Foolproof Steamed Crab Legs

The problem with growing up in the shadow of Chicago is that it ruined me for other cities for a very long time. No other city, I thought, could compare and I would never, ever love another city as much as Chicago.

For the most part, this is still true. I am still very much a mean girl when it comes to other cities. I apologize in advance for calling your skyline “cute” or your food “quaint” or blessing your heart when you expound about your city’s culture.* I’m still very biased.

Every so often, though, a city will sneak up on me and cause me to develop a crush. Baltimore is one such city. Emily was the first to sing the praises of Baltimore, and I was the first to look at her like she was out of her mind. She shrugged off my insistence that Baltimore is old and teeming with criminals, so I gave her an eye-roll and we left it at that.  Baltimore? No. Thank. You.

Then, I visited and No-Thank-You-Baltimore became Yes-Please-Baltimore. The history, the architecture, the water, the vibe – I love all of it. Look at this photo…even in the rain, the Inner Harbor is beautiful:

Inner Harbor

One of my very favorite things about Baltimore (and Maryland in general) is crab. There is crab on everything! Everything! Even pizza.  I ordered crab stew and it came with crab on top of it AND a bowl of crab on the side.  Ah, my own personal heaven.

In Fort Worth, we do not enjoy the luxury of crabundance. (Just made up that word and it stays.) When I do find good crab, I make it at home using this recipe.

Foolproof Steamed Crab Legs

The Ingredients:

  • 4lbs Crab Legs
  • 32oz. Chicken Broth
  • 6-8 Cloves of Garlic

The Tools:

  • Large Stock Pot with Inner Steamer
  • Knife
  • Scissors – These will help you cut the legs when you are ready to eat. They will break easily, but cut along the inside with scissors before you serve.

The Action:

  • If your crab legs are frozen, let them thaw out in the refrigerator for 24 hours or so before steaming.
  • Pour the chicken broth into the pot.
  • Smash and peel each garlic clove and add them to the chicken broth.


  • Using your knife, make a series of stabs in each crab leg. This will allow the flavor to seep in quickly AND make it easier to break the legs apart when you are ready to eat.

Stab Crab

  • Arrange the crab legs in the steamer part by stacking them so that the steam can come up through the pot and hit each leg.
  • Cover the pot and turn the heat on medium-high.
  • Let the crab steam 5-10 minutes. Test the crab at the 5 minute mark for doneness: pull a leg from the top and crack it a bit. If the meat is hot to the touch, the crab is ready to eat.
  • You can serve these with clarified butter if you like…I tend to eat them without. If you get quality crab, the meat will be sweet.

Finished Crab


*In Texas, “Bless your heart!” does not mean what you think it means…

PS. If you make crab legs, consider saving the shells. You can make an excellent crab stock from them. Simply place the shells in a freezer bag and freeze. You can defrost to make the stock. The recipe will appear in this blog shortly.

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