Cleaning Crab 

Cleaning crab is an important step to getting that crab on your plate. Whether you have a frozen whole crab or a live whole crab, will show you how to clean that crab in no time at all. We have a video at the end for you to see it all come together. When we're done, you will be able to clean crab in one minute or less.

We will start, first, with cleaning hard shell crab, like dungeness crab, then we will show you how to soft shell crab.


First, if your whole crab is frozen, it will be hard to clean. You will want to thaw the crab out a bit first. You can do this by placing it whole in some cool water as illustrated in the picture below. We use our sink.

Caution:You don't want to leave it in the water too long. Leave it in just long enough to thaw the crabs out a bit, approximately 15-20 minutes, should do the trick.

Next,working over the sink, let the water run a bit to help flush out the waste. Then, lift off the apron of the crabs belly, (the circular shell segment on a female's belly and the pointed section of a male's) and pull off the entire top shell. You can grasp it in the middle at near the eyes. Discard the shell.

Next, you want to pull out and discard the long, white-ish gills and spongey stomach of the crab. Now you can bend and snap off the claws. There is no need to keep them. There's no meat in there worth getting to.

Next, you can break the body in half, rinse the halves in water real well and you're done! If you would like to "see" how easy it is to clean crab, you can watch this video. We are demonstrating how to clean crab with a Dungeness Crab.

Cleaning Crab Visual With Dungeness Crab

How to Clean Soft Shell Crab Video


To kill and clean soft shell crab, grasp the body between the back legs.
Next, cut across its body just behind the eyes with kitchen shears.
Reach into the cavity created by the cut and pull out and discard the stomach.
Pull off the apron. Then, one at a time fold back each side of the top shell and remove and discard the gills, but don't remove the shell.
Wash the crab and dry it by laying the soft shell crab on a clean towel or paper towels. You're done!

Our Grand Daughter Cleaning Her First Crab

We couldn't resist sharing this video of our grand daughter cleaning her first Dungeness Crab! Enjoy!

Roger Cleans a Crab With His Eyes Closed

Thought we would share Roger cleaning crab with his eyes closed! Please! Don't try this at home unless you are quite familiar with crab! There's just never a dull moment at our home. Crab makes us crazy! 

Male and Female Crabs


Female Crabs abdomen or tail is very wide and covers part of each basal leg segment. The embryos are wider under the tail on adults.


Male Crabs have triangular shaped tails which are only one third the size of females and much narrower.


Female and male Dungeness

New! Comments

Have your say, ask a question, or at least say hello! Leave us a comment in the box below.

Now you should be ready to cook the crab legs, steam them, and have a Crab-O-Licious meal! Enjoy!

Go back up to the top of Cleaning Crab

Find soft shell crab recipes, here!

If you have any other questions or problems about cleaning crab, feel free to ask your questions on Crab Chat and we'll be glad to help you out!

Go to Crab Homepage