How to Grill Crab Legs (5 Simple Steps)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: December 5, 2023

As a seafood lover and a grilling expert, I have had my fair share of experiments combining the two.

And though I have mastered grilling most of my seafood, I was still to try crab legs. After researching and looking at some recipes, I found the following on how to grill crab legs.

Firstly, heat your grill to medium heat. Once the grill is at temperature, spray or rub oil on the outside of the crab legs.

Close the grill lid and let the crab legs cook for around 7 minutes per side. Once both sides have cooked, remove the crab legs from heat.

There are plenty of ways to grill crab legs, and there is bound to be a way that you prefer over the others.

Though it might seem easy, there are a couple of other aspects to consider when grilling crab legs, such as knowing when your crab legs are ready and what you can add to your cooked crab legs.

Quick Summary

  • Grilling crab legs involves preheating the grill, oiling the crab legs, grilling them for 7 minutes per side, and removing them from heat.
  • Crab legs are usually pre-cooked when bought, so grilling mainly reheats and adds flavor; they're done when meat is firm, white, and emits a sweet smell.
  • Serving grilled crab legs often involves a butter, garlic, and lemon sauce, enhancing the flavor of the crab meat.

Step-By-Step How To Grill Crab Legs

Grilled crab legs on a wooden table

There are a few ways to grill crab legs, depending on your personal preferences. Some ways to grill crab legs include breaking open the shell before exposing the crab legs to heat, and others are simpler.

The following is a step-by-step guide to grilling crab legs the easiest way [1].

1. Preheat Your Grill

Preheating your grill is essential to making good crab legs. Not only does preheating your grill allow you to simplify the cooking process, but it also means your crab legs will be done sooner and have a smaller chance of coming out uncooked or overcooked. Keep your grill on medium-high heat.

2. Oil Your Crab Legs

There are two ways to oil your crab legs, the way you prefer is down to preference.

The first way to oil your crab legs is by putting some oil into a spray bottle and lightly spritzing your crab legs until they are covered.

The second way is to rub oil on the outer of your crab legs. You can also use a paper towel to rub the oil on your crab legs.

3. Put Crab Legs on the Grill

Crab legs on a grill

After the oil has been applied to your crab legs and your grill has been preheated, it is time to distribute your crab legs evenly.

If you have thicker legs, place them on the area where the most heat is.

Once your crab legs are on the grill, you should close the grill lid to help the heat distribution and improve your cooking time.

4. Turn Your Crab Legs

Once your crab legs have cooked for seven minutes on one side, it is time to flip them.

You can quickly turn your crab legs around to expose the opposite side to heat by using tongs.

If you wish, you can add a bit more oil on your crab legs; just make sure not to overdo it. Close your lid after turning and let the crab legs cook.

5. Remove from Heat

Once your crab legs have cooked for seven minutes on both sides, it is time to remove them from the heat.

If you did not split the shell on your crab legs beforehand, you could now use a sharp knife to separate the shells.

To do this, wedge a sharp knife between the meat and shell of the crab legs and let the shell crack open. This will help you remove the meat to eat.

How To Know When Your Crab Legs Are Cooked

Crab legs lined up on a wooden board

As any grill master can tell you, overcooking or undercooking your food is not a pleasant experience. But how can you tell when your crab legs are done cooking?

When we buy crab legs at a store, the crab legs are usually already cooked. This is because there are few safe ways to sell crab frozen unless it has already been cooked.

If you are still not sure if your crab legs are cooked or not, look at the color of the shell. If your crab legs have a red hue or tint, your crab legs are cooked.

“In most grocery stores, crab legs will be sold pre-cooked and either frozen or thawed from frozen.”
- Natasha Kravchuk [2]

So, since you can’t tell if your crab legs are ready to come off the grill based on the color, how are you supposed to know when they’re ready?

When your crab legs are ready to be taken off the grill, you should be able to smell them and see that the crab meat on the ends of the legs is cooked.

“The meat at the ends of the crab should be firm and white and not rubbery. You should also be able to smell the sweet smell of perfectly cooked crabmeat.”
- Sharon Perkins [3]

If you need to make sure that your crab legs are ready to be eaten, you can take one crab leg off the grill and crack it open to see if it is hot and steaming.

If your meat is white and steaming, you should remove them all from the grill.

Also Read: Cooking Crab Meat

How To Serve And Eat Grilled Crab Legs

Served grilled crabs on a wooden board with lemon slices

Now that you know how to grill your crab legs like a master, how would you go about eating them?

One way to eat crab legs is universally seen as the best. All you need to level up your crab legs even further is some butter, garlic, and lemon if you wish.

Melt some butter in a pan to make the butter sauce that you always see with crab legs.

Add a clove of crushed or diced garlic and lemon juice to taste when the butter is soft.

You can also add other ingredients like Foodland suggests: “Soften butter and mix it with lemon juice, garlic, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper." [4]

This sauce can be used to dip your crab legs in after they come off the grill, or you could also crack your crab legs before grilling and put some sauce on the meat inside the legs to add some extra flavor.

Other How-To Grill Guides:

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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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