Garlic Butter Dungeness Crab is a delicacy yet simple seafood dish in rich, savory garlic butter sauce that you can easily prepare at home.
While making this Garlic Butter Dungeness Crab, the aroma of the garlic butter sauce is so inviting and it enhances the flavor of the crab meat.
Dungeness Crab season starts at the beginning of November and ends in June, so this is the best time to have these delicious crustaceans. It is boiled, cut, then sauteed in garlic butter sauce and roasted.
Dungeness crabs taste quite salty, so no need to season with salt.
One great thing about this crab, the shell is easy to crack open and pick the delicious tender white meat. The skin is so soft that you really don’t need a lobster cracker.
It is fresh and tasty as you would have it in a restaurant like Thang Long and Crustaceans in San Francisco, but it is way cheaper and it doesn’t put a dent in your pocket.
If homemade, it will cost you $15 per Dungeness crab with garlic noodles while at the restaurant, it can easily cost you $150 for two people. No worries of dirtying your beautiful shirt since you are having it at the comfort of your home.
It seems complicated to make this Garlic Butter Dungeness Crab with my long detailed instructions but believe me, it is easy and so worth it, if you make it yourself.
You are saving so much money and for the price you’ll pay at the restaurant, you can make about 10 crabs with noodles.
If you love garlic as I do, roast some garlic to add to your crabs. If you think, this is too much garlic, it is optional. Roasted garlic are soft and creamy and not as pungent as raw ones. It complements the dungeness crabs and noodles so well.
Lemon is another ingredient I love using with this dish. Squeeze lemon over hot crab butter and it is so delicious.
Lemon gives it a refreshing taste while offsetting the richness of butter. Serve extra lemon wedges for people who prefer squeezed lemon over crabs and pasta.
How to Prepare the Dungeness Crab
1. Some stores carry live Dungeness Crabs with claws wrapped in rubber bands. Place crab in the sink in hot running water and leave the rubber bands around the claws for easy handling. Wash and brush crabs before cooking.
2. When boiling crabs, add only a small amount of water. It will release more liquid while cooking.
3. For this recipe, Dungeness crab is half-cooked.
4. If crab was bought cooked, skip steps 1 to 3. If frozen, thaw in fridge.
5. Once cool to touch, hold the crab down and pull the top shell cover from the body.
6. Remove and discard the lungs on both sides of body. These are the feathery gills lining the body and not edible.
7. In the mouth area located at the lower front end, remove the hard parts on both sides.
8. When you flip the Dungeness crab into its underside, the pointy tail flap also known as apron located in the center determines if it’s a male or female.
If narrow, it’s a male and if wider and rounder, it’s a female.
Note: It is illegal to catch female Dungeness crabs, so don’t waste your time looking for a female.
Pull the apron, remove and discard.
9. Here’s the interesting part. The yellow mushy stuff found in the top shell cover and skin of a Dungeness crab is called crab butter or mustard. It is a delicacy to some while to others it’s gross.
If you don’t care for this stuff, wash it off in cold running water, careful not remove the white meat.
If you like it, take a small bowl and scrape out the crab butter inside the shell and in the body. This is how I prepare mine. Set aside.
You can leave the crab butter in the body if you like it mixed with the sauce.
10. While holding the crab on both sides of body, crack it outwards in half. Dungeness crab shell is soft, so you can easily use your hands but you can also use a knife, if preferred.
11. Cut each piece into half.
How to Make Garlic Butter Dungeness Crab
1. Roast whole garlic head. Cut top part of garlic and place in a baking pan. Sprinkle with some olive oil and cover with foil. Bake at 350 deg. F for 50 to 60 minutes. Set aside.
2. Melt butter in low heat in a skillet.
3. Once butter is melted, increase heat between medium low. Saute garlic for about 2 minutes but don’t brown.
4. Stir-in cracked pepper, ground black pepper, chicken bouillon powder and sugar. Cook for a minute.
5. Take about 3 tablespoons sauce to be used with crab butter. Set it aside. This is optional if you want to mix the crab butter with the sauce. I prefer to serve the crab butter on the side.
