Steamed dungeness crab is a delicacy that many seafood lovers enjoy. The process of steaming the crab allows for a tender and flavorful meat that is perfect for any meal. However, it is important to know the proper cooking time to ensure that the crab is fully cooked and safe to eat.

The cooking time for steaming dungeness crab can vary depending on the size of the crab and the method of steaming. Generally, it is recommended to steam whole dungeness crabs for about 18 to 20 minutes. This allows the meat to fully cook and become tender without being overcooked. Overcooking can result in a dry and tough crab meat, which is not ideal.

If you are steaming crab legs or clusters instead of a whole crab, the cooking time may be slightly shorter. It is typically recommended to steam crab legs for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the meat is opaque and easily pulls away from the shell. This shorter cooking time ensures that the crab legs do not become tough and chewy.

Remember, these cooking times are just guidelines and may need to be adjusted based on the size and freshness of the crab. It is always best to check the internal temperature of the crab meat to ensure it has reached a safe temperature of 145°F (63°C). Additionally, using a seafood thermometer can help to ensure that the crab is cooked thoroughly.

Properly steaming dungeness crab is key to enjoying a flavorful and tender seafood dish. By following the recommended cooking times and using a seafood thermometer, you can ensure that your crab is cooked to perfection.

How Long to Steam Dungeness Crab: A Simple Guide

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Steamed Dungeness crab is a delicious seafood treat that is easy to prepare. The key to perfectly steamed crab lies in knowing the right cooking time. Overcooking can result in tough and dry meat, while undercooking can leave the crab raw and unsafe to eat. Follow this simple guide to achieve perfectly steamed Dungeness crab every time.

Step 1: Preparation

Before you start steaming the crab, you need to ensure that it is properly cleaned and prepared. Rinse the crab under cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Remove the gills and apron from the crab body. Use a sharp knife to cut the crab into halves or quarters to make it easier to eat and steam.

Step 2: Steaming Setup

Set up a steaming apparatus by filling a large pot with about 2 to 3 inches of water. Place a steaming rack or basket in the pot, making sure it sits above the water level. The water should not touch the crab when placed on the rack.

Step 3: Cooking Time

The cooking time for steamed Dungeness crab depends on the size and weight of the crab. As a general rule, steam the crab for 10-12 minutes per pound. For example, if you have a 2-pound crab, you should steam it for 20-24 minutes. Make sure to start the timer once the water is boiling and the crab is placed in the pot.

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Step 4: Check for Doneness

To check if the crab is cooked, carefully remove a leg and taste the meat. It should be firm, opaque, and slightly sweet. If the meat is still raw, return the crab to the pot and continue steaming for a few more minutes. Be cautious not to overcook the crab, as it can become too soft and lose its natural flavors.

Once the crab is cooked to perfection, remove it from the pot and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve the steamed Dungeness crab with melted butter or your favorite dipping sauce for a delicious seafood feast that your family and guests will love.

Preparing Dungeness Crab for Steaming

Before steaming your Dungeness crab, it is important to prepare it properly to ensure you get the best flavor and texture. Follow these steps to prepare your crab:

Cleaning the Crab

Start by rinsing the crab under cold water to remove any debris or sand. Use a brush to scrub the shell gently.

Removing the Apron

Next, flip the crab onto its back and locate the apron, a small triangular flap on the underside of the body. Hold onto the body with one hand and use your other hand to lift and snap off the apron.

Killing the Crab

To humanely kill the crab, hold it firmly and insert a sharp knife or ice pick into the crab’s mouth and through the center of its body. This will instantly kill the crab.

Removing the Shell

Retrieve a pair of kitchen shears or a crab-cracking tool to remove the shell. Start by inserting the shears into a crack near the crab’s claws and carefully cut along the length of the body to the other side. Gently pry the shell apart and remove it, exposing the meat.

Now that you have properly prepared your Dungeness crab, it is ready to be steamed to perfection. Enjoy!

Equipment and Ingredients Needed

To steam cooked dungeness crab, you will need the following equipment and ingredients:


  • A large pot with a lid
  • A steamer basket or a rack that fits inside the pot
  • Tongs or a slotted spoon for handling the crab
  • A pair of kitchen gloves for protection
  • A kitchen timer
  • A colander or a large bowl


  • Dungeness crab, fresh or frozen
  • Water, enough to cover the crab
  • Salt, for seasoning the water
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  • Melted butter or dipping sauce, optional

Note: Make sure the crab is fully thawed if using frozen crab.

Step-by-Step Guide to Steaming Dungeness Crab

Steaming Dungeness crab is a popular method of cooking that results in tender and flavorful crab meat. Follow these simple steps to steam your own Dungeness crab:

Step 1: Preparation

Before steaming the crab, you will need to prepare it by cleaning and prepping it properly. Start by rinsing the crab under cold water to remove any dirt or sand. Next, remove the crab’s top shell by firmly holding its body and pulling upwards. Discard the old shell.

