Smoked Crab Legs: The Recipe Even a Beginner Can Handle

If you're lucky to have crab legs at your disposal, check out this recipe to smoke them the best way!
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Last updatedLast updated: September 09, 2021
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Of the crustacean family, probably the biggest and sweetest of all is the meat from the legs of the King Crab. Fishing for this crab is one of the professions with the highest mortality in the world given the climatic conditions where they are found. Asides from the risk is the quota system which increases its scarcity. This is why it’s a very expensive type of meat. All this risk is offset by the sweet and meaty taste of these gems of nature. They are a real beautiful pod!

However, if you’re lucky to discover this type of creature commercially, there are various ways you can cook it. You can boil it, steam, grill, or smoke it. However, the crab legs are best prepared smoked:

Smoked Crab Legs – The Recipe

The crab legs are best prepared smoked, which is why we will be giving you some recommendations, tips, and a recipe to make smoked crab legs.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 2 people
Calories 190 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs snow crab legs
  • 8 oz Kerrygold butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 squirt lemon juice or 1-2 lemons
  • Paprika
  • 1 handful Italian parsley

Instructions
 

  • To grill the crab legs, the first thing to do is to expose a piece of the meat with kitchen scissors so that the seasoning, flavor, and smoke reach the crab meat.
  • Once you have made the necessary cuts, proceed to prepare the butter. In a container, add 1 squirt of unsalted butter, a handful of finely chopped Italian parsley, salt, and pepper to taste, juice of 1–2 lemons, a touch of Paprika de la Vera (sweet) or Paprika for smoking, and a touch of red pepper (cayenne) for a spicy touch.
  • Additionally, add two cloves of garlic. It’s better to add them whole and for the butter to catch the garlic flavor since you don’t want to feel the piece of garlic when biting the crab. But if you are a garlic lover, it is fine to cut it finely or use garlic powder which you can purchase in-store or online. One of the most recommended garlic powders is the McCormick Garlic Powder. It’s a California-style powder blend with parsley. So, if you’re using this, there’d be no need for extra parsley addition.
  • Over medium heat on the grill or smoker, add the butter with all its seasonings and spices so that it melts, and the flavors are incorporated.
  • Once the butter has melted, rub the crab generously and place it on the grill over indirect heat. The butter will catch fire if it is not placed over indirect heat.
  • Continue to paint the crab with the butter until it is about to reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Smoke the crab leg at around 225 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 20 minutes.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 190kcal

How to Pick Crab Legs for Smoking

First, carefully break the legs apart at the joints. With the blunt back of the knife, you carefully hit the center of the crab leg so that the shell can break. As soon as the shell is broken all around, you can add the flavors and the rubs.

Crab Legs Smoking Recommendations

The meat of the Snow Crabs is slightly sweet with a salty freshness of seawater. When preparing it, you should not cover the taste with lots of aromas. Butter, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, paprika, and salt are enough. Meanwhile, you can also add some spicy mustard sauce. You can consider The Spice Way Mustard Seed. You’ll have whole seeds in the resealable bag and they don’t need to be ground.

Since the snow crab legs are already pre-cooked, they only need to be warmed up. You can prepare the crab legs on the Kamado Joe Classic II with inlaid deflector stones for indirect heat. The Traeger Ironwood 885 is also a good smoker/grill for crab legs.

King Crab is great and tasty. However, compared to King Crab, the meat of the Snow Crabs is slightly sweet with a salty freshness of seawater. Snow crabs are also quite easy to break and handle than King Crab.

Get the smoker heated and the snow crab legs are heated indirectly for 20 minutes. At the same time, put the butter in a fire-proof bowl on the grill so that it can liquefy. Finely chopped garlic and a splash of lemon juice are added to the bowl.

After the cooking time is complete, take the crab legs off the grill and the hard work begins. But don’t worry, with the right-hand movements you can get to the meat quickly. First, carefully break the legs apart at the joints. With the blunt back of the knife, you carefully hit the center of the crab leg so that the shell breaks.

As soon as the shell is broken all around, you can simply pull it off and carefully pull out the meat. Crab leg scissors can be used here. But even here you can crack the shell with light blows of the back of a knife and carefully pull the meat out. Special seafood forks with which the meat can be removed from the shell are helpful. It’s therefore important to have a kit of smoking accessories that have these types of tools. With a little practice, you can get the hang of it relatively quickly and get to the tender meat without any problems.

Serving

Crab legs are best served with lemon wedges and melted butter on the side. Once you remove the meat from the shells, squeeze the lemon juice over the meat and dip it inside melted butter. You can keep the butter in a container to dip the crab in it before giving it a bite.

How to Eat Crab Legs

Before eating, the crab meat is carefully pulled out of the shell. You can crack the shell with light blows of the back of a knife and carefully pull the meat out. Special seafood forks with which the meat can be removed from the shell are helpful.

crab leg

With a little practice, you can get the hang of it relatively quickly and get to the tender meat without any problems. Then it is simply dipped into the flavored butter and eaten immediately.

Snow crab legs are a real delicacy! The meat has a sweet, mild taste and is really aromatic. By no means fishy, but you can taste the sea flavor.

Health Considerations

Crab legs are delicious, but there are a few things to remember when incorporating them into your diet. For starters, the crab can contain high amounts of sodium, which could be detrimental to your health, especially if your potassium levels are not optimized.

Potassium is often used as an electrolyte, it helps to relax the arterial walls of the body, inhibit muscle cramps, and lower blood pressure levels, to name a few of its benefits.

Arguably, maintaining healthy sodium to potassium ratio might be more effective in promoting better health and preventing disease compared to limiting or reducing your total sodium intake, which is what conventional health guidelines recommend.

We must also emphasize the importance of knowing where your seafood comes from. For example: in 2015, the state of California temporarily halted fishing for Dungeness crabs as well as rock crabs as high amounts of domoic acid, which are neurotoxins, were found in these shellfish.

Consuming too many contaminated crabs could lead to amnesic shellfish poisoning, characterized by the death of neurons in an area of the brain necessary for proper memory function. To prevent harm to yourself and your loved ones, we suggest:

    • Buying crab from trusted sources
    • Be aware of public health advisories and fisheries closures before eating recreationally sourced crab
    • Thoroughly wash the crab and discard its internal organs (viscera, fat, and intestines) before cooking

Smoked Crab Legs: The Recipe Even a Beginner Can Handle

  • Throw away the cooking liquid after boiling your crab, instead of using it for sauces or dressings
  • Once you consider these caveats, it’s time to make some delicious crab legs for any occasion. Of course, don’t forget that you can add your twist to this seafood classic by using your favorite herbs and/or seasonings, too.

Final Thoughts

Since these legs come previously cooked, our recommendation is to cook them grilled or smoked (never boiled despite being one of the methods recommended by other people since this method slightly water the flavor).

Firm white crab meat with a sweet aroma is an indicator that the legs are precooked. Avoid overcooking them as you will get less flavorful and rubbery crab meat.

As unconventional as it sounds, grilling or smoking them, either using a charcoal smoker or a gas grill, can be a quick and easy way to cook crab legs. Roasting is said to provide better temperature control, although using the charcoal method can add a smoky flavor to your pieces.

When preparing smoked crab legs that have been precooked, it is important not to heat it too long and too hot, otherwise, the fine meat will get a rubbery consistency.

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