How To Cook Frozen Crab Legs

How To Cook Frozen Crab Legs? Helpful Tips And Techniques

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Crab legs are a delicious seafood treat. Many people buy crab legs pre-cooked and frozen for convenience and longer shelf life. However, how to cook frozen crab legs is really just reheating them while trying to preserve moisture and flavor. My preferred methods for reheating frozen crab legs are using an Instant Pot for speed or steaming for cooking large batches. Follow along below to learn tips and step-by-step instructions for successfully preparing frozen crab legs.


Choosing Crab Legs

There are a few popular varieties of crab legs to choose from:

  • Snow crab legs: Most affordable, sweet and delicate flavor
  • Dungeness crab: Slightly pricier, richer flavor, thicker meat
  • King crab legs: Most expensive, very meaty, intense crab flavor

Ask the fishmonger to clean and remove the shell for easier prep.


Frozen Crab Legs
  • Crab Legs: The amount needed depends on the recipe and number of servings. Popular options are snow crab legs, king crab legs, and Dungeness crab legs.
  • Dipping Sauce: This lemon garlic butter sauce adds delicious flavor.
    • 4 Tbsp butter
    • 2 minced garlic cloves
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/8 tsp pepper
    • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
    • Optional: Additional herbs, spices, or citrus juices


Here are some general tips for cooking frozen crab legs, followed by specific methods like Instant Pot, steaming, grilling, and oven baking.

Instant Pot

  • In a small saucepan, melt butter for the dipping sauce. Set aside.
  • Add 1 cup water and a trivet to the Instant Pot inner pot.
  • Place 3-4 crab leg clusters in the pot per batch.
  • Close the lid, cook on Manual High Pressure for 4 minutes, then quick release pressure.
  • Repeat with remaining batches using the same water.
  • Serve immediately with dipping sauce.


  • Prepare lemon garlic butter dipping sauce.
  • Fill a large pot with 1 inch of water and place a steamer basket on top.
  • Add crab legs to the basket, ensuring they don’t touch the water.
  • Bring water to a boil, cover, and steam for 5 minutes (thawed legs) or 10 minutes (frozen legs).
  • Serve immediately with dipping sauce.


  • Make foil packets for 4 crab legs each.
  • Preheat grill to medium-high heat, about 450°F.
  • Place foil packs on grill and cook for 15-20 minutes (frozen legs) or 10 minutes (thawed).
  • Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Oven Baking

  • Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).
  • Create foil packets for 4 crab legs each.
  • Place packets on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes (frozen) or 15 minutes (thawed).
  • Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Additional Tips

  • Thaw frozen crab legs safely by leaving in the refrigerator overnight, under cold running water, or in the microwave using the defrost setting.
  • Cook until hot and steaming throughout. Internal temperature should reach 145°F (63°C).
  • Avoid boiling crab legs, as this dilutes flavor and makes the meat watery.
  • Use a crab cracker, nutcracker, or kitchen shears for safe cracking and shell removal.
  • Crab legs can be served hot or cold.
  • Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.
  • Adjust cooking times based on amount and size of crab legs.
  • Experiment with different dipping sauce ingredients.
  • Have fun and enjoy delicious crab legs.

Side Dishes

Here are some tasty sides that pair well with crab legs:

  • Melted butter
  • Lemon wedges
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Corn on the cob
  • Green salad
  • Garlic bread


  • Adjust cooking time based on amount and size of crab legs.
  • Experiment with fun dipping sauce variations.
  • Have fun and enjoy fresh, delicious crab legs.


Cooking frozen crab legs at home is easy and rewarding. With proper thawing, reheating methods like steaming or pressure cooking, and a flavorful lemon garlic butter dipping sauce, you can make restaurant-quality crab legs. Trying different varieties like snow crab, Dungeness, and king crab also keeps meals exciting. Serve crab legs hot or cold alongside melted butter, lemon, salad, or bread for a complete seafood feast. Follow these simple steps for reheating frozen crab legs and enjoy impressive dinners with family and friends. The sweet, succulent meat is well worth the shell cracking effort. So grab some frozen crab legs at the store and get ready for your new favorite weeknight meal.

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