How to Store Cooked Crabs: How Long Do They Last?

How to Store Cooked Crabs: The Ultimate Guide

The Catch of the Day! 🦀

Photo Credit: Danna Davis

Cooked crabs are a delight for many seafood lovers. Whether you’re hosting a crab feast or enjoying a simple dinner, the magic lies in the tender texture and succulent meat of the crab. However, what if you’re wondering: how to store cooked crabs? The answer lies in understanding the proper way to store it.

From blue crabs to snow crabs, each type of crab has its unique characteristics. This guide aims to provide you with the best options for how to store your cooked crabs, ensuring they remain delicious even days after cooking. So, before you consider tossing those crab sections or crab legs, read on!

It’s essential to note that proper storage isn’t just about preserving flavor. It’s about ensuring food safety, maximizing shelf life, and getting the best quality out of your seafood experience. With a few simple tips, you can discover how to store cooked crabs and enjoy your crab dishes without any worries.

“Shell” We Begin? Understanding Crab Anatomy

The world of crabs is vast and diverse. From the popular blue crab to the luxurious king crab legs, each crab type has its unique anatomy. Knowing the difference between a whole crab, crab sections, and individual crab legs is the first step in ensuring proper storage. For instance, the pointy ends and top shell of a crab play a crucial role in its storage needs.

Understanding crab anatomy isn’t just for professional chefs. It’s for anyone who wants to ensure they’re storing their seafood the right way. Different parts of the crab require different storage methods. For example, soft shell crabs and live dungeness crabs may have specific needs compared to your regular cooked crab.

Lastly, differentiating between fresh crab meat, raw crab meat, and cooked crab meat is essential. Each type has its unique storage requirements. For instance, fresh crab meat is more susceptible to bacterial growth, while cooked crab meat has a different texture that needs preservation.

Crabby Containers: Choosing the Right Storage Vessels

Selecting the right container is paramount when it comes to storing cooked crabs. Airtight containers are the gold standard. They ensure that no external elements affect the crab’s quality, helping prevent bacterial growth and preserving the tender texture of the meat. Whether you’re storing crab sections, crab cakes, or leftover crab legs, a good container is the first step.

While airtight containers are a great way to store your crabs, not all containers are made equal. Heavy-duty freezer bags are an excellent choice for those looking to freeze their crabs for a longer period. However, plastic wrap, though a popular method, may not always be the best option for extended storage. It’s essential to ensure that your storage method matches the duration for which you plan to store the crabs.

For those considering alternative methods, heavy-duty aluminum foil comes to the rescue. By wrapping your crabs or crab sections tightly in aluminum foil, you create an added layer of protection. And for added security, placing these wrapped crabs in a secondary airtight container can ensure they remain fresh and delicious.

Photo Credit: Frankie Latour

Chill Out: The Refrigeration Revelation

After cooking crabs, it might be tempting to immediately pop them into the fridge. However, it’s essential to let them come to room temperature first. This is a must when it comes to how to store cooked crabs. This simple process ensures that the crabs cool uniformly, preserving the texture of the cooked crabs and preventing any potential bacterial growth. Once cooled, they’re ready for the refrigerator.

When it comes to refrigeration, placement matters. Always place your cooked crabs, especially fresh ones like blue crabs, in the coldest part of your fridge. This ensures they remain at an optimal temperature, preserving their quality and extending their shelf life. Whether you’re storing crab cakes or planning a crab soup for the next day, proper refrigeration is key.

However, remember to always check on your stored crabs. Signs of spoilage, such as a sour smell or changes in the meat’s texture, are indicators that they’ve been in the fridge for too long. Regular checks ensure that your crab feast remains a delightful experience and not a source of concern.

Deep Freeze: Long-Term Crab Conservation

The freezer can be your best ally when it comes to storing cooked crabs for an extended period. Before you even think about freezing, it’s crucial to prepare the crabs. Clean them, section them, and ensure they’re ready for the cold. This step ensures that your crab freezes evenly, and you have portion-sized delights ready for your next meal.

The actual freezing process requires attention to detail. Lay out the crab sections or crab meat on paper towels, ensuring any excess water is removed. A brief coat of olive oil can help retain moisture, ensuring the crab meat doesn’t lose its succulent texture. Once prepped, it’s time to wrap. Heavy-duty aluminum foil or freezer wrap is your best bet. Make sure the crabs are sealed well, with no air pockets, to prevent freezer burn.

Lastly, it’s all about the thawing. When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen crabs, always thaw them in cold running water or in the refrigerator. Rapid thawing methods can compromise the crab’s quality. With patience and proper thawing, you’re in for a treat, with crabs that taste as good as the day they were cooked.

Crustacean Sensation: Delicious Recipes for Leftover Crabs

Whether it’s snow crab or king crab legs, reheating and repurposing them is an excellent way to enjoy succulent meat all over again. Crab cakes are a popular method to use up that leftover meat. Just mix the fresh crab meat with some herbs, olive oil, and breadcrumbs, and you’re set for a delightful meal.

