How to Steam Crabs

Steaming crabs in a pot

It’s Maryland Blue Crab Season in Annapolis!

To Steam or Not to Steam? STEAM. STEAM YOUR CRABS!

We all love crabs. This is Maryland, so it’s basically the law… But as smugly superior as we can all be about our crab-picking skills, especially around out-of-staters, the best-kept secret ‘round these parts is that not everyone knows how to steam them properly. Sure, you’ll eat them, but you may feel embarrassed that you’ve never steamed your own crabs. Well, that’s why we’re here.

First off, if you Google “how to cook crabs”, you’ll get a lot of hits about crab boils. Completely disregard these results. This is Annapolis, not New Orleans! And although there is no wrong way to cook a crab, their way is absolutely wrong. Crabs are meant to be steamed.

What You’ll Need to Steam the Perfect Maryland Crabs

You’re going to need a big pot, like the huge “Bayou Boiler” that we carry just for this purpose (And, please, ignore the name.) We’re steaming. You can steam your crabs on your stovetop if you want, but we also carry a splendid Outdoor Patio Stove that hooks right up to your grill’s propane tank for extremely high heat. Plus, steaming crabs is fun at the moment when you’re inside, but that crab smell does linger for a few days. So do it outside, if possible.

Pour a bottle or a can of beer into the bottom of the pot. Yes, we know what you’re thinking, but these are crabs and some sacrifices must be made. However, you could certainly use water if beer isn’t your “thing”. Add a cup of white vinegar and a half-cup of crab seasoning such as J.O. Spice or Old Bay. You just mixed up the potion to create magic. Get your rack on the bottom of your pot to keep the crabs off the bottom and light the burner. Now it’s getting good…

We must mention that K&B True Value carries almost everything that you need to catch your own crabs: traps, lines, tongs, nets, bushels, etc. The only things we can’t provide are the chicken necks and crabbing licenses. Learn more at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to get your license, because you’ll definitely need it! But, even if you don’t catch your own, there are several fantastic local purveyors of crabs in and around town. Start with at least a dozen crabs. Lay them on the rack on the bottom of the pot, sprinkling them liberally with crab seasoning as you layer them. Watch your fingers! They’re going to be plenty grumpy at this point.

It’s Time to STEAM Your Crabs!

Once you have your crabs piled in the pot, close the lid, and bring to a hard boil for about 30 minutes. Your crabs should be bright orange, with no trace of blue or green coloring. Don’t overcook them, or they’ll be mushy, but use the tongs to carefully move them about to check to make sure that they’re done. Dump them on the table and if you have another batch to steam, add another beer to the pot (we know…this hurts) and another half-cup of vinegar, and bring it to a rolling boil again. Repeat this process until no one can move and everyone’s lips are numb.

Enjoy the 2021 Maryland crab season!