How to De-Shell a Crab

Crabs are saltwater crustaceans that are included in many different cuisines around the globe. Crabs can be bought whole or alive and must be shelled before they are cooked and eaten. Once the crabs are boiled, they are ready to be shelled. The shelling process does not take very long and you can shell a crab with a few simple kitchen utensils. Once you de-shell a crab, use the shell and legs to make a seafood stock.

Rinse the crab and dry it with a paper towel. Remove the crab legs by twisting and pulling them out of their joints.

Hold onto the bottom of the crab with one hand and pop off the top shell by hooking your fingers under it near the front seam and lifting it up and over to the back of the crab. Pull the top shell off. Look for an orange sac near the meat of the crab. If you see one, it is crab roe, or crab eggs. Scrape out the eggs with a spoon and save them, as some people find them a delicacy and will want to eat them.

Turn the crab over and look for the apron of the bottom half of the shell, which is either a bell shape or an upside-down triangular T shape. Insert the tip of a paring knife under the end of the apron flap and pry it up from where it ends at the centre of the bottom of the crab shell. Lift the apron up and back off the crab. Pry off the remaining bottom shell by inserting the tip of a paring knife under it and prying up toward the front of the crab. Scrape away the gills located on the right and left sides of the crabmeat with a spoon. Remove the intestine, which is located along the centre of the crab's back.

Place a sharp chef's knife in the centre of the crabmeat and press down with even pressure to cut it in half.


You can crack open the legs with a mallet and dig out the crabmeat from inside of the shells.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper towel
  • Paring knife
  • Spoon
  • Sharp chef's knife
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About the Author

Alexis Rohlin is a professional writer for various websites. She has produced works for Red Anvil Publishing and was one of the top 10 finalists in the 2007 Midnight Hour Short Story Contest for Rohlin holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in English from Madonna University.