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King Crab Legs with Drawn Butter

How do you like your New Year’s Eve? Loud and crowded or small and intimate?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve moved toward the small dinner party... a few couples that I’m totally comfortable with and who won’t judge me if I’m heading off to bed by 12:09 a.m.

I like to host the party (see bedtime reference above) so I can prepare a supper that is just as special as my friends. King Crab Legs with Drawn Butter as an appetizer is a great way to start the evening because it takes only about 15 minutes from start to finish.

King Crab is sweet and delicious, and expensive enough to make it the star of the evening. Unless you live in Alaska or further up north, when you buy King Crab, they’ve already been cooked and frozen (which is why they’re available all year). All you have to do is thaw them and reheat! The easiest way to thaw King Crab Legs is overnight in the refrigerator. You can also thaw them under cold running water.

There are several ways to prepare King Crab, but I like to steam-reheat them in the oven. I’ve found that it’s easier than trying to boil them. Grilling is a great option, but on New Year’s Eve, I don’t really feel like cooking outside in the snow in my high heels.

You can serve them with just a squeeze of lemon, or for real decadence, make drawn butter earlier in the day and reheat it when you put the King Crab in the oven. There’s a step-by-step recipe below.

You’ll need about 8 ounces to 1 pound per person, depending on what else you’re serving. And, like I said, they come frozen, so make sure you thaw them the night before. I suggest making the drawn butter first, before cooking the crab. You can even do this earlier in the day.

And if by chance you have any crab legs leftover, take the meat out of the shell and throw it into an omelet the next morning!

RECIPE: How to Make King Crab Legs with Drawn Butter

Serves 6 as an appetizer

Prep Time: 20 minutes (plus thawing)

Cook Time: 10 to 12 minutes minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


  • ½ pound butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 pounds King Crab Legs
  • Water

Directions for Drawn Butter

  1. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan on low heat.
  2. Milk solids (in the form of white foam) will cloud the top: DO NOT STIR.
  3. When butter is completely melted and small bubbles begin to form around the edge, turn off heat. Let stand 3 minutes.
  4. With a small ladle or spoon, skim off the milk solids.
  5. You’ve made drawn butter! Try not to disturb any milk solids remaining on the bottom of the saucepan when you pour it bowls for dipping the crab.

Directions for King Crab Legs

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Place the crab legs on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.

2. Cut the crab legs at the joint with a knife or kitchen shears.

3. Pour ½ cup VERY hot water onto baking sheet (or enough to just cover the bottom of the pan).

4. Cover and seal baking sheet with foil.

5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

6. To make it easier to eat, slice down the center of each piece of King Crab. Serve immediately.

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