The 6 Best Crab Claw Crackers in 2021

Enjoy fresh crab with this efficient and safe tool

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The best way to enjoy fresh shellfish is to ensure that you have a tool that can pry the shells open safely and easily. Crab claws and legs are notorious for requiring a little bit of extra work compared to your average seafood dinner, but once you’ve pulled the meat out of the shells, the payoff is so worth it. Who doesn’t want a delightfully messy shellfish dinner with lots of drawn butter and fresh lemon slices?

To aid the process of getting the crab meat out of the shell, crackers can be an extremely efficient tool that makes it easier, quicker, and safer. After all, the goal is to spend more time enjoying the delicious seafood than painstakingly trying to pry it open. These crackers, which resemble the shape of a typical nutcracker, help penetrate the tough shells without shattering them to a million pieces. Crackers come in different sizes and materials as well as in sets and can be used for other tasks, like opening lobster shells.

Whether you want to throw a low-key dinner or impress your guests at a fancy beachside bash, here are the best crab claw crackers for the job.

Our Top Picks
Because of its universal design, this cracker can be used on anything from crab to lobster to shelled nuts.
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Reviewers are impressed by the quality and durability of the set given the extremely reasonable price.
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This kit includes two crackers and six picks so that all of your guests can work on cracking open crab simultaneously.
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These handles are equipped with a soft, comfortable grip and gently curved handles that nestle perfectly into your hand.
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The set includes both crackers and picks, which makes it a great set for a couple who loves to entertain.
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A no-frill model, this is about as heavy-duty as a cracker comes.
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Best Overall: OXO Good Grips Slim Nut and Seafood Cracker

OXO Good Grips Slim Nut and Seafood Cracker
What We Like
  • Soft, comfortable grips

  • Affordable

  • Dishwasher safe

What We Don't Like
  • Not great for small items

This OXO seafood cracker has all of the best qualities for easily and safely cracking open your tough crab and lobster shells. The zinc construction is super sturdy so you don’t have to worry about the hinge breaking when you clamp the cracker. The handles have a soft, non-slip grip, which makes it easy to hold onto and can absorb some of the pressure as you squeeze. The sleek curved handles are also quite comfortable to hold. The cracker is dishwasher safe, too.

Because of its universal design, it can be used on anything from crab to lobster to shelled nuts. At around $14, this is a budget-friendly pair of crackers that will last for years and years to come. Some reviewers note that it fairs better on larger items to crack as opposed to smaller ones.

Weight: 1.76 ounces  | Material: Zinc | Includes: (1) cracker

Best Budget: Hiware 10-Piece Lobster Crackers and Picks Set

Hiware 10-Piece Lobster Crackers and Picks Set
What We Like
  • Dishwasher safe

  • Includes crackers and picks

What We Don't Like
  • Not as aesthetically pleasing as competition

  • Grip isn't non-slip

For an affordable price, you can get this 10-piece set, which includes both crackers and picks. These crackers are super heavy duty and they are designed to be 1.5 times heavier than previous models for better leverage and strength. The die-cast zinc alloy is an ultra-sturdy material for long-lasting use. The serrated blades make it easy to grasp onto awkwardly shaped claws and legs. Plus, they are totally fine to be put in the dishwasher.

While the overall look and design of these crackers are quite humble compared to other options, this would be a great set if you’re having a few people over for a seafood boil. Reviewers are impressed by the quality and durability of the set given the extremely reasonable price.

Weight: 4.5 ounces | Material: Zinc alloy | Includes: (2) crackers, (2) picks

What Our Experts Say

“No shame in using seafood crackers when eating hard shell lobster—even us experts use them! With a good quality cracker and knowledge of how to properly use it, getting meat out of shellfish should really be a breeze (and only a little bit messy!). We recommend removing the tail meat with your hands, using a cracker for the two knuckles and claws, and then using the picker tool on the legs.” — Lauren Gibson, VP of E-Commerce and Retail at Luke's Lobster

Best Set: Sur La Table Seafood Kit, Set of 8

sur-la-table-seafood-kit
What We Like
  • Dishwasher safe

  • Includes crackers and picks

  • Sturdy zinc alloy construction

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Grip is not non-slip

Whether you’re hosting friends over for a seafood boil or you just want to have a few backup crackers on hand, it’s not a bad idea to consider a kit. This one includes two crackers and six double-edged picks so that all of your guests can work on cracking open crab and lobster simultaneously. The serrated edges on the crackers allow you to grasp onto legs, claws, tails, and shelled nuts with ease. The stainless steel picks feature a small scoop on one side and a sharp fork on the other, which allow you to scoop leg and tail meat from any shellfish.

Weight: | Material: Zinc alloy | Includes: (2) crackers, (2) picks

Best Non-Slip Grip: Cuisinart Sharkbite Nut and Seafood Cracker

Cuisinart Sharkbite Nut and Seafood Cracker
What We Like
  • Sleek design

  • Comfortable, soft grip and curved handles

  • Serrated edges

  • Ideal for larger hands

What We Don't Like
  • Stainless steel instead of sturdier zinc

When it comes to seafood crackers, a comfortable, non-slip grip cannot be beaten. This Cuisinart model offers handles that are equipped with a soft, comfortable grip and gently curved handles that nestle perfectly into your hand. The serrated edges are great for clamping on tough-to-secure food items. The stainless steel construction is not as ideal as zinc, though it’s still quite durable and sturdy.

