Learn How to Grill King Crab Legs Like a Pro

Last Updated on October 12, 2021

Jim Bob

Jim Bob

A long-time contributor to GrillBabyGrill. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.

Image Courtesy to Missbossy

King Crab legs aren’t just for Alaskans. With a little preparation, you can enjoy a delicious meal of your own, grilled right at home. King Crab’s prime season is from October to January when the population is at its peak, and the crabs are their largest. Each year, this limited amount of time makes the rich, buttery goodness of a perfectly grilled King Crab leg even more special. 

To prepare the best King Crab legs possible, you need to know what to look for when you’re buying them, how to prepare them, and what method you prefer for grilling them.

1. What to Look for When You Shop?

Fresh King Crab legs are not an everyday meal item for most people. Chances are, this is a special treat that you’re splurging on, so it’s vital to know how to spot the best products in the store to get your money’s worth. 

If you live somewhere where fresh King Crab is available, you’re in luck. For many stores, previously frozen crab may be the only option. The best crab legs are the ones that do not spend a lot of time in the fridge after being defrosted. Seek out the brightest colored crab legs and try to find the product with little or no ice crystals, which can indicate that it has been freezer burnt.

2. How Much to Buy?

King Crab is one of the most expensive varieties on the market, but it’s also got the most meat. The main factor in your purchase process will be how many people you need these crab legs to feed. If your family or guests are seafood lovers, they’ll eat about 1.5 to 2 lbs. each. For guests who only want a taste of seafood, 0.5 lbs. should be enough.

3. How to Prepare King Crab Legs for the Grill?

After rinsing your crab legs to get rid of any sand or grit that may be in the shell, decide on your seasoning. You can simply brush them with butter and let their natural flavor stand out, or you can try something with a stronger taste, like garlic butter seasoning

Lemon juice, butter, garlic, and basil are excellent additions to your King Crab dish because they’ll enhance the flavor without overpowering it. If you have frozen crab legs, you should take them out of the freezer and thaw them before grilling. However, you don’t need to thaw them completely before you start because they heat up quickly. 

There are lots of options for how to grill King Crab legs. One of the easiest and best ways to grill King Crab is to use foil packs. Lay out one sheet of aluminum foil per crab leg. Place one leg in each sheet and add your desired seasonings. Top each seasoned crab leg with a dash of salt and pepper. Cover the crab legs with an extra sheet of foil each. Roll the top and bottom pieces together at the edges to create foil packs that keep the juices and seasoning contained.

If you prefer to place the crab legs directly on the grill, simply brush them with butter, olive oil, or other seasoning and bring them outside in a tray or bowl. Now you’re ready to grill.

4. How Long Does it Take to Grill King Crab Legs?

The length of time it takes to grill King Crab legs varies slightly depending on what grilling method you use. Regardless of the method, set your grill to medium-high heat (350°F-375°F). When placing the crab legs directly on the grill, they can cook in 4-5 minutes per side. For foil packs, anticipate a longer cooking time of roughly 20 minutes.

Read Also: Best affordable temperature controllers in the market.

5. Time to Grill

Once you’ve prepared your crab, you need to know how to grill King Crab legs. If you’re not using the foil pack method, ensure your grill is clean before starting, so the crab legs don’t stick to the cooking surface. At this point, you may want to give the King Crab legs another brush of butter or seasoning

Carefully place each crab leg on the grill, cooking for 4-5 minutes. Turn the crab legs once and let them cook for another few minutes on the other side. If you cut the shells open, ensure you place the legs meat-side up

For foil packs that contain frozen or partially thawed crab legs, expect to grill them on medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes. Fresh King Crab legs may take as little as 10 minutes. The natural moisture from the crab meat will steam cook the legs. If you open a corner of the foil pack and see steaming, you’ll know for sure it’s done.

6. How to Serve it Best?

Properly grilled crab legs, regardless of the method you use to grill them, are a delicious main course that everyone will enjoy. You can serve them hot off the grill, or you can prepare them ahead of time and serve them cold with a buttery dipping sauce for a fancy appetizer or hors d’oeuvre. 

Grilling provides a much more flavorful result than boiling crab legs since the boiling water can dilute the taste. When prepared on the grill, it’s easy to tell when your crab legs are cooked to perfection because of the steam they give off. 

For serving, you may want to invest in crab crackers to spare you and your guests from being poked by the sharp parts of the shell. Eating crab legs can get messy, so be prepared with lots of napkins, or maybe even a bib if your guests have dressed up for your party.

Read Also: Backyard bbq ideas.

Jim Bob

Jim Bob


Depending on where you live, frozen crab may be the only option for summer barbecues, but you can grill it from frozen effortlessly with the foil pack method. To enjoy fresh crab when it’s in season, keep the grill going through the winter months. King Crab legs are always a hit and are a delicious addition to your dinner plans, no matter which way you decide to grill them.