How to Eat a Blue Crab

By SAVEUR Editors

Updated on September 7, 2023

Blue crabs are found along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast, from Nova Scotia to Argentina. Prized for their sweet meat, these versatile, blue-hued crustaceans are served in many ways, from dips to crabcakes to bisques and beyond. However, there's no more festive way to consume crabs than steamed or boiled then directly served on tables covered with newspapers and canisters of Old Bay. Whole crabs can be intimidating with their spiny shells and tough-to-crack exteriors. But, fear not: Getting to that precious lump crab meat within can quickly become second nature. Read on for our step-by-step instructions on cracking crabs. Eat them straight away with lemons and cold beer, or check out our favorite recipes for blue crab meat right here.

1. Turn the crab over so that its belly faces you. Using your fingers or the tip of a sharp knife, lift up its heart-shaped apron, or tail, and pull it back to snap it off of the body.

2. Hold the crab in your hand with legs on either side of your right hand. With the other hand, remove the top shell from the bottom of the body, twisting and prying it off to separate the shell from legs and body.

3. Remove the gills, often called "dead man's fingers", which are attached to either side of the crab. (The yellowish "mustard" and orange roe are edible.) Using both hands with thumbs on the center of the body, crack the crab into two pieces.

4. Press lightly on the body where the back legs, or "swimmers", are attached and pop out the backfin meat in the rear of the crab. Extract the rest of the body meat with your fingers. Remove the claws.

5. Using a cracker or a small wooden mallet, gently crack open the claws. Ease the meat out of the shell if possible. Then scrape the meat out of the claws with your fingers or a table knife.

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