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Easy Instant Pot Crab Legs

This Easy Instant Pot Crab Legs recipe will show you how to steam fresh or frozen snow crab or king crab in your pressure cooker. Season this seafood with lemon, Old Bay, or my favorite Cajun rub.

Instant Pot crab legs on a white plate with lemon
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You can whip up your own crab boil right in the Instant Pot. Trust me, it’s easy!

fresh crab legs, spices, water, lemon, and trivet on a flat surface

Why Use the Instant Pot

It’s fast. You will have this entire process completed in under 15 minutes. That works great if you are planning to serve this dish for the holidays or for a gathering.

The crab legs are so much easier to crack. This is my favorite way to make crab legs that are extremely easy to crack. The pressure from the pot, along with the steams works wonders. When you remove the crab, you can see how much easier the legs are to navigate and how the inside meat has become tender.

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!).

King crab legs will fit in my 6 quart Instant Pot. Sometimes you may have to break them in half.

crab legs in an Instant Pot with fresh lemon

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.

Instant Pot crab legs on a white plate with lemon

How to Cook Crab Legs in an Instant Pot

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

  1. Place the trivet into the bottom of the pot.
  2. Pour in water along with the Old Bay Seasoning and Cajun Seasoning.
  3. Add in the crab legs and lemon.
  4. Place the lid on the pot and seal.
  5. Pressure Cook.
Instant Pot crab legs on a white plate with lemon

Cook Time/How Long to Cook

These only need to cook for 1 minute. It will take the pot about 5 minutes to come to pressure.

Frozen Crab Legs

You can cook these from frozen if you wish. Use the same cook time, the pot will take longer to come to pressure. I typically thaw them because in my experience, using frozen creates excess water within the crab.

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 them in a pan with oil or butter until warm.

Pair With These Recipes

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

Creamy Ranch Mashed Potatoes
Instant Pot Chicken Teriyaki

More Seafood Recipes

Air Fryer Fish Sandwich
Instant Pot Shrimp Risotto
Instant Pot Shrimp and Grits
Air Fryer Fish Sticks
Air Fryer Catfish
Air Fryer Salmon

Air Fryer Crab Cakes
Air Fryer Lobster Tails
Slow Cooker Crockpot Gumbo

person holding crab leg meat dipped in butter

More Crab Recipes

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

Instant Pot crab legs on a white plate with lemon
Print Pin
5 from 8 votes

Easy Instant Pot Crab Legs

This Easy Instant Pot Crab Legs recipe will show you how to steam fresh or frozen snow crab or king crab in your pressure cooker. Season this seafood with lemon, Old Bay, or my favorite Cajun rub.
Save this recipe here.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword Instant Pot crab legs, pressure cooker crab legs
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
IP to come to pressure 5 minutes
Total Time 11 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 320kcal


Optional Lemon Garlic Butter

  • 2 tablespoons butter Melted
  • 3 garlic cloves Minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 fresh lemon I use the lemon after it's pressure cooked with the crab.


  • Place the trivet (that comes with the Instant Pot) into the bottom of the pot.
  • Pour in 1 cup of water along with the spices.
  • Add in the crab legs and the lemon.
  • Place the lid on the pot and seal. Cook for 1 minute on Manual> High Pressure Cooking.
  • When the pot indicates it has finished, quick release the steam.
  • Serve the crab legs immediately.

Optional Garlic Butter

  • Combine the ingredients in a bowl and stir.



  • You can use snow crab legs or king crab legs. I use the same cook time for king crab legs. They take a little longer to come to pressure.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Nutrition facts exclude optional garlic butter. Calculate the nutrition using your nutrition calculator of choice.
  • I tested these in the air fryer and in the oven. Making them in the Instant Pot is probably my favorite. The shells are the easiest crack likely due to the pressure cooking.
Recipe Tools Used in this RecipeAs an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition (displayed with net carbs)

Serving: 1pound | Calories: 320kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 74g | Fat: 1g
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Nutrition DataMacros are provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is calculated using 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.
Recipe Rating

Monica O

Friday 30th of June 2023

So good!! I didn't want to heat up the house with the oven, so the instant pot was great! The legs were super easy to crack and the lemon butter made these even better!


Saturday 8th of July 2023

My favorite!


Tuesday 6th of June 2023

So quick and easy to make. These were very easy to crack open as well. Definitely will make them again.


Saturday 10th of June 2023

Glad to hear you will make them again!


Saturday 31st of December 2022

Made this for dinner tonight. I used frozen crab legs, followed the directions and they came out perfect! Thank you!


Tuesday 3rd of January 2023

You're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed them!


Saturday 5th of February 2022

I never made crab legs at home, and this was the perfect recipe for a first timer. Simple, clear, easy, and flavorful. I did a quick thaw with a bowl of cool water and followed Brandi’s instructions and had no issues. I definitely recommend making the lemon garlic butter for dipping. I added some Cajun seasoning to my butter, it was so good. I will use this method in the future! Brandi is also the reason I even purchased an IP and it really comes in handy.


Monday 7th of February 2022

Awesome. That's so good to hear.


Tuesday 4th of January 2022

This recipe is awesome!!! I love crab and used this recipe at my parents house for New Years. I will definitely make this many more times!


Wednesday 5th of January 2022

I'm glad to hear you will make them again.