How to CookDIY FoodTips & Techniques

How to Crack Crabs and Lobsters

7 + Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

Inspired by conversations on the FOOD52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun. Today, Amanda and Merrill are showing us how to crack crabs and lobsters. 

Crab and Lobster

Cooking crabs and lobsters can be slightly daunting -- there's the drama of putting them into a pot of boiling water, and breaking them down is no walk in the park. Luckily A&M happen to have plenty of experience with these clawed creatures. Today, they're sharing their crab and lobster tricks with us, just in time to test recipes that were entered into our shellfish contest.

If you've got any tips or tricks for breaking down crabs and lobsters, share them with us in the comments!  

This video was shot by Alex Lisowski, and edited by Kyle Orosz. 

Tags: Kitchen Confidence, crab, lobster, cracking crab, cracking lobster, shellfish, how-to & diy

💬 View Comments ()

Comments (9)


almost 3 years ago smslaw

Many years ago, there was a restaurant on Vinalhaven Island Maine called "Sands Cove." It specialized in lobster and was very basic-picnic tables, outhouse, sawdust on the floor, BYOB sort of place. Each table had a smooth, round stone about softball size and an oak stick (maybe from an old style wood lobster trap.) Place lobster on stone, smack with stick. Apologize to everyone splattered with lobster juice. Rinse, repeat.


almost 3 years ago busylady

I would starve to death picking crabs like this. First: remove only the large claws, then pull the flap and remove the top shell and clean out the lungs and "innards". Ten grab each joint with your forefinger and thumb and flex it as described by Meganv01. You can often remove large pieces of crab meat with this method. Otherwise with a small knife (I use a small paring knife) remove each joint then cut the half in half again and pick the meat from the chambers. With practice this is an easy task!


almost 3 years ago foodie-pretense

Alton Brown's rolling pin technique is tough to beat...


almost 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Whoa, that is so cool!


almost 3 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

My favorite tool for lobsters and crabs, unless the shell is too hard, is a pair of scissors or shears instead of a cracker. Sometimes, of course, a lobster claw will be so thick that you have to get out a sledge hammer. (That's maybe how aargersi gets covered with shrapnel.)

My husband's family has some Chesapeake roots, and their weapons of choice are wooden crab mallets. Another great way to let the shrapnel and crab guts fly!


almost 3 years ago meganvt01

That was great! After picking crab for 30 years, I learned a new trick this summer. If you want to keep the claw meat intact/whole when you extract it from the shell, flex the thumb joint back and forth one or two times. Tis loosens the meat from the shell and makes it easy to have a pretty little piece of claw meat.


almost 3 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I am not sure you guys did it right because I know from personal experience that the whole kitchen should be covered in shrapnel and you should have crab and lobster guts and goo on your shirts and in your hair. Or, maybe I am doing something wrong? Ha ha!


almost 3 years ago savorthis

You should also have lot of invisible cuts that you are made aware of while dipping into lemony butter.


almost 3 years ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

We got lucky -- these had pretty soft shells. We were prepared to do battle!