How Many Crab Legs per Person To Serve?

The sight of a platter of scrummy seafood on your table – few items can make your dinner look fancier than that. Like, who doesn’t like the idea of serving yummy crab legs to please your guests’ palate? But then the question of how many crab legs per person comes up. Don’t worry, we are here to sort it out.

In general, 1.5 pounds of crab legs are ideal for a regular eater and 2 pounds for a big crab lover. If crabs are only a side, even 0.5 to 1 pound is also ideal per person.

Including crab legs is a great way of making your dinner look richer and healthier. However, there are a few things that we should keep in mind. If we serve crab legs more than the optimum quantity, it can only lead to wastage. Seafood is to be kept cool and consumed quickly. As seafood is quite expensive let’s see what we should keep in mind while buying crabs for dinner.

Factors To Consider While Buying Crabs For Dinner

You might have or might in the future come across situations in which you have invited guests over for dinner and you are puzzled about deciding the number of crab legs required for the meal. Here are a few factors which you can consider while you make your decision.

Know Your Guests

This might sound like irony as you won’t usually invite for dinner people you don’t know. ‘Know your guests’ means you should have a clear idea about the meal preferences of your guests before deciding the number of crab legs for dinner.

For instance, if your guest is on a diet chart, then it is very likely that they would eat too many crabs. Likewise, if your guest is into bodybuilding or sports, there is a high chance that they might consume protein-rich seafood.

No. of PeopleCrab Legs (Regular)Crab Legs for avid Crab LoversCrab Legs as a Side Dish
11.5 pounds2 pounds0.5-1 pounds
23 pounds4 pounds1-2 pounds
44.5 pounds8 pounds2-4 pounds
89 pounds16 pounds4-8 pounds
1010.5 pounds20 pounds5-10 pounds
Table indicating the number of crab legs required

Similarly, some might be allergic or indifferent to seafood while some could be avid crab meat lovers. So, plan your crab dish accordingly.

Know Your Crab Dish’s Place on the Table

It is very important to consider how you are planning to serve the crabs in your dinner – whether as a main dish or as a side. If the crab legs are the main attraction, then, obviously, you have to increase the quantity to 0.5 to 2 pounds per person.

However, if it’s only a side dish to enhance your dinner experience, then you can have around only 0.5 to 1 pound of crab legs per person.

Know Your Crabs

Once you have an idea about your guests’ preferences and about the position of your crab dish in the dinner plan, you have to decide which kind of crabs you are planning to buy as there are a few varieties of crabs with their own distinctive flavors and features.

King crab legs, for instance, are rich in flavor and more intense than snow crabs. But they are very expensive as it is difficult to catch them. Snow crabs, on the other side, are more affordable and firmer than king crab legs.

Knowing the types of crab legs and their features can help you to a great extent in savoring delicious crab legs without making many mistakes.

What Are The Different Types Of Crab Legs?

The most common types of crab legs are King Crab Legs, Snow Crab Legs and Dungeness Crab Legs, Blue Crab Legs, Soft-Shell Crab Legs, Japanese Spider Crab Legs, Horsehair Crab Legs, and Stone Crab Legs. Each of them has its own unique flavor, texture, and other features. Let’s take a look at them.

King Crab Legs

They are the most popular of the lot as they have a rich flavor and are more intense than snow or fresh crab legs. They are also the most expensive since it is very difficult to catch them.

Another reason amounting to the popularity of King Crab legs is that their size is so large that it is easy to extract more meat content from them.  They usually weigh eight to ten pounds while some of them can weigh up to 20 pounds. The big ones have a leg span of five feet and a body width of 11 inches.

These crabs have a naturally mild and sweet flavor. Combining King crab legs with butter or garlic sauce can heighten the natural flavors to a totally different level. They are of different varieties such as Red King Crab, Blue King Crab, and Golden King Crab.

Snow Crab Legs

They are slightly firmer in texture than the other varieties but have a special flavor, particularly a mix of sweet and briny tastes. They are comparatively less expensive compared to King Crab legs.

Another feature of Snow Crab legs is that they can easily be broken off into long pieces. Because of this, they are usually shredded and used as an ingredient in various recipes such as the pasta dish tortellini.

