Grilled Dungeness Crab

Grilled Crab
Danita Delimont/Getty Images
  • Total: 25 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings

The grill adds great flavor to any kind of seafood. This recipe for grilled Dungeness crab is simple, yet quite delicious. You'll have these ready quickly and have enough time to dine and socialize with your guests.

This recipe details how to grill fresh live crabs. But those aren't always in season, and even when they are you may want the convenience of having someone else boil them for you. If the thought of live crabs is too much for you, then, by all means, purchase frozen crabs. Just make sure they are nice and thawed before placing them on the grill. Frozen crab can thaw overnight in the refrigerator or you can place it in a container of cool water for an hour or so.

If you are choosing live crabs, the ones you want are those that are active and alert. The sluggish ones are likely to be less healthy and less tasty. The larger the better to provide more luscious crab meat.


  • 1/4 cup/120 ml white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons/15 ml sugar
  • 2 tablespoons/30 ml olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon/15 ml ginger (minced)
  • 1 jalapeño chili (minced with the seeds removed)
  • 3 clove garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon/15 ml cilantro (minced)
  • 2 large Dungeness crabs (live)
  • Garnish: lemon wedges
  • Garnish: drawn butter (aka clarified butter)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. To prepare the baste, mix vinegar, sugar, oil, ginger, jalapeño, garlic, and cilantro in a bowl. Cover and set aside.

  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the crabs, one at a time, headfirst into boiling water. Boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.

  4. Remove crabs from the water and pull off the triangular tab from the belly.

  5. Lift off the shell.

  6. Clean innards and gills from the crab.

  7. Wash, drain, and pat dry with paper towels.

  8. Preheat grill for medium-high heat.

  9. Place the crabs on the grill. Cook with the lid closed, brushing with basting mixture after first 2 to 3 minutes of cooking.

  10. Turn crabs over halfway through grilling, at the 6-minute mark, and baste again.

  11. The crabs are done when the meat in the leg is opaque, which in total will take about 10 to 12 minutes.

  12. Place the crab on a serving dish and spoon remaining basting mixture over the crabs. You can replace the shells before serving if you wish.

  13. Serve with lemon wedges and drawn butter, as desired.


  • Be sure to have all of the crab-eating utensils (crackers and pick forks) handy for your guests so they can pick out all of the succulent crab meat. Bibs and extra napkins will be needed, plus access to hand washing facilities after the crab picking and eating is done. You'll also need dishes, a bowl, or a can for them to deposit the shells.
  • There is unlikely to be any leftovers, but if there are you should store the crab in the refrigerator and enjoy it within a day.

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