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Instant Pot Crab Legs

Making Instant Pot Crab Legs is easy and delicious. The crab leg meat comes out tender and sweet every time. In roughly 12 minutes you will have a crab feast.

Instant Pot Crab Legs

Our craving for crab legs coincided with a great sale at the supermarket. Steamed crab legs in the instant pot are easy and fast. The Instant Pot takes all the guesswork out. Just thaw the crab legs and toss them in with seasoned water. The only tricky part is cracking those shells open to reveal the tender, sweet crab meat.

For this recipe, we used our 6-quart Instant Pot. We steamed 2 snow crab leg clusters but could fit another 1 to 2 clusters depending on the size. Our crab legs were thawed in the refrigerator. However, you can steam crab legs from frozen.

The name “snow crab” refers to the crab species that is commonly found in cold northern oceans.

Ingredients for Instant Pot Crab Legs

This is how we seasoned the water so that flavor would infuse during the pressure cooking. 

  • Chicken Broth – To make chicken broth we use Better than Bouillon Chicken Base. 2 teaspoons to 2 cups of hot water. 
  • Butter – Yes, we put it in the chicken broth. We use more butter later for dipping.
  • Creole Seasoning – We use Tony Chachere’s. Old Bay is another good choice for seasoning.

For the Butter Dipping Sauce

  • Butter 
  • Garlic
  • Fresh lemon juice.

You will also want to have lemon wedges to squirt over the crab.

If you prefer I have a great recipe for Homemade Cocktail Sauce.

Instant Pot Crab Legs

How to Make Crab Legs in the Instant Pot

This recipe is so simple. You will want to stock up whenever you hit a good sale at the market. 

First, add chicken broth and Creole seasoning to your pressure cooker. Give the pot a good spin to swirl in the ingredients or stir.

Next, cut the butter into pieces and distribute it evenly around the bottom of the Instant Pot. 

Finally, add a trivet to the bottom of your instant pot. The crab legs will sit on the trivet rather than in the steamer water. Add the crab legs and close the lid to the Instant Pot. Our crab legs were thawed for this recipe. 

Instant Pot Setting for Crab Legs

Now that the prep is done it is now time to steam the crab legs in the instant pot. 

Cover the Instant Pot with the lid and set the knob to “Sealed”. 

  • The Instant Pot setting for thawed crab legs is Manual < High < 2 minutes. 

Once the timer hits 2 minutes do a quick release. You don’t want your crab legs to sit in the steamer longer. They will get overcooked and that tender crab meat will become chewy.

Remove crab legs and serve with butter sauce and lemon. 

Making the butter sauce is simple. Add butter, garlic, and lemon juice to a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. 

Instant Pot Crab Legs

How long to Cook Crab Legs in an Instant Pot

For thawed crab legs you set your Instant Pot to 2 minutes on Manual High.

The crab legs start cooking as the Instant Pot comes under pressure. The total time for steamed crab legs in an instant pot is roughly 12 minutes. Depending on how long it takes for Instant Pot to come to pressure.

How to Crack Crab Legs

Having a good tool to crack crab legs open is essential. Don’t butcher the succulent crab meat by trying to wrestle it out with a subpar tool.

Once you have that big intimating cluster of legs and claws in front of you, you will want to snap them apart at the joints. Then pull it gently apart hopefully the tendon slides out intact. The tendon in the crab leg is a hard long plastic-looking piece inside the crab leg. Discard the tendons along with the shells. 

Next, use a seafood tool to slide in the opening of the shell and cut it in a straight line to the other end of the leg. Carefully pull apart the shell and use your tool or fingers to pull out the tender piece of crab meat. 

Also, be sure to get the meat out of the knuckle of the crab cluster.

It takes practice and it is a little bit of work but once you get the hang of it you will find it is worth it. 

Storing Leftovers and Reheating

I recommend removing all the meat from the crab legs and discarding the shells. Store crab meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. 

You can freeze crab leg meat. I recommend vacuum-sealing the crab meat. It can stay in the freezer for up 6 months. 

Use leftover crabmeat in pasta dishes, salads, or in stuffed mushrooms. I highly recommend you use it in my garlic alfredo sauce over pasta.

Browse More Instant Pot Recipes!

Instant Pot Crab Legs Recipe

Enjoy perfectly cooked crab legs in a fraction of the time with this easy, step-by-step Instant Pot Crab Legs recipe. Try it today and get the best results every time!

Instant Pot Crab Legs

Instant Pot Crab Legs

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes

Snow Crab Legs steamed in the instant pot come out perfect every time. The crab meat is sweet and tender. Dip in garlic butter sauce and lemon.


  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 lbs crab legs, thawed

For the Butter Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Add the chicken broth and creole seasoning and stir.
  2. Add butter pieces and place the Instant Pot trivet on the bottom of the pot.
  3. Place crab leg clusters on the trivet.
  4. Cover and seal the instant pot.
  5. Set the Instant Pot to Manual High for 2 minutes. Do a quick release and serve with the butter sauce.

For the Butter Sauce

  1. Add Butter, garlic and lemon juice to a small saucepan and heat over medium low heat until butter is melted.


  • For this crab leg recipe, we used our 6-quart Instant Pot.
  • We thawed the snow crab legs in the refrigerator.
  • For the Creole Seasoning, we used Tony Chachere's. Old Bay is a good substitution.
  • You will also want to have lemon wedges to squirt over the crab.
  • Please read the article above for all tips and tricks for this Instant Pot Crab Legs recipe.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 388Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 168mgSodium: 3577mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 45g

All amounts are estimates and DailyAppetite takes no responsibility for actual figures since calculations vary by packaging and supplier.

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