They are also known as Alaskan crabs or rock crabs because of their abundance in the Alaskan region.

Related Read:

Dungeness Crab Legs

Deriving their name from a small fishing hamlet in Washington, Dungeness Crab Legs are popular for their high shell-to-meat ratio. They are also known for their soft and delicate meat.

They usually grow 12 inches wide and are found in abundance on the West coast of the United States and Canada.

Blue Crab Legs

They are called Blue Crabs because of the distinct blue color of their claws which makes them very easy to spot. With a maximum width of 10 inches, they are comparatively smaller than the other varieties.

You can read my article, what is Blue Crab to find out more.

Because of their smaller size, Blue crabs are not very easy to extract meat from. But they remain very popular because of their delicate, flaky meat and unique flavor.

They are commonly found in the mid-Atlantic Ocean as well as the Gulf of Mexico. Hence, they are also called Atlantic Blue crabs. Chesapeake blue crab is yet another name for this variety.

Japanese Spider Crab Legs

They are called Spider Crabs because of their legs which are very long like that of spiders. This feature also makes them very easy to spot. They are one of the largest crabs in the world with a life span of up to 100 years.

These crabs have highly delicious meat but they are very expensive because of two reasons. Firstly, they suffer from population decline and therefore there are strict rules in place about catching them, particularly during their mating season, i.e., spring.

Secondly, they have such long legs that it is very hard to cook them. We will have to steam and soften up these crabs before breaking their legs apart.

Soft-Shell Crab Legs

When Blue crabs get molted, their old hardened shell comes off and new ones start developing. When you catch them at this stage, their shells are soft and new. That’s why they are called Soft-shell crabs.

The softness of the shell makes it easier to cook these crabs and also consumes their entire portion. For the same reason, such crabs are usually battered and fried.

Horsehair Crab Legs

As the name hints, these crabs are easily spotted because of their being covered in small hair. They are commonly found in Japan.

Since they are very small in size, it is quite difficult to extract meat from their legs. However, its intense sweet flavor has quite a fan following of its own. Additionally, Japanese people use it as n ingredient in other recipes to enhance flavor.

Stone Crab Legs

Usually found in the Florida region, they are famous for their large size and sweet flavor. Fishermen usually pluck one claw from each of these crabs and leave them to the sea where they regenerate their claws in 18 months.

Though they are a delicacy, there are clearly laid down procedures for the preparation of stone crabs. They have to be first boiled for seven minutes and then kept in a refrigerator or ice to remove the iodine flavor. They are usually served cold with a number of dips.

Why Should You Buy Crabs?

The most obvious reason to buy crabs is that having crab meat on your table not only makes your dinner fancy but also heightens the nutrient content of your total meal. Having seafood is a sure shot at impressing your guests. To have protein-rich soft and sweet meat of crabs is a delicacy no one would like to miss out on.

Additionally, crabs can be served in a number of ways – broiled, boiled, steamed, fried, etc. They can be served as the main dish or as accompaniments.

Similarly, they can be paired with different kinds of sides such as garlic sauce, squeezed lemon, butter, and so on. Therefore, you can find some way or the other to serve crab meat to your legs, in case they don’t like one particular dish.

Where To Buy Crabs

I have several places where you can buy the best crabs and I recommend you start at the page I made on where to buy seafood online.

How To Cook Crabs at Home? ( Easy Tips )

Crabs can be cooked at home using a number of methods such as broiling, boiling, steaming, roasting, frying, etc. Typically, crabs are boiled or steamed and then placed in an icebox or refrigerated before being served.

They are served along with sauces or dips such as garlic sauce, lemon squeeze, butter, etc. Scissors or shell crackers will also be given to break open the crab leg.

While frozen or precooked crabs are easily available and be cooked according to the methods mentioned above, it is quite a challenge to clean and cook live crabs. But sometimes people prefer live crabs because of their fresh flavor and softer meat.

Let us look at the four easy methods of cooking crab legs in detail.

How To Boil Crabs

To cook crabs through the boiling method, we can follow the following steps.

