Sautéed Soft Shell Crab

These soft shell crabs are not only a delicacy but also a spectacular treat. Slightly coated with seasoned flour and sautéed for a few minutes, these delights are incredibly easy to prepare at home. Served on a soft grilled roll or with a colorful salad, this is one of the most luscious seafood dishes to indulge in.
Soft Shell Crab pinit

About This Soft Shell Crab Recipe

I love crab. But getting the meat out of its hard, sharp, and thick shells can be quite the challenge sometimes.

Though, on the other hand, soft shell crabs can be eaten almost entirely without any hassle. Yes! Including the shell! Isn’t that amazing?

These soft shell crabs are basically normal crabs that, during their growing process, molt — meaning, they shed their shell and make a new one. The hardening of the new shell can take a few hours, which is when these crabs need to be caught.

Since their catching is so time-sensitive, soft shell crabs are usually caught prior to shedding, monitored until the molting is complete, and then shipped to restaurants and markets or frozen immediately.

Typically, soft shell crabs are deep-fried, sautéed, or even grilled, and they can be served with salads, pasta, or on a slightly toasted roll with mayonnaise or tartar sauce.

Soft shell crabs are highly prized dishes at restaurants, but luckily, they are also very easy to prepare at home. With just a little bit of flour and a couple of seasonings, this recipe creates a real seafood delicacy.

These soft shell crabs have a lovely crispness on the outside and succulent and tender meat inside, and they are incredibly sweet, juicy, and bursting with flavor.

Soft Shell Crab

What You Need for This Sautéed Soft Shell Crab Recipe

Soft Shell Crab Recipe Ingredients

Ingredient Notes

  • Soft Shell Crabs: I have used frozen soft shell crabs that I have defrosted before cooking.
  • Flour: I have used flour to coat the crabs because it gives a lovely crunchy exterior.
  • Seasonings: Because crab has a delicate flavor, I have opted to season them just with salt and pepper.
  • Butter: I prefer unsalted butter as it allows me to control the salt quantity.

Soft Shell Crab

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Flour: Flour will give a nice crunch to the crabs, but you can substitute it with cornstarch.
  • Butter: I like using unsalted butter, but you can use salted butter instead; just reduce the amount of salt added to the flour.

Soft Shell Crab


Can I use live soft shell crabs for this recipe?

Yes, of course. Live soft shell crabs are perfect for this recipe, but they are not easy to find. If you manage to find them live, just be careful when selecting them. If they are fresh, they should smell clean and just like the sea. You will also need to clean fresh crabs before cooking them by removing the mouthparts, the feathery gills, and the abdominal cover.

How can I serve these soft shell crabs?

You can serve them as they are, drizzled with some lemon juice. Or if you want a more filling meal, serve them over a crunchy and colorful salad, with pasta, or as a sandwich between 2 pieces of toasted roll with lettuce and tomato or coleslaw and a drizzle of mayonnaise or tartar sauce.

Sautéed Soft Shell Crab

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 5 min Cook Time 8 min Total Time 13 mins


Usually considered restaurant-only fare, these sautéed shell crabs are a seafood delicacy that’s incredibly easy to prepare at home in just a few minutes.

Yield: 4 servings


How To Cook Sautéed Soft Shell Crab Step By Step

  1. Mix the flour with salt and pepper in a bowl.

    Soft Shell Crab Recipe Step 1
  2. Remove any moisture from the crabs by drying them with paper towels and then gently toss them in the flour until they are well coated.

    Soft Shell Crab Recipe Step 2
  3. Heat and melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Place the coated crabs in the pan with their underside down first and arrange their legs to cook as evenly as possible.

    Soft Shell Crab Recipe Step 3
  4. Cook for about 4 minutes, then flip them on the other side and cook for another 4 minutes.

    Soft Shell Crab Recipe Step 4
  5. Your soft shell crabs are ready to be enjoyed!

    Soft Shell Crab Recipe Step 5-1

    Soft Shell Crab Recipe Step 5-2


  • To get the exterior crunchy, do not overcrowd the pan. If you have more crabs, cook them in batches, adding more butter if needed for each batch.