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posted December 21, 2021

Grilled Crab Legs with Seasoned Garlic Butter

It doesn’t get much better than these grilled crab legs! When you’re looking to cook your own crab legs at home, reach for this recipe that cooks them with a tasty seasoned garlic butter. They’ll be the best grill crab legs you ever have. I guarantee it.

Grilled crab legs on a large white platter with text overlay - Grilled Crab Legs.

Can You Grill Crab Legs?

Most folks are familiar with boiling or steaming crab legs. This process is fine and dandy, but cooking them on the grill covered in a seasoned garlic butter will change the way you view crab legs.

Yes, you can most definitely grill crab legs. The char from the grill imparts amazing flavor, and the process is easy and straightforward.

Crab leg being cut lengthwise by a pair of kitchen shears.

Grilled King Crab Legs

It rarely feels like Christmas without a platter of steaming grilled crab legs alongside my traditional prime rib. The holidays are begging for a fancy entree, and these grilled crab legs fit the bill!

I prefer to cook king crab legs, but you can substitute with Dungeness crab legs or snow crab legs as well. 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 seasoned butter for dipping. Oh, and don’t forget the napkins! Serve these with lots and lots of napkins.

Seasoned garlic butter being brushed on king crab legs.

How to Grill Crab Legs

These crab legs make the perfect holiday meal or anytime you’re looking for a fancier meal. It’s definitely our go-to special occasion recipe. Here’s the 411 on how to grill crab legs:

  1. Split the legs. Begin by splitting the crab legs in half down the length of the legs. Some fishmongers 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. Splitting the legs prior to cooking them on the grill is key for the best flavor. It allows all of the flavors from the fire and the seasoned butter to penetrate the sweet crab meat.
  2. Season. Combine the ingredients for the seasoned garlic butter (melted butter, chopped basil, garlic, lemon juice, and Sweet Rub) in a bowl. Spoon the butter over the exposed crab meat. Set the rest aside to serve with the grilled crab.
  3. Grill. With your gas grill or charcoal grill preheated to 225 degrees F, place the seasoned crab legs shell side down on the grill grates, close the lid, and grill for around 30 minutes. 
  4. Enjoy. Remove the grilled crab legs to a serving platter and serve immediately with the reserved seasoned garlic butter as well as another bowl of melted butter. Dig in!

Seasoned king crab legs on the grill.

How Long to Grill Crab Legs

I recommend cooking your crab legs at 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.

Thse crab legs are best cooked over indirect heat (meaning no fire or coals directly under the crab legs) with the overall temperature of the grill hovering around 225 degrees F. If you need a refresher on preparing your grill for indirect heat cooking, refer to my post on How to Cook with Two-Zone Grilling.

Grilled crab legs on a large white platter.

How Much Grilled Crab Legs Per Person

If you are serving these crab legs as the main course, plan on 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of legs per person. Remember, you lose a lot in the weight of the shells (which are discarded). Purchase extra crab if you’re worried about having enough meat for everyone.

If you are serving grilled crab legs as a side dish, like with my Garlic Butter Prime Rib, grill 1 pound of crab legs per adult. Crab legs can get pricey, so I like to serve them with an additional main dish so there is plenty of food for everyone. 

Forkful of grilled crab meat dripping with melted butter.

Grilled Crab Leg Recipe

Now that you have everything ready to go, it’s time to make these grilled crab legs! Check out the printable recipe card below for full ingredients and instructions. Once you’ve enjoyed these, be sure to leave a review in the comments section below. We love hearing from you!

This post was originally published in December 2018. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

Grilled crab legs on a large white platter.

Grilled Crab Legs

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

Video

Ingredients
 

  • 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 (recipe in notes)

Instructions

  • Preheat. Preheat your grill to 225 degrees F for indirect cooking. 
  • Split the legs. Split your crab legs by cutting them lengthwise using a pair of sharp kitchen shears. Remove any shell fragments. Set the legs split side up on a baking sheet.
  • Season the crab. 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.
  • Grill. Place the split crab legs on the grill grates, shell side down. Close the lid and cook for 25-30 minutes or until the crab is heated through.
  • Enjoy. Serve immediately with more of the hot, melted seasoned butter and fresh lemon wedges. 

Notes

Nutrition

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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