Should You Steam, Bake, or Boil Your Crab Meat?

12/13/22 3:34PM

When it comes to the sweet and succulent taste of crab meat, you want to take a careful approach to how you’re cooking it. Over or undercooking the crab meat is a cardinal culinary sin and should be avoided at all costs. How you cook your meat is integral in how it comes out in the end — whether it’s a perfect consistency or a rubbery mess. So, should you steam, bake, or boil your crab meat for optimal flavor?

It Depends on the Situation

For many, the best way to cook crab meat comes down to what you plan to do with it. The style of the dish often dictates how you should go about cooking the meat. In the case of crabs, whether you’re looking at crab legs, lump, jumbo lump, crab cakes, or the whole thing, the cooking medium often determines how well it cooks before being served. 

While steaming, baking and boiling are two of the most popular cooking methods for crab, how do they work for the different types of crab-focused dishes that you can make? We’ll make a case for steaming, boiling and baking your crab, along with the best time to use each method. 

The Case of Steaming

One of the most popular ways to cook a crab, especially in Maryland and along the eastern shore, steaming provides an even and gentle cook for the delicate meat. The extreme heat caused by the method brings exquisite flavor into it without as much of a threat of overcooking. All you need is your heat source, a big pot, a steamer insert, water at a rolling boil, and a cover for your cooking vessel to seal in the steam. 

When you go the steamer route, you come away with a more savory crab than you would with baking or boiling. This is because, through the steaming process, the meat gets exposed to a steadily consistent temperature throughout, ensuring everything is cooked through and comes out as the vibrant bright orange that we all know and love.

The Case for Boiling

Depending on the part of the country, a crab boil is a time-honored culinary tradition and an immensely popular summertime cookout. However, people looking to make crab regularly can take the basics of boiling the meat and taking the large party atmosphere out of the equation to save on some cleanup. 

Bringing a pot to a rolling boil allows you to infuse the meat with a seasoned stock — typically salt, beer, wine, herbs, and seasoning mixture — as it’s cooking. Boiling allows home cooks to get as much flavor as possible into the meat without a high risk of overcooking it.

The Case for Baking

There aren’t too many recipes that call for the home chef to bake whole crabs; however, specific situations call for the cooking method. In particular, crab legs can significantly benefit from the mild and gentle heat the oven provides. By setting the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and letting them cook for 15 minutes, you’ll have an exquisitely baked set of crab legs ready for a decadent dinner in no time. 

Additionally, different species of crab lend themselves well to baking. Choosing blue, Dungeness, snow, or king crab will help put you in the best position to prepare a perfectly baked piece of crab for your next meal. 

It All Starts With the Crab

Deciding whether to bake or boil your crab also comes down to one crucial factor — your personal preference. If you like how the final product turns out one way over the other, then that is the way that you should use it. Experimenting with different techniques can prove beneficial, but familiarity with a method is crucial. The other revolves around the quality of the crab meat you use, which is where Harbour House Crabs comes into play. 

Harbour House Crabs specializes in guaranteed fresh hard shell crabs steamed and delivered to your door. As soon as you place an order with us, you can rest assured that you’ll have the highest quality crab meat ready for your next big dinner. So browse through our crab meat inventory and place your order today!