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How to Boil and Eat Louisiana Blue Crabs

[ 22 ] October 15, 2008 |

Cooking Louisiana Blue Crabs

Louisiana Blue Crabs are available in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The word for Blue Crab in the Greek means beautiful swimmer and savory. Louisiana Blue Crabs are also known for a sweet and hearty texture. I personally love the claw meat of Blue Crabs, but the lump white crab meat is certainly the best.

blue crab

Blue Crab

On this sunny day in August, we visited the Folse & Company Seafood Market in Gonzales, Louisiana. It had been about 20 years since I actually boiled my own crabs. Usually, it is so easy to get boiled crabs at local restaurants.

We recommend about 2-4 crabs per person depending on the size. Of course, we only buy the best grade #1 crabs, so they are rather large and full of incredible meat.

 Getting Started with Your Louisiana Blue Crabs

Buy fresh local live crabs.  Once home place the crabs in a large basin or bucket and cover with ice.  The ice stuns the crabs and miraculously keeps the claws from falling off during the boiling process.  Soak for 30 minutes.

Prepare a large stock pot with boiling water.

Zatarains Crab Boil

Zatarains Liquid Crab Boil

Add seasonings:
2 large sweet onions, quartered
Several whole garlic pods, cut in half
3-4 Bay leaves
2-4 tablespoons Zatarain’s Liquid Shrimp & Crab Boil (I use about 4 ounces – Mike)
2 tablespoons white vinegar (helps crabs peel easily)
lemon or lime juice.

Carefully place the crabs in the boiling water.  Boil about 15 minutes.  The crabs instantly turn a vibrant red once placed in the boiling water.  Turn off the heat.

Remove the crabs and serve.

If you want to let the crabs soak in the water in order to soak up the wonderful seasonings, place cold water or more ice on top of the crabs in order to stop the cooking process.

Eating Louisiana Blue Crabs

You can do this in any order you like, but this is just how I was taught to eat crabs as a little girl at the age of 8.  There would be about 10 family members sitting all around this large dining table in the dining room of my Aunt Linda’s house in New Orleans.  Newspapers were spread the entire length of the table and each person had a plate and a little bowl for dipping with either butter or ketchup.  What a wonderful memory.

How to Eat Louisiana Blue Crabs

Take the crab in one (be careful of the hard prickles on the shell). Carefully pull the legs out right at the join closet to the body. Some good meat will come out. Don’t be shy to pull the meat through your teeth and suck out the juice.

Next, turn the crab over and pull open the crabs private part. Grasp the bottom of the body in one hand and the top shell in the other and pull apart. Discard the top shell. Then, pull the lungs and other yucky guts items off. You should be left with 2 compartment separated by much thinner shell membranes.

Using a sharp knife carefully cut the compartment in half. Then, make a cut lengthwise on each compartment to reveal the sweet, savory white meat. Pull out the lump crab meat and work your way through the other smaller membranes.

Now for the legs – break apart the legs at each joint. Sometimes the meat will come right out. Other times you need to use crab crackers or nut crackers to open up the segments.

My favorite part is the claw. I always save it for last. Delicately crack right in the middle and once at the place where the claws start. You should be able to peel the shell off and reveal a big, full claw. Take the claw into your mouth and pull between your teeth. Now that’s some good stuff Cher!

P.S.: My first and last time that I cooked live crabs, I was 23 years old and still wet behind the ears when it came to cooking. We lived on a small island in northeast Florida – Amelia Island. A local seafood market had a sign for “Dozen Crabs – $12.00”. I thought, “Wow, I love crabs and I can figure out how to cook them.” So, I bought a dozen crabs. I didn’t realize that they were LIVE. I thought crabs were like fish and already dead.

Needless to say, to my surprise these things were all rustling about in the paper bag. I get them home and I no idea what to do with them. So, I call my mom back in Louisiana. She tells me to pour them in the sink and soak them in salt water. I thought that was just for crawfish, but I attempted it anyway. I took the bag and dumped them in the sink. Oh my gosh, they were rustling about and trying take off running on the counter.

One fell on the floor. I was hopping around like firecrackers were going off. My golden retriever was having a good time playing with one.

Well, I managed to boil and season some water and one by one placed the poor innocent crabs into the boiling hot cauldron and saying sorry to each of them. My Cajun cooking beginnings, lol.

They must have been good for I remember this crazy story. C’est la vie!

Beryl Stokes

Beryl Stokes

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Comments (22)

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  1. Gina Therrien says:

    LOL!! That is hilarious…reminds me of my first time cooking crab legs….they were tough as a rock!! I’ve come along way in the kitchen:)

  2. Bev says:

    What a great article! You are much more bold with the camera than I! Loved your video’s!
    Crabs are so fun, aren’t they? Your article was hilarious!

  3. arlene tummienllo says:

    are boiled crabs in season now in New Orleans?

  4. Michelle Walker says:

    Hi, I just loved watching your videos. I was searching for recipes online and stumbled upon your sight (that was about 3 hrs. ago!lol). I started out searching for a recipe for stuffed bellpeppers (never found one though). I am from Metairie, La.. I will stop by soon to check for new recipes!

    Michelle Walker

  5. Meaux says:

    Great site, I’ve been catching lots of nice crabs recently and boing them at home. I have a bit of a problem with some losing thier claws during the boil. Seems like more than it should be. Any thoughts that could help? Thanks

  6. Beryl says:

    Yes, soak your crabs in ice water about a half hour before you boil them, that will keep the claws on for you.

