Go Back Email Link
Plastic freezer bag

How To Freeze Crabs Whole

This is the easiest way to freeze whole, hard-shelled live crab. If you follow this how-to guide, remember that you'll need to thaw and clean the crab before you reheat it.
You can either boil or steam the crabs. People prefer steaming crab over boiling it because you need far less water, so it's faster, and you lose less of the crab's flavor. We'll show you how to do both.
Never put live crabs directly into the freezer. Crabs release a dangerous toxin into their bodies when they die, hence the need to clean them and/or boil them right away.
Prep Time 40 mins
Total Time 40 mins


  • A large pot (big enough to fit two crabs)
  • A crab steamer (optional)
  • Salt
  • Measuring cup (1/2 cup) - for boiling crabs only
  • Tongs
  • A clean kitchen towel
  • A large bowl (big enough to fit two crabs)
  • Cold water
  • A pair of kitchen shears (or strong scissors)
  • Large freezer bags
  • Freezer labels
  • A permanent marker
  • A straw (optional, but recommended)
  • Space in the back of your freezer


  • Keep the crabs in the fridge while you prep and boil the water, about 10-15 minutes. This will make the crabs sluggish and easier to handle.

Steps for Steaming Crab

  • Fill a large steamer pot with 1 inch of salted water. Use the tongs to put the crab(s) in the steamer basket.
  • Cover the pot and steam until the crabs are cooked through. 10 minutes for small blue crabs, 15 minutes for medium-sized like Dungeness, and up to 20 minutes for even larger crabs. The crab shells should appear red when cooked.

Steps for Boiling Crab

  • Fill the large pot 2/3rd of the way with water. Add 1/2 cup of salt for every gallon of water. Bring the water to a boil.
  • Add the crab(s) to the pot of water; ensure they are fully submerged. Wait until the water returns to a boil and then start a timer for 20 minutes. When the timer ends, the crab's shells should be bright red.

Steps for Packing and Freezing Crab

  • Take the cooked crab out of the water/steamer and place them on the kitchen towel.
  • Fill a large bowl with cold water, and place the crabs in the cool water for 5-10 minutes. This will help stop the crab meat from sticking to the shell.
  • Once the crabs have cooled, remove them from the water. Use a pair of kitchen shears to snip off the tips of the crab legs so they don't poke through the freezer bag.
  • Tuck the legs under the main shell of the crab. Slide the whole crab into a freezer bag and seal it.
  • Straw "vacuum seal" trick (optional):┬áSlide a straw into the bag and suck out the air so the bag "shrinks" around the crabs. Slide the bag down the straw as you inhale, and quickly seal the bag while you remove the straw.
  • Write today's date on a freezer label, and stick it to the bag. Place the freezer bags deep in your freezer.
Keyword can you freeze blue crabs, freeze dungeness crab, freeze king crab, freeze whole crab, freezing whole crab, whole crab frozen