Cooking Louisiana - Jack's Boiled Crabs  

Boiled Crabs

This is a boiled crab recipe that I've managed to become comfortable with. I remember when I was a kid we used to boil crabs using a #3 tub and a homemade outdoor boiler made from the burner taken out of a water heater.

Let me start by explaining that this is a "seasoned water" style recipe. I've seen and tasted other recipes where the water is un-seasoned and powdered seasoning is sprinkled on top after they are done. I prefer this one.

Seafood Boiling PotThis recipe is for approximately 10 gallons of water and will take care of about 6 to12 dozen crabs (one or two batches using my pot). Six dozen is usually considered a bushel. This is a two step process... boil the vegetables, then boil the crabs.

Vegetables (to be eaten with the crabs)
4 onions cut in half
2 lbs potatoes (small)
3 heads of Garlic
4 ears of fresh corn - (shucked and snapped in half)
4 cups fresh whole Brussels sprouts (whole frozen will also work)
4 cups fresh button mushrooms
1 - 2 lbs smoked sausage cut in 1" lengths (your favorite)
Any other stuff you like...! For instance, whole small okra.

Seasonings A [for the vegetables]
1 - 8oz. bottle (1 cup) of liquid crab boil (I prefer Zatarains)
1 -  box of salt
6 lemons cut in half
6 oranges cut in half
1 onion cut in quarters
1 clove garlic cut in half
20 Bay Leaves (optional)

Seasonings B [for the crabs - just add this to the original seasoned water]
- 8oz. bottle (1 cup) of liquid crab boil
1 -  box of salt
2 Tbs. Creole Seasoning
2 Tbs. Onion Powder
2 Tbs. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. Black Pepper


1 - cup mayonnaise
1 - cup ketchup
2 Tbs. mustard (regular or creole)
1/2 - tsp salt
pinch black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. liquid crab boil
Pinch of garlic powder
Other stuff you can dream up l like chopped onions and garlic from the boiled vegetables.

Taste and adjust as you like....

Before going on here I know you may boil more or less crabs. The seasoning mixture above is for 10 gallons of water. If you use less water you MUST reduce the amount of seasoning and vice-versa. It's all proportional. 


Rinse the crabs off well. If they have come from the beach (sandy area) purge them by soaking in water for about 15 minutes.

Light the fire under the water and add "Seasonings A" to the water squeezing the lemons and oranges. Bring the water to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes.

While waiting for the water to boil fix the first 4 vegetables and put them in an onion sack.  After the water boils for 15 minutes put these in and boil for 10 minutes. Add the remainder of the vegetables to the sack and boil another 10 - 15 minutes.
If you use frozen corn put it in the second batch.

Get somebody to start making the dip....

I use this method because if you put all the seasonings in at the beginning the vegetables will pick it up and you wind up with some of it too salty and too spicy. If you like it like that, hey dump it all together. The kids won't eat the vegetables if they're to spicy. I separate the vegetables because the first batch takes a little longer to cook. If you put it all together it's hard to find the mushrooms and Brussels sprouts because they will have disintegrated. 

Take the vegetable sack out after they're cooled and add the rest of the seasonings "B". When the water returns to a boil dump the crabs in and stir. Bring to a boil and boil for ten minutes and shut the fire off. 

Add two two-liter jugs of ice (don't break them apart) and move them around. I keep those in the freezer just for this purpose. Spray the sides of the pot with a light mist from the garden hose a few times every few minutes. The objective is to cool the water down so the crabs stop cooking, and start soaking up the seasoning. Stir every few minutes until the crabs sink a little. In about 15 minutes from the time you turned the fire off start tasting. If they're not to your liking let them continue to soak tasting every five minutes. Don't worry, they're not cooking any more. When they're the way you like them set them to drain and remove them from the pot. Let them air cool for several minutes. 

Note: I must caution you that crabs come in varying degrees of meat content. Some will be packed with meat, some will be half full. Normally a batch should all be about the same degree. When soaking keep in mind that the thin ones will pick up the seasoning fast so taste them earlier. In a general sense if you purchase fresh crabs around the full moon they will have more meat and fat in them.

Take the sack of vegetables and set them in the water for a minute, no longer because they'll soak up the seasoning quick like.

If you have a second batch just heat the water and do it again but add no seasoning unless you want a spicier batch. 

Boiled Crabs

Keeping the crabs warm is as easy as dumping them in an ice chest and leaving the lid cracked open for at least 30 minutes. Stir them around or just shake the ice chest side to side every five minutes or so. If you put them in hot and close the lid the heat could buckle the ice chest. After the 30 minutes you can close the ice chest completely and they'll stay warm for quite a while.



Peel what you have left over and clean up some of the larger top shells to use for stuffed crabs later. Freeze both. Crab shells


Here's a crab peeling course.

Back to recipes...



All Recipes

How to peel a crab.


Stuffed Crab Recipe

Fried crab fingers

Crab au gratin


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