Pan-fried Soft Crabs

4 soft crabs, cleaned
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon Old Bay
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together the milk and Old Bay in a medium bowl. Soak the crabs in the milk for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, salt and pepper together. Dredge both sides of the crab in the seasoned flour. Melt more butter than you’d think in a skillet. Fry the crabs for about 3 minutes on each side. Try and keep the legs from tucking under the body of the crab; arrange them straight out. Serve naked or in a sandwich.

My thoughts:

Soft crabs are in season again. If I had to name a favorite food, I think it would be soft crabs. When I posted the how to clean soft crabs last spring, I received a few requests on how to prepare them. Honestly, I’ve never made them any way but pan-fried and in a sandwich. For this recipe, I splashed out and added Old Bay but honestly I mostly just season them with salt and pepper. You don’t want anything to cover up the crab flavor but in Baltimore, Old Bay is always a welcome addition. Anything fancier just seems wrong to me!

Note: It is traditional to soak the crab in milk before cooking, it sort of tenderizes the shells (if they are a bit tough) and allows you to coat the crab in flour without needing egg. I added the Old Bay for a bit of kick without being overpowering.


  1. LOVE soft crabs! Haven't tried with soaking them in milk before though, will have to do that next time!

  2. Love soft shell crabs! These look wonderful! Have you thought of adding some corn starch to the flour to make it even crispier but still juicy?

  3. Anon
    I have tried that but I can sort of taste it and the difference isn't noticeable. Not a bad idea though!

  4. Now that I moved to Baltimore I must try this one ASAP. I used to dislike crabs (and lobsters) but crab-eating picnic here with friends made me a convert. We had steamed hard-shell crabs seasoned with Old Bay. Messy eat but very sweet. And everybody here keeps telling me that soft crabs are the best ones that there is.
    Thank you!

  5. Why don't more restaurants prepare soft crabs this way? I don't want all the fancy stuff, just big fat soft crabs, dredged in seasoned flour and quickly fried in butter. YUM! Maybe a wedge of lemon. Served between two pieces of rye bread, with a slice of tomato, and a little mayo. Who could ask for anything more? Except another one just like the first one.

    I've never thought of soaking them in milk, but I may give that a try.

  6. Oh my, now I am drooling at the thought of soft shell crabs and they are not available on the west coast. I did find them online, but I have a real problem paying for the crab and then the monsterous shipping charges. Soft shell crabs that cost over $100 a dozen would not be enjoyable.
    Anyone want to buy me some and ship them????

  7. I love soft crabs…hard to get here in Phoenix

  8. It's dishes like these that make it seriously a pain in the #$% to have a serious shell fish allergy. That looks AMAZING!

  9. Recipes like these make me a firm believer that Great food is simple, neat and comforting .

    Thanks for sharing.