Food & Recipes

How to Reheat Crab Legs So They Stay Tender and Juicy

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Knowing how to reheat crab legs is an important skill for anyone who regularly dines at home. You may assume there’s no way these tasty crustaceans could ever be as rich and succulent the next day. But that’s where you’d be wrong. We asked two top-notch chefs well-versed in all things seafood sow to make crab just as hot and juicy the next day. Surprise! Whether you use the oven, microwave, or the stovetop, you can reheat cooked crab meat with positively mouth-watering results.

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Crab legs are a fantastic option for a warm, delicious, and filling meal. But whether you’re indulging at an all you can eat crab leg buffet or preparing them at home, they aren’t particularly cheap. So, if you’re spending serious cash, it makes sense you’d want to get your money’s worth and save all the crab you can for a quick and tasty meal later. Get your plastic apron and tablecloth ready, because we’re about to teach you how to reheat crab legs so they stay tender, juicy, and delicious.

Read on to find out the best way to reheat all types of leftover crab legs.

Reheating Crab Legs 

Storing Crab Legs 

Serving Crab Legs 

How Long Do You Reheat Crab Legs? 

Reheating crab legs can be a quick and simple option for dinner, even if you’re short on time. Depending on whether you want to heat frozen or refrigerated crab legs, you’re only looking at a few minutes or so to warm them up. Each method varies greatly, as does prep time. Some methods can take up to 30 minutes, so choose according to what your schedule looks like.  

If frozen, you’ll need to thaw out frozen crab legs in the refrigerator overnight before you go to heat them. Alternatively, you’ll want to block out 6 to 8 hours to let them thaw out on the counter before reheating. Cooking them will only take a few minutes, but you’ll need to take prep time into account.  

Cold crab legs take much less prep time, just choose the warming method of your choice, and you’ll get your reheated crab meat on the table much quicker and more efficiently. 

How to Reheat Crab Legs in the Oven

Clusters of fresh snow crab legs on a white plate resting on a wood table with melted butter and lemon

One of the best ways to reheat king crab legs, according to chef Dan Churchill, host of Genius Kitchen’s Feast with Friends, is in the oven. When you use this method, Churchill says you’re essentially heating your crab in a makeshift sauna, which makes it tender and juicy all the way through. For delicious leftovers, try Churchill’s method for how to reheat crab legs in the oven in six easy steps. 

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  1. Place your frozen or thawed crab legs in a deep glass baking dish (this is a good method to reheat frozen crab).  
  1. Pour about ½ an inch of water into your baking dish. Make sure it’s just enough so your crab legs are partially submerged. 
  1. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.  
  1. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes (depending on if your crab is frozen or thawed). Churchill recommends poking a few holes in the foil to let some of the steam escape to keep your crab tender and delicious. 
  1. Take your crab legs out of the dish, season with your favorite blend of spices, and enjoy! 

How to Reheat Crab Legs in the Microwave

Can you microwave crab legs? Absolutely, and we’re going to show you how. This convenient kitchen appliance is actually a viable (and surprisingly common) method to reheat crab dishes. Whether you want to reheat frozen crab legs or reheat steamed crab legs, we’ve got you covered. Claire Sidoti, a chef at HelloFresh, shares seven steps to reheat crab legs in the microwave.  

  1. Wrap crab legs with dill sprigs.  
  1. Cover each bundle of crab legs with damp paper towels. 
  1. Before placing in the microwave, wrap the crab legs with Saran/cling wrap. 
  1. Microwave each bundle of crab legs on your lowest power setting for about two minutes. 
  1. Carefully remove the crab legs from the microwave. 
  1. Remove the wrap and paper towels. 
  1. Place alongside lemon wedges and melted butter and serve immediately. 

How to Reheat Crab Legs in an Air Fryer

Microwaves are quick and simple to operate, but you can also reheat crab legs in an air fryer. It will add a bit of crispiness you might not otherwise get in the microwave, but it takes a few more minutes to prep given that you need to season the crab legs and then wait for your fryer to pre-heat. They need this additional step to help retain flavor, so you’ll want to make sure you have your preferred seasonings on hand and he air fryer will do the rest of the work. Here’s how to go about it for a quick and tasty meal.  

  1. Season your crab legs to taste with salt and pepper, fry seasoning, garlic powder, blackening seasoning, or the ingredients of your choice.  
  1. Wrap the seasoned crab legs in foil.  
  1. Place the crab legs in your air fryer basket.  
  1. Air fry at 380 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes.  
  1. Remove the crab legs from the basket and remove the foil to serve. 

