How to boil Dungeness crabs in a large pot.


There are quite a few options when it comes to preparing and cooking Dungeness crab. However, if you have a fresh live Dungeness crab that you need to cook whole then your choices are simple: You can either steam Dungeness crab or you boil the crab. I could easily make a solid argument for either method but we would be going around in circles because I like both ways equally.

*This page gives you the in and outs of how to boil Dungeness crab, if you want to learn how to steam a Dungeness then you need to visit our How to Steam Dungeness Crab page.


How to Boil a Live Dungeness Crab in 3 Easy Steps:


  1. Get yourself a large enough pot for your crab to be fully submerged and boil water. Add 1 Tbsp of sea salt to every litre of water if you would like, I usually don’t. (If you’re cooking more than one crab make sure your pot is big enough and you have enough water boiling before you move one to the next step)
  2. Pick up your crab and make sure he is still alive, any crab that has died cannot be eaten EVER! (Read this to find out why) Prepare your crab for the pot… some call it putting your crab to sleep, some call it hypnotizing it, others call it stunning it. Whatever you want to call it it’s the most humane way to boil and kill a crab (especially if he’s really feisty). Gently rub or pet the belly of your crab until all it’s legs fold into itself and your crab appears to be asleep.
  3. Place your crab in the water, let the water start to boil again and begin your timer. You boil the entire live crab for 16 minutes (smaller Dungeness) to 18 minutes (larger above 8 inches) and then rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.


*At this point you can choose to freeze your crab for future consumption.

Now pry the top shell off of the body and remove all the parts you don’t care to eat. Aside from the gills, all parts of this crustacean are edible. Many people, however, do not like eating the entire crab. I rinse the crab until there is nothing but white meat left on the body.

Now it’s time to pick the meat out of the shell. Use kitchen shears to open the leg shells and food picks to get at the meat with your fingers. Be patient!


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Cooking Dungeness Crab by Boiling Your Crab Alive