Grilled Soft-Shell Crabs

  • PrepTime: 20 Mins
  • CookTime: 10 Mins
  • TotalTime: 30 Mins


  1. 18 soft-shell blue crabs, cleaned
  2. 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted, or neutral cooking oil


  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Rinse the crabs in running cool water and reserve. Heat a grill to medium-hot—you should be able to hold your hand about an inch over the cooking grate for 3 to 4 seconds before pulling it away from the heat.
  3. Pat the crabs dry with paper towels. Liberally brush the crabs all over with melted butter or oil and set them on the hot grill.
  4. Cover the grill and cook until the crabs are lightly browned on the cooking grate side, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Flip the crabs over, brush with more butter, and cook until they are browned on the second side and cooked through, or about 10 minutes in total. Use tongs to remove the crabs from the grill.
  6. Enjoy.


  1. Cut off their faces with pair of sharp kitchen scissors, just behind the eyes.
  2. Then lift up the edge of the top shell on one side of the cut to reveal the beige gills and pull them out.
  3. Repeat on the other side with the other set of gills.
  4. Flip the crab over and pull off the "apron" on the bottom, it will be a long, skinny triangle on males and a wider one on females.
  5. Rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  6. Arrange the crabs on a big plate and place a bowl of melted butter in the center. Alternatively, use a garlicky aioli or rouille sauce to dip the crabs in.
  7. Use grilled soft-shell crabs in sandwiches. Tuck the crab into a sourdough bun drizzled with more melted butter, or add a tablespoon of fresh pesto or rémoulade.
  8. Use soft-shell crabs in wraps, spreading some lemon butter before adding the crabs and a few fresh and pickled vegetables.
  9. Arrange 2 grilled soft-shell crabs in a small corn tortilla, drizzle with fresh lime juice, and garnish with fresh cilantro and red onions.
  10. Serve 2 to 3 soft-shell crabs per person alongside a simple pasta dish like cacio e pepe, or an even easier aglio e olio.