Instant Pot Crab Legs Recipe

Crab meat is one of those seafood delicacies that's hard to cook properly and best left to professional restaurant chefs, right? Well, that's not exactly true. Even though it may not be as common and familiar as chicken or a burger, crab meat is actually pretty easy to prepare as long as you have a great recipe to follow. Of course, we have you covered with exactly that.

"This [recipe] is pretty straightforward," says chef and recipe developer Keith Kamikawa. As a matter of fact, the hardest part of the whole process is definitely creating the clarified butter, not cooking the crab legs! Your trusty Instant Pot will take care of that for you in a matter of mere minutes.

Once you have the crab cooked and drenched in butter, how should you enjoy this succulent treat, might you ask? "I'm a sucker for sweet corn on the cob, cornbread, a crisp salad with citrus or vinaigrette slaw, and definitely a great chardonnay or your favorite IPA," says Kamikawa. And no problem at all if you have any crab meat left over, by the way. It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week, and Kamikawa adds, "It can always be repurposed into crab salad, crab cakes, an awesome bisque, or tons of other awesome recipes." Yum!

Gather the ingredients to prepare Instant Pot crab legs

It really doesn't take much to prepare a great batch of crab legs. This recipe calls for 8 ounces of unsalted butter (there's your "secret" to the flavor here), a lemon (which you'll cut into wedges), 1 cup of water, and about 2 pounds of crab legs. "[I] used snow crab, but king crab will work as well," Kamikawa notes. He continues, "I personally like to keep it pretty pure so the sweetness of the crab legs really shines, but a touch of Old Bay in the Instant Pot, say half a teaspoon, will add a nice traditional flavor."

Create the clarified butter

Cut the butter into small pads, then add those pieces of butter to a thick-gauged pot. Turn the stove to medium heat to slowly melt the butter. Let the butter come to a low boil, and continue to manage the heat to keep the butter from burning. "[Keep] the butter at a low boil until it mostly stops making light popping noises and most, if not all, of the milk solids have boiled off and sunk," Kamikawa says. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes.

Next, strain the butter through a cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer, then set it aside. Keep the butter warm, and note that if you made more than you need, "it can be kept in a refrigerator for up to one year if all milk solids are evaporated," according to Kamikawa.

Cook the crab legs in the Instant Pot

With the butter ready to go, you're only about three minutes away from being done and enjoying these tasty crab legs! (Or five minutes, if the crab legs are still frozen. Kamikawa says, "I'd have the legs thawed myself and that is how the recipe is written, but they can be cooked from frozen, you just need to add two more minutes to the cook time.")

Place the crab legs into the Instant Pot, and add 1 cup of water. (You can use the steam rack if you have it, but it's not necessary.) Then, close the Instant Pot, set it to High Pressure for three minutes, and cook that crab meat. After the timer goes off, use the quick release valve to release the pressure from the Instant Pot very carefully.

Serve with sliced lemon and butter

Slice the lemon into wedges, and remove all visible seeds. Then, remove the crab from the Instant Pot with a pair of tongs. Immediately serve the crab with clarified butter and freshly squeezed lemon juice over it.

Are you wondering how to crack open those crab legs? Frankly, you can simply use your hands and bend the crab legs until they snap, then use a fork to pull out the meat. But, if you have a set of seafood crackers on hand, those will get the job done seamlessly.

Instant Pot Crab Legs Recipe
5 from 23 ratings
The best part about this recipe for crab legs is that your trusty Instant Pot does all the hard work for you.
Prep Time
3
minutes
Cook Time
18
minutes
Servings
2
Servings
cooked crab legs
Total time: 21 minutes
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds crab legs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Directions
  1. Cut the butter into small slices, then add it to a thick-gauged pot. Turn the stove to medium heat to slowly melt the butter.
  2. Let the butter come to a low boil. (Continue to manage the heat to keep it from burning.) Keep the butter at a low boil until it mostly stops making light popping noises and most, if not all, of the milk solids have boiled off and sunk, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Strain the butter through a cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer, then set it aside. (Do not chill.)
  4. Place the crab legs into the Instant Pot, and add 1 cup of water. (Use the steam rack if you have it, but it's not necessary.)
  5. Cover the Instant Pot, set it to High Pressure for 3 minutes, and cook the crab legs.
  6. After the timer goes off, use the Quick Release valve to release the pressure from the Instant Pot, then very carefully remove the lid from the Instant Pot.
  7. Slice the lemon into wedges, and remove all visible seeds.
  8. Remove the crab legs from the Instant Pot with a pair of tongs, and serve immediately with clarified butter and fresh lemon.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 1,216
Total Fat 97.0 g
Saturated Fat 59.3 g
Trans Fat 3.7 g
Cholesterol 597.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 3.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.8 g
Total Sugars 0.8 g
Sodium 1,346.8 mg
Protein 83.2 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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