How to Buy Fresh King Crab

Updated April 17, 2017

King crabs are harvested from the Pacific Ocean in the waters around Alaska and Russia, and come in three varieties: blue, red and golden. Flash-frozen cooked king crab legs are available year-round, but fresh king crab is only available in season (between October and January) and can be ordered online. Crabmeat deteriorates very quickly, so order it to be shipped overnight and prepare the crab the day you receive it.

Research online purveyors of king crab a few days before you plan to eat the crab. Contact reputable sellers to ensure that they'll have a fresh catch available when you want to order. Calculate the amount of crab to purchase, assuming about 1.5 to 2 pounds per person.

Decide what kind of crab you want---red, blue or golden. Red king crabs are considered the most desirable and are usually the most expensive. Expect to pay about £19 per pound. Your decision may be based on personal preference, or on what the seller has available.

If the seller can accommodate you, place your order in advance to be shipped overnight the day before you'll be cooking the crab. If you can't order in advance, place your order the day before serving the crab and use overnight delivery.

When you receive your crabs, refrigerate them immediately and keep them chilled until you steam them for eating.


Unfrozen king crab legs are unlikely to appear at the market as most of the catch is fresh-frozen on the fishing boats. Because crabmeat deteriorates very quickly after the animal dies, king crab at the store that has never been frozen will probably lack a firm texture and sweet taste. Occasionally live king crabs become available at the fish market. Purchase crabs that are active in the tank; sluggish crabs aren't healthy and their meat will be mushy. Most aficionados of king crab agree that the best way to eat fresh crab is steamed with butter on the side. Other dishes can be made with less expensive frozen or canned crab.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Credit card
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About the Author

Melanie Novak has been a writer and editor for more than 10 years and holds a master's in journalism and a bachelor's in comparative literature. Her work has appeared in numerous regional and national publications. She writes mainly about music, medicine, house and garden, environmental issues and design.