Baked crab legs in butter sauce is a luxurious and relatively simple dish to prepare, perfect for a special occasion or an indulgent weekend meal. Here’s a basic recipe that you can follow to create this delicious seafood dish:
- 2 pounds of crab legs (snow crab or king crab, depending on preference and availability)
- 1 cup of unsalted butter
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional for a spicy kick)
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Additional lemon wedges for serving
- Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Prepare the Crab Legs: If your crab legs are too long to fit into your baking dish, you may need to cut them into smaller sections using kitchen shears. Split the legs down the center to allow the butter sauce to penetrate the meat.
- Make the Butter Sauce: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook it for 1-2 minutes until fragrant but not browned. Stir in the lemon juice, parsley, red pepper flakes (if using), and a pinch of salt and pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat.
- Arrange the Crab Legs: Place the crab legs in a single layer in a large baking dish. Pour the butter sauce over the crab legs, ensuring they are well-coated.
- Bake the Crab Legs: Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 15 to 25 minutes. The time may vary depending on whether your crab legs are fresh or frozen (frozen will take longer).
- Basting: Halfway through baking, baste the crab legs with the butter sauce from the bottom of the dish to ensure they are well flavored.
- Check for Doneness: Crab legs are done when they are heated through. If you have a thermometer, the crab meat should reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).
- Serve: Once done, transfer the crab legs to a serving platter. Pour any remaining butter sauce from the baking dish over the crab legs or serve it on the side in a dipping bowl.
- Garnish and Enjoy: Garnish with additional chopped parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Provide plenty of napkins and nutcrackers or seafood forks to help with handling and enjoying the crab legs.
- Buying Crab Legs: If possible, buy crab legs from a reputable source to ensure they are fresh and of good quality.
- Thawing: If using frozen crab legs, make sure to thaw them completely in the refrigerator before baking for even cooking.
- Baking Time: Be careful not to overcook the crab legs, as they can become tough and rubbery. Since they are often pre-cooked when you buy them, you’re just heating them through.
- Serving Suggestion: Serve with a side of steamed vegetables, a simple salad, or some crusty bread to soak up the delicious butter sauce.
Enjoy your baked crab legs with a nice glass of white wine, like a buttery Chardonnay or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, which pairs wonderfully with the richness of the butter and the sweetness of the crab.