King Crab Legs

King crab is undoubtedly the meatiest crab you can buy. It also has a very fine flavor and is quite suitable for special occasions. The legs that you see in the picture were larger than what I usually find in California. These particular legs were over an inch wide and very good tasting. Each leg weighed about 1 lb.

It was rather amusing that when I was in Alaska purchasing the king crab legs, one of the other customers asked me how to prepare them. I told him that I simply put them in the microwave to heat them up and serve them with lemon and melted butter. He seemed surprised that I would microwave such an expensive piece of seafood ($18 per lb.!). However, the owner of Kasilof Seafoods laughed and said that he does the same thing! Following the rule that simple is best, here is my recipe for quick King Crab Legs.

  • 2 whole king crab legs
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
Do NOT thaw the legs before preparing. The king crab you find in the market is always frozen and pre-cooked. This makes preparation very easy. If the legs you find are partially thawed, use them immediately. I simply rinse the legs with cold water, break the legs at the joints so they fit into the microwave, and heat them on high for about 6 to 8 minutes for 2 legs, longer if necessary. If you don't have a microwave, or if one is not handy, simply steam the legs on a steamer rack for about 10 minutes, just as you would vegetables. You can expect that water will be released from the crab while cooking it in the microwave, so make sure to not spill the hot water and burn yourself.

I usually put the butter into a small bowl and put it into the microwave with the crab about 1 minute before the crab is done. This way I don't have to wait for the butter to melt and I can serve it warm with the crab. Also, I usually squeeze a little lemon juice from one of the wedges into the butter before heating. After the butter is melted, I garnish the butter with the chopped parsley for flavor. As a variation, garlic lovers can add a little chopped garlic to the butter before melting.

Being that the crab meat is inside of the shell, you can serve the legs with a nutcracker or some similar tool to facilitate the removal of the meat. Or, you can make it easier if you remove the legs from cooking before they are hot, but not still frozen, and use a cleaver or kitchen scissors to cut the shells lengthwise. The shells are actually not very hard, and can be easily cut. Other types of crab can be prepared and served in the same manner.


  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 12 minutes
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