Karl’s Cracked Crab and Crackers

This is hardly a recipe, but it is a traditional family meal in California. Crab season was late this year, but it has finally become safe to eat the Dungeness crab. I bought three for five people.

Karl’s Cracked Crab and Crackers

Karl’s Cracked Crab and Crackers

The hard parts of serving cracked crab is first the cleaning and then the intense concentration it takes to get the tasty meat out of the shells. There is very little conversation, while the diners focus on the task at hand. When Jan and I were young our mothers would serve saltines with the crab, but I learned to make may own crackers and nothing beats homemade.

Karl’s Cracked Crab and Crackers


1-2 batches of Karl’s Rosemary Valentine Crackers (see note below)

½+ Dungeness crab/person (about 1 lb. of meat and shell)

2 Tbs. butter/person

1 clove garlic, crushed/person


1. Make one or two batches of rosemary crackers.

Tip: If you do not want to go to the effort of making these delicious and addicting crackers, you can always use saltines.

Note: In the cracker recipe I made them heart shaped for Valentine’s Day. For this meal you may simply cut the crackers into squares.

2. Clean and break the crab into pieces.

Tip: This is a messy process. I prefer to clean and break apart the crab at the sink. I also pre-crack the legs, so that my diners have an easier time. You are simply trying to crack the shells, not to break the legs into pieces—this is special problem with the large claw shells.

Note: Most stores in California sell Dungeness crab pre-cooked.

3. Put the butter and garlic into individual ramekins.

4. Put the ramekins in the microwave and heat them until the butter has just melted.

Tip: Keep a close eye while you are microwaving the butter. It will boil over if it gets too hot.

5. Cover your table with a water proof tablecloth and/or lots of newspapers.

6. Serve the crab and crackers with a salad and lots and lots of paper napkins.

Tip: Nutcrackers and picks are also very useful tools for eating this meal, but you can make do with a wooden toothpick.

7. Diners struggle to remove the bits of meat from the shell, dip it in the garlic butter, and then eat it on a cracker.

Crab and Cracker Ready to Eat

Crab and Cracker Ready to Eat

Note: We actually had a little crab left at the end of the meal—mmmm, crab omelets for breakfast!

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Filed under Main Dishes, Seafood

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