Rustic Cooking

Cooking King Crab Legs: Part 1

I was pondering the other day, one of those strange topics that kind of just sticks in your brain. Is there a perfect bite of food? A food so delicious it’s splendid in it’s natural state, no ingredients added. A food so addicting that you crave it, seek it, and dream about it?

Two foods came to mind:  fresh, ripe mango and king crab.

Crab may very well be my favorite food on the planet! We are lucky in Alaska as crab is easy to come by and people give it as gifts! It’s crabbing season right now in fact.


But, king crab legs are also plentiful far and wide around the holidays at places like Costco and Sam’s Club, as well as grocery stores for a somewhat reasonable price.  Why not splurge, and take some home!

Don’t let the fear of cooking king crab legs scare you off!  It’s really very easy to do.  Here in Part I of this two-part series I show you how to prepare it by microwave. Part II covers steaming.  Be brave and let’s cook some Alaskan King Crab Legs!


Just a couple of things any crab newbies should know up front. Crab as it shows up in the store is already cooked when processed, frozen and packaged right after it comes off the boat. So basically, your job at home is to heat it up properly.

To cook crab “raw”, it needs to be live or held chilled just shortly after catching. Dead crab breaks down quickly and can become toxic! I’ll cover how to cook fresh crab in the summer when we go crabbing.

Second thing to know about crab legs from the store, is don’t boil it!  This is delicate meat here folks and the last thing you want to do is turn it to mush by boiling or overcook it, which will dry it out.




  • King Crab Legs (we plan about 1-1 1/2 lb per person if they like crab)
  • Lemon
  • Clarified or Melted Butter
  • Wet Paper Towels (don’t wring them out excessively, you want moisture)
  • Plastic Wrap (like Saran)


Thaw crab legs thoroughly preferably in the fridge. (We pull ours out the day before we plan to cook them.)

Using a knife and cutting board, cut the crab into manageable pieces at the main joint.  It’s sharp in places, so handle with care.


Lay out two layers of plastic wrap on counter. Place wet paper towels laid flat on top of the plastic wrap. What you are doing is creating a “steamer” to steam the crab in the microwave while keeping it moist.

into the last frontier
into the last frontier
into the last frontier


Next lay 3 sections of crab legs across the paper towels. Wrap the paper towels around the crab, ensuring it is all covered, then wrap the bundle in plastic wrap. (Note, you can add a couple of sprigs of dill in with it, but I actually just prefer natural sweet crab.) The final package of deliciousness will be pretty tight!

Place in microwave and cook on high for 2-2 1/2 minutes.  The thicker the legs, like big thighs or claws, the longer the cook time, but don’t overcook it!  (There’s a slight chance some of the super large pieces may have a cool spot inside, but it’s still ok to eat, or just heat for a couple more seconds.)

Remove the crab, and dig in!


Ok, it’s messy, just messy…no way around it, it’s basically all hands on deck. And if it’s not, you aren’t getting all the juicy goodness out.

At home, we just use a couple of pairs of really sharp scissors and cut up the insides of the legs, then you can simply pull the meat out. You can also use crab crackers, but there’s an art to it.

into the last frontier
into the last frontier

When removing crab meat, beware the tendons that run through the legs. Just know they exist and the meat usually just slides right off into nice, big chunks.

All that’s left to do is enjoy!  I like to dip mine in just a little butter mixed with lemon juice.

Now that wasn’t so tough, was it? Expand your culinary horizons and try it!


*Read Part II of cooking king crab legs which covers getting meat out of the knuckles and claws, as well as steaming crab.

  • January 01, 2016

    One of my favorites too, but have never had them at home. May be brave enough now

    • January 01, 2016
      Janet Bowman

      Crab is daunting to look at, but so easy to prepare!

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge