Can You Freeze Dungeness Crab? The Best Way

The Dungeness crab is a popular seafood due to its size. It’s one of the largest species of crab available on the seafood market. Due to their size, most will not finish the whole crab in one sitting. Like many other kinds of seafood, Dungeness crabs are highly perishable and need cool temperatures to keep them fresh.

Storing the crabs in the refrigerator will not keep them fresh very long. If you need to keep them longer than a couple of days, would freezing be an option?

Can You Freeze Dungeness Crab?

Yes, you can freeze Dungeness crab and they freeze quite well too. Every part of the crab’s body can be frozen.

To ensure that they stay fresh in the freezer for a long time, proper storage is needed. This means storing them in an airtight container or freezer bag.

This species of crab is very large and it can take up a lot of space in the freezer. Depending on what you will be using them for later, you can freeze just the crab legs or the crabmeat.

Can You Freeze Leftover Dungeness Crab?

Yes, you can freeze leftover Dungeness crab. These crabs are very large when compared to other crabs. Most people will end up having leftovers when consuming this crab.

It’s important to know when to freeze them to avoid bacteria growth. Like most other kinds of seafood, Dungeness crabs tend to go bad quickly when it’s left at room temperature for a long time. If you’re not going to finish the crab within an hour, either put them in the refrigerator or in the freezer.

If you’re planning not to eat the leftover Dungeness crab within 2-3 days, it’s best to freeze them. In the refrigerator, they will last for only a couple of days.

Can You Freeze Dead Dungeness Crab?

It depends on when the Dungeness crab died. If you’ve just caught them or bought them alive at the store, and then all of sudden they died, yes, you can freeze dead Dungeness crabs.

However, if the crab has been dead for a while and you’re unsure how long, it’s recommended to not freeze them. Like blue crabs, when they die, their organs will start to release toxins throughout their entire body. Therefore, consuming dead Dungeness crabs will make you sick.

How Long Can You Freeze Dungeness Crab?

Dungeness crabs will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months. This is only true if it’s properly stored and kept in an airtight container or freezer bag. Storage of any other kind will not keep them fresh for 3 months.

After 3 months, the Dungeness crabs can still be eaten, but the quality of it will deteriorate. The texture will become mushy and soft, the taste will be a bit bland.

Instead, use the Dungeness crab in a soup, stir-fry, or make delicious crabcakes out of them. Since the crabs will be mixed with additional ingredients added, the texture and flavor will not matter much.

How to Freeze Dungeness Crab

Even though Dungeness crabs are very large, freezing them is quite simple. In order to keep them fresh for a long time, you’ll need to prep them first. Without prepping the crabs will ultimately shorten their shelf life in the freezer drastically.

You can either freeze the Dungeness crabs as a whole crab or just the crabmeats.

Below are the methods and steps to freezing the Dungeness crabs:

Freezing Whole Dungeness Crabs

As you know, Dungeness crabs are very large and will take up a lot of space in the freezer.

If you have space or just want to freeze them whole, follow the steps below:

Here’s how to freeze fresh Dungeness crabs:

  1. Start by cleaning the Dungeness crabs to remove any debris such as sands and dirt from them.
  2. Place the crabs into boiling water for about 30 minutes.
  3. Once it’s cooked, let it cool them to room temperature.
  4. With a cling wrapper, wrap the entire crab a couple of times. This will prevent the cold air from reaching the crab.
  5. In a large freezer bag, place the whole Dungeness crab into it.
  6. Press on the bag to remove as much air as you can from the bag.
  7. Seal it tightly and label it with the date of freezing.
  8. Place it into the freezer.

Whole Dungeness crabs will remain fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Freezing Dungeness Crabmeat

Freezing the crabmeats is only for cooking or preparing a meal that requires blending. When the crabmeats are frozen, the meat will start to become soft and fall apart. This is due to not having a shell to hold it in place.

Therefore, to help hold the texture of the crabmeat in place, you will need to cover them with milk. The milk will help keep the crabmeat together and act as a barrier to protect it from getting freezer burn.

