Crabs make for an amazing meal. It brings people together and makes for a fun yet tasty experience. Let’s say you have a few extra crabs from a crab feast or caught a few too many crabs after a day of crabbing (if that’s even possible). The obvious answer would be to put them in the fridge. But how long do steamed crabs last in the refrigerator? 

Whole steamed crabs kept refrigerated at 40° F (the standard temperature of a refrigerator) will be safe to eat for 5-7 days. Make sure to keep them in an air-tight bag. After 3 days, however, the crab meat will start to harden and lose its freshness. 

In this article. I will go over how to successfully refrigerate your leftover crabs and the best ways to save steamed crabs for much longer periods of time. 

Refrigerating Steamed Crabs 

Refrigerating steamed crabs can be as easy as throwing the crabs in whatever container you can find and leaving them in the fridge. If you plan on eating these crabs within the next 3 days, I’d say go for it. 

The general consensus in the crabbing community is 5-7 days, but in my experience you’re lucky to get by 3. Afterwards the crab either tastes funky or smells like ammonia, both HUGE indicators that they have gone bad. 

If you want to hit that 5-7 day mark, or even longer, I would recommend cleaning your crabs before refrigerating them. Cleaning a crab includes stripping it of its shell, guts, gills, and its mouth. All you want left is the shell and its meat. Here’s a quick how-to clean crab. 

To clean a crab, you’re going to want to remove its outer shell like you would when you are eating it. Use a knife or your fingernails to remove the abdomen, then its outer shell. Next, pull off the mouth of the crab. It’s the little bits hanging out in the front of the crab’s body. With the shell and mouth gone, now it’s time to remove the crab’s gills and guts. I usually run the crab’s body under a faucet to wash these away. Use your fingers to scrub away any gills or guts that get stuck. 
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If you know how to pick a crab, you know how to clean it. What you want to do is remove everything but the meat and shell. 

A Better Way To Store Steamed Crabs: Freezing them.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that freezing leftover crabs will make them last longer. 

Fun fact: Commercial fisheries freeze cooked crabs with nitrogen at -40° Fahrenheit. This freezes the meat molecules so quickly that they do not have time to rupture and leak water. This preserves the crab’s flavor. 

Similar to refrigerating crabs, do not freeze whole steamed crabs. Any undigested food left inside the crab before it was cooked may grow bacteria and ruin the crab meat. 

Yes. Unlike before where cleaning the crab was optional, you’re going to have to now if you plan on it lasting more than a week. To freeze a crab, first clean it, then throw it crab in a tupperware container or vacuum seal it. Make sure the crab is in the coldest part of the freezer. The colder the crab, the fresher it will taste.

You may be wondering: How long will frozen crabs last? Vacuum sealed crabs can last up to 6 months in a freezer (or at 0° Fahrenheit). Crabs stored for any longer may still be edible, but If you crab starts to give off an ammonia scent, it is no longer safe to eat. 

I picked up this vacuum sealer (Amazon Link) on Amazon to store some crabs for the off season, and I’m really happy with it.

If you need a vacuum sealer for your crabs this is my top pick. The large bags that come with the sealer are the perfect size for a 6” blue crab. Anything larger may need to be broken in half and stored separately. 

I sealed two dozen crabs I caught late September, which is when they tend to stop running in the northern parts of the Chesapeake. They kept through the winter, and made for a few nice crab soups. 

Just a quick tip: If you plan on making soley soups with your stored crab meat, just vacuum seal the meat instead of the whole crab. The meat tends to get stringy and will lose flavor when eaten by itself, but still does great in soups. 

Reheating Steamed Crabs 




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Reheating steamed crabs is easy. I found a quick video explaining how, I would recommend watching it. 

It’s a simple process. You take the either refrigerated or frozen crab and steam it for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crab is heated through.

 If you don’t have a crab pot to steam your crabs, the video suggests placing a strainer in a large pot to place it on. From there, pour some water in the pot that does not come in contact with the crabs and bring it to a boil. Place a lid on your pot and steam the crabs for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it’s heated through. 

Before you eat your crab, smell it! If the meat reeks any sort of ammonia or funky scent, I would advise not eating it.

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It’s very likely that the crab has gone bad. Trust me, it’s not worth eating if it has.