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Note: Female Dungeness crabs typically have a wider shell and contain more meat, while males are generally larger but have less meat.

Step 2: Removal of Gills and Viscera

Once you have removed the top shell, you will need to remove the crab’s gills and viscera. This step is essential as the crab’s gills and organs can give the meat a strong, unpleasant flavor. Use a small spoon or your fingers to scoop out the gills and viscera and discard them.

Tip: The gills are feathery, finger-like structures located on both sides of the crab’s body, while the viscera are the organs found inside the crab.

Step 3: Cutting and Cleaning

After removing the gills and viscera, you can cut the crab into halves or quarters to make it easier to handle. Additionally, you can use a brush or toothbrush to clean the crab’s body and legs thoroughly, removing any remaining particles.

Note: Some people prefer to cook the crab whole without cutting it, but cutting it into smaller pieces will help the crab cook evenly and allow for better seasoning penetration.

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Step 4: Steaming

When your crab is prepped and ready, it’s time to steam it. Fill a large pot with about two inches of water and add your preferred seasonings, such as bay leaves, peppercorns, or lemon slices, to enhance the flavor. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.

Once the water is boiling, place a steaming rack or a basket inside the pot. Carefully arrange the crab on the rack or in the basket, making sure they are not overcrowded. Cover the pot with a lid, reducing the heat to medium-high, and let the crab steam for about 12-15 minutes.

Tip: To ensure the crab is cooked thoroughly, check the thickest part of the crab’s body. The meat should be opaque and white, not translucent or gelatinous.

Step 5: Cooling and Serving

After the crab is steamed, remove it from the pot using tongs or a slotted spoon, and transfer it to a colander or a large bowl filled with ice. Let the crab cool for a few minutes before serving.

When serving, you can crack the shell using a crab cracker or a mallet to make it easier for your guests to enjoy the delicious meat inside. Serve with melted butter, lemon wedges, and your favorite dipping sauces.

Note: Remember to discard any unopened or cracked crab shells before serving.

Following this step-by-step guide will help you steam Dungeness crab to perfection, resulting in a mouthwatering meal that your friends and family will enjoy.

How to Tell If the Dungeness Crab Is Cooked

Once you have finished steaming your Dungeness crab, it is important to determine if it is fully cooked before serving. Here are some clues that can help you determine if your crab is ready:

1. Shell Color:

When cooked, the shell of a Dungeness crab changes from a dark blue or greenish color to bright red or orange. This transformation in shell color is a good indication that the crab is cooked and ready to be enjoyed.

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2. Shell Texture:

A well-cooked Dungeness crab will have a firm and sturdy shell. Gently press on the shell with your fingers or a utensil. If the shell feels solid and does not give in easily, it is a sign that the crab is cooked to perfection. On the other hand, if the shell feels soft or mushy, it might indicate that the crab is undercooked.

3. Leg Movement:

Another way to assess the doneness of your Dungeness crab is to examine its leg movement. In a fully cooked crab, the legs should be easy to move and should separate from the body without any resistance. If the legs are difficult to detach or if they move sluggishly, the crab might need more steaming time.

Note: It is essential to handle and inspect the crab carefully while it is hot. Use oven mitts or tongs to avoid burns.

4. Internal Temperature:

If you want to be absolutely sure that your Dungeness crab is cooked, you can also use a meat thermometer to check its internal temperature. The crab should reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) for it to be considered safe to eat.

Remember: Overcooking the crab can result in dry and tough meat, so pay close attention to the cooking time and avoid leaving it in the steam for too long.


How long should I steam cooked dungeness crab?

You should steam cooked dungeness crab for about 10-12 minutes per pound.

What is the best way to steam cooked dungeness crab?

The best way to steam cooked dungeness crab is to place it in a steamer basket over boiling water and cook it for about 10-12 minutes per pound. Make sure to check for doneness by gently pulling on one of the crab’s legs – if it comes off easily, the crab is done.

Can I steam cooked dungeness crab for too long?

Yes, overcooking dungeness crab can make the meat tough and rubbery. It is recommended to steam it for about 10-12 minutes per pound to ensure it is cooked perfectly.

What happens if I steam cooked dungeness crab for less than 10 minutes per pound?

If you steam cooked dungeness crab for less than 10 minutes per pound, the meat may not be fully cooked and may still be slightly raw. It is important to ensure that the crab is cooked thoroughly to avoid any potential foodborne illnesses.

Can I steam cooked dungeness crab for more than 12 minutes per pound?

While it is possible to steam cooked dungeness crab for more than 12 minutes per pound, it is not recommended as it can result in overcooking and make the meat tough and rubbery. It’s best to stick to the recommended cooking time of 10-12 minutes per pound.