But what about that crab soup or crab bisque that’s been on your mind? It starts with the best quality cooked crab, preferably kept in an airtight container to retain its flavor. Simply sauté some onions and garlic in olive oil, add your crab meat, pour in some hot water or broth, and let it simmer. Finish with some cream for a rich crab soup that’ll remind you of the best crab feasts.

For those who love a good crab salad, using leftover crab meat is a great option. Mix the crab meat with some mayo, celery, and your favorite seasonings. Serve it on a bed of fresh greens or even in a sandwich. Just remember, the texture of the meat and its freshness is key, so always lean on the side of caution and avoid crab with an off smell or slimy texture.


How Long Can Cooked Crabs Stay in the Fridge?

  • Short Answer: Up to 3-4 days.
  • Details: Keep them in airtight containers or tightly wrapped with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
  • Tip: Store them as soon as possible after cooking to maintain freshness.
Storage MethodShelf LifeNotes
Refrigerator (Fresh)3-4 daysStore in airtight container
Freezer (Wrapped)Up to 3 monthsWrap individually, use freezer bag
Eating Cold (Post-fridge)ImmediatelyBest for salads, cold dishes
Reheating (Microwave/Steam)Consume immediatelyReheat only once

Can You Freeze Cooked Crabs?

  • Short Answer: Absolutely!
  • Steps:
    1. Cool them down first.
    2. Wrap them individually using plastic wrap.
    3. Use a freezer bag or airtight container to prevent freezer burn.
    4. Label the container with the date.
  • Duration: They can last up to 3 months in the freezer.

Can You Eat Leftover Cooked Crab?

  • Short Answer: Yes, if stored properly.
  • Safe Consumption:
    • Ensure it’s been stored correctly in the fridge or freezer.
    • Smell and visually inspect before eating.
  • Enjoyment Tip: Leftover crab can be great in salads, sandwiches, or as a topping for a delicious pasta dish!

Do You Need to Reheat Cooked Crab?

  • Short Answer: Not necessarily, but you can.
  • Options:
    • Eat cold: Great in salads or cold crab cocktails.
    • Reheat: Steam for 4-5 minutes or microwave covered with a damp cloth.
  • Remember: Don’t overheat, as it can become rubbery.

How Do You Refrigerate Cooked Crab?

  • Steps:
    1. Let it cool to room temperature.
    2. Place in an airtight container or wrap tightly.
    3. Refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking.
  • Why Airtight: Prevents drying out and keeps other fridge odors away.

Crab Storage, No More Snappy Worries!

Storing cooked crabs might seem like a daunting task with all the do’s and don’ts. However, with these simple tips and a little attention to detail, you can ensure your crabs remain delicious for days. From the west coast’s live dungeness crabs to the east’s blue crabs, proper storage ensures you savor every bite.

Remember, the freshness of the crab is crucial. Whether you’re a fan of soft shell crab, snow crab, or any type of crab, the principles remain the same. Store quickly, store right, and enjoy the succulent meat at its best quality. And always, always trust your senses. If something smells or looks off, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

So, the next time you’re enjoying a crab feast and find yourself with leftovers, don’t fret. With these guidelines, you’re well-equipped to store, reheat, and enjoy your crabs all over again. And for all the crab enthusiasts out there, keep exploring, keep cooking, and most importantly, keep enjoying!

Bonus: Crab-tivating Facts and Trivia

Did you know that crabs communicate by drumming or waving their pincers?

Or that the largest crab in the world is the Japanese spider crab, with legs that can span up to 12 feet?

Did you know crabs are known to regenerate their limbs? So, if a crab loses a leg or a claw, it can grow it back in subsequent molting cycles.

You’ll definitely want to try our recipe below for awesome steamed crab legs with lemon and butter! Share what you think in the comments!

Simple Steamed Crabs with lemon and butter

Course: DinnerCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



Steaming is one of the best ways to cook crabs, as it retains their natural sweetness and juiciness. This straightforward recipe will have you enjoying perfectly cooked crabs in no time.


  • 4-6 live crabs (blue crab, dungeness crab, or your choice)

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 cup beer or white wine (optional for added flavor)

  • 2 tablespoons sea salt

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar

  • 1 lemon, sliced

  • Old Bay seasoning or your preferred crab seasoning (optional)


  • Prepare the Crabs: If you’re using live crabs, it’s essential to clean them before cooking. Rinse the crabs thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Set Up the Steamer: In a large pot, add the water, beer or wine (if using), sea salt, and vinegar. Place a steamer basket or rack inside the pot, ensuring it sits above the liquid level.
  • Heat the Liquid: Bring the liquid mixture to a boil over high heat.
  • Add the Crabs: Once boiling, place the crabs in the steamer basket or on the rack. You can sprinkle them with Old Bay seasoning or your preferred crab seasoning for added flavor. Place the lemon slices on top.
  • Steam the Crabs: Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the crabs to steam for about 20-30 minutes. The exact time will depend on the size and type of crab you’re using. You’ll know they’re done when they turn a bright orange-red color.
  • Serve and Enjoy: Once cooked, carefully remove the crabs from the pot using tongs. Serve them on a large platter with melted butter, lemon wedges, and additional seasoning if desired.


  • Prepare a dipping sauce of melted butter with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of seasoning for a delightful accompaniment.

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