Cracking & Snacking: Easy Methods for Crab Leg Picking

Want to know the easiest ways to crack into those delicious crab legs? We have the methods that will get snacking in no time!

Step #1 Separate the Legs from the Body 

Getting those larger clusters into more manageable pieces is the name of the game. There are two main parts to crab clusters; the body and the legs. Separating the two will kick start our cracking. To separate, simply hold the body in one hand and the base of the legs in the other, twist the legs, applying pressure at that connecting point, and pull. 


Step #2 Separate the Legs at the Joints 

Each crab leg is divided into sections. Each section has a bendable joint with about 2-3 joints (depending on the leg) per leg—these are our targets. Between some of the joints is a section called the ‘knuckle’, these are smaller pieces between some leg sections (still with much coveted crab meat inside). Using the same twisting and pulling method used to separate the legs from the body, hold a section of the leg in one hand and the knuckle in another and apply pressure until the two separate. You might release and reveal some crab meat in the process, this we call the ‘bonus snack’!  


Step #3 Crack the Claws 

Once all of the legs have been separated into little manageable pieces, we’ll SHOP NOW on the cracking. I always like to start with the claws first, as they tend to be the more stubborn portions of the crab to pick. Using a nutcracker, crack the widest section of the claw (the spot right below the pinchers tends to be the widest), you don’t need to use extreme pressure here, just enough to cause fissures in the shell. Once enough cracking has occurred, position your hands on either side of the crack, and pry the shell loose, revealing the meat. There’s often a piece of connective cartilage (the piece that allows the crab to open and close their pinchers) that you can easily feel and remove with your fingers. If you’re using a mallet, tap that same thick part of the claw just until the shell cracks, and repeat the steps above. Try not to shatter the shell when using either tool (mallet or nutcracker), this will create shards of shell that will require extra picking (and we don’t want to work harder than we have too).


Step #4 Crack the Legs 

You can use the nutcracker, mallet, or your hands (if the shell is soft enough) to extract that sweet sweet leg meat. Pick a spot, roughly center, on the leg to crack in half. Use your hands to see-saw the shell back and forth to loosen. If you’ve split the leg cleanly, you’ll be able to pull out a solid piece of leg meat. If not, no worries! You can extract those morsels using a crab fork or pick. 


Step #5 Pick the Body Meat 

There’s a lot of shell to contend with when it comes to the body. No need to fret, patience will be rewarded. We recommend going into this task using your fingers to pry the delicate body meat loose. This way you’ll be able to feel around and discard any bits of shell. Any tough to reach places can be excavated with a crab fork or pick. 


For our Crab Leg Loving Community

Hello fellow fans of the crab cluster, you’re in good company! We have four options for you from our Alaskan Crab Leg catalog; Alaskan Snow Crab LegsColossal Alaskan King Crab LegsColossal Dungeness Crab Legs.

These meaty crabs are caught in the cool crisp waters of the North Pacific (where all the best big crabs are found). They are caught, cooked and shipped to preserve their freshness and flavor~these crab legs are a fan favorite.

Do you have a favorite crab leg recipe or picking method? If so, feel free to share it with us! We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to cook and eat our seafood. Post your images or tips on any of our social pages. We can be found @cameronsseafoodonline on Instagram or @CameronsSeafood on Facebook.

About the author

Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron’s Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.

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