Find out how to reheat crab legs without overcooking them.

By Tamara Gane
June 08, 2021
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It's a little bit of work to eat crab legs. It's one of the few foods that require tools like mallets, crackers, and picks on the part of the diner. However, they are well worth the work. Whether it's a king crab, snow crab, stone crab, or blue crab, the succulent meat is a delicacy.

If you bought frozen crab legs from the store, chances are they were pre-cooked so you'll just need to reheat them at home. This is where a little know-how is important since overcooked crab legs can be tough and rubbery. We asked Jennifer Earnest and Jamey Evnoiuk, the husband and wife team behind Jen and Jamey's Virtual Cooking Classes in Jacksonville, Florida, for their best tips.

Start by defrosting frozen crab legs

If you purchased frozen crab legs, Earnest and Evnoiuk recommend defrosting them overnight in the refrigerator first. They explain, "If you reheat frozen crab legs, they will lose some of the moisture and can dry out."

Reheat crab legs by baking

According to Earnest and Evnoiuk, size matters when it comes to choosing the right dish to reheat crab legs. They continue, "If baking, make sure you have enough surface area in the baking dish to accommodate your crab legs so they heat evenly. Don't overstuff. Add one inch of water or beer to the bottom, cover with foil, and poke holes, so it steams. Bake 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes depending on the size of the crab legs."

Reheat crab legs by boiling

Earnest and Evnoiuk say, "If you want to boil them, make sure you have a big enough pot so you can fully submerge the crab legs. If you are cooking for a large group of people, boiling is probably the easiest way to accommodate a large volume." The length of time you boil them depends on the size of the crab legs. Your goal should be to boil them only as long as necessary to heat them all the way through.

Reheat crab legs by steaming

You can also reheat crab legs by steaming them in a small amount of liquid. Earnest and Evnoiuk say this is their preferred method since it allows for the most even transfer of heat. Once again, the amount of time the crab legs need to steam depends on how big they are and how long it takes to heat them to the center.

Reheat crab legs in a microwave

Although it's technically possible to reheat crab legs in a microwave, Earnest and Evnoiuk don't recommend it since it's easy to overcook them this way.

More tips for reheating crab legs

  • Consider adding beer to the water when steaming or adding to a boil for an extra bit of flavor.
  • Don't add salt to your water because most frozen crab legs have already been boiled on the boat, so sodium has already been added.
  • Be patient. When pulling together a seafood boil, always add the crab at the end.
  • Remember if you've overcooked your crab legs, butter is your best friend. It will add moisture and flavor back into the meat.