Bust out the butter and the napkins because it’s all about Grilled King Crab Legs! Succulent, sweet meat gets to new levels of deliciousness when grilled over an open flame. Easy to make and always impressive, jazz up your next grilled meal and seafood recipes with this show-stopping entree!

Grilled king crab legs on a paper with lemons and herbs.

When it comes to crab, we are always on the hunt to try all the varieties! And these are, Whoa! A lot of bang for a lot of bucks! But, for a special occasion, it’s worth it. 

Cooked over a campfire or your backyard BBQ, grilled crab legs are always a delicious treat. We love grilling them and then passing out napkins and grilled lemons to go with them. 

Digging into meaty legs drizzled with grilled lemon and herb butter is just about the best thing on the planet. A cold beer or glass of wine and fabulous sides complete the feast – the only question is, who would you invite?

Platter of butter basted king crab, lemons and fries.

What Are Grilled King Crab Legs?

King crab, specifically the popular Alaskan king crab, comes from the cold waters of the North Pacific Ocean. The primary harvesting grounds for Alaskan king crab are the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. These regions are known for their icy temperatures and nutrient-rich waters, creating an ideal habitat for these large crustaceans.

There are a few varieties of king crab, the most common being Alaskan Red King Crab. Some other king crab species include jumbo red king crab, golden king crab, and blue king crab!

Because king crab meat is already extremely tender and sweet, you don’t have to do too much to it! In this recipe, we use one of our favorite cooking methods – grilling. We grill these bad boys right on the grill grates with a little lemon. Then, we served them up with a delicious chimichurri butter. It’s the perfect recipe for a romantic dinner or special occasion!

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SNOW CRAB AND KING CRAB LEGS

Frozen and fresh crab legs are available from seafood purveyors and the seafood counter of most large supermarkets. 

Snow crabs have thinner legs with a softer shell that can easily be snipped or snapped open. The meat is tender and has a natural sweetness, but there’s not a lot of it, and you’ll need to go through quite a few crab legs to fill up.

Alaskan king crab legs, however, are another story. Possibly harder to find – depending on where you live – these are like snow crab legs on steroids. They’re massive in comparison and have a hard, spiny shell that you’ll need to cut through with kitchen shears or a good, sharp knife.

The trouble is well worth it! The luscious white meat is silky and delicate and comes out easily in big chunks, so you can sink your teeth into it.

Pile of king crab on a black tray.

HOW TO BUY KING CRAB LEGS

  • King crabs can come in different sizes, but they’re often sized by how many crab legs would be in 10 pounds. So, size 12-14 crab legs means there are about 12-14 crab legs per pound. 
  • When grilling king crab legs, look for medium-sized crab legs (small is around 4-7, jumbo king crab legs can be up to 21-24.) Medium-sized crab legs will be more affordable but still yield plenty of meat for their value.
  • You can buy crab legs fresh or frozen. Frozen ones are still good quality as they’re frozen right off the boat to preserve their freshness. If using frozen crab legs, be sure they’re thoroughly thawed before grilling them. 
  • We watch for when they are in season and buy them from Costco, just like fresh Dungeness crab legs.
Ingredients for buttery grilled crab on a tray.

King Crab Legs Ingredients

  • King crab legs – thaw them in the refrigerator overnight if previously frozen.
  • Butter – salted or unsalted butter is fine.
  • Shallot – finely minced or smoked garlic confit.
  • Salt
  • Cilantro – fresh and finely chopped for the chimichurri butter.
  • Parsley – also for the chimichurri butter.
  • Red pepper flakes – to give the chimichurri butter a bit of a kick.
  • Lemons – Count on about ½ lemon per person.

How to Make King Crab Legs

  • Prep the grill for indirect heat by building a hot side with coals. If using a grill with burners, keep one side of the grill hot and the other side cooler.
  • Place the crab legs on the direct heat side of the grill to grill crab legs. 
  • Rotate the crab legs to prevent burning.
  • Move the crab legs to the cooler side once heated through. It won’t take long to cook red king crab legs over a hot grill.
  • Char the lemons on the hot side of the grill, then set them aside.

TO MAKE THE CHIMICHURRI BUTTER

  • Add a small cast-iron pan to the hot side of the fire, add the shallots, and saute until soft.
  • Move the pan to the cooler side and add the butter to melt.
  • Stir in the chopped herbs and red pepper flakes.
  • Season with salt to taste.

TO SERVE:

  • Split the crab legs with a knife or kitchen shears, and baste the split crab legs with the butter.
  • Serve immediately with charred lemons (or fresh lemon wedges) and additional butter for dipping.
Hand basting the crab legs with a brush dipped in chimichurri butter.

