These Grilled Snow Crab Legs are tender, juicy, with smoky taste. Grilling will infuse the perfect flavor into the meat. Serve this with our homemade garlic lemon butter dipping sauce.
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What Are Snow Crab Legs
Snow crab legs are the edible part of the snow crab. They are found in cold ocean waters, primarily in the northern Pacific and Atlantic. They are often served with butter or lemon and are known for their sweet and delicate flavor.
Why Grill Them
I love to grill them because it’s easy to prepare a large batch at the same time. Grilling crab legs can be a great way to add some smoky flavor and char to the crab legs while keeping the meat inside moist and tender.
Grilling is a quick and easy method that allows the crab legs to cook quickly, so the meat stays juicy and doesn’t dry out. This method also gives you a chance to infuse them with other flavors such as herbs, garlic, and butter. Some people also enjoy the slightly smoky flavor that grilling can add.
Overall, this is a great alternative cooking method and can add a unique and delicious flavor to them in comparison to steamed or baked.
The Difference Between Snow Crab and King Crab Legs
Snow crab legs are sold in clusters and typically by the pound. They are much easier to handle and crack because they have a smooth shell. There are usually at least 4 legs in each cluster. King crab is usually sold in bundles of 1 or more legs.
King has a sweeter and more delicate flavor than snow crab. It is also considered to be more succulent and tender.
King crabs can grow up to 6 feet across and can weigh up to 18 pounds, while snow crabs are typically smaller and weigh around 1-2 pounds. Snow crab meat is white to light pink in color, while king crab meat is a deeper red.
Snow crab is harvested year-round, but king crab is typically harvested in the fall and winter.
How to Buy and Shop
Most crab will come precooked and often frozen. Sometimes, if it’s sold thawed, then it has been thawed from frozen. After the crabs are caught they are cooked on the boat and then flash-frozen right on the spot. If the crab legs are orange or red in color when you bought them, then they have already been cooked. This process is reheating them.
How to Grill Snow Crab Legs
Full detailed instructions are below in the recipe card.
- Preheat grill.
- Place the crab legs on the grill.
How to Know When They are Done
Crab should be cooked until the flesh is pearly or white, and opaque. You won’t be able to tell much by the outside color, because when you bought them they were already pre-cooked and orange. Examine the shoulder (this is the large white part of the cluster). It should be pearly white.
Check out our post on How to Cook Crab Legs.
How to Thaw
You can thaw them in the refrigerator overnight (at least 8 hours). You can also put them in a bowl and run cool water over them to thaw quickly.
The crab defrosts quickly in water. I don’t recommend grilling while frozen.
Do Not Overcook
When grilling crab legs, it’s important to keep them on the grill for a short period of time, usually for about 3 to 4 minutes each side, and to be careful not to overcook them. Grilling at medium-high heat is recommended to prevent over-cooking.
How to Plan How Much You Need Per Person
You should typically plan for 1 1/2 pounds of crab per person. 2 pounds a person is great to be sure you have enough.
How to Split and Crack Them
Snow crab can be split with your hands. If you find it difficult you can use kitchen shears.
To split with your hands, hold the leg horizontally, with the back of the leg facing you. Then press down on either the middle of the leg or about 1/4 of the way up from the bottom of the leg. From there pull the cracked leg apart.
If it doesn’t return a nice chunk of meat and the meat is stuck on the inside, you can use a fork or utensil to remove it.
How to Reheat Them
I don’t reheat them. I love to serve these with warm butter and that provides the temperature adjustment I need. If you know you want to eat more of them later, crack them first. The longer they sit, the harder they are to crack and the meat gets trapped inside.
If you must reheat them, saute them in a pan with oil or butter until warm.
Pair With These Recipes
More Crab and Seafood Recipes
I love to pair these with my Homemade Seafood Stock recipe.
Grilled Snow Crab Legs
- 3- 3 1/2 pounds snow crab legs
Garlic Butter Sauce
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
- 6 garlic cloves Minced
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- Preheat grill to medium-high, 350 degrees.
- Place the crab legs on the grill. Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
- Cool before you split the crab legs.
Garlic Butter Sauce
- Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir. Serve for dipping sauce or brush the butter over the crab.
- Crab should be cooked until the flesh is pearly or white, and opaque. You won’t be able to tell much by the outside color, because when you bought them they were already pre-cooked and orange. Examine the shoulder (this is the large white part of the cluster). It should be pearly white.
- You can use snow crab legs or king crab legs. King crab legs cook for 5-7 minutes on each side.
- Adjust the spices and seasoning to suit your taste.