  7. Jen says:

    I’m new to the south, and even newer to blue crabs (I grew up with the dungeness in California!). Thank you so much for the clear and simple instructions– I’m going to give this a try tomorrow night!

  8. Liz says:

    I enjoyed your video about eating crabs. I’ve been looking for this info, but never could find it. I live in Tucson, still wondering how to get some crabs. I’m still curious about the soft shell, do you eat the legs, insides and all?

  9. Beryl says:

    Yes, youu do eat the legs (all of them) and the insides. You do clean out the lungs (called the “dead men”) and cut off the mouth area before you fry or saute them however.

  10. Darren says:

    Hey, you guys are a Godsend and make me so homesick I could cry. Anyway the one thing I am ashamed to say I never attempted was the Crawfish boil. Can you guys please do a “how to” on those?

    Thanks and keep on a postin’ them recipes!

  11. Beryl says:

    Hi Darren,

    Thanks for your comment!

    To tell you the truth, I’ve been to hundreds of crawfish boils, but have never done the boiling!

    We will do a crawfish boil for you, not sure when right now.

    Thanks for writning us!


  12. I got on my pc today and saw on Yahoo a potatoe salad recipe and clicked it. I love you… I took to you immediately! You could be my best friend and that says alot! The Cable Food Channel does not know what they are missing! You are a charmer and reminde me of my aunt. I could sit and watch her cook and talk to her for hours. I hope someone out there in show business is smart enough to pick up on you and I hope you never change a thing!

    Brenda from Minnesota

  13. George Matthews says:

    You don’t boil crabs. YOu put a couple inches of water and dump in some Budweiser, because who would drink that craP? Then you get the steam rolling. Cook the crabs for 22 minutes after the steam is rolling. Now you need to crack the top and let out steam and you need a lot of heat. Forget about doing it on an electric stove. you need a big flame. But 22 minutes is good. I’ve steamed 50 tractor trailer loads.

  14. George Matthews says:

    Now in the North we boil shrimp and we steam shrimp. You put in about an inch of water and have the shrimp raised up a couple inches. You might want to dump in a little Budweiser, because nobody drinks that but hippies. After the steam gets rolling dump in your shrimp and make sure your lid is cracked a tad. Then cook the shrimp 7 minutes. Now we used to steam shrimp with a boiler. So you might want to test a shrimp. especially if you’re steaming large shrimp. You might want to leave the lid on, because the shrimp will keep on cooking. Shrimp are something you give it just a tad too long and it gets rubbery and hard to peel. So you have to experiment, because it’s a fine art with shrimp. You’ll get it so you dump in the shrimp and you’ll know exactly how much time. If you’ve never steam fish you have to try this. We steamed Rock Fish and it was good.

  15. George Matthews says:

    If you’ve never eaten muskrat you’re missing something. Muskrat is the best dark meat there is and I’ve had them all. You cut up the muskrat and boil them for about 45 minutes in sage. Then you take them out and sprinkle flour on them and fry them in olive oil and onions for about eight to ten minutes on each side. I repeat muskrat is the best dark meat there is and I dare anyone of those Cajuns, coonasses to tell me that raccoon, elk, bear, hog, deer, turtle or nutria tastes better. Now when it comes to white meat I like bull frog legs. I liked alligator gar too.

  16. George Matthews says:

    The shame is the future people will say you get you some of those farm raised shrimp, because the gulf has none. I got news if you guys down there in Venice and down that way goes out there and eat that seafood after they dumped all that chemicals in the gulf you better think twice. Now I fished and crabbed down there in 1981 and love all you cajun dudes. I almost run over some of you guys coming up the Mississippi. Me and two others were the ones that found that women down there that fell off that shrimp boat in the creek in Fall of 1982.

  17. George Matthews says:

    My mother makes the best tasting barbecue sauce I have ever eaten. Anyone want the recipe just shoot me an email at

  18. greg myles says:

    I’m from New Orleans,grew up on the blue crab, and have eaten and cleaned thousands.the video is very imformative. In fact, I’ve learned a better ways to clean blue crabs. Wow. Thanks.

  19. Jerry says:

    Great vid! You are really good in front of the camera lol

  20. Cody Hanchey says:

    The BEST WAY TO BOIL CRABS and I mean the best way. Is first you keep all your crabs in a ice chest filled with ice over them. The crabs will go comatose. Then one by one you pull them out pop the tops off of them with a butter knife. Clean the gills off of them and the guts out. rinse off and put into your basket for boiling. Do this to all of your crabs then boil them all. I boil my potatoes, corn, mushrooms, garlic, onions and sausage first and put them in a ice chest to stay warm. Throw crabs in pot bring to boil then time if for five minutes. Once they are done boiling toss out a layer of the crabs facing up and squirt some butter into each cavity. Once all crabs are stacked and have butter in them shut the ice chest for 15 minutes. After that 15 minutes the butter has melted into all of the cavities of the crabs!!!!

  21. Beryl says:

    Sounds great, Cody!

    We’ll sure boil our crabs your way next time we do it.


    Beryl and Mike

  22. Ann says:

    I have lived in New Orleans for the past 33 years or so but I have never boiled my own crabs. My husband came home last night with 8 or 9 blue crabs that someone gave him so I went looking online for a way to cook them. Glad I ran across your article because they came out very good and the story was very funny and informative. I didn’t have time to watch the video but I had no problem with the clear instructions. Thanks so much! PS. I made my 20 year old son drop them in because I just couldn’t do it. He said bye and thank you to every one!

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