Can You Freeze Crab? Ultimate Crab Chilling Secrets!

| | ,

Can you freeze crab? You can normally freeze cooked crab meat but you should not freeze uncooked or live crab. Read on for more.

Freezing crab meat is a great way to make sure you always have fresh crab handy for crab cakes and crab soup, all year round! Learn how in this article.

Crab meat has a deliciously unique flavor that pairs well with creamy, buttery sauces. It’s also fantastic for crab soup or crab cakes. The sky’s the limit.

But if you buy crabs in bulk, you may be wondering if you can freeze crab. How would you even go about freezing crab? Shells or no shells? Cook it first? What about thawing?

Never fear. I’ve got the answers to your most pressing questions when it comes to freezing crab meat. Using the proper technique, you can safely and effectively store crab in the freezer.

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive right in.

Can You Freeze Cooked Crab Meat?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze cooked crab! Cooking crab before freezing it is actually the way to go. The cooking process ensures that you don’t experience seafood poisoning when you eat defrosted and reheated crab. This is particularly true if you aren’t a fan of cleaning the insides before freezing it. And really, who does enjoy that?

Can You Freeze Crab Meat in the Shell?

Brown and white crab on black tray

How Long Are Cooked Crabs Good For?

Cooked crab will taste good for up to 3-5 days in the fridge and for two to three months in the freezer. Of course, it’s essential to use proper storage techniques. Use a sealable freezer bag and label it with the date.

Can You Freeze Crab Soup?

Crab soup, or crab bisque, is a luxuriously delicious soup. I particularly enjoy this crab bisque recipe by Delish. It gets its velvety smooth texture from the cream and butter used to enrich the recipe. However, that’s the reason it doesn’t freeze well. The cream will split in the freezer, leaving you with a grainy mess.

But hope is not lost! Simply freeze crab soup before adding the cream. You can then thaw the bisque when you’re ready to eat it. After reheating the soup, stir in the cream.

Is It Safe to Freeze Fresh Crab Meat?

If stored properly, frozen crabs will last for two to three months in the freezer. That’s with the entire crab cooked, cleaned, and frozen whole. If the cooked meat is picked from the shell, you can freeze crab meat for up to six months.

Freezing Crab Legs

Crab legs on ice

If you bought King crab legs, you might be wondering if you can freeze them. You can safely freeze cooked crab legs.

You can even refreeze them if they were thawed in the refrigerator. Crab legs thawed in an ice water bath cannot be refrozen. Inside the fridge, the cooked crab is at the least risk of getting polluted. This way they can safely go through the freezing process.

If your crab legs have shown any sign of spoiling, you should toss them. A simple way to know is by looking at the color. It should be snow-white if it is still fresh and edible. If the color seems dull, you should avoid consuming the meat.

How Long Does Cooked Crab Meat Last in the Fridge?

Cooked crab quickly goes bad if it isn’t stored properly. To maximize the shelf life of cooked crab, never leave it at room temperature longer than is absolutely necessary, less than two hours.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, fresh crab meat can stay in the fridge for 2-4 days.

Store crab meat in its original packaging, in a shallow airtight container, or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place it in the coldest part of the fridge, at the bottom or the back. To keep crab fresh for an extended period of time, freezing it is your best option. It will remain safe for two to four months.

Can You Freeze Crab Cakes?

Crab cakes are one of my favorite appetizers. It only makes sense after prepping a batch of these delicious treats, you might want to keep them for an extended period. The good news is that you can absolutely freeze crab cakes, either raw or already cooked.

To freeze crab cakes, place them on a piece of parchment paper. This will help separate the cakes. Individually wrap them in plastic wrap, then with aluminum foil. Place the foil wrapped cakes in freezer bags and then label it with the date.

Cooked crab cakes will last three or four days in the refrigerator, while raw ones will only last one or two days. In the freezer, raw crab cakes last for 2-3 months, while cooked ones last 4-6 months.

Can You Freeze Canned Crab Meat?

