Grilling King Crab Legs in Foil

Grilling King Crab Legs in Foil

Sweet and savory king crab legs are a delicacy. Grilling crab legs is an alternative to boiling crab meat. Grilled crab has a smoky flavor and tender texture. Wrapping your crab legs in aluminum foil can help the smoky flavor penetrate the hard shells and thoroughly cook the crab. 

Ditch the big pot of boiling water and head to the grill to cook your Alaskan king crab legs the fun way. Heat your backyard gas grill, grab some foil, and get ready to grill your crab legs to perfection. 

Preparing King Crab Legs for the Grill

Preparing King Crab Legs for the Grill

Grilled crab legs need proper preparation for the best results, but don’t fret – this prep time is quick and simple! If you’re using frozen crab legs and want to defrost them first, you can thaw them overnight in the refrigerator or lessen prep time by running them under cold water to dethaw quickly. 

If you’d rather just get right to it and pop the crab legs directly on the grill, spray the surface with a little olive oil first to prevent sticking. There’s a bit of extra prep if you’re using the foil method, but the extra flavor it provides is totally worth it. 

While your grill is heating, place the Alaskan king crab legs into a foil wrap with your favorite tasty ingredients. Butter, garlic, and herbs go great and won’t take away from the natural taste of the seafood, but you can use any of your favorite recipes. 

After you’ve got all the deliciousness tucked in there, seal the aluminum foil pouch and then just slap them on the grill. Prep time for crab legs is little to none, making this a simple dinner delight with practically zero hassle. Serve with grilled corn or your favorite sides, and you’ve got an easy summertime meal. 

How to Grill Frozen King Crab Legs

Frozen King Crab Legs

Grilled crab legs are a delicious alternative to boiled seafood, but many grillmasters are left scratching their heads at how to grill king crab when it’s frozen. Most crab that you buy at the store will be frozen crab leg clusters unless you’re lucky enough to live by the coast and have access to fresh crab meat. 

The first step to enjoying crab legs grilled is to thaw them before popping them on the grill unless you’ve gotten your hands on some freshly caught crabs. To do this, thaw crab legs in cold water. Don’t use warm or hot water, as this becomes a food safety issue. 

Once they’re thawed, you’re ready to stick your crab legs on the grill. 

Grilling Pre-Cooked King Crab Legs

Pre-Cooked King Crab Legs

Frozen crab legs are usually pre-cooked and then frozen. The fact that the crab leg meat is previously cooked means that grilling them is a breeze. When you grill crab legs that are pre-cooked, you’re essentially reheating them, which takes hardly any time at all. Defrosted crab legs really only need about 5-10 minutes on a medium-high heat grill before they’re cooked perfectly. 

Are you really strapped on time (or really hungry) and don’t have time to dethaw? You can grill frozen crab legs. Just throw them frozen onto the direct heat, and plan to spend more like 15-20 minutes on the grill.

Avoid overcooking your crab, or else the texture of the meat will become tough and chewy. Cut open the shell to check if your king crab legs are ready to eat. Serve with melted butter for dipping and lemon juice. 

Whatever way you do it, Alaskan king crab is a dinner fit for kings and queens. 

Cooking Crab Legs on Grill in Foil

Crab Legs on Grill in Foil

We touched on it briefly just a bit ago, but adding the foil technique to your crab grilling recipe is an easy hack to make sure your legs are cooked perfectly. Preheat your gas grill to a steady medium heat. Assemble several sheets of aluminum foil together, large enough to place crab legs on with a little room to spare. 

This is a good time to make a delicious garlic butter mixed with fresh herbs and then coat the legs generously with the melted butter. Piece together several sheets of aluminum foil over the top of the king crab legs and fold inwards to create a sealed pocket. 

Cook crab legs in foil over the direct medium heat for about 5-10 minutes if dethawed and 15-20 minutes if frozen. You won’t need to add any additional water in the foil to cook the crab meat because the natural moisture, juices, and added butter will do the trick. Remove from the grill, cut open, and dispose of the foil, but save some of that melted butter for dipping!  Enjoy! 

Is Foil Necessary?

Is Foil Necessary for grilling

Every recipe is different, with its own instructions and recommended tips. Foil cooking is one option compatible with many grills that cooks crab meat to perfection. The internal heat inside the foil circulates and steams to create wonderfully smoky grilled crab legs. 

Steaming your crab wrapped in foil does no harm to the cooking process. Many find that foil grilling can help preserve natural moisture, juices, and flavor. A foil wrap is also easier to handle than legs placed directly on the grill, and so much simpler to clean.

On the flip side, a foil recipe can take some additional prep time. So is it necessary? No, you can certainly cook some incredible grilled crab legs without it. But this method will give you grilled crab legs with sweet, smoky meat that melts in your mouth, especially with a side of clarified butter. 


Grilling your king crab in foil is an easy way to make delicious seafood on the grill. Ditch the boiling method for some added smoky flavor that pairs well with corn, summer tomatoes, and a side of butter and lemon—grill crab legs and swap the doldrums of everyday dinner cuisine for something a little more decadent.

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