Girl Carnivore Expert Recipe Tips

  • Make the Butter Ahead of Time: The butter can be made ahead of time on the stovetop, so it’s ready to go when the crab legs are hot. Keep it over low heat to keep it warm.
  • Have the Prep Ready: Cooking crab legs on the grill doesn’t take long, so have everything prepped and ready to go when you start cooking.
  • Acid Adds Flavor: Don’t skip the lemons! Fresh lemon juice adds so much to the crab and cuts the richness of the butter.
  • Play Around with Different Seasonings: If you want to jazz things up, feel free to season the chimichurri butter with some old bay seasoning.

What to Serve With King Crab Legs

Serve Grilled King Crab Legs with napkins, the extra butter for dipping (keep it warm on the grill), and the charred lemon. 

You can also turn this into a seafood feast with dishes like Garlic Butter Shrimp and grilled salmon

Serve with regular or sweet potato fries to keep this a finger-food meal.

Bright red king crab legs dripping in herbaceous butter with lemons.

Leftovers & Reheating

King crab (and any shellfish) is very perishable, even if refrigerated. If you don’t gobble up your crab right away, refrigerate the leftovers for a day, maybe 2.

PRO TIP: Make sure your crab legs come to room temperature before reheating.

To reheat, you have three options: 

Boil Method

  1. Grab your leftover crab legs from the fridge.
  2. Fill a pot with a couple of inches of water and bring it to a simmer. You don’t need a crazy boil, just some good steam.
  3. Toss your crab legs in a steam basket or something that lets the steam through. If you don’t have one, don’t worry – you can throw them straight into the pot. Just make sure they’re not swimming in the water; you want them above the waterline.
  4. Pop a lid on that pot to keep the steam in. Let the crab legs do their thing for about 5-7 minutes. 
  5. Crack one open and give it a taste. If it’s hot all the way through, you’re good to eat it.
  6. Plate up the reheated crab legs with some butter on the side for dipping. Enjoy!

Bake Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place leftover crab legs in a baking dish and add a little water to partially submerge the legs.
  3. Wrap the entire thing in aluminum foil, poke holes to let steam escape, and bake for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Remove and serve with leftover chimichurri butter or plain old melted butter!

Microwave Method

  1. Dampen a paper towel and wrap it around your leftover crab legs.
  2. Wrap again with plastic wrap.
  3. Microwave for at least 2 minutes.
  4. Remove and serve with melted butter!

Need some creative ways to use up leftover crab? Make a delicious Crab Stuffed Chesapeake Omelet, Maryland Crab Cake Sandwich, Smoked Crab Imperial, or some juicy crab cakes!

More Crab Recipes

With their tender texture and hint of sweetness, these delicious king crab legs are perfect for any seafood lover!

Have you tried this recipe? Do us a favor and rate the recipe card with the  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ and drop a comment to help out the next reader.

Grilled King Crab Legs with Chimichurri Butter

5 from 21 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Servings: 6
King crab is only in season from October to January. They have huge legs filled with meat, and these grilled king crab legs are basted in a chimichurri butter for succulent delicious bites!

Ingredients  

  • 5 to 6 lbs fresh king crab legs thawed
  • 8 tbsp butter
  • 1 shallot minced
  • Salt
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Lemons

Instructions 

Prep the grill:

  • Make sure your crab legs are thawed
  • Prep your grill for indirect heat by building a hot side of the grill with the coals or burners heating on side of the grill surface and the other side left cooler.

Grill the crab legs:

  • Place the crab legs over the direct heat side of the grill and allow the legs to grill to heat them up.
  • Rotate the crab legs as needed to prevent burning as they warm
  • Move the legs to the cooler side if needed, making sure all of the king crab legs are heated through.

Make the chimichurri butter:

  • Add a small pan to the hot side of the fire and add the shallots.
  • Saute until softened.
  • Carefully move to the cooler side of the grill.
  • Add the butter to melt.
  • Add the parsley, cilantro, and red pepper flakes.
  • Stir to combine
  • Add the salt and season to taste.

Serve:

  • Char the lemons in the hot side of the grill
  • Split the crab legs with a knife and baste with the butter
  • Serve with charred lemons and additional butter for dipping.

Notes

This recipe would work for snow crab legs, stone crab, or any fresh crab that’s already been steamed you have and want to grill. The chimichurri butter is great on all of it! 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 69g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 199mg | Sodium: 3281mg | Potassium: 790mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 557IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 180mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, seafood
Author: Kita Roberts

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Recipe FAQs

What is chimichurri butter?

Chimichurri is a South American condiment that’s made with fresh herbs, oil, and an acidic element. We’re fusing those flavors into a scrumptious butter that’s oh-so-perfect for dipping and dunking chunks of crab.

​How do you slice open the crab?

Use a kitchen towel or tongs to hold the crab legs steady as you cut through them – they’ll be too hot to hold with your hands. Or use a pair of kitchen shears to cut them open.

How much crab per person?

We usually count on 1 ½ – 2 pounds of crab legs per person.

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.

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5 from 21 votes (20 ratings without comment)

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