These oven baked crab legs are simply the best ever! We bake them in the oven along with lemon halves that later get squeezed over the crab, then we serve them up with garlic butter for a delicious treat.
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When it comes to cooking crab legs, you’ll usually see three possible methods: steaming, boiling, or baking. Steaming is a great method, but requires specific equipment, and boiling can lead to water-logged, flavorless crab. Enter: baked crab legs. Anyone can make perfect crab legs with this simple method!
To take this recipe over the top, we’re also including roasted lemon wedges to squeeze on top of the crab and a luscious garlic butter for dipping it in.
Ingredients for Baked Crab Legs
There are just 5 simple ingredients needed here, and I’d be willing to bet you already have several of them! Here’s everything you’ll need to make your very own, restaurant-worthy baked crab legs:
- 1 pound of crab legs
- 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 halved lemons (4 lemon halves in all)
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
Purchasing the Crab Legs
We purchased our crab legs at the fish counter of our local grocery store. Our best tip when purchasing seafood that you don’t feel super comfortable with is to really lean into the knowledge of the person working at the fish counter. This is what they do, they’re good at it, and they would be happy to answer any questions you have.
A fun fact about crab legs is that they are actually pre-cooked and frozen before you buy them. So, when you buy them you are actually just re-heating them! Because of this, it truly doesn’t matter whether you buy them fresh (defrosted) or frozen.
How to Prepare Oven Baked Crab Legs
This recipe could not be easier, so don’t be intimidated! Here’s how you’ll bring it together:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Prep the crab legs – give the crab legs a quick once over. If they’re dirty, give them a quick rinse in the sink! If you bought them from the fish counter at your local grocery store, though, they’re probably good to go.
- Bake the crab – place the crab legs on a rimmed baking sheet and brush them with the olive oil. Then, arrange the lemon halves around the crab and bake for 25 minutes.
- Make the garlic butter – add the butter and garlic to a small skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, until the butter is fully melted and the garlic is browned.
- Crack, dip, and enjoy – once the bake is out of the oven, squeeze the baked lemons over the crab, then crack the crab legs to remove the meat, dip in the garlic butter, and enjoy!
Best Oven Baked Crab Legs Frequently Asked Questions
Size is the most obvious difference between snow crab and king crab. As you can probably guess, king crab tend to be much larger in size than snow crab, but (interestingly enough), their legs are actually shorter! Snow crabs, though smaller, have longer legs. Also, the shell on a king crab’s legs is much thicker and spikier than the shell of a snow crab, making it harder to crack.
Both options are great for this “crab bake” application, though, so don’t stress and just grab what you can find!
We think sticking with either king crab or snow crab is best for this recipe. The two are pretty similar, but while the snow crab has longer, thinner legs, the king crab has thicker legs (which means more meat), but with a harder shell (which means cracking can be more difficult).
Either will work, just make sure that they are fully thawed before baking! If you have enough time on your hands, let the crab legs thaw overnight in the fridge. If you’re pressed for time and don’t have a night to spare, though, just run the crab legs under cold (this is important – never use warm water here!) water for a few minutes.
According to the FDA, crab should be cooked until the flesh is “pearly or white, and opaque.” If you’re cooking the crab at the oven temperature that we suggest (350°F) for the amount of time that we suggest (25 minutes), you should be good to go!
If you have leftover crab legs, our advice is to go ahead and crack them and save the meat instead of saving the whole legs. This is because once you heat the crab legs again the crab is more likely to dry out and stick to the shell, making it really hard to get out! You can use leftover crab legs to make crab cake, in a seafood bisque, or you could eat it as-is, warm or cold (crab is also great for salads!). Our recommended method of reheating is to saute the crab for 2-3 minutes over medium heat in olive oil or butter until just warmed through.
What to Serve with Crab Legs
Easy Baked Crab Legs
- 1 pound crab legs
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 lemons cut in half
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Place the crab legs on a rimmed baking sheet, then brush with olive oil. Place the lemon halves around the crab and bake for 25 minutes.
- Add the butter and garlic to a small skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat, until the butter is fully melted and the garlic is browned.
- Squeeze the baked lemons over the crab, then crack the crab to remove the meat and dip it in the garlic butter.