The sun rays are getting warmer. Fireflies begin to flash. You can feel it in the air: It’s summertime. And what’s more summer-centric than a backyard crab-picking feast?
It’s a great way to catch up with friends or bring the neighborhood together, and an interactive get-your-hands-dirty meal that adults and kids alike enjoy. We recently threw a backyard crab feast (complete with grilled fish too!), and have shared our step-by-step list below for prepping, cooking and entertaining.
Feel free to put your own spin on our list below to fit your space, taste and guest list.
Pick your spot
Have a roomy backyard? Just put out some folding tables and chairs and, wa-lah!, outdoor dining! Have a screened-in porch? String those lights and make that your dining area. Or if weather has put you indoors, be sure you throw down an area rug (one you don’t care if it gets dirty), and have plenty of crab paper/newspaper to cover your table.
Invite your guests
Once you know who and how many people are coming, you can determine how much to order — as well as any food preferences and allergies.
Order your crab (and other seafood!)
Since we have next-day shipping, ordering doesn’t need to be first on our list, but it’s a good idea to start checking out what’s in season early so you can start planning your menu. For example, we have differing sizes of crab legs and varying kinds of salmon, halibut, cod and other fish on any given week. Plan to order your food two days before your meal, so you have time for it to defrost in your fridge overnight.
Pick your recipes
For 15 people, we’d recommend a hefty portion of crab (15-20 lbs.) + dipping sauces + 4-5 sides. We also did a few loaves of sliced multigrain and pumpernickel bread for the table. Twenty pounds of crab may sound like a lot, but keep in mind that Alaska King Crab legs are about a pound each (and could be two feet long). One to two legs a person is a good estimate, depending on how hungry your guests are! Remember, you’ll also be supplementing the meal with side dishes.
During our meal, we also added in some salmon to the mix. If you want to do the same and are trying to figure out serving sizes, we find that one king crab leg equals about 6 oz. of fish.
Here are some sides and sauces we recommend that we did with our feast: Summer Succotash, Arugula Salad, Roasted Potatoes with Corn on the Cob, and Hush Puppies.
Lastly, some ideas for crab dipping sauces include a standard butter sauce, basil-mint pesto sauce, ancient miso dipping sauce, rouille sauce — find these recipes here.
Make your grocery/supply store list
We have one below to get you started, which you can modify, of course.
- Tables and chairs
- Crab paper to spread out on the table, or newspaper
- Plates, napkins, utensils, cups/glasses. We suggest paper products for easy cleanup. When you’re finished, just roll up the table paper from one end and fold in all the shells and paper products within to toss away.
- Crab Forks and Crab Crackers
- Paper Towels
- Decorations — we strung globe lights from the porch to a tree to add a party ambiance.
- Ice — Get about 50% more than you think — you can never have too much ice.
- Beverages — beer/wine, cocktails, sodas, plenty of water.
- Bread loaves to slice.
- Lemons — slice these up for the table, as many people like to squeeze some on any type of seafood.
- Greenery/centerpieces — plants, leafy greens, candles all do the trick.
- Trays, platters, cutting boards.
- For cooking, depending on how you are cooking your crab or fish, you may need a large stovetop pot to steam or boil, cast iron skillet or grill pan.
Enjoy your meal!
Pick out some tunes or a playlist, and enjoy your summertime crab feast with your friends.
Extra Tip: How to Crack your Crab
To eat your crab legs, hold the crab leg in one hand, and hold onto a crab cracker in your other.
Turn the crab leg sideways. You want the harder sides of the crab leg, rather than the softer middle leg, to fit into your cracking tool. That will give you more leverage. Squeeze the tool until you crack open the shell. Use a long-stemmed fork to remove the crab meat from inside the shell of the leg. Remove the meat, dip in your favorite sauce, and enjoy!
You may be able to twist the crab leg at its joints to crack the shell at the ends, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to slide out an intact piece of meat when you do!
Because King Crabs have teeth-sharp bumps on their legs, consider wrapping the leg in a towel and snap it to avoid cutting your hands on the sharp shells.