King Crab boiling in a cast iron dutch oven over a campfire

OK, I get that this is not for everyone. King crab legs are expensive and the shells are prickly. But they also happen to be Chris’s FAVORITE meal. So, come his birthday or some other very special occasion, we will go out of our way to get out hands on these ridiculously huge monsters of the deep. Unlike snow crab and other smaller varieties of crab, a single king crab leg is one dense serving of meat. A suitably large leg can be a meal in itself. But how are we supposed to cook these guys?

Here’s a handy little secret: when you buy king crab legs, they are almost always precooked and frozen through. That means these thick frozen legs get a little extra life in our cooler and, when it comes to cooking, the only thing that really matters is to get them hot enough to kill any dangerous bacteria and reach a temperature you will enjoy.

King Crab Legs Recipe

Serves 2-4



  • 4 King crab legs
  • 1 Lemon (sliced)
  • Rosemary
  • Salt
  • Pot full of water

Drawn Butter

  • 4 tablespoons Butter
  • Garlic (diced)


King Crab boiling in a cast iron dutch oven over a campfire
King Crab boiling in a cast iron dutch oven over a campfire

A Note on serving size: King crabs are huge. But huge varies. In your standard market, these legs still dwarf the snow crabs and other offerings. But places like Costco and specialized retailers have the giant ones. When it comes to serving size, it all comes down to how big the legs are. For us, one leg is a light meal. Two legs and we are stuffed. But it all comes down to how bit the legs are to begin with.


There are several ways to cook these guys. Others have advised wrapping them in tin foil or fire broiling. We’ll give that a try at some point. But personally, I stick to my classic approach: boiling. To look at my pictures, you might think I don’t have that large of a pot, but this 10″ dutch oven can hold 5 quarts of water. But when you have crab legs longer than your forearm, what are you to do?

Fold crab legs into pot and fill with water. (There is the option of cutting the legs for better fit but that gets low marks in the presentation department.) Generously sprinkle salt and rosemary in the water along with lemon slices (but be sure to keep two slices to serve along side the crab.) .Cover and place dutch oven over heat and bring to a boil. Allow the legs to boil for ten minutes or until the inner meat is hot.

While boiling the crab. Place butter into ceramic ramekins and place near fire until butter is melted. Remove ramekin from heat. As the butter cools, a layer of milk fat will begin to congeal on the surface. Skim this off, add garlic, and place aside.

Once the crabs legs are hot remove them from the fire and place them in an empty bowl so that excess water can drain out of the shells while the legs cool enough to touch.

Warm the butter up a little before serving and then enjoy!

Eating King Crab

Usually you don’t need to be told how to eat something. But king crab is a little tricky. You can try to be fancy with your approach, but when you are tired of getting scratched by the spiny shell, read on. We have a lot of different implements, but have found that a napkin and a pair of cooking sheers make for the best tools to remove the meat from the shell. The spines on the shell make the leg hard to hold. But wrapping the leg in a napkin helps buffer your hands from the spines. The paler, less spiny side of the legs is also the thinnest and easy to cut with a pair of cooking sheers. Cut up along this side and it becomes very easy to remove the meat without too much risk of scratches.

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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