Crab Legs Poached in Clarified Butter

When I say poached please keep in mind that the clarified butter in this poached crab leg recipe needs to be barely hot. You should be able to stick your funger in it comfortably.


Crab Legs Poached in Clarified Butter 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Adapted from M at Miranova, Columbus, OhioPublished


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
  • 2 large steamed, frozen and thawed alaskan king or snow crab legs, or as needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 pinch salt, optional
  • 16 slice toasted baguette


Set a medium sized, heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat. Make sure it is dry and clean. Place the butter in the pan, and cook uncovered until the butter melts. You will notice a white foam sitting on top a clear yellow liquid. At this point you will hear the butter crackle. This is the water in the butter cooking off. It might also bubble irregularly and that is fine.

Once the crackling begins, lower the heat to low and cook swirling the pan occasionally until the butter fat and foam begin to very lightly brown and sink to the bottom. Watch it carefully you want all the butter fats to get light brown but you don’t want to scorch or burn them. I usually remove it from the heat when most of the white foam has sunk and colored but a bit remains on top as it will continue to cook once it leaves the heat.

Let cool about 20 minutes, then strain though a fine sieve lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth. Make sure all the milk solids are strained out; strain twice if needed.

Store the clarified butter in a clean, dry jar. But don’t put the lid on until fully cooled. May be kept at room temperature or refrigerated.

When ready to serve. Cut the bulbous knuckle ends from the crab claws using a serrated knife. Cut the legs on either side of all the joints. Then cut all the pieces into 4 or 5‑inch length. Save the knuckle and joints for another use.

Starting on the narrow end of each piece of crab, carefully but firmly push the crab meat out of its tubular shell. Try to get it out in one clean piece. Discard the shells. Cut all the crab meat into bite-sized, cleanly cut chunks. Move the pieces of meat to a shallow serving bowl, just large enough to hold them in a single layer.

Place the clarified butter into a small saucepan. Add 1 bay leaf, 5 black peppercorns and a pinch of salt (optional) to the clarified butter. Set over very low heat to gently warm it. Your goal is warm enough to infuse its flavors but not so hot as to further cook the crab. Bath temperature is about right. You should be able to stick your finger in it and notice that it is quite warm but not scalding.

Pour this liquid, spices and all over the crab pieces. Serve warm with toasted baguette slices on the side.