Soft Shell Crab

One of the things I never understand that people won’t try is soft shell crab. They’ll eat crab legs, crabcakes, stuffed crab, crab stuffed mushrooms, anything else crab. But you leave the sucker in his shell, even when that shell is really, really soft, and they act like you’re asking them to eat coconut! (Sorry if you like coconut… it’s evil stuff in my opinion!)

Blue crabs molt their exoskeletons when they’re about to grow, up to 30%. During the time when they’ve molted, they enter what I consider, and excuse me for any technical terms, the “delicious phase”. They’re often served lightly battered and fried, but I find I prefer them with no batter, and either lightly sauteed or, preferably, grilled.

I picked up a couple the other day and sprinkled them with a bit of blackened seasoning that my wife made up for me. They then went onto the grill over a hot fire… Usually, the hot part is used just to sear, but with shrimp and soft shell crab, that’s all that gets used. The crabs only need a couple of minutes per side, and they get a bit of a char on the shell while the crab inside is sweet and tender.

Grilling soft shell crab

They can be eaten as is or in a sandwich. The first time I had soft shell crab was in New Orleans, on a po’ boy sandwich, with a bit of roumalade sauce. I’ll admit they’re a bit different, as the shell is a bit chewy, but it adds an interesting texture, while the crab is sweet and really delicious. What I’m saying basically is don’t be afraid of these little guys! They’re too good to pass up!

Soft shell crab sandwich

Oh, one note about fresh vs. frozen… There’s a substance under the top shell of fresh crabs that is called the “mustard” This is normal and natural, and tastes pretty damn good. However, don’t be shy about removing it if you don’t want it! If the crab was frozen, this will be removed as it doesn’t freeze and thaw well. Check out this great explanation of how to clean a soft shell crab.

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.


  1. That photo jumped out at me from TS just now. I am in love with grill photos lately! Yum!

  2. I’m glad you liked the photo.. especially have I looked at your site. You’re doing much more advanced stuff than I know how to do. Great photos!

  3. For me it’s just a food bias on my part.

  4. Biased against crab? It’s so good, though. :)
    Curt recently posted..Beef Ribs and Tomato PieMy Profile

  5. I find hard to eat “exotic stuff” and am losing so much ! I know it good, but i just cant convince myself ..

  6. Luke,

    There’s value in trying new things, but, for some, if the thought of trying something is worse than finding something tastes great, it may be best to pass and try something more familiar instead.

    For soft shell crab, I would recommend trying one without the “mustard” first, then work up to that!
    Curt recently posted..Beef Ribs and Tomato PieMy Profile

  7. Soft shell crab is one of my all time favorites. I usually just saute them, however I’m going to give it a try on the grill next time. Best fresh in the late spring. Thanks. Great pictures.

  8. Rod,

    One of the things I like about grilling is that I’m not adding more fat to the crab. Plus, the flavor from the grill really adds to it.
    Curt recently posted..Grilled Peach Bourbon Ice CreamMy Profile

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