I Tried This Viral Hack for Getting Crab Meat Out of the Legs — Here’s What Happened

published Apr 5, 2023
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crab legs on wood cutting board
Credit: Rachel Dolfi

The struggle to free crab meat from its spindly crustacean legs has plagued me since I first ate them. I’ve been introduced to just about every trick, tip, and bit of insight related to making cracking crab legs as easy as possible. Despite them, I always ended up with gnarled bits of crab meat, pulverized shells, and a somewhat empty belly. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I landed on Joshua Weissman’s crab leg hack video. He suggests a simple strategy: Cut the crab legs at each individual joint, then use one hand to firmly hold the crab leg over a cutting board and use the other hand to tap vigorously, until the crab leg falls out effortlessly. No broken shells, no mangled crab meat, and finally it seemed I would be satiated while eating crab legs! 

I went to work setting up my station: bringing over a clean cutting board, some freshly boiled crab legs, and my trusty poultry scissors, which I typically use for spatchcocking a turkey. I snipped each leg a bit after the joint, then cleaned up my clipped edges and tried it out.

Credit: Rachel Dolfi

It took a bit of trial and error, but after a few attempts I was shocked by a fully intact piece of crab slipping out of the shell! I continued on and, after a few minutes, I was left with a plateful of mostly intact, juicy shellfish. 

Credit: Rachel Dolfi

A few things to note about this technique. It really only works well with the longer, center portions of the crab legs. I tried it with several claws, as well as some of the smaller legs and could not force the crab meat out using his technique. It could be that my crustaceans were a bit smaller, but after trying unsuccessfully on five or six legs, I was left with a sore hand and zero crab meat. 

I do think it’s worth seeing if this hack works for you, if only to try something new out. The next time you’re in the mood for crab legs, use this little party trick to impress your friends with your shellfish techniques! 

Tips for Making This Hack Even More Seamless

  1. Make sure to clip each end of the crab leg about 1/2 inch after the joint. This allows enough space for the meat to easily slip out. 
  2. If your hand starts to hurt, wrap a kitchen towel around it to absorb some of the impact.