Here is how to freeze crab meat:

  1. Cooked the Dungeness crab first.
  2. Let the crab sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.
  3. Once it’s cooled down, separate the meat from the shell.
  4. In a bowl, place the crab meat in there. Pour milk in the bowl covering every part of the crab meat. You can use whole or skim milk.
  5. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to let the meat soak in the milk.
  6. In a freezer bag, take each crabmeat from the bowl and place it there. Fill the bag until you have about half an inch of space left at the opening of the bag.
  7. Press on the bag to remove any excess air from the bag. Seal the bag tight and label it with the date of freezing.
  8. Place it in the freezer. Avoid placing anything on top of it until it’s completely frozen.

Dungeness crabmeat will remain fresh for up to 3 months.

How Do You Defrost Dungeness Crab?

It’s important to know the safety of defrosting Dungeness crabs. Frozen seafood, like crabs, will spoil quickly if it’s not defrosted properly.

Never thaw the crabs out on the counter, even for an hour. The reason for that as the shell warms, only the outside will thaw, leaving the inside still frozen. The warmer part of the crabs could cause the bacteria to start growing. This will spoil the flavor and potentially cause food poisoning.

Therefore, when defrosting the crabs, especially if it’s going to be for a couple of hours before you cook them, make sure it’s being thawed in the refrigerator. This will prevent any bacteria from growing.

If you’re in a hurry to cook Dungeness crab, below is a method of defrosting the crabs straight from the freezer:

Defrost Frozen Dungeness Crab

Whether you bought Dungeness crab precooked or it’s from leftover, defrosting the crabs is simple and quick. Depending on the size of the crab, use a pot that’s big enough to fit it.

  1. Pour water into the pot about halfway full.
  2. Heat the pot until the water starts to boil.
  3. Now adjust the heat to medium to prevent it from boiling over.
  4. Place the Dungeness crab into the pot until it’s completely submerged. If it’s not, add more water.
  5. Boil the crab for about 12 minutes.
  6. Remove it from the pot and let it cool down.

Due to defrosting them in boiling water, you may lose some of the flavors. You can add some salt or vinegar to the water while the crab is cooking to improve the taste.


dungeness crab

Using Frozen Dungeness Crab

Here are some of the delicious entree you can use Dungeness crabs with:

  • Oven Roasted Dungeness Crab
  • Dungeness Crab Egg Muffins
  • BBQ Dungeness Crab
  • Grilled Dungeness Crab
  • Dungeness Crab Guacamole with Endive
  • Dungeness Crab Steamed on the Grill in Ginger
  • Dungeness Crab Rangoon
  • Tangy Dungeness Crab Toast
  • Oregon Dungeness Crab Quesadilla with Apple
  • Oregon Dungeness Crab Chowder
  • Carrot Soup with Dungeness Crab
  • Dungeness Crab Roll
  • Steamed Dungeness Crab
  • Dungeness Crab Omelet
  • Oven Roasted Garlic Dungeness Crab
  • Dungeness Crab Lemon Basil Pasta
  • Smoked Salmon Cakes with Dungeness Crab
  • Dungeness Crab Ravioli
  • Dungeness Crab Stuffed Shells
  • Dungeness Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade
  • Dungeness Crab with Three Dipping Sauces
  • Dungeness Crab with Salad
  • Dungeness Crab Mac n Cheese

As you can see, there are many entrees you can make with Dungeness crabs besides eating them fresh. Dungeness crabs are perfect for making the above entrees and other foods as well.

Does Frozen Dungeness Crab Go Bad?

Like blue crabs, lobster, and any other kinds of seafood, Dungeness crabs do go bad. They can go bad whether it’s cooked or uncooked.

Cooked Dungeness crab will usually go bad if it’s left at room temperature for too long. Bacterial growth happens quickly on them, especially if the room temperature is quite hot.

The usual signs that Dungeness crabs go bad is the smell. When the meat begins to spoil, it will give off a bad rotten smell. It will be enough to turn your head away from it. More than likely, the entire crab is bad and should be discarded.

If the crab doesn’t give off a bad smell yet, the next thing to look at is the texture of it. Take a fork and press into the meat. If it breaks apart easily and in bits of pieces, the crab is no longer good. It should be thrown away.

Related Questions

Can You Store Uncooked Dungeness Crab In The Freezer?

Storing uncooked Dungeness crabs isn’t recommended due to the toxin that’s in their body. As they die, the toxins will start to release throughout their body. These toxins will be frozen along with the crab. When cooking them, the toxins will still be in their body, and consuming it could make you sick. Most people will experience an upset stomach and diarrhea.