How To Steam Blue Crabs

Blue crabs are summer’s crown jewel.

I remember my first crab feast quite vividly. My mother and a few of her closest friends set up a long table in our backyard. Newspaper was rolled out, cracking tools were kept close by and the fireflies twinkled while we picked and prodded at the crabs for what seemed like hours. Before meeting my husband, crabs were reserved for more special occasions. Now we have them regularly, and that's A-Ok with me!

There’s no way I can go a summer without blue crabs at my fingertips. While I've scored crabs with our crab cage in the bay and from the Dockside Marina, these gems were found at the Old Beach Farmers Market, from the Knotts Island-based Jubilee Seafood Company. Jubilee is known for hauling in some pretty enormous crabs. When it comes to Jimmys (male crabs) there’s the standard #1s and #2s (#1s being the biggest), but at Jubilee they step the metric up a notch. They have what they call the ‘Jumbo’ size, which are bigger than any #1 I’ve seen on the market. Then, during the peak season keep an eye out for their ‘Magnum’ blue crabs, which are simply the biggest of the big.

blue crab claw

Make sure to call ahead to reserve a bushel or two because they tend to sell out quickly. When you get back home, the crabs can be feisty, but don't be intimidated by them or the steaming process. Sure, you could toss them in a pot with some water and a steam basket, but with the help of this simple recipe, you’ll have well-seasoned, juicy blue crabs right at home! Throw some corn on the grill, grab your favorite brews and closest friends, and you’re ready for summer merrymaking.

blue crabs steamed with old bay

How to Steam Blue Crabs

Total time: 30 minutes

Yield: A dozen steamed, seasoned blue crabs

blue crabs with old bay


3 cups water

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning

1 tbsp salt

One dozen live blue crabs

blue crabs with cracker

Special tools

Large pot


Steam basket

blue crabs in pot


Add all ingredients (except for the crabs) to a large pot on medium high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer.

Insert steam basket, then layer the crabs on top of each other.

Cover and steam crabs for 25 minutes.

Remove crabs with tongs, lay them out on a platter and sprinkle on desired amount of Old Bay. Dinner is served!

*For a little extra pizazz, make a simple butter sauce by sautéing a clove of minced garlic in a small pot, then add a couple tablespoons of butter until melted down.

blue crabs steamed with corn

Want to do a little something extra with your crabs? Try this Bacon Bleu-Crab Dip, or watch this video on making herbed crab cakes.

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