How Long To Boil Dungeness Crab

The Dungeness crab, one of the most prized seafood delicacies, is delicious and versatile. You can prepare hundreds of delicate and yummy items with it. But before preparing any item with Dungeness crab, it’s essential to boil and clean it properly. Or, it may remain undercooked and contain bacteria. Also, inappropriately boiled Dungeness crab will taste bitter and rubbery.

So, how long to boil Dungeness crab before cooking it? Usually, you should boil the crab for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on its size. Also, sometimes, simmering the crab will be better than boiling it to avoid eating it raw.

And lastly, you should clean the crab appropriately to help it remain in good shape. You need to remove its gills and inedible parts. We will discuss all these in today’s discussion. So, Dungeness crab lovers stay with us.

How Long To Boil Dungeness Crab

How Long To Boil Dungeness Crab

Dungeness crabs are a special delicacy. While many people may eat it raw, most people prefer cooking it. And before cooking, you must boil it. It is also essential when you catch live Dungeness crab and decide to use it for your favorite crab dish.

Also, the seafood delicacy is often boiled and served with various dipping sauces. But how long should you boil Dungeness crab before serving? The answer depends on two things:

  • The size of the crab
  •  The age of the crab

A small crab will take less time than a large one because it has less meat. Also, younger crabs will take less time to boil because their meat is more tender. Thus, you should decide the boiling time for the crab.

Nonetheless, you need to boil Dungeness crab for 10 to 18 minutes. The larger the crab is, the more boiling time it will require. You may follow the below-mentioned guideline for boiling it:

  • Small Dungeness Crab (1-1.5 pounds): 10-12 minutes
  • Medium Dungeness Crab (1.5-2 pounds): 12-15 minutes
  • Large Dungeness Crab (2-2.5 pounds): 15-18 minutes

It is a rough guideline on time required to boil Dungeness crab. You can visually inspect the crab shell and meat if you need more clarification. Its color transformation will help you know whether or not it is boiled properly.

The meat inside turns from white to red when appropriately boiled. As you test it with a spoon or fork, it will flake. Moreover, the shell gets hard and brittle once boiled properly. Usually, its shell is purple-brownish. As you boil it, the shell turns orange or slightly reddish.

Tips on Boiling Dungeness Crab Properly

You can’t just bring water to boiling temperature and put the crab into it. Instead, you need to boil it properly to help its taste and flavor remain intact. Or else the crab meat will become distasteful and rubbery.

  • You must bring the water to its boiling point to boil Dungeness crab. Also, use enough water to submerge the crab entirely.
  • Add one tablespoon of salt for every 2 quarts of water. Add a few pinches of salt to it. You may add pepper too.
  • Once the water is boiling, carefully add the crabs to the pot. If you want a lemonish taste, add lemon juice to the water.
  • You should ensure they are fully submerged in the water.

Finally, cover the pot and let the crabs cook for the recommended time. In the meantime, you may test it with a fork.

What Happens When You Boil The Crab Too Long or Short?

If Dungeness crab is adequately boiled, it can be safe to eat. Undercooked crab can contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Also, boiling crabs for less than the required time might cause an inedible taste. You may feel a stingy smell that most people won’t like.

Conversely, the overcooked crab can become rigid and rubbery, making it difficult to eat. When you boil a crab for too long, it will turn out tough and chewy. The meat turns rubbery and not tender at all. It can be too salty, acidic (bitter), or sometimes even both!

It happens because the meat contains salt, sugar, and umami flavorings. All these items help give it its characteristic taste when cooked and boiled properly. But Boiling crabs improperly means you’re boiling them longer than necessary. And this leads to such an unpleasant result and taste.

Tips On Cleaning and Cutting Dungeness Crab

Before you boil the crab, you should clean it properly. Conversely, you may clean the crab after boiling it and before cooking further. But, in all situations, you must clean it and cut the unnecessary parts. But cleaning and cutting Dungeness crab can be a challenge.

You need to be careful and patient while cleaning and cutting the crab. It will take a few minutes, but it’s worth it for the delicacy it offers.

