dish then place the dish in the oven to cook. Depending on the size of the legs, it may take between three to six minutes to cook. The shells will turn brighter red and the meat will be firm. After the legs have cooked, remove them from the oven and serve.