How to Reheat Cooked Crab in its Shell

If your leftover crab is still in the shell, try boiling the meat on the stove-top. This is an excellent method to reheat snow crab legs. Start to finish, it takes about 10 minutes to reheat cooked crab legs in the shell. Below, Sidoti shares her eight-step process.

  1. Grab a large pot to boil water in.
  2. Add about 2/3 water into the large pot. 
  3. Add a pinch of salt.
  4. Once the water is boiling, add the crab legs. Make sure most of the crabs are covered with the boiling water.
  5. Let the legs heat for about four to five minutes. 
  6. Using tongs, adjust the crab legs as needed to ensure full coverage in the water.
  7. Remove the legs from the boiling water (using a long set of tongs).
  8. Serve and enjoy.

How to Reheat Crab Legs by Steaming

You can use your stove top as a quick and relatively simple way to reheat and steam your crab legs. In fact, Churchill notes that steaming your leftover crab legs is a great way to cook them without drying them out or letting any of the sumptuous flavor escape, especially if you plan on leaving them in the shell. “The key is to use a ‘tester leg’ that you’ll be able to open up and gauge the internal temperature without a thermometer,” he explains. 

One tip before you get started: If you want to reheat frozen crab legs, let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator or place them under warm water for about 15 minutes before you cook them. Here, Churchill goes over the four steps to reheat boiling crab leftovers. 

  1. Fill a large pot with about two inches of water and place your steamer insert on top. Note: Make sure your steamer insert isn’t submerged in water. 
  1. Cover your pot and heat until it comes to a boil.  
  1. Place your crab legs in the steamer, cover, and leave for about six to eight minutes. 
  1. Enjoy with some melted butter and your favorite seasoning. 

This method also works well if you want to reheat cooked Dungeness crab. Here, Sidoti explains the steps to reheat Dungeness crab on the stove top with the meat in the shell, and in the oven with the meat out of the shell. 

How to reheat crab meat in the shell: 

  1. Add water to a large pot and bring to a boil.  
  1. Add in crab and let simmer for about five to seven minutes (if in a shell). 
  1. Serve. 

How to reheat crab meat out of the shell: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  
  1. Put the crab in a covered oven-safe bowl. 
  1. Add a splash of white wine. 
  1. Heat for two minutes. 
  1. Serve. 

How to Reheat Crab Legs on the Grill  

Grilling isn’t just for summertime, and it isn’t just for burgers and hot dogs, either. If you consider yourself a certifiable grill master, bust out those tongs to reheat king crab legs on the grill.  

  1. Wrap up your crab legs in two thick layers of aluminum foil.  
  1. Grill the crab legs at indirect medium to high heat for 10 to 15 minutes.  
  1. Grill the crab legs directly over the heat source for three minutes per side. Flip more often as needed.  
  1. Unwrap the foil from your crab legs and serve. 

How Long Can Crab Legs Stay in the Fridge? 

After initially serving your crab legs and packing them up to store, the best way to keep them fresh is in the refrigerator. Place them in a plastic container or dish with an airtight lid or plastic wrap. Be sure they’re in the fridge within two hours after cooking. Add ice packs to the top and bottom of your container or dish for enhanced freshness. Packed like this, you can expect your crab meat to keep for 3 to 5 days in the fridge.  

Alternatively, you can store your crab legs in the freezer. You can use the same container or dish or opt for freezer bags to save space. With proper care, you can expect 2 to 3 months of shelf life from your decadent delicacies.  

What to Serve with Crab Legs 

Now that you know a few ways to reheat crab legs for another scrumptious dish, it’s time to decide what to serve them with.  

If you’re looking for a family-friendly meal that the kids will enjoy, try pairing your crab legs with French fries and coleslaw. You can also swap out the fries for corn on the cob and a baked potato.  

But if you’re in the mood to get messy and eat crab legs the way they’re served at some restaurants, then all you need to do is grab a bib, a plastic tablecloth, and a whole lot of melted butter for dipping.  

Of course, those aren’t your only options for making crab legs into a meal. There’s a variety of delicious pairings that work well with crab legs, so choose your favorite sides for an easy and filling dinner.  

  • Clarified butter 
  • Cheddar bay biscuits 
  • Salad 
  • Rice Pilaf 
  • Roasted vegetables 
  • French fries 
  • Mashed potatoes 
  • Corn on the cob 
  • Brussels sprouts 
  • Broccoli 
  • Dipping sauces 

Whatever you choose to pair with your delicious dinner, the most important thing is that you relax and enjoy yourself —  whether you’re solo or with family and friends. Bon appétit!  

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