Are All Crabs Edible?

Given that there are over 5000 varieties of crabs its no surprise that you’d want to know if they’re all edible. Crabmeat is one of the most savored kinds of seafood.

So, are all crabs edible? The answer is that it depends. Some crabs offer more meat than others. So, it would make sense to focus on the crabs that have more meat. Here is a general guide to identifying the most well-known edible types of crab.

Depending on where you live, you may notice that there are certain species that are most popular. For example, in Europe, the spider and brown crabs are the most common; in North America, on the Atlantic Coast, it’s blue crabs, and on the Pacific coast, Dungeness crabs. 


Dungeness Crabs

These crabs are common along the coasts of Alaska all the way down to Baja, Mexico. Dungeness crabs are rather large and can grow between 1 3/4 to 4 pounds.

You can only hunt the male of the species and it must be 6 1/4 inches long. The meet is pink, juicy, and delicious.

Blue Crabs

These crabs are usually a shade of blue with a hint of green. Blue crabs can be found on the east coast of the United States and they grow from 3 1/2 inches up to 5 1/2 inches.

When cooked, they become a reddish color. Along with the Dungeness crab, these crabs have edible meat in both their bodies and their claws. However, not all crabs do.

Brown Crabs

Brown crabs offer moderately sweet meat. They are most abundant in the United Kingdom at the start of summer through spring. It’s the largest crab species in the UK.

The brown meat is a savory flavor that has a slight acidic after taste. The white meat is usually much sweeter in flavor. It is also known as the Edible Crab.

Spider Crabs

Spider crabs have claws full of deliciously moist, white meat. It’s much sweeter and not as strong as the meat of the brown crab. It actually favors the taste of lobster.

Stone Crabs

These crabs only have edible meat in their claws. Stone crabs are the most popular type of edible crab in Florida, US. 

Florida stone crab meat is flaky and white to off-white with a sweet taste. Since the meat is only in the claws, fishermen usually pry of one claw and toss the crab back into the water. This is because the claw will regrow. The remaining claw is left so that the crab can defend itself.

King Crab

This crab goes by several names including the “Alaskan King Crab,” “Japanese crab,” and “Russian crab”. King crabs can weigh up to 25 pounds and are known to grow over 10 feet.

Most of the meat is found in the legs and claws. So, only about one-fourth of the crab is edible. They take about 7-9 years to grow to a size where you can eat them and its part of the reason why they are quite expensive as the meat isn’t abundant.

Peekytoe Crab

Once a toss away, the peekytoe crab became a prized delicacy. They grow to about 5 inches wide and 3 ½ inches long. The meat is pink and very sweet to taste.

These are the most popular kinds of crab that you can eat. That being said, not all crabs are safe to eat. A few can carry lethal doses of toxins. Some parts of the crab are also indigestible and repugnant in taste so its best to do your research. Remember to always buy your crab meat from reputable sources.