Though reheated seafood gets a bad rap, you can restore your crustacean leftovers to their proper glory by learning how to reheat crab legs.
Crab legs are tricky to reheat, however. The meaty part behind the tough shells is very sensitive. They can quickly become un-appetizingly dry and chewy if done wrong. Fortunately, there is no shortage of simple reheating techniques that still maintain the legs’ natural juiciness and tenderness.
All you really need to do is to set aside some time!
Can You Reheat Crab Legs?
You most certainly can reheat crab legs. As long as you store the leftover legs correctly, reheated crab legs are perfectly safe to consume. Additionally, if reheated properly, the crab legs will still retain most of their original flavor and quality.
Best Way to Reheat Crab Legs
Because crab legs are very susceptible to drying out, all good reheating methods will involve water.
The best method to reheat crab legs is boiling. It works especially well if their outer shells are still intact. Since it’s submerged in boiling water, the meat won’t be dehydrated and can remain succulent.
Besides reheating the legs, its taste can even be enhanced using this method. If you feel like experimenting, try adding a dash of lemon juice or some beer.
Not all food can be reheated via boiling, but it’s not an unfamiliar method on HealthyRecipes101. Besides crab legs, boiling is one of the best ways to reheat corn on the cob.
The second method is to steam the crab legs using the oven. Though most foods can be reheated straightforwardly in the oven, doing crab legs this way requires some extra preparations. Exact details will be discussed later. For now, just trust us that without these extra steps, the oven can easily overcook the meat and turn it rubbery.
Besides crab legs, the oven can be used to reheat a great many other dishes. That’s all thanks to its uniform heating style and stable temperature. You can use the oven to reheat fried chicken as well as reheating chicken wings.
Last but not least, there’s the microwave. It doesn’t give the best results flavor or texture-wise, but it is quick. Note that microwave reheating is no good for frozen crab legs. It will only work with thawed legs.
Some people will tell you that you shouldn’t reheat crab legs in the microwave. There’s a pretty good reason for this. The microwave can zap all of the moisture inside of the meat away, leaving it tasting dry and rubbery. However, as long as you do it properly, it should be fine.
To assuage your concern, even a fish as sensitive as salmon can be reheated using the microwave. And when done just right, rotisserie chicken cooks for a second time pretty well in the microwave, too. As a result, there is really no reason crab legs cannot.
1. In the Oven
The oven doesn’t directly heat the cold crab legs. Instead, what you want to do is to create a small steam chamber for your crustacean bits. That way, the legs can be gently heated back up without overcooking.
First order of business is to preheat your oven to 350°F (176°C).
Take an oven-safe dish with a deep bottom or a casserole dish and fill it with ½ inch of water. Place your crab legs on the dish and ensure that the legs are semi-submerged.
Cover the entire dish using aluminum foil. Then, either with scissors or a knife, poke a few holes in the top of the foil. The holes serve as ventilation for the steam, preventing the legs from becoming overcooked.
If the legs are frozen, bake in the oven for 25 minutes. If they’ve already been thawed, 15 minutes will do.
Once the baking is done, take the legs out. There’s no need to give them time to rest — place onto a dish and serve straight away.
Oven-warmed crab legs should be eaten together with other side dishes. You can use the oven to reheat mashed potatoes, for example. Do it now if you have a container of it in the fridge!
2. In the Microwave
Microwaving is typically not the best option for reheating any kind of food. It has a reputation for rapidly drying out whatever is in its cooking chamber, leaving your food chewy and rubbery. But if you want results as quickly as possible, it is a viable option. After all, microwaving only takes 2-3 minutes at most.
Microwaving only works with thawed crab legs. If you have frozen crab legs, it is best to either use other methods or allow them to thaw first before microwaving.
First thing to do is to see if your crab legs fit in the microwave. If they cannot, use a knife or scissors to cut the legs apart at the joints.
Using paper towels, wrap two to three legs together into a bundle. If you have more legs, make several bundles. Fit a couple sprigs of tarragon or dill between the legs before you wrap. These herbs are excellent at retaining moisture and can help prevent excessive dehydration.
Wrap each bundle of crab legs up using microwave-safe saran wrap.
Microwave each bundle for 2-3 minutes using the medium heat setting.
Once all the legs have been reheated, remove the wrappings, place everything on a plate, and serve.
3. Reheat King Crab Legs by Boiling
Frozen king crab legs can be reheated quite effectively by boiling. Like we mentioned earlier, this method will only work if the legs’ shells are still intact.
Fill a large pot to about ⅔ with water. This is the standard method.
If you feel adventurous, you can try the beer-boil method. Fill the pot with equal parts water and beer, giving the water a slightly “muddy” appearance. Depending on the type of beer (most recipes call for Old Bay or Budweiser), the final taste will be different. Most people describe beer-boiled crab legs as having a slightly sweet, ale-like flavor atop its usual taste.
Regardless of what style you go for, when the water is ready, add a pinch of salt to the pot. The salt will raise the boiling point of the water, so the legs will cook more efficiently. In addition, the salt will bolster the flavor of the meat ever so slightly.
At this point, you can also add a dash of lemon juice to give the legs a zesty tang.
Over high heat, bring the pot to a boil.
Once steam starts to rise and the pot begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium. Put in your king crab legs.
Allow the legs to boil in the pot for five to seven minutes.
Once finished, take the legs out and make sure to drain them. Place the drained legs onto a plate and serve.
4. Reheat Frozen Crab Legs
Reheating frozen crab legs isn’t technically different from reheating thawed crab legs. The microwave is no good in this case, but the other methods are just as applicable whether your seafood is frozen or thawed.
The only difference will be in the reheating time: frozen legs will need a longer time to reheat than thawed. Check the oven section for an example of this adjustment.
Now that you have learned how to reheat crab legs, go ahead and make something nice out of those leftovers!
If you have some time to spare and would like to read a few more similar food reheating guides, here is some for your perusal:
- How to Reheat Steak: though not to the point of being a delicacy like crab legs, steak is still a culinary treat. Expensive and difficult to cook right, throwing a cut of perfectly good steak away isn’t how you should treat leftovers. Instead, throw it into the fridge and reheat later on. With proper techniques, you can restore its tenderness and juiciness in no time at all!
- How to Reheat Rice: a lot of people are wary of reheating rice. When improperly stored, rice can turn bad quickly and cause poisoning. However, armed with the proper knowledge, you can safely and efficiently reheat rice to enjoy for another day. This article has all of the info you will need.
- How to Reheat French Fries: fries — while good — aren’t a food that people tend to reheat. But contrary to popular’s belief, fries can be reheated (and reheated very well at that). For example, with an air fryer, you can reheat fries and make them crispy and smooth in texture as if recently cooked. Try it out and see how it goes!
- Can You Reheat Prime Rib? — Best Ways to Reheat: prime rib is yet another choice food that you shouldn’t waste unless you absolutely have to. It takes a lot of effort to make and a slab of prime rib will set you back a fair amount. Reheat the leftovers whenever you can (which is almost always, as long as you put it into the fridge immediately after dinner). Find out more in the link.
- How to Reheat Lasagna on a Stovetop Skillet: when it comes to Italian cuisine, lasagna is up there as one of the best. If you had lasagna yesterday and couldn’t finish it, reheating it on the stovetop skillet is a good way to bring it back to the table. Instructions are enclosed in this lasagna reheating guide.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.