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Baked Crab Legs with Garlic Butter

These Oven Baked Crab Legs with Garlic Butter are made using Old Bay Seasoning and either snow crab legs or king crab legs. Baking them in the oven is so simple! They are ready in 25 minutes and easy to crack.

baked crab legs on a pan with lemon garlic butter
fresh lemon, fresh parsley, Cajun Seasoning, Old Bay Seasoning, minced garlic, melted butter, and olive oil in separate bowls

I don’t like to boil crab legs because the water seeps in and you will often end up with a soggy mess. Baking is much easier.

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

I’m using snow crab in this recipe, but you can also use king crab. 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!).

You can use either in this recipe.

snow crab legs on a flat surface

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.

baked crab legs on a pan with lemon garlic butter

How to Make Baked Crab Legs

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

  1. Pat the crab legs dry and place them on a sheet pan.
  2. Combine olive oil, melted butter, parsley, and seasoning in a bowl.
  3. Brush the butter mixture over both sides of the crab legs.
  4. Cover in foil and bake.
baked crab legs on a pan with lemon garlic butter

How to Know When Baked Crab Legs are Done

Crab should be cooked until the flesh is pearly or white, and opaque. You won’t be able to tell much by the outside color, because when you bought them they were already pre-cooked and orange. Examine the shoulder (this is the large white part of the cluster). It should be pearly white.

How to Estimate How Much You Need Per Person

You should typically plan for 1 1/2 pounds of crab per person, especially if you have crab lovers. Maybe even 2 pounds!

baked crab legs on a pan with lemon garlic butter

How to Crack Them

Cracking snow crab is easy for me. 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 the crab wasn’t baked long enough or because it wasn’t cracked soon enough after baking. The longer they sit, the harder they are to crack and easily remove the meat.

Can You Bake Them Frozen?

No, be sure to thaw them first. I thaw them in the fridge. Using frozen, in my experience, creates excess water within the crab.

How to Steam Them

Check out this post for how to steam crab legs.

baked crab legs on a pan with lemon garlic butter

How to Reheat Them

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 them in a pan with oil or butter until warm.

What to Pair with the Crab Legs

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

More Crab Recipes

Instant Pot Crab Legs
Shrimp and Crab Quiche

Air Fryer Crab Cakes
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
baked crab legs on a pan with lemon garlic butter
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5 from 1 vote

Baked Crab Legs with Garlic Butter

These Oven Baked Crab Legs with Garlic Butter are made using Old Bay Seasoning and either snow crab legs or king crab legs. Baking crab legs in the oven is so simple! They are ready in 25 minutes and easy to crack.
Save this recipe here.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword baked crab legs, baked crab legs in butter sauce, baked king crab legs, baked snow crab legs
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 529kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds crab legs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter Melted.
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice This was the juice of half a lemon for me.
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
  • 6 garlic cloves Minced; adjust to your taste. I love immense garlic flavor.
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning optional, can also use salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • foil

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Pat the crab legs dry and place them on a sheet pan.
  • Combine the olive oil, melted butter, parsley, and seasoning in a bowl.
  • Brush the butter mixture over both sides of the crab legs.
  • Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes. For immense flavor, remove the foil and baste the crab legs with additional butter and seasoning after 10 minutes. Return the foil and resume baking.
  • Examine the shoulder (this is the large white part of the cluster). It should be pearly white.

Video

Notes

  • You can use snow crab legs or king crab legs. King crab legs may need an additional 5 minutes of baking.
  • Adjust the spices and seasoning to suit your taste. Omit the Cajun seasoning if you want.
  • For immense flavor, remove the foil and baste the crab legs with additional butter and seasoning after 10 minutes. Return the foil and resume baking.
  • If your crab legs don’t have much flavor, they needed to be basted or 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 the crab wasn’t baked long enough or because it wasn’t cracked soon enough after baking. 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: 1pound | Calories: 529kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 26g
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Recipe Rating




Lindsey

Saturday 28th of August 2021

After seeing Brandi eat crab on Instagram, I knew I had to try her recipe! Luckily snow crab legs just came on sale where I live, and man did her recipe live up to the hype! So easy and delicious, this will be a staple from now on!

staysnatched

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

Wonderful! So glad to hear it.