6. Add dungeness crabs and mix well with the sauce. Turn off heat.
7. Transfer dungeness crabs in a baking pan pouring sauce over crab meat. Separate roasted garlic and spread it over crabs.
If crabs were bought cooked, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cover 5 to 10 minutes before done. Continue baking. If half cooked, do not cover and bake between 25-30 minutes.
8. Bake at 350 deg. F.
9. Serve with lemon. Use a nut or lobster cracker for crab legs.
Note: You can crack the crab legs before cooking, if you like. Also, I don’t season with salt since dungeness are already salty.
How to Prepare Crab Butter
I prefer to serve the crab butter on its own instead of having it with the sauce. That would be less butter, plus this crab butter is precious to some rather having it all over the crabs legs.
The last thing I want is licking the crab legs to get to this creamy rich crab butter. Again, some people are gross out by this but to some this is one of the reason why we buy crabs.
- In the same skillet, add 3 tablespoons of garlic butter sauce.
- Bring to a simmer and add the crab butter.
- Cook for 2 to 3 minutes in low heat. Turn off heat and transfer to a bowl.
- Squeeze ½ or whole lemon and blend well.
- Serve hot with roasted dungeness crabs.
Garlic Butter Dungeness Crab
Roasted Crab Recipe:
- 2 Dungeness Crab 2.75 pounds, half cooked
- 1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 1 head garlic minced
- 1 head garlic roasted
- 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper cracked pounded in a mortar
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- Roast whole garlic head. Cut top part of garlic and place in a baking pan. Sprinkle with some olive oil and cover with foil. Bake at 350 deg. F for 50 to 60 minutes. Set aside.
How to Prepare Cooked or Live Dungeness Crab
- Use store-bought cooked Dungeness crab or live.
- To cook live dungeness crab, wash & clean crab before boiling. Half cook in ½ cup water.
- Open dungeness crab. Remove and discard apron, gills and hard part in mouth area. Refer to post for detailed explanation.
- Scrape out crab butter if you want to serve on the side. Set aside. Otherwise, leave crab butter in body but scrape out the top shell cover and mix it with sauce. If you don’t care for it, wash in running cold water, careful not to remove the white meat.
Cook Garlic Butter Sauce
- In a skillet, melt butter in low heat.
- When butter is melted, saute garlic for about 2 minutes but don’t brown over medium to low heat.
- Add cracked pepper, ground black pepper, chicken bouillon powder and sugar. Cook for a minute.
- Set aside 3 tablespoons garlic butter sauce to cook crab butter separately. This step is optional if you want to mix the crab butter with the sauce.
- Add dungeness crabs and mix well with sauce. Turn off heat.
- Transfer dungeness crabs in baking pan pouring sauce over crab meat. Separate roasted garlic and spread over crabs.
- Bake at 350 deg. F. If crab was bought cooked, cover baking pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cover 5 to 10 minutes before done. Continue baking. If half cooked, do not cover and bake between 25-30 minutes.
- Serve with lemon. Use a nut or lobster cracker for crab legs.
Saute Crab Butter
- In the same skillet, add 3 tablespoons garlic butter sauce.
- Toss-in crab butter over low heat.
- Simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat.
- Transfer crab butter in a small bowl and squeeze ½ or whole lemon.
- Mix well. Serve Hot.
- Serve this dish with Garlic Butter Pasta, if desired.
- To save you time, if serving this dish with Garlic Butter Pasta, make the garlic butter sauce all at once since sauce is similar to Garlic Butter Dungeness Crab. Add another 1/2 stick of butter to sauce. Take 1/2 cup of garlic butter sauce & stir-in oyster sauce then pasta. Click the link for Garlic Noodles for full recipe.
- Cooked dungeness crabs are sold at Costco and Sam's Club.