How to Grill King Crab Legs

We are going to grill king crab legs on our gas grill. King crab legs are the big brother to the snow crab legs. They are both bigger and meatier but they grill up just as well if not better. The majority of king crabs legs in the U.S. are sold frozen and they are already cooked. Look at the meat at the end of the shells if it is white it is already cooked.

Click here if you are looking to grill snow crab clusters.

Why grill king crab legs? it actually makes a lot more sense then boiling them, you don’t have to search for a large pot and there will be no fishy smells in your kitchen. It is also a very quick and easy process that gives you great results. In fact I have eaten many a crab leg in my day and the best ones that I have ever eaten have come off of our grill both king and snow crab.

frozen King Crab Legs

The prep work is nothing more than removing your crab legs from the package and rinsing them with cold water. This is to remove the layer of ice on the outside of them. Pictured above is a slightly over one pound package of Alaskan King Crab Legs that cost us just over $10. Then set aside on some paper towels for 5 minutes or pat them dry. There is no real need to defrost them (see below for grilling de-frosted King Crab Legs).

Be careful of the little spikes on the outside of the shells they can hurt.

Grilling king crab legs is a two-step process, first we are thawing them and second is heating them. Remember the meat is already fully cooked.

To grill king crab legs:

Heat your grill to a low to medium low temperature. When using charcoal use a 2 zone setup. One being indirect and one being direct medium heat.

Place your crab legs over the direct low heat and grill for 5 to 8 minutes. They are fully thawed when you can bend a leg at a joint, freely. I always check the largest one since it takes the longest to cook.

Once they are thawed you are ready to heat them up.

King Crab Legs on the grill

Turn the heat up to a medium-high heat, if using charcoal move them to the direct heat zone. and turn them over. Set the king crab legs up so the thicker parts are over the heat and the thinner tips of the legs are off of the heat (image above).

You will be grilling these for 8 to 10 minutes total while turning once.

finished grilled King Crab Legs

That’s all there is quick and easy right?

This post was originally written as a complementary post to one of our most popular articles “How to grill crab legs“. These turned out to be the best crab legs I have ever eaten in my life. So don’t be afraid to grill king crab legs.

Below there are a few optional things but that is it for the basics.

Defrosting: If you want to defrost your king crab legs before grilling leave them in your refrigerator for 2 days. Then grill over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes while turning once.

Foil Pouch: If you want your crab legs to come out more like the steamed crab leg, you can use a foil pouch. First de-ice the legs under cold water. Then wrap 2 or 3 legs loosely in foil and double it up. They will poke through. Place the pouches onto the grill over a direct medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Move the pouches around the grill surface and flip a couple of times during the cook.

King crab legs will get cold quickly. As soon as you remove them from the grill wrap them in foil or place into a pre-warmed covered pan of some type.

Some sites will tell you to brush the Crab Legs with oil and we do not find that step needed at all. The hard shells themselves should prevent sticking.

Other sites will also tell you to season them. I guess that’s fine as long as you don’t mind most of the seasoning falling into the bottom of the grill.

As it turns out there are different types of king crab. Who knew?


aka Sultan of Sizzle

I have been blogging about and selling grilling tool for over 12 years. A Certified Food Safety Professional, KCBS member, award winning writer and have over 10 years experience in the food service industry.

“I have experienced some of the best food this country has to offer and nothing is better than the food that comes off my own grill!”

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How to Grill King Crab Legs
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How to Grill King Crab Legs
Most King Crab legs are sold fully cooked to grill them we must first defrost them over medium-low direct heat for about 5 minutes until the joints bend freely. Then grill over a direct medium-high heat for an additional 5 to 6 minutes.
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One comment

  1. Great post we tried it last night and the king crab was perfect.

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