If you have ever wondered how to cook Alaskan King Crab Legs on the grill, this simple approach makes it less scary and a great idea for a special occasion meal, especially when you get to dip the rich, wonderful crab meat in an easy, simple lemon garlic butter sauce!

If you are a seafood-lover like we are at our house, be sure to also check out our Pan Seared Scallops, Easy Grilled Shrimp Skewers, and Maine Lobster Rolls!

an aerial view of cooked crab legs on a white plate with lemon wedges a bowl of butter off to the side

How to Cook Alaskan King Crab Legs

When I was planning the recipes I wanted to share for Alaska Week in my American Eats series, I knew I wanted to make Alaskan king crab legs. Mostly because even though I always see them at the store, I had truthfully never actually purchased them before!

An image of a plate full of defrosted Alaskan King Crab Legs, ready to go on the grill.

Those things are pricey! And I felt all intimidated!

Did I need special crab-cracking equipment to eat them? I didn't know how to cook frozen crab legs! Would my family even like the taste of crab legs? What would I serve with them? (Even food bloggers have insecurities when it comes to cooking new foods!)

It turns out my fears were all unnecessary because king crab legs are insanely easy to prepare! 

And I didn't need any special tools or equipment. And yes, my family liked them!

If your family enjoys shrimp, fish, and seafood in general, chances are these are going to go over well with your clan.

And something as simple as some good crusty bread and a nice salad were the perfect sides to serve with crab legs.

Now, while Alaskan king crab legs are on the more expensive side when it comes to a dinner option, it's a great option for special occasions and celebrations or as a splurge every now and then. Just like really amazing steak or other premium cuts of meat.

I did quite a bit of research before deciding to purchase some king crab legs and make it at home. Ultimately I found that there are 4 main ways of preparing king crab legs:

  1. Boiling
  2. Steaming
  3. Baking
  4. Grilling

If you want to know how to boil, steam or bake Alaskan king crab legs, this is a great resource.

But since it is summer, and since Father's Day is coming up, and since grilling is my favorite, I thought it appropriate to share how I made these Alaskan king crab legs on the grill.

An image of a large platter of Alaskan king crab legs garnished with fresh dill, lemon wedges, and garlic butter.

How to Cook Crab Legs on the Grill

It's actually SO easy to cook crab legs on the grill that I almost feel a little weird posting this.

Except that if you are anything like me, you may have seen crab at the store (there are often gorgeous displays of them at booths at Costco) and wondered how in the heck to prepare them or who buys it!

Here's the thing:  did you know it takes less than 10 minutes to cook king crab legs on the grill?!

I know! I was shocked!

See, basically ALL king crab that we see in the lower 48 has already been cooked up in Alaska and then flash frozen. Crab meat is very delicate and it just doesn't ship without being cooked and frozen first.

So you aren't actually cooking so much as reheating!

Here is how you do it:

  1. Heat the grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Lightly brush the outside of the crab legs with olive oil.
  3. Place the crab legs on the grill and cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for 4-5 minutes more until the meat is hot all the way through.
  4. Remove from the grill and cut open the underside of the crab legs (the white, smoother part, not the spiny, bright reddish-orange part) using kitchen shears and crack open the split shell with your fingers.
  5. Pull the crab meat out, dunk in melted butter, and enjoy!

It's totally okay to buy king crab legs frozen and let them defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Although many stores like Costco, or the seafood counters at large grocery stores, will already have defrosted them for you, which makes things that much easier.

But don't buy defrosted crab legs and then refreeze them - they won't taste fresh when you finally get around to defrosting them (again) and eating them.

An image of a platter of Alaskan King Crab Legs, ready to go onto the grill, is an easy solution for how to cook frozen crab legs.

Because all the king crab we get is frozen, we pretty much have access to it year round, although it is only harvested from the Bering Sea during the winter months and during short periods in July and September.

King crab has spiny, hard shells and long legs that are loaded with silky, wonderful crab meat that comes out easily in large chunks that are absolutely delicious dunked in melted butter.

All you need to get to that yummy crab meat is a good pair of kitchen shears. Or just steal your kids strong craft scissors if that's how you roll. Although if you have crab & seafood shears, by all means use those.

What I'm basically saying is that it's not hard at all to cut open those crab legs and get at the meat inside.

An image of a platter of Alaskan King Crab Legs being cut open with kitchen shears to get to the crab meat inside.

Crab legs yield about 50% meat, so purchasing 16-24 ounces of crab legs for 2 people yields about 8-12 ounces of crab meat, which is about 4-6 ounces per person.

That's plenty, I think, because it's such a rich, succulent protein, especially when it gets bathed in a super simple lemon garlic butter before popping those large chunks of crab meat into your mouth.

An image of a hand dunking a large chunk of Alaskan King Crab Leg meat into melted garlic butter.

What to Serve with Crab Legs

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How to Cook Alaskan King Crab Legs

4.81 from 21 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
If you have ever wondered how to cook Alaskan King Crab Legs on the grill, this simple approach makes it less scary and a great idea for a special occasion meal, especially when you get to dip the rich, wonderful crab meat in an easy, simple lemon garlic butter sauce!


  • 2 pounds Alaskan king crab legs thawed in the refrigerator
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup butter melted
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Lemon wedges for serving


  • Preheat grill to around 300 to 350 degrees F.  Brush the crab legs with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Place crab legs on the grill for 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 4-5 minutes on the other side until the meat is hot all the way through.  
  • Remove the crab legs from the grill and cut open using kitchen shears. 
  • Serve with the melted butter mixed with the garlic and lemon juice for dipping.


Calories: 253kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 677mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 723IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I have always wondered about cooking crab legs at home but never knew how to do it!! This is such great information, and so clear and simple! I need to grill me some crab legs now!

  2. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh! My mouth was watering when looking at these gorgeous delicious images! I made this quick easy recipe this past weekend, and boy did they turn out great. If cost wasn't a factor, I'd enjoy having these at least twice a week! 🙂

      1. 5 stars
        CLarified butter, or what I use, Ghee, simply tastes better and had a better, silkier feel. Plus, you dont have all of those globs of milk fat floating around in your butter.

        1. Jeff - I totally agree! Once you use Clarified Butter or Ghee, you will never use regular butter again.

  3. 5 stars
    Your preparation instructions made the king crab come out perfect. Many are afraid to either undercook or overcook, and king crab is too expensive to mess up. Thank you for posting!

  4. Thank you for sharing your way to cook Alaskan king crab legs. Your information is very inspiring and helpful .
    I’m actually making them today!

  5. We get crabs out of the water, y put them back in water when you cook them!  Beer, old bay, garlic (half tsp.) and vinegar makes the best tasting of all.  But some ppl will eat the plain tasting legs and swear that they are so good tasting. If they cooked them like this, their taste buds would rejoice!🙃🙃🙃