The Real Difference Between King Crab And Snow Crab

Size matters. At least, that is, when you're distinguishing snow crab from king crab. Southern Living explains that, while both of these crustaceans may be delectable dipped in butter and served alongside sides like delectable corn chowder, king crab and snow crab are not created equally. And, as it turns out, size is actually just one factor that sets the two apart. Here is a run-down of the differences between these ocean-dwellers.

On the topic of size, king crabs are the larger of the two, weighing in, at their largest, at 20 pounds and measuring as much as 5 feet across, according to Southern Living. Despite their overall smaller size, snow crabs have longer, skinner legs than those sported by king crabs. 

Size isn't the only visible difference between the crabs. Oceanside Seafood notes that the two crabs have very different shells. King crab shells are notoriously spiky, making them harder to break through and making a seafood cracker all the more necessary when you're trying to get at the meat inside. The thin shells of snow crabs make for easier, hands-only eating. That's much easier than the notoriously difficult task of harvesting some other crab species, like the giant Japanese spider crab.

There's a palatable divide between king crab and snow crab

Once you crack through their shells, the flavor of each crab is distinct. Southern Living describes snow crab meat, which turns from red to white when cooked, as "sweet" and "subtly briny", while the texture of king crab meat is "reminiscent of lobster" with a "rich, sweet flavor." Serving size also varies between the two crab types, explains Oceanside Seafood. An order of king crab will often come out as one single, girthy leg, which can weigh up to 6 pounds on its own. Meanwhile, a snow crab order will likely come with at least four long, skinny legs. 

Snow crabs hail from the cooler waters of the northern seas and are the more affordable of the two, explains Southern Living. That's due, in part, to a longer harvesting season that helps to keep prices relatively low. King crab is more exclusive, meaning that its short harvesting season and small habitat in the Bering Sea results in a more expensive product, according to Oceanside Seafood. Hopefully that means a good payoff for crab fishermen like those on Deadliest Catch.

Despite their differences, both snow and king crab pair perfectly with a squeeze of lemon and a bowl of melted butter, so get cracking on your next seafood feast regardless of the exact type of crab that you'll be serving.