Canned crab meat already comes in sturdy packaging, usually aluminum. The crab meat is first pasteurized and then vacuum sealed to remain fresh longer. You can freeze your unopened canned crab meat before it reaches its expiration date. It will remain edible beyond its expiration date if you store it properly.

Before freezing your canned crab meat, check the packaging to detect any damage to the can. If you notice any leakage or rusting, discard the can. There is no benefit to freezing it in that case, as it may have already spoiled.

You can freeze also opened cans of leftover crab meat to make it suitable for future use. Once opened, it is best to freeze it within two or three days. It should be in the fridge until frozen. If you keep it at room temperature longer than two hours, it will spoil.

Freezing also depends on the quality of the crab meat. If it’s not fresh or has undergone changes in color or smell, freezing canned crab meat in that case would be useless.

Opened canned crab meat can only last three or four days in the refrigerator. Freezing it will preserve it longer. Store fresh meat in an airtight container or freezer bags.

How Long Can You Freeze Crab Meat For?

When stored properly, frozen crab meat is good for up to six months. Cooked crab meat can stay in the freezer for 2-3 months.

Can You Freeze Live Crabs?

I don’t recommend freezing live crabs. Freezing crabs before cooking them means they will die in the freezer. It’s commonly known that you should never cook a dead crab. It’s unsafe, and the longer the crabs have been dead before being cooked, the worse the meat’s quality and taste will be.

The bad taste is the result of the crab’s natural enzymes that are still active after death. These enzymes cause a chemical reaction that alters the taste, even in a frozen state. Additionally, crabs can survive in heavily polluted water. The contaminants they host in their bodies will stay and lead to harmful bacterial growth if not properly handled.

The longer you wait to cook your crabs after they’ve been killed, the worse it gets. So if you freeze crabs before cooking them, all those foul-tasting chemicals are still there when you begin the cooking process.

A good rule of thumb is to kill the crabs by steaming them first before freezing them. Vacuum seal the crabs before freezing them. If you’re worried about the hard shell puncturing the plastic, you can always pick out the meat first before putting it in a sealed bag. That saves room in the freezer, as well.

Can You Freeze Blue Crabs?

Yes, you can freeze blue crab, but it’s better to freeze the blue crab meat and legs instead of whole crabs. If you decide to freeze the whole crab, it will stay fresh for three months. After three months, the crab will be safe to eat, but it won’t have the best quality or taste.

If you want to keep the crab fresh for longer than three months, I recommend freezing the meat and legs separately. When freezing blue crab, it’s essential to freeze the crab meat with the top shell intact. This will maintain the crab’s flavor and texture. Also be sure to steam the crabs first to avoid freezer burn.

It’s not recommended to store uncooked blue crabs in the freezer. There are two reasons for that. The first one is the danger of getting sick from food poisoning. Like most other kinds of seafood, blue crabs are highly perishable and tend to go bad quickly. By freezing them uncooked, when the crab dies, toxins will spread to other parts of the body.

The other reason is the crabmeat will be damaged when it’s frozen. As the crab starts to freeze, the meat will start to expand against the shell. During the defrosting process, the crabmeat will begin to shrink and break apart. Some of the meat will stick to the shell. When you’re ready to cook and eat it, you’ll have a very difficult time trying to remove the meat from the shell.

Can You Freeze Lump Crab Meat?

Crab meat has a short shelf life and will spoil very fast at room temperature. If safely cooked, freezing crab meat will keep for six months. Crab meat will only last up to five days in the refrigerator, so freezing crab meat is a better option.

One option is to take a food-grade, sealed bag (don’t vacuum seal, milk will need room to expand) and place your crab meat inside. Pour whole milk until all the meat is submerged. Freeze it and enjoy crab for up to six months. I’m not exactly sure of the science behind this technique, but it leads to better flavor preservation, and it’s a tried-and-true method.

Can You Freeze Steamed Crabs?

Absolutely! You can freeze steamed crabs. In fact, cooking crabs before freezing them is recommended. After steaming them, store crabs in an airtight container or a sealable bag that’s been vacuum-sealed. For more detailed instructions on freezing crab, follow the instructions in the section below.

