Oven-baked crab legs are a hot favorite in my house all year round. They taste delicious as a winter warmer meal- but are equally perfect in warmer spring and summer months for a family seafood cookout.
My favorite way to eat crab legs is with a simple butter sauce using garlic and Old Bay seasoning. This easy baked crab legs recipe takes around 20 minutes to complete and is super tasty without any complicated cooking.
I have also shared a few top tips for making your oven-baked crab legs the best of the bunch every time.
Benefits of Baking Crab Legs
There are plenty of ways to cook crab legs, but baking them is the best way (in my humble opinion). The rest aside, it is just so much easier! There is a fraction of the fuss, mess, and hassle that comes with steaming or grilling- and far less cleanup afterward.
I also find baked crab legs the juiciest because baking them helps soak up all the moisture and flavor as opposed to fried crab legs. Sometimes when I boil crab legs, I feel that some of the classic crab taste gets lost. King crab legs especially are too delicate to handle the boiling process- which is a serious waste!
Baking seals in everything and keeps your crab tasting exquisite.
What Are the Best Crab Legs to Choose?
There are many varieties of crabs out there to cook with. Generally, the flavors are not too different and work interchangeably in recipes- but there are benefits to certain crabs when making oven-baked crab legs.
Here are a few suggestions for this recipe.
King Crab Legs
Baked king crab legs are- without a doubt- the best. Alaskan king crab legs, in particular, were exquisite- soft, juicy, and packed full of flavor. They also have more meat on them than most other types of crab.
Whenever I bake crab legs, I try to get king crab if I can. It is a little pricier than other crab meat, but it is well worth it for a special occasion.
Dungeness Crab Legs
I love Dungeness crab- and it is a lot cheaper per pound than king crab. The crab meat is delicious- you just need more crab legs to make up the weight.
Snow Crab Legs
Baked snow crab legs are super tasty. Snow crab is a great choice for recipes such as this one, as they have not much less meat than a king crab but are a bit more affordable. The problem is supply, as they are not always available at certain times of the year.
Can You Use Frozen Crab Legs?
Frozen crab legs are the more affordable alternative, and if you buy the right ones, they can actually taste pretty great! Sometimes the texture may be a little different- and you may lose out on a tiny bit of flavor, but overall, they work as a substitute in most baked crab legs recipes.
You can often buy frozen Alaskan king crab legs from large markets and superstores. Even if you can’t get those, frozen snow crabs or another smaller, slightly smaller variety can do the job.
Old Bay Garlic Butter Sauce with Baked Crab Legs
A Few Side Notes About the Ingredients
If you plan to use frozen crab legs, make sure they are fully thawed before you begin. Also, double-check that they are already cooked. If not, remember to bake them before starting with this recipe.
You can cut down the garlic measurement to just one large clove if you prefer a more subtle garlic butter sauce.
I always use a fresh lemon for the lemon juice- bottled stuff just isn’t the same. You can save the other half to use as lemon wedges to serve alongside the crab legs.
The fresh parsley is optional. I just use it for garnish to add a bit of color to the crab legs and make the plate look a little prettier for serving.
These baked crab legs are excellent on their own- they really don’t need much else! I do keep aside a decent amount of the butter sauce mixture used in the baking process to make our crab legs with garlic butter recipe, and I usually plate them up with lemon wedges for a little extra kick of citrus.
Because the flavor of the crab is so rich, any sides should be light. Steamed green veg is a great choice- something like broccoli or green beans. Carrot and cauliflower also complement baked crab legs perfectly.
You could also whip up a quick homemade dipping sauce using a variety of spices and herbs combined with mayonnaise. My personal favorite is a Dijon mayo dip- which is really just mayo, Dijon mustard, fresh dill, and lemon juice. Another good choice is something smoky and spicy- such as chipotle or smoked paprika.
Another possible option if you want to make more of a meal out of your crab legs is to cook some lemon rice to go alongside them. It is a refreshing way to add a staple and bulk out the dish.
Juicy crab meat, melted butter, heaps of garlic, and unbeatable Old Bay seasoning- it really doesn’t get much better. Pull out this recipe for family get-togethers, special occasions, and seafood dinners- or just because you have a craving and you deserve delicious food!
It doesn’t take a look to make, has very little prep or mess involved, and is sure to impress. Baked crab legs with Old Bay and garlic butter sauce are always a great idea.
- 2 lb. pre-cooked king crab legs
- 1/2 c. full-fat butter
- 2 garlic cloves (minced or grated)
- 1 tsp. of Old Bay seasoning
- Half a lemon (juiced)
- 1 tbsp. fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- Set your oven to 400 degrees to warm up while you prepare the ingredients.
- Start by breaking the crab legs apart at the joints before cutting them into sections. You can use a very sharp knife or a pair of good scissors to create the shorter segments. Be careful while you do this!
- Take the small crab legs segments and half each individual piece lengthwise. To do this, carefully sit the leg piece on its side and slice through the middle. You should now have two halves with the crab meat exposed in the middle of each one.
- Cover a baking sheet pan with parchment paper. Choose one large enough to comfortably hold all the crab legs side by side without any overlap.
- Place the crab legs in a single layer on the sheet pan with the meat sides facing upward. Avoid any overlap to ensure an even cook. Set the tray aside while you prepare the butter sauce.
- Gently saute the garlic in half the butter. Do not let it burn; you want to soften the garlic and release the flavor, but don't overcook it. It should only take a minute or two.
- Melt the other half of the butter in a mixing bowl. You can do it in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water. Then, add the garlic butter mixture into the bowl and stir well.
- Add the Old Bay seasoning into the melted butter and mix it through until evenly dispersed.
- Using a pastry brush, cover the crab legs in half of the Old Bay and garlic butter sauce. Alternatively, drizzle it over the top. Make sure all the crab legs are well coated. Save the other half of the sauce to use as a dipping sauce later.
- Using foil, cover the crab legs in the baking sheet pan and put them in the preheated oven. Bake the legs in the oven for roughly 15 minutes checking after 12 minutes to monitor the progress. You want the baked crab legs heated through but not dried out. The foil will help with this, but it is still a good idea to check on them before the time is up, especially if you are using a smaller type of crab.
- Take the baked crab legs out of the oven, squeeze lemon juice over the top, and transfer them to the serving plate. Sprinkle fresh parsley on top (optional) and serve immediately.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 860Total Fat: 53gSaturated Fat: 30gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 362mgSodium: 5537mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 89g