So, you’re getting ready for a big crab boil for your family and friends. Thanks for inviting me, by the way. While crab boils can get pretty messy, there’s no excuse to leave your guests yearning for more legs when everything’s said and done. So, make sure you know how many pounds of crab legs you need to get per guest!
The recommended serving size per guest is half a pound of crab legs. Feel free to increase the serving size based on how hungry your guests are. Some people can devour up to 2 pounds of crab legs!
In this guide, I’ll explain how to calculate the perfect amount of crab legs for your next boil, how many pounds of meat that is, and what type of crab you should use.
How Many Pounds of Crab Legs per Person?
When you shop for crab legs, the fishmonger will usually sell you legs by the pound. This means you’ll have to estimate how many pounds of crab legs your guests will eat the next time you throw a backyard crab boil.
The typical serving portion of crab legs per person is half a pound or 8 ounces. Of course, this is only a suggestion, and you should feel more than free to increase how many crab legs you want to feed your guests. Usually, 2 pounds of crab legs is enough to feed a big eater.
How Many Crab Legs in a Pound?
Now, you’re probably wondering how many crab legs there are in a pound. Unfortunately, there is no single answer since it depends on what type of crab you’re getting and how healthy the crabs are.
First of all, you should know that crab legs are typically sold as clusters. A cluster includes 3 legs, a claw, and a part of the shoulder.
Here’s a rundown of the typical weight of clusters per pound based on the type of crab.
|Type of Crabs||Number of Clusters per Pound|
|Blue crab||2 to 3|
|Coconut crab||1/3 to ½|
|Florida stone crab||2 to 3|
What Type of Crab Legs for a Boil?
The 3 most common crabs used in a seafood boil are Dungeness, snow, and king crabs
The reason for this is texture. While most crabs are sweet and delicate, crabs used for boils should be able to withstand the cooking time in huge pots of cooking liquid.
Blue crab, which is known for its delicate texture, should spend less time in the cooking liquid as opposed to Bairdi or king crab. If you were to cook them at identical times, the blue crab would end up far too mushy. It would still taste great, assuming the liquid was properly seasoned, but the texture would be right.
How Much Meat in a Crab Leg?
The annoying thing about crab legs, apart from being next to impossible to crack open without the seafood tools, is just how little meat there is in the shell.
On average, you should expect roughly 50% of the weight of crabs to be edible. The remaining 50% is pure shell, which you could use as a fertilizer for your garden.
However, the exact amount of meat per leg depends on the species. King crab has the highest meat-to-shell ratio of up to 75%, whereas blue crabs are mainly shell with just 15% meat.
The ratios above are a good indicator of why king crab is more expensive than many other types of crabs.
Tips for Buying Crab Legs
If you’re going to splurge on expensive crab legs, you should try and get your money’s worth. The unfortunate news is that with so many crab leg options, it’s pretty easy to make a mistake if you’re trying to prepare a particular dish. The good news, however, is that all edible crab tastes good!
So, spending over $100 on a seafood boil for a group of 5 people or more, you should pay attention to the following.
The best time to purchase crab legs is when they’re in season. This is usually between the months of October and January, though the season in some places extends to mid-July.
Not only are crab legs the freshest when they’re in season, but they also tend to be a lost more affordable! So, you may be able to squeeze an additional 1 to 2 pounds of crab legs than you would when purchasing them out of season.
If you live somewhere in the Midwest and can’t throw a backyard seafood boil until the spring and summer months, then you need to figure out how you’re going to store your crab legs.
The best method of storing crab legs for the long term is to freeze them. When you take your crab legs home or when they arrive at your doorstep, stuff them in the freezer immediately. Uncooked and frozen, crabs can stay fresh for up to 6 months. Make sure to place the crabs in an airtight container and in the deepest recesses of your freezer.
To defrost crab legs, place them in a large bowl or basin and move them to the fridge. That way, the legs don’t defrost too quickly, and they don’t dry out. You should prepare cooking them only when they’re properly defrosted.
Uncooked, defrosted crab legs will remain fresh for up to 5 days, but you should plan on using them as soon as possible.
Regardless of how you want to prepare your crab legs, you need to wash them thoroughly beforehand.
If you purchased crab legs, blanch the defrosted legs in boiling water for 45 to 60 seconds. Immediately dunk them in an ice bath to stop the cooking, and leave them there to chill.
When the legs are cool to the touch, remove as much of the body shell as possible. If you want, you can cut the legs into quarters, or you can leave them whole and let your guests worry about breaking them apart.