Freezing crab meat

How to Freeze Crab Meat

Option 1: Cook, Clean, Pick, and Freeze Crab Meat

If you want fresh crab meat that’s ready to go once thawed, this is the method for you. First, fill a large pot of water three-fourths full and add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a roiling boil and use a pair of tongs to add the fresh crabs to the pot. Cook for 25-30 minutes.

Drain the cooked crabs in a colander and put them under cold running water to cool them down until they reach room temperature. Put the drained crabs on paper towels to dry.

Using your fingers or a pair of kitchen shears, snap off the pointy ends of the claws of the crab legs. Pull off the top of the shell and rinse the inside of the crab with cold water. Pull out the stomach and gills and discard them. Remove the flap and the mouth and discard them as well.

Remove the meat from the crab shell by pulling the legs off the body and breaking them at the joints. Slide the leg meat out with your fingers. Then, use a mallet to break open the body and claws and remove the meat from those areas. Rinse the meat under cold water.

Wrap the crab meat in plastic wrap. Put the wrapped crab in a vacuum-seal bag and label it with the date and type of crab you’re freezing. Use aluminum foil to wrap the sealed bag and put it in the freezer.

Freezing crab meat using this method will keep crab meat fresh for up to 6 months. The thawed crab will be ready to eat immediately. The only downside is that you will lose some of the rich flavor and texture found in fresh crab meat.

Option 2: Cook, Clean, and Freeze Crabs

If you prefer to freeze the whole crab, you can use this method. It’s similar to Option #1, but you don’t pick the crab meat.

Cook crabs with boiling water for 25-30 minutes. Drain the cooked crabs under cold running water until they reach room temperature. Dry the crabs on paper towels. Break off the pointy ends of the claws and remove the gills, stomach, and mouth. Take off the crab shell and rinse the crab inside with cold water.

Replace the shell and put the whole crab in a freezer bag. Vacuum sealing helps maintain the freshness of the meat. This frozen crab will last approximately three months.

I prefer to store crab meat with its shell in the freezer. The shell acts as a protective covering and maintains the best quality, moisture, and flavor.

The drawback, of course, is that you have to pick the meat after thawing. If you have the time to do it, however, this method will result in the best taste.

Options 3: Cook and Freeze Crabs

Crab in a tray

This is the method if you prefer to eat the crab’s mustard, that yellow stuff inside the crab. It’s actually called the hepatopancreas, and it’s a gland that works to produce digestive enzymes and filter impurities from the crab’s blood.

I’m not a fan of eating the mustard, since that’s where chemical pollution (and harmful bacteria) is housed. However, if you trust the source of the crabs, you might be fine with it. It depends on your risk tolerance.

To freeze crabs inside the shell, simply boil the fresh crabs for 10-20 minutes at the appropriate temperature before vacuum sealing them and placing them in a freezer bag. The crabs remain safe for up to 3 months.

How to Defrost Crab Meat

Precooked Whole Frozen Crab

For pre-cooked whole frozen crab, you simply have to put it in the fridge overnight to defrost it. If you’re in a time crunch and need to quickly defrost crabmeat, wrap it in cling film and put it in a large bowl filled with cold water.

You can also put the bowl in your sink and run cold tap water over the crabmeat. Make sure to only use cold water. Hot water will ruin the crab.

Defrosting Crab Legs

To defrost crab legs, leave them in your fridge for about 12 hours, or until they have thawed completely. The crab legs will remain at a safe temperature while defrosting. You can also thaw the frozen crab legs by placing them in a colander under running cold water for a few minutes. You can also put the crab legs in a plastic bag and submerge it in a bowl of ice water for a couple of hours or until thawing is complete.

Can You Freeze Crab? Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to safely freeze crab meat, you’ll be prepared to make your next seafood feast. You can add crab meat to this jambalaya recipe or make these delicious Maryland crab cakes.Looking to freeze other seafood? Find out how to freeze smoked salmon.