  • Remove the legs: First, you should grasp the crab by the back legs. Then, you may twist them off to set them aside.
  • Remove the top shell: Flip the crab over so its underside faces up. You can use your thumbs to pry off the top shell. Then, you should set the shell aside.
  • Clean out the insides: Inside the shell, there will be many inedible parts. So, use a spoon to scoop out the guts and other innards from the body. Finally, discard them carefully, ensuring you don’t damage the fleshy part.
  • Cut the body in half: You need to use a sharp knife to cut the crab’s body in half. The cut should be from front to back.
  • Crack the claws: You need to crack the claws to get the fleshy part inside it. For this, get a nutcracker or the back of a knife. Then, with the tool, crack the claws and remove the meat from its inside.
  • Collecting the meat: Now, it’s time to collect the meat. You may use a small fork to remove the meat from the legs, body, and claws.

Menu Ideas With Dungeness Crab

Dungeness crab is a delicious seafood. You may cook and enjoy it. But that’s something more than it. Dungeness crab is a versatile ingredient. Hence, you may use it for different dishes.

  • Crab cakes: You can mix crab meat with breadcrumbs, eggs, and spices to make delicious crab cakes. It will be a delightful evening snack.
  • Crab salad: If you are on a diet, you can enjoy crab salad. Combine the boiled crab meat with celery, onion, and mayonnaise. Then mix it with lemon juice for a refreshing salad.
  • Crab dip: You may mix crab meat with cream cheese, sour cream, and seasonings. It will create a tasty dip.
  • Crab soup: Crab soups are delicious. So, why not taste some Dungeness crab soup? You can quickly combine crab meat with vegetables, chicken broth, and cream for a rich and satisfying soup.
  • Crab rolls: Lastly, you can serve crab meat on a buttered roll with lettuce and tomato. It makes a delicious sandwich.

Should You Boil or Steam Dungeness Crab?

You can cook Dungeness crab by either boiling or steaming it. Boiling is the faster method where the crab is cooked in boiling water until the shell turns red. Steaming takes slightly longer, but the meat is typically more tender and flavorful.

To steam, place the crab in a steaming basket above simmering water and cover it. Your choice of method should depend on your personal taste preference and how you want the crab to turn out.

Do You Need To Boil Akk Dungeness Crab?

You should only boil Dungeness crab when you choose live crabs. If you get it from the supermarket, it will come pre-cooked. For instance, Costco’s Dungeness crab is already pre-cooked and frozen. So, you don’t need to boil it. You can bring it to normal temperature and start cooking.

The best idea is to check the product level for the crab. It will clearly state if it is pre-cooked or needs further boiling.

How Do You Know When Dungeness Carb Is Done Boiling?

A foolproof way to tell if your Dungeness crabs are done boiling is to use your senses. Look for a bright red or orange color, listen for a faint sizzling sound, and smell for a sweet, oceanic aroma. Otherwise, you can check the meat by pulling on one of the legs; if it separates easily, the crab is likely done.

When all three senses indicate that the crab is cooked, it’s time to remove it from the pot. Be sure to let it cool for a few minutes before cracking it open and enjoying the succulent meat inside.

Can You Overcook Dungeness Crab?

Yes, you can overcook Dungeness crab but not too overcook carbs legs. If you boil or steam it for too long, the meat can become tough and rubbery. It is recommended to cook Dungeness crab for no more than 15 minutes.

Do You Put Crab in Cold After Boiling?

It is best to put the crab in cold water after boiling it. This not only helps to stop the cooking process and prevent overcooking but also makes it easier to handle and clean the crab. Additionally, soaking the crab in cold water for a few minutes can help to enhance the flavor and texture of the meat.


You need to boil Dungeness crab for 10 to 20 minutes. The absolute boiling time depends on its size and age. Also, you can check its meat color to know if it is boiled properly. When the meat turns flaky and reddish, it is boiled adequately. Also, the shell becomes orangish. And with the boiled crab, you can quickly prepare your favorite dish.

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