  1. Take a large pot, fill it with water, and salt the water to your taste. You can add ingredients that you like for extra flavor (be it wine or bay leaves). Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Once the water is boiled, put the crabs one by one into it. The crabs will take about 15 minutes to get cooked and they will start floating up.
  3. Take the crabs out of the pot and cool them down using an ice bath or refrigerator.
  4. When they are cooled down, you can serve them either as unbroken pieces or shredded pieces.

How To Steam Crabs

We use the method of steaming crabs to retain the natural juices inside the crabs and prevent them from becoming water-logged, which can happen if we boil them. To steam crabs, follow these steps:

  1. Bring to boil water in a big pot.
  2. Put the crabs in a steamer basket and place it inside the pot so that the bottom crabs boil mildly and serve as a platform for the rest of the crabs to steam.
  3. It might take 10 minutes to get them cooked. After that, take the crabs out of the pot using tongs. Cool them down before serving them to the guests.

How To Roast Crabs

  1. In order to clean the crabs, you have to boil or steam them first. And the crabs should only be half-cooked when they are boiled or steamed.
  2. Add some oil or butter on top of the crabs. You can also add spices and herbs you like.
  3. Place them on a pan as a single layer which is then set in an oven at a temperature of 450°F. Cook until the crabs get brownish and sizzling. This will take up to 10 minutes.

How To Grill Crabs

Crabs can be grilled by setting the half-boiled crabs on a hot grill. The detailed process is:

  1. Clean them first by either cooking or boiling them. The crabs should be only half-cooked at this stage.
  2. Let the half-cooked crabs cool down.
  3. You can spread olive oil and other spicy ingredients on the half-cooked crabs.
  4. Set them on a hot grill until they get cooked through and browned. It generally takes four minutes for each side.

How To Clean and Cook Live Crabs?

Cooking live crabs is a dare that many aspiring cooks and amateurs like to take on. The sight of live crabs with their long sharp legs, claws, and antennae moving around your part is scary as well as exciting. But it’s worth the dare – think of savoring that mouth-watering fresh, sweet crab meat.

So, let’s see how you should clean and cook crabs.

  1. Freeze the Crabs: Keep the crabs in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. This will stop them from moving around the pot in which they are to be cooked.
  2. Boil water in a Pot: Take a big pot, fill it with water, and add salt, 3 bay leaves, a tablespoon of peppercorns, and a teaspoon of paprika. Boil the water.
  3. Put the Crabs: Once the water starts boiling, take the frozen crabs and put them into the boiling pot using a pair of tongs.
  4. Prepare an Ice Bath: It will take at least 15 minutes for the crabs to get properly cooked and float to the top. In the meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. After they are cooked, put the crabs into the ice bath. Cool them down.
  5. Clean the Crabs: This is indeed a stage that needs much attention. To clean the crabs, you have to remove the shells. Start by removing the top shell. You should look for groves where your thumb will fit near the rear edges and then pull the shell up.

The next step is to flip the crab over, find the triangular-like part of the shell that runs partway down its center, and pull that piece backward and up to remove it.

You can remove the gills using your hands. And if you don’t like the mushy yellow thing in the cavity – called ‘crab butter’ – you can remove that as well.

You can either serve the legs without breaking them to pieces or after tearing them apart using a mallet. In the first case, take care to give your guests mallets, scissors, or shell crackers to get the meat out of the legs.

6. Serve Your Dish: When your dish is finally cooked and cleaned, you can serve it to your guests along with garlic sauce, butter, or lemon squeezed lemon to accentuate the flavor.

How Many Crab Legs per Person? – My Opinion

Having crab meat for dinner is quite an experience in itself. However, if you have to enrich this experience without wastage of food or expense, you should have a clear understanding of your guest’s preferences,

your meal plan, the different kinds of crabs, and the different ways of cooking as well as serving them. I have summed it up for you but at the end you know your guest and how much they like to eat the best.

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Peter Jameson

Peter Jameson is passionate about eating healthy food. While he is doing his search for this, he will share that with the Couch Potato Delivery's readers. As an experienced home cook, he knows what to look for in the food delivery services he reviews. You can find more about him here.