Maryland Steamed Crabs Recipe

Maryland is world famous for it's steamed crabs. Crabs are plucked from the Chesapeake Bay, then steamed in a pot with water, vinegar and a layer of seafood seasoning over the top. This recipe is as traditional as it gets and is truly the Maryland way!

Maryland Steamed Crabs

You will need:
1. Large pot with lid (stainless steel, graniteware etc. 1. - not aluminum)
2. An elevated platform (rack or similar device) a minimum 2" high placed in the bottom of the pot so the crabs will be raised above the liquid in the pot.
3. Live Crabs
4. Old Bay Seasoning or similar seafood seasoning like J.O #2, or Wye River Crab House.
5. Water
6. Vinegar (preferably apple cider vinegar)
7. Flat beer (optional)

1. Depending upon the size of your pot, for each dozen crabs put 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vinegar into the pot**. If you like you can add a can or 2 of flat beer. **This is an approximate amount of liquid; adjust the liquid amount so it is a little below the rack level. Make sure you have sufficient liquid so that it does not boil away before the crabs are done. The crabs should never be immersed in the water.
2. Place pot on the stove or outdoor gas burner/cooker (not a grill) and turn burner on high. Bring the liquid to a boil.
3. Using tongs, place the crabs on the elevated platform in the pot, sprinkling the crab seasoning generously over each layer of crabs.  If using Old Bay add  some flake salt to the Old Bay before sprinkling on the crabs.  You can use table salt if necessary but use it sparingly.  J.O. and Wye River require no salt addition.
4. Cover and wait for wisps of steam to begin escaping from under the lid, about 5-10 minutes or so. Continue to steam over high heat for an additional 20-30 minutes until crabs turn bright orange/red. Note: If crabs have dark red or greenish patches, then the crabs are not yet fully cooked.
5. Remove crabs from the pot and place on a paper covered table. Enjoy!

1. Steam live crabs only! Never attempt to steam or cook a dead crab.
2. Crabs will be easier to handle (less lively) if you immerse them in ice water for 3 minutes or refrigerate them for an hour or so.
3. Never use the same utensils for handling live crabs and cooked crabs since bacterial cross-contamination can occur.
4. Flat beer imparts a better flavor than fresh beer. To flatten beer quickly, pour beer into a bowl and leave out at room temperature for an hour or so.
5. Leftover steamed crabs can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Do not freeze steamed crabs.
6. Pick leftover crabs and use the meat to make crab cakes or other crab dishes. Once made into crab cakes you can freeze them for later use.