A crustacean that has its skeleton on the outside protecting a soft, flavoursome flesh. There are many varieties of crabs. The most commonly eaten crab in the UK is the common edible or brown crab that weighs up to 3kg and contains plenty of sweet, succulent flesh. Female crabs have sweeter flesh than males.


Crabs are generally in season from April until November.

Choose the best

Choose crabs that feel heavy and don't have liquid sloshing around inside them. If you like white meat buy a cock or male crab. When buying from a fishmonger it is better to buy the crab while it is still alive.

Prepare it

Crabs can react violently to being placed directly into boiling water by shooting their claws. As a result it is considered most humane to place them in a freezer before cooking for at least 2 hours so they become comatose and die. However, the method is only humane if done quickly in a large freezer at a temperature of -18 C.

The most common method used in restaurants is the mechanical destruction method, and this involves using a knife to pierce underneath the crab's abdominal flap. This should only be practiced by trained professionals; the procedure should not take more than 10 seconds and must be carried out once the crab has been desensitised by chilling.

Remove the crab from the freezer and plunge into a pan of salted boiling water, bring it back to the boil and cook it for 30 minutes per kilo, cool rapidly, then dress.

It is vital you remove the grey gills from the body, called 'dead man's fingers' as these are very tough and indigestible.

Store it

Fresh crabs should be eaten immediately. Alternatively, freeze cooked crabs and use within three months.

Cook it

Boiled and served with mayonnaise or in a Mediterranean-style stew laden with garlic and tomatoes.


Try langoustine, lobster or Dublin Bay Prawn.

You may also like

Skills & know how

As well as helping you decide what to cook we can also help you to cook it. From tips on cookery techniques to facts and information about health and nutrition, we’ve a wealth of foodie know how for you to explore.

About BBC Good Food

We’re all about good recipes, and about quality home cooking that everyone can enjoy. Whether you’re looking for some healthy inspiration or learning how to cook a decadent dessert, we’ve trustworthy guidance for all your foodie needs.

Our recipes

All our recipes are tested thoroughly by us to make sure they’re suitable for your kitchen at home. We know many of you are concerned about healthy eating, so we send them to a qualified nutritionist for thorough analysis too.

Tell us what you think…

Love the new look or think we’ve missed the mark? We want to hear your thoughts – good and bad – to make sure we make the new website as useful as possible.


Subscribe to BBC Good Food magazine and get triple-tested recipes delivered to your door, every month.


Discover the dates and details of all the BBC Good Food Shows.


See your favourite chefs on Sky Channel 247, Virgin TV 260 and find their recipes at

Follow us

Join the BBC Good Food community by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google Plus.