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Spicy Soft Shell Crab

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This spicy soft shell crab is the perfect way to use up all those delicious soft shell crabs. Don’t worry if you have never cooked soft shell crabs before. I walk you through everything from cleaning to cooking!

Spicy Soft-Shell Crab by Nutmeg Nanny

I first had soft-shelled crab about 6 years ago. My husbands fraternity brother was getting married and the couple had an insane cocktail hour.  They had everything you could have ever wanted. There was a tree made from prosciutto. I’m serious. A freaking prosciutto tree.

Anyway, after wandering around and looking at table after table of food I noticed my husbands friend had a plate of fried soft shell crab deliciousness. I was intrigued. So I tried a nibble of his, thought to myself “hey that’s not bad” and went on my merry way. {I had apparently missed the fresh soft-shell crab that was being pan fried over by the raw bar….again, this was a cocktail hour. What the heck!?}

Spicy Soft-Shell Crab by Nutmeg Nanny

Fast forward to last Saturday and I find myself obsessed with the idea of trying to make soft-shell crab at home. Obviously I had no idea what I was doing and oddly enough there was not a man making it fresh behind the raw bar in my dining room. Weird…right?

So I set off to the interwebs and luckily found this awesome step by step (with pictures…score!) tutorial from Georgia Pellegrini. I explained how to clean the crab in the directions but if you are a visual learner you might want to pop over and take a look at her post.

I seasoned my flour with red cayenne pepper and seasoned salt but feel free to play with any seasonings you adore. I think a dash of Old Bay would be a great addition. They fry up quickly and the hint of heat was perfect. If you have never had soft-shell crab I should note that you do eat the whole thing. When you are done eating there should be nothing left on the plate. It seems weird but it’s totally delicious. Trust me!

Spicy Soft-Shell Crab by Nutmeg Nanny


Spicy Soft-Shell Crabs

This spicy soft shell crab is the perfect way to use up all those delicious soft shell crabs. Don't worry if you have never cooked soft shell crabs before. I walk you through everything from cleaning to cooking!

Yield: 4 crabs

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 4 fresh soft shell crabs
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (I like Lawry's brand)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Lemon wedges


Using kitchen shears cut off the "face" of the crab, right behind the eyes. You are only cutting about 1/2 inch.

Flip the crab over to the bottom side and pull up on the middle "lever" looking piece. Cut it off. This is piece is called the apron.

Flip the crab back over and lift up both sides, pull out the lungs.

Rinse the crabs under water and if desired press out the green "tamale" from the inside of the crab. (Not sure what in the heck is a green "tamale"? It's simply the greenish-yellow stuff from the inside of the crab. You can't miss it, but honestly it doesn't taste gross so don't feel like this step is necessary)

Pat the crabs dry and set aside while you prepare the flour and oil.

In a small dish add flour, red cayenne pepper and seasoned salt. Mix together. Lightly coat the crabs in flour and set aside while the oil heats

In a large skillet add 1 inch of oil and set over medium high heat. When the oil is hot add 2 crabs and cook 4 minutes per side. The crabs will be done when their shell turns red and they are plump.

Add cooked crab to a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Add remaining two crabs to a the skillet and repeat.

Serve hot or room temperature with lemon wedges.

Classic Springtime Wine Pairings - Sugar and Spice

Friday 28th of August 2020

[…] Spicy Soft Shell Crab + Champagne […]

Lila Velasquez

Wednesday 6th of December 2017

I tried them once with red chilli and garlic, just delicious. I ate two and wanted more. Do not be finicky, it melts in your mouth.


Wednesday 20th of July 2016

I would not lie it looks really nice, but i would not be able to eat that, firstly those crabs were not washed and where i am from we like to season meat/fish/crab with freshly ground seasonings ( chives, garlic, thyme etc) secondly those crabs were not cleaned, the back and the eyes are still in place, that's nasty


Monday 25th of July 2016

Hi Nicole - if you read the entire recipe you would see that I did, in fact, clean the crabs. I took a picture of them whole just to show off what the crabs looks like.

Feast of the Seven Fishes Recipe Round-up | The Hungry Goddess

Monday 30th of December 2013

[…] Spicy Soft Shell Crabs from Nutmeg Nanny […]


Friday 28th of June 2013

As a Marylander, let me suggest that you never settle for frozen soft shell crabs - they just never crisp up or taste as light and wonderfully sweet as those that are fresh. They cook very fast so finding them is the most difficult part of the endeavor. Whether using panko, corn starch with flour, some other light breading or naked, sauteing them in butter is even more delicious than in oil. I highly recommend using Old Bay or Phillips seafood seasoning for the real deal. I've never used high heat butter but it was recommended by the person who sold me that last several I bought before locating them again today. If you can muster the courage to try them, you will not be sorry. They are truly among the world's best delicacies.