How to Cook Sand Crabs

Sand crabs are nearly ubiquitous on the beaches of both coasts in the United States. These small crabs are found at the mid-tide zone at the shoreline, where they burrow into the sand to escape their many predators. In many states and municipalities, you can catch sand crabs to take home and cook. Like other hard-shelled crabs, the best way to cook sand crabs is to boil them. Then crack open the shells and enjoy the tender white meat inside.

Sand crabs sold in a fisherman's marketplace. (Image: amnachphoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Hold each crab with the tongs, and rinse it under cool water. Scrub the bottom of the shell with a stiff brush, being sure to get the joints where the shell meets the legs. Avoid the claws as you clean the crabs.

Step 2

Place the crabs in the freezer for 10 minutes to stun them.

Step 3

Fill a stockpot three-quarters full with water, and bring the water to a rapid boil over high heat.

Step 4

Place the sand crabs in the water, and boil them for 10 minutes.

Step 5

Remove the crabs from the hot water with tongs, and set them aside to cool slightly until you can easily handle them.

Step 6

Twist the tail portion off the crab, and pry off the top shell with a seafood pick.

Step 7

Remove the gills and any innards that do not appear to be white meat.

Step 8

Twist off the claws, and crack them with a nutcracker to reach the meat and remove it with your fingers and a pick.

Step 9

Cut the crab in half lengthwise with a sharp knife, and use a pick to remove the rest of the meat.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 lbs. live sand crabs

  • Tongs

  • Stiff brush

  • Stockpot

  • Seafood pick

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