How to Kill a Crab Before Cooking?

Last Updated on April 30, 2023 by Lauren Beck

Crabs are a popular seafood delicacy enjoyed all around the world. But before you start cooking them, it’s important to learn how to kill and clean them properly. Not only does this ensure that the crab is safe to eat, but it also makes the cooking process much easier. 

In this article, we’ll explore different ways to kill a crab before cooking, how to clean and cook it, and even some tips for using crab in your dishes.

4 Ways to Kill a Crab Before Cooking

  1. Freezing: This method involves placing the crab in the freezer for around 2 hours until it becomes unconscious. Once the crab is motionless, it can be removed from the freezer and killed using another method.
  2. Stabbing: Some people prefer to use a sharp knife or spike to pierce the crab through the head or body. This method is quick and effective but can be messy and difficult for beginners.
  3. Boiling: Boiling the crab in a large pot of water is a popular method many home cooks use. It’s important to ensure that the water is boiling before adding the crab, as this will kill it quickly and humanely.
  4. Electric stunning: This method is commonly used by commercial crabbers, as it’s quick and efficient. The crab is placed in an electric bath that stuns it before it’s killed.

How Do Restaurants Kill Crabs?

Restaurants typically use the boiling method to kill crabs before cooking. This method ensures that the crab is cooked thoroughly and is safe to eat. 

Some restaurants also use electric stunning to kill crabs, as it’s a quick and efficient method.

How to Humanely Kill a Blue Crab Before Cooking

If you want to kill a blue crab humanely, the best method is to freeze it for around 2 hours until it becomes unconscious. 

Once the crab is motionless, it can be removed from the freezer and killed using another method.

Should You Kill a Crab Before Cooking?

Yes, it’s important to kill a crab before cooking it to ensure that it’s safe to eat. 

If the crab is not killed before cooking, it may release harmful bacteria or toxins that can make you sick.

How to Kill a Crab With a Knife?

To kill a crab with a knife, place the crab on a chopping board with its belly facing up. Then, insert the knife into the center of the crab’s body, just behind the eyes. 

Twist the knife to ensure the crab is dead before cleaning and cooking.

How To Clean a Crab?

Giant Crab on a Basket

Cleaning a crab involves removing the shell, gills, and internal organs. To start, remove the legs and claws from the body. 

Then, remove the shell by pulling it away from the body. 

Finally, remove the gills and internal organs from the body, taking care not to damage the meat.

How to Cook a Crab?

There are many ways to cook a crab, including boiling, steaming, and grilling. 

  • To boil a crab, place it in a pot of boiling water and cook for around 10-15 minutes. 
  • To steam a crab, place it in a steamer over boiling water and cook for around 10-12 minutes. 
  • To grill a crab, brush it with butter or oil and cook over medium heat for around 5-7 minutes on each side.

Tips for Cooking With Crab

  • Use crab meat in pasta dishes, salads, and soups
  • Add crab meat to omelets and quiches for a protein boost
  • Use crab shells to make stock or broth for soups and stews
  • Pair crab meat with citrus or spicy flavors for a delicious taste

How to Steam Crabs to Include Them in Other Dishes

To steam crabs, place them in a steaming basket over boiling water and cover them with a lid. Steam it for around 10-12 minutes or until the crabs turn a bright orange color [1]. 

Once the crabs are cooked, remove the meat from the shells and use it in your desired dish.

Why are Crabs Cooked Alive?

Crabs are typically cooked alive to ensure that the meat is as fresh as possible. Once a crab dies, its meat begins to break down quickly, which can affect its taste and texture. 

Cooking the crab alive ensures that the meat is fresh and retains its flavor and texture.

How Long Does Crab Last After Killing?

Once a crab is killed and cleaned, it should be cooked immediately or stored in the refrigerator for no more than 24 hours. 

If you’re not planning to cook the crab right away, it’s best to freeze it to ensure that it stays fresh.


Killing and cleaning a crab can seem daunting at first, but it’s an important step in the cooking process. By learning different methods to kill and clean crabs, you can ensure that the crab is safe to eat and that your dish turns out delicious. From boiling and steaming to grilling and using crab meat in other dishes, there are countless ways to enjoy this seafood delicacy. So, next time you’re craving crab, try your hand at killing and cleaning it yourself – you won’t regret it!


Lauren Beck
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