Deservedly, crabs are considered to be the candy of the sea. Their naturally sweet and uniquely briny flavor is what makes them such a crowd favorite and it is not a surprise that us seafood lovers can’t get enough of them.
They can be delicious, juicy, and tender when cooked or reheated, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. Crab legs are a very delicate type of meat and if they are reheated improperly, they can be very dry, rubbery, and overall unpleasant to eat.
So, how long should you reheat crab legs for? Read on to explore 5 great ways and how learn how long each takes. By the end of this article you’ll know everything about their proper reheating time how to serve them!
Important Considerations When Reheating Crab Legs
You probably can’t wait and want to skip right to the instructions and tuck into those crab legs. But, before we get started there are a few important things that shouldn’t be ignored when reheating your crab legs. Otherwise, a delicious crab leg dinner might turn into a trip to the ER.
First of all, you should always be using proper kitchen equipment and utensils while cooking food.
When you are boiling or steaming your crab legs, make sure to handle them with a tong or another long utensil. If you’re not familiar with steam cooking, you may be thinking that it is not as dangerous or hot as other methods.
But steam can get very hot and burn you just as easily as boiling water. So, be careful when opening your steamer or pot of boiling water.
Fresh vs. Frozen
If you are wondering whether the frozen crab legs you bought at the grocery store are the same as fresh crab legs, unfortunately, the answer is no.
Almost all frozen crab legs are pre-cooked and flash frozen to retain as much taste and texture as possible. Unless you live in a coastal city and have access to a fishmonger, your best option is flash frozen crab legs. That’s why they usually require a very short amount of time to reheat.
Smell of Ammonia
Seafood in general tends to smell like ammonia if it’s spoiled. If your crab legs give off an ammonia-like or any kind of unpleasant smell, you shouldn’t eat them and discard them to prevent any foodborne diseases.
How to Boil Cooked Crab Legs
One of the best ways of reheating your crab legs is by boiling them in their shells. That way, they won’t dry out and retain most of their tenderness and juiciness. If you’d like to give this method a try, here’s how:
- Fill your large pot or saucepan 2/3 of the way with water. You can optionally use a combination of beer and water to add more flavor; in which case you should use 2:4 ratio of beer and water, or some other ingredients of your liking such as lemon juice or vinegar.
- Bring to a boil over high heat.
- Add your crab legs into the pot and lower the heat to medium-low, making sure they are mostly submerged using a tong.
- Remove your crab legs from the boiling water after 4 to 5 minutes.
Time to Reheat Crab Legs by Boiling: 4-5 minutes
How to Steam Cooked Crab Legs
Steaming is a great method for reheating your scrumptiously sweet crab legs. Since it’s a very gentle way of heating, it retains most of their supple and soft texture while keeping them moist and juicy. If you want to give this method a try, here’s how:
- Fill your large pot or saucepan with 2 inches of water, put your steaming basket or metal colander inside the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. You can optionally use equal amounts of water and beer to add more flavor.
- Once it starts boiling, carefully place your crab legs into the steamer using a pair of tongs and cover the lid. It is crucial that your crab legs aren’t touching the water, otherwise they will be just boiled.
- After 6 to 8 minutes, take your crab legs out of the pot and serve on a preferably warm plate.
Time to Reheat Crab Legs by Steaming: 6-8 minutes
How to Reheat Crab Legs in the Oven
This is a really convenient method because you can just pop them in even if they are frozen. Also, you will be saving up some space on your stovetop for other dishes. It is essentially pretty similar to steaming but it utilizes the oven instead of a pot or steamer. If you want to opt for the oven to reheat your crab legs, here’s how:
- First things first, preheat your oven to 350° F.
- Arrange your crab legs in a deep baking dish.
- Fill the baking dish ½ inch with water, until your crab legs are partially submerged (at this step, you can add any aromatics if you want to add flavor such as garlic, whole black pepper corns etc.)
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and poke some holes on it with a skewer or fork – this way, it will release some of the steam and prevent overcooking.
- Transfer the baking dish into the oven and let it bake for 15 minutes if your crab legs are thawed. If they are frozen, bake for 25 minutes.
- Take them out, serve, and enjoy your deliciously tender crab legs!
Time to Reheat Crab Legs in the Oven: 15-25 minutes
How to Reheat Cooked Crab Legs in the Microwave
Whether you’re really hungry and impatient or a crab craving just kicked in and you need them immediately, you will be happy to know that you can reheat crab legs in the microwave in just a few minutes. Although this is not the ideal method, it is more than enough to quickly scratch that itch.
It’s important to note that you can only reheat thawed crab legs in the microwave. If yours are frozen, refrigerate them overnight until they are thawed. If you have got your thawed crab legs and can’t wait to eat them, here’s how:
- First of all, check if your crab legs can fit into the microwave. If they are too big, cut their joints with kitchen scissors.
- Wrap 2 to 4 legs with dill sprigs or tarragon to prevent them from drying out.
- Wrap each bundle with a damp towel.
- Lastly, wrap each bundle with plastic wrap, making sure that the legs are not touching the plastic wrap.
- Microwave each bundle individually for around 2 minutes on medium.
- Take them out, serve, and enjoy!
Time to Reheat Crab Legs in the Microwave: 2 minutes
How to Reheat Cooked Crab Legs on the Grill
I’m a strong believer that everything tastes better when grilled, including crab legs!
Grilling your crab legs is a great way of adding aroma and depth. If you’re having a barbecue with family or friends, you can grill some crab legs to jazz up your table. It’s pretty convenient too because you don’t need to thaw them. You can grill them either fresh or frozen. Here’s 2 methods on how to reheat your crab legs on the grill:
- Wrap your crab legs individually with a few layers of aluminum foil.
- Place them over indirect heat for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the aluminum foil carefully, place them on the indirect heat again and grill for 3 to 5 minutes on each side.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Place your crab legs directly on the grill grates, making sure that their tips aren’t over direct heat.
- Grill them for about 5 to 8 minutes, flipping them halfway through to ensure even cooking.
Time to Reheat Crab Legs on the Grill: 13-15 minutes (method 1) or 5 to 8 minutes (method 2)
How to Serve Reheated Crab Legs
Crab legs are so sweet and delicious on their own, they don’t really need many accompaniments. Just a wedge of lemon, some flaky salt, and garlic butter is more than enough for most of the time. But you can always spice up a dish and make it even more delightful. So, if you want to try a different approach to crab legs, the variations are endless.
If you’re a spice-lover, Singapore-style sweet & spicy crab, the national dish of Singapore, is the right way to go. It will be an instant love kind of experience if you have never tried it before.
If you like to keep it simple but more filling, you can serve your crab legs with a side of roasted vegetables such as asparagus, brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli, or crispy roasted potatoes.
Also, if you have leftover crab legs, you can make delicious crab-stuffed mushrooms as a side for dinner the next day.
There really is no wrong way to serve and enjoy crab legs, your imagination is the limit!