How-To & Diy

How to Crack Crabs and Lobsters

September 26, 2012

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.

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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. 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • smslaw
  • busylady
  • foodie-pretense
  • Greenstuff
  • meganvt01
I'm a freelance food and prop stylist, writer/editor, and video producer.


smslaw October 1, 2012
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.
busylady September 30, 2012
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!
foodie-pretense September 27, 2012
Alton Brown's rolling pin technique is tough to beat...
Merrill S. September 28, 2012
Whoa, that is so cool!
Greenstuff September 26, 2012
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!
meganvt01 September 26, 2012
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.
aargersi September 26, 2012
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!
savorthis September 26, 2012
You should also have lot of invisible cuts that you are made aware of while dipping into lemony butter.
Merrill S. September 28, 2012
We got lucky -- these had pretty soft shells. We were prepared to do battle!