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posted December 18, 2018

Grilled Crab Legs with Seasoned Garlic Butter

These grilled crab legs are topped with a tasty seasoned butter and cooked perfectly on the grill or smoker. You’ll never go back to steaming them!

A pile of grilled crab legs cut in half on a wood cutting board next to bowls of dipping sauce.

How to Grill Crab Legs

To grill these king crab legs, I start by splitting them in half down the length of the legs. Some fish mongers sell the legs already split, some will happily split them for you, or if you’ve got strong hands and great kitchen shears, you can split them yourself. Having the legs split is a key for optimal results on the grill. It allows all of the flavor from the fire and the seasoned butter to penetrate the sweet crab meat.

If you are using snow crab legs, you can follow the same time and temperature guidelines written in the recipe below, but toss the entire crab leg clusters in the seasoned butter before grilling instead of splitting the smaller legs. Serve with more of the seasoned butter for dipping. Oh, and lots and lots of napkins.

seasoned crab legs cut in half lengthwise sitting on the grill grates of a grill.

How Long to Grill Crab

I recommend cooking your crab legs on a low temperature, around 225 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes. As all commercially sold crab is pre-cooked in the US, all you need to do is reheat the crab meat. I use indirect heat (meaning no fire or coals directly under the crab legs) with the overall temperature of my grill hovering in that 225 degrees F zone.

Smoked Crab Legs

If you want to add smoke, you can make your grilled crab legs on a smoker or add a foil packet of wood chips with holes poked all around the pouch on top of the fire in your grill. These smoked crab legs are fantastic with mild woods like pecan or alder for a mellow smoke flavor. If you want that smoke to be more prominent, I recommend using a stronger wood like oak or hickory. Remember, these smoked crab legs are only in that grill for 30 minutes, but they will take on a bit of smoke.

Seasoned and grilled crab leg meat being dipped in a white bowl of butter.

How Much Grilled Crab Legs Per Person

If you are serving the crab as the main course, I would plan on 1 1/2 to 2 pounds per person. Remember, you lose a lot in the weight of the shells (which are discarded). If you are serving as a side dish, like with my Garlic Butter Prime Rib, then you can plan around 1 pound per adult.

Grilled Crab Leg Recipe

grilled crab legs

Grilled Crab Legs

Susie Bulloch (
These grilled crab legs are topped with a tasty seasoned butter and cooked perfectly on the grill or smoker. You'll never go back to steaming them!
4 from 1 vote
Prep Time : 30 mins
Cook Time : 30 mins
Total Time : 1 hr
Servings : 4 people
Calories : 597kcal



  • 6 pounds king crab legs (split lengthwise)

Seasoned Garlic Butter

  • 1 cup salted butter (melted)
  • 4 Tablespoons basil (chopped)
  • 8 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 2 Tablespoons Sweet Rub


  • Preheat your grill or smoker to 225 degrees F for indirect cooking. 
  • Make sure all of your crab legs are split and free of shell fragments. Set them split side up on a baking sheet.
  • Combine all ingredients for the seasoned garlic butter in a bowl.
  • Spoon the butter over the exposed meat of the crab. Reserve any additional butter for serving with the finished crab.
  • Place the split crab legs on the grill grates, shell side down. Close the lid and grill/smoke for 25-30 minutes or until the crab is heated through.
  • Serve immediately with more of the hot, melted seasoned butter and fresh lemon wedges. 


My SWEET RUB can now be purchased at


Calories: 597kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 29g | Cholesterol: 193mg | Sodium: 1831mg | Potassium: 509mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1760IU | Vitamin C: 43.6mg | Calcium: 194mg | Iron: 4.1mg
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