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Air Fryer Crab Legs

Making fried crab legs in the air fryer is so easy! This recipe uses snow crab and claws drizzled in butter, garlic, and lemon for epic flavor.

crab legs in an air fryer with foil
butter, olive oil, Cajun seasoning, Old Bay Seasoning, garlic, and fresh crab legs on a flat surface

Why Use an Air Fryer?

The most obvious reason is time savings. Air frying always cuts down on cook time in comparison to baking. My Baked Crab Legs recipe takes 25 minutes to bake. These are done in less than 10 minutes.

Another great reason is FLAVOR. Because these are cooked so closely to the circulating fan in the air fryer, they lock in a lot more of the garlic butter flavor than you will get if you bake these. The flavor penetrates well into the shell when air frying.

A huge con is that you cannot cook large batches unless maybe you use an air fryer oven. Other than that, these are perfect for making a few clusters at a time.

What Type of Crab Legs to Use: The Difference Between Snow Crab and King Crab Legs

I’m using snow crab in this recipe. Snow crab legs are sold in clusters and typically by the pound. They are much easier to handle and crack, in comparison to king crab legs, because they have a smooth shell. There are usually at least 4 legs in each cluster. Their flavor is mild and sweet.

King crab legs have a very prickly shell. They are large in size and are typically sold individually (by the leg) in pounds. The meat is a little more delicate and sweeter. They are a lot more expensive than snow crab. (I usually get these for New Year’s!).

King crab legs likely won’t fit in the air fryer unless you use a large air fryer oven. You can try cutting them to fit.

fresh crab legs on foil with garlic butter

How to Buy and Shop

Most crab will come precooked and often frozen. Sometimes, if it’s sold thawed, then it has been thawed from frozen. After the crabs are caught they are cooked on the boat and then flash-frozen right on the spot. If the crab legs are orange or red in color when you bought them, then they have already been cooked. This process is reheating them.

How to Thaw

The best way to thaw is to put them in the refrigerator overnight (at least 8 hours). You can also put them in a bowl and run cool water over them to thaw quickly.

Thawed crab will last in the fridge for 1-2 days.

crab legs in an air fryer with foil

What Type of Seasoning to Use

I like to use Cajun Seasoning (optional) and Old Bay along with melted butter, olive oil, parsley, and fresh lemon.

How to Make Air Fryer Crab Legs

Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  1. Combine the ingredients for the garlic butter sauce in a bowl.
  2. Brush the mixture over both sides of the crab legs.
  3. Wrap the crab legs in foil and air fry.
crab legs in an air fryer

Air Fryer Temperature

I use 370 degrees.

Cook Time/How Long to Cook

Cook time is 5-8 minutes.

Frozen Crab Legs

You can cook frozen crab legs by adding 2-3 minutes of additional cook time. I typically thaw them because in my experience, using frozen, creates excess water within the crab.

air fryer crab legs on a white plate with butter

How to Reheat

I don’t reheat them. I love to serve these with warm butter and that provides the temperature adjustment I need. If you know you want to eat more of them later, crack them first. The longer they sit, the harder they are to crack and the meat gets trapped inside.

If you must reheat, saute the crab meat in a pan with oil or butter until warm.

air fryer crab legs on a white plate with butter

Pair With These Recipes

Air Fryer Corn on the Cob
Roasted Ranch Potatoes
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad
Air Fryer Baked Potatoes
Southern Coleslaw
Green Goddess Cobb Salad
Zucchini Au Gratin
Air Fryer French Fries

Air Fryer Lamb Chops
Stuffed Turkey Legs
Air Fryer Brats
Air Fryer Steak

More Air Fryer Seafood Recipes

Air Fryer Fish Sandwich
Air Fryer Fish Sticks
Air Fryer Catfish
Air Fryer Salmon

Air Fryer Crab Cakes
Air Fryer Scallops
Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan

More Crab Recipes

Baked Crab Legs
Instant Pot Crab Legs
Shrimp and Crab Quiche

Seafood Crab Salad
Crab Stuffed Salmon
Crab Rangoon Dip
Hot Baked Crab Dip
Air Fryer Crab Rangoon
Seafood Stuffed Pasta Shells

person holding crab leg meat dipped in butter
crab legs in an air fryer with foil
Print Pin
5 from 2 votes

Air Fryer Crab Legs

Making fried crab legs in the air fryer is so easy! This recipe uses snow crab and claws drizzled in butter, garlic, and lemon for epic flavor.
Save this recipe here.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword air fryer crab, air fryer crab legs
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 265kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound crab legs
  • foil

Garlic Butter Sauce

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter Measured solid
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves Minced
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning Optional. You can also use salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

Instructions

  • Combine the ingredients for the garlic butter sauce in a bowl.
  • Brush the mixture over both sides of the crab legs.
  • Wrap the crab legs in foil and place them in the air fryer.
  • Air fry for 5-8 minutes on 370 degrees.
  • Examine the shoulder (this is the large white part of the cluster). It should be pearly white.

Video

Notes

  • You cannot cook large batches unless maybe you use an air fryer oven. Other than that, these are perfect for making a few clusters at a time.
  • Depending on the air fryer you use, you may need to flip the crab legs halfway through the cooking time to ensure the clusters are cooked through.
  • Every air fryer cooks at varying speeds. Keep a watchful eye for accurate cook time.
  • You will likely have trouble getting king crab legs to fit. You may be able to cut them. I have not tested king crab legs in the air fryer.
  • Adjust the spices and seasoning to suit your taste. Omit the Cajun seasoning if you want.
  • If your crab legs don’t have much flavor, you didn’t purchase quality crab or the crab is expired/has gone bad. Even without seasoning, the crab legs should have a sweet taste (if they haven’t gone bad).
  • Some people feel like brushing the garlic butter sauce and seasoning onto the crab legs makes it more of a messy experience. It does. Feel free to skip this step and use the ingredients as a dipping sauce. 
  • I typically make an extra batch of the garlic butter sauce just for dipping because I love to dip.
  • To crack a crab leg, I hold the leg horizontally, with the back of the leg facing me. Then press down on either the middle of the leg or about 1/4 of the way up from the bottom of the leg. I can always tell if the crab is fully cooked (reheated) and fresh because of how easily it cracks.
  • If when I crack the leg, it doesn’t return a nice chunk of meat, and the meat is stuck on the inside, it’s usually because it wasn’t cracked soon enough after cooking. The longer they sit, the harder they are to crack and easily remove the meat.
Recipe Tools Used in this RecipeAs an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition (displayed with net carbs)

Serving: 0.5pound | Calories: 265kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 13g
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Nutrition DataMacros are provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is calculated using MyFitnessPal.com. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
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Recipe Rating




Allison

Thursday 9th of September 2021

Thanks Brandi! I appreciate how detailed this recipe card is on the logistics and air fryer mechanics for yummy crab legs!

staysnatched

Friday 10th of September 2021

Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed them!

Alisha G.

Wednesday 8th of September 2021

Never thought about putting these in the air fryer as I always use the oven. These came out great and clean up was easy!

staysnatched

Friday 10th of September 2021

So glad the clean up was easy!