This simple smoked king crab is my favorite way to make Alaskan King Crab! It is also super easy and is done in under 30 minutes. Skip the overpriced King Crab in the restaurants and make it for a fraction of the price at home, on your pellet grill.
Smoked King Crab Legs on your Traeger Pellet Grill
Grilled king crab legs tops the list for best way to prepare your Alaska King Crab. Sure, you could bake them, boil them, steam them, or even fry them, but smoking them over a live wood fire is the best way to get a touch of fire into the flavor of the crab without overpowering it.
Since Alaskan King Crab is already cooked as part of the initial processing, you could even eat them without further preparation.
For adding a flair of flavor, nothing beats your Traeger Grill to add a touch of smoke and bring the best out of the crab. If you don’t have a Traeger, then use the grill you have handy.
Looking for snow crab? I’ve got that too!
About Alaskan King Crab
Obviously the first thing that most people notice about Alaskan King Crab is the price. They are not cheap. Unless of course you live in Alaska and have a few friends on the coast. However, out on the Bering sea, catching the crabs is a dangerous business.
Anything that tough to catch and bring to market will have the price tag to go with it.
So, if you buy Alaskan King Crab in the store, then you know they cost enough to elevate them to special treat status. For that reason, you want to make sure to prepare them the best way possible.
In my opinion, and I consider myself pretty picky about this stuff, getting Alaskan King Crab on your Traeger is the best way to go!
Is Alaskan King Crab already cooked?
Unless you can somehow find a live king crab, Alaskan King Crab has already been cooked. You can tell that it has already been cooked by the red and white colors of the shell.
The reason for pre-cooking the crab is it is the best way to preserve if from catching it to getting it in the store. Crab naturally goes bad quickly if you don’t cook it very soon after catching it. For that reason, the crab boats haul it up and boil it fast to preserve it.
That means by the time you get it home to YOU, all it needs it to be reheated.
The good news is you really are just warming it and adding some smokiness to the crab meat.
How do I grill my Alaskan King Crab legs on the Traeger?
Nothing could be easier than Traeger smoked crab. Get the temperature up to about 180-200°, and throw on some pellets for smoke. You are only going to need a couple minutes of smoking because the legs will take on the flavor really fast.
Brush some smoked garlic butter on the legs and put them into the smoke for about five minutes tops. Then take the temp up to about 325-350°. Anywhere in there is fine.
Give about three to five minutes per side depending on whether the legs just came out of the fridge, freezer, or have come up to room temperature.
Take off the grill, wear an oven mitt to hold them, then split the leg up the long side that isn’t spiny (the underside of the leg) by cutting them with a