Here's all the tips and tricks you need to make stone crab claws for serving a mouth-watering crab claw hors d'oeuvres tray or dinner party platter at home. Grab your mallets and bibs and let's get this party started!
Can I tell you a secret? If you're the proud owner of Florida stone crab claws (or Jonah claws, or brown crab claws), they're most likely already cooked. That's right, the sweet, delicate meat inside of the shell you're staring down is ready to eat.
As a rule, the crabs and crab claws are steamed just after catching, because it helps the meat separate from the shell and gives us all an easier time getting them out of the shell.
You can find recipes for heating already-cooked stone crab claws, but serving crab claws chilled and dipped in creamy mustard is an excellent way - dare I say the very best way - to enjoy the coveted tender meat of the crab.
Ingredients for this recipe:
Before we get to the step by step directions, a few notes about the ingredients:
Crab claws: I used brown crab claws for this recipe, because they are readily available in Portugal. Stone crab claws or Jonah crab claws are other great options.
Dijon mustard: Dijon adds the perfect creamy, slightly spicy flavor to the sauce. Substitute 2 teaspoons dry mustard for 2 tablespoons Dijon, if needed.
Worcestershire sauce: this classic sauce adds rich umami to our creamy mustard. If you need a substitute, grab your favorite steak sauce, soy sauce or balsamic vinegar.
Full ingredient list and measurements included in the printable recipe card below.
Step by step instructions:
1. Make mustard sauce
Begin by making the creamy garlic mustard sauce. Combine mayo, grated garlic, Dijon, Worcestershire, lemon juice and hot sauce in a small mixing bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper. Once the flavor is just what you're looking for, refrigerate until serving. Keep in mind the garlic will continue to develop!
2. Prep crab claws
Prepare claws for serving by cleaning the shells under cold running water. Pile on a tray or platter and serve with creamy mustard sauce and lemons, along with a mallet or cracker at each plate. To open chilled crab claws, wrap a claw in a tea towel and use a wooden mallet (or back of a large spoon) to crack the shell in multiple places.
This will allow you to remove the shell without breaking up the claw meat or creating tiny shell fragments.
3. Serve and enjoy
Serve crab claws chilled on a platter with creamy garlic mustard sauce, lemon wedges and chives for garnish.
Looking for more crab recipes?
- King Crab Legs with Lemon Garlic Butter
- Broiled Crab Cakes (no filler!)
- Crab-stuffed Shrimp Casserole
- Shrimp and Crab-stuffed Salmon
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions:
Stone crab claws are the claws of the stone crab, a type of crab found in the western Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. They have large, meaty claws, which are considered a delicacy.
Florida crab claws come in a variety of sizes, so the number of claws per pound will vary. As a rule, medium claws offer 7-8 claws per pound, large claws will give you 4-5 claws per pound and you'll get three jumbo claws per pound.
For a main course, plan on 1-1 ½ pounds of crab claws per person, which will yield 3-5 ounces of crab meat. For an appetizer course, about ¾ of a pound should do the trick.
After catching the crab, claws are boiled or steamed, then chilled. Serve the meat cold with a creamy mustard dipping sauce.
No, stone crab claws are not available year-round. The harvesting season typically runs from October to May, with the peak availability in the winter months.
If you're looking for Florida stone crabs, stone crab season runs from October to May in the United States. Jonah Crabs are a great alternative to fresh stone crab claws, and less pricey. While stone crabs in the US are mostly found in Florida, the Gulf Coast region and up to Georgia, Jonah crabs hang out in the Atlantic from North Carolina up to Maine.
In Portugal, gorgeous brown crabs (pictured in this recipe) can be purchased year round, but the main fishing season is July through November.
Remember, the availability of crab claws will vary depending on your location and the season, so it's always best to check with your local seafood market for the best options for your dinner party or date night at home!
Cracking stone crab claws can be a bit challenging, but with the right technique and tools, you can enjoy the delicious crab meat inside with minimal headache getting through those hard shells. Here's my best tips on the how to crack crab claws:
- A mallet is a good option, when applied with gentle force. For stone crabs, you can find industrial crab crackers that will help get through those tough shells with ease.
- My setup involves a wooden mallet and a dish towel, which protects my hands from any shell fragments or sharp edges, and helps soak up any liquid.
- The goal is to whack the shell firmly, but without shattering the claw shell, which creates tiny shards that are difficult to pick out of the meat. So hit the claw until cracked, then after you hear the crack,pull apart the shell to access the claw meat.
I think of a crab claw dinner like I do a lobster dinner and pair it with Baked Fries and Savory Slaw or go upscale with Au Gratin Potatoes and Mediterranean Tossed Salad. Check out my 16 Best Side Dishes to Serve with Crab Claws next!
Keep your cooked crab claws in the coldest part of your refrigerator and use within 2 days of purchase.
Refrigerate crab quickly after cooking and it will last in the coldest part of the refrigerator for 3-4 days.