Maryland Soft Shell Crab Recipes

The Chesapeake Bay's crab bounty gives Maryland the rightful claim of the soft crab capital of the world.  Centuries worth of cooking soft crabs, have made for a variety of ways to use these delicious crustaceans, all very tasty!

Deep Fried Soft Shell Crabs
Courtesy Chesapeake Bay Cookbook

A plate of these don't last long!

1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 twelve ounce can beer, allowed to go flat
6 large soft shell crabs, cleaned
oil for frying

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Stir in the beer, mix until well blended. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Heat oil in deep fat fryer or pot to 375°. Dust the prepared crabs with flour, then coat with the batter. Slip carefully into the hot fat. Fry only 1 or 2 at a time so oil does not cool off. Fry until golden brown, drain on paper towels and serve immediately. Serves 3 to 6.


Beer Batter Soft Shell Crabs

3/4 cup unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. Old Bay or other seafood seasoning
1 egg
3/4 cup beer
12 soft shell crabs

Combine flour, egg, salt, Old Bay and mix well. Add beer and let stand for 2-3 hours. In a large skillet, deep fryer, or pot heat oil to 375º. Dip crabs in batter and drop into oil one at a time. Fry to golden brown and remove to drain on paper towels.


Stuffed Soft Shell Crabs
Courtesy Maryland Department of Agriculture

12 medium Maryland soft shell crabs, cleaned
1 pound Maryland backfin crabmeat
1 stick butter

Dry soft shell crabs with paper towels. Remove all cartilage from crabmeat. Place soft shell crabs in shallow baking pan. Remove top shell from crabs and stuff each crab cavity with about 3 tablespoons crabmeat. Replace top shell. Melt butter and pour evenly over crabs. Bake at 400° until shells turn red and crabs brown slightly, about 15 minutes. Makes 6 servings (2 crabs each).


Soft Shell Crab Sandwich (Low Fat Fried)
Courtesy Simply Blue Crabs Book by Peter Meyer

3 soft-shell crabs
1 egg white
1/2 Tbsp. water
2/3 tsp. Cajun spice mix
3 Tbsp. flour
Fresh sandwich buns

Mix egg white with water, using a fork. Mix flour and Cajun spice in a plastic bag. Dip both sides of a crab in the egg-water mixture, then put the crab in the bag and shake the bag until the crab is covered with the flour/spice mixture. Repeat for each crab. Spray a non-stick skillet lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Cook each side of the crab two to three minutes over medium-high heat. Serve each crab on a sandwich bun, slathered with cocktail sauce and garnished with lettuce.


Fried Soft Shell Crabs
Courtesy Maryland Department of Agriculture

12 medium Maryland soft shell crabs, cleaned
1 cup pancake flour
1 tsp. seafood seasoning (like Old Bay)
oil for frying

Mix together pancake flour and seafood seasoning. Dredge crabs in flour mixture to coat well. In large frying pan, heat about 1/2 inch cooking oil to 375°. Add crabs and turn heat down to 350°. Cook crabs until browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Makes 6 servings (2 crabs each).