This dishwasher-safe tool is easy to clean and boasts a sleek aesthetic. Its slightly heavier weight provides a bit more leverage and makes it easier to use, though if you have smaller, weaker hands, it may be too much.

Weight: 7.2 ounces | Material: Stainless steel | Includes: (1) cracker

Best for Gifting: Williams Sonoma Seafood Crackers and Picks

williams-sonoma-seafood-crackers-and-picks
What We Like
  • Dishwasher safe

  • Nonslip handles and chic design

  • Heavy weight for leverage and comfort

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Stainless steel instead of sturdier zinc

Everyone has a shellfish enthusiast in their life and this set of crackers and picks makes a great gift for any seafood-loving friend. The sleek red handles have a charming, nautical look that any crab eater will enjoy, plus they’re extremely comfortable, non-slip, and easy to hold. The set includes both crackers and picks, which makes it a great set for a couple who loves to entertain. The set is made of stainless steel, which is not as durable as a zinc construction, but still very heavy duty. Reviewers love the weight of these tools because they don’t feel flimsy or cheap.

Material: Stainless steel | Includes: (2) crackers, (2) picks

Best for Lobster: Maine Lobster Now Metal Shell Cracker

maine-lobster-now-metal-shell-cracker
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Sturdy zinc alloy construction

What We Don't Like
  • Grip isn't non-slip

  • Handles are not curved for comfort

While most of these crackers can work universally on crab, lobster, and shelled nuts, if you’re a person who is opening lots of lobster, this specific lobster cracker may work best for your needs. This cracker is a no-frill model and it’s about as heavy-duty as a cracker comes. Though the handles don’t have a comfortable grip or curved shape, the cracker is constructed with zinc alloy, making the hinge super durable and strong. This cracker is ideal for whole lobsters that are about 1.5 pounds or less, as anything larger may give you a bit of a harder time. It only comes with one pair of crackers and no picks, but this is a very durable option for such an approachable price.

Material: Zinc alloy | Includes: (1) cracker

Final Verdict

Our favorite option for everyday crab cracking is the OXO Good Grips Slim Nut and Seafood Cracker (view at Amazon), which boasts a comfortable grip and durable zinc construction. If you're needing a set for an upcoming seafood boil, we recommend the Sur La Table Seafood Kit (view at Sur La Table), which includes two crackers and six picks that are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.

What to Look for in Crab Claw Crackers

Grip

If it’s difficult to hold onto the crackers, then they won’t be as effective. A comfortable, non-slip grip makes the crackers easier to grasp onto and prevents any unwanted slippage (your hands are going to get wet during the process)! If the grip is aluminum and not curved to the shape of your hand, it may be more difficult to hold comfortably.

Sets

Often, seafood crackers are sold in sets so it’s a good idea to know how many crackers you want and if you want any supplementary tools. If you want crackers for a seafood boil, you’re probably better off getting a set with multiple crackers and picks so that all of your guests can work on their seafood shells simultaneously. If it’s just a cracker for one person, then you probably don’t need an entire set of tools.

Versatility

Of course, tools that have multi-uses are always more cost- and space-efficient. Look for crackers that are not only proficient in opening crab shells, but lobster, shrimp, and hard nuts, too. Crackers that are high quality and heavy-duty (typically zinc alloy) will have no problem cracking through anything from shellfish to nuts.

FAQs

How do you eat crab claws and legs? 

After the crabs have been gently boiled and cooked, you can break them down and crack open their shells. To start, you should separate the claws and legs from the body of the crab. Then use a seafood cracker to gently break open the shell, wiping any debris away. You can crack the legs just like you open the claws, though many crabs have soft enough shells on their legs that allow you to use kitchen scissors to gently snip them open. While you can crack open the bodies for meat, the claws and legs have the most and best-tasting meat.

How do you cook crab claws and legs? 

Most crab claws and legs are fully cooked and sold frozen, so you’ll need to thaw and reheat them before serving. To thaw, you can leave them in a bowl in your fridge overnight or you can run them under cool water until they’re thawed. To reheat, you can drop them in boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until they’re warmed through. Serve them with drawn butter, fresh herbs, and lemon slices.

Can you use the same crackers for crab and lobster? 

Yes, you can use the same crackers for both crab and lobster because their shells are of similar thickness and strength. These crackers are designed to hold both crab claws and lobster.

How do you use crab claw crackers?

First, you’ll need to use the cracker to get between the meat and the shell to gently open it up. You can also use the pinching mechanism of the crackers to grasp the claws and break the shells, loosening the meat inside. The jagged edges along the crackers help to keep the seafood secure while you crack it open.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Sara Tane has written nearly a dozen buying guides for The Spruce Eats, understanding what consumers and cooks need to consider before making a new purchase for their culinary adventures. She is a professionally trained chef in addition to a shellfish enthusiast. With many years of breaking down and prepping fresh shellfish, she is no stranger to what it takes to claw open crab and lobster. After researching different seafood crackers and their materials and designs and talking to Lauren Gibson, VP of E-Commerce and Retail at Luke's Lobster, she can help you find the best cracker for your next seafood boil. She firmly believes that you should spend more time enjoying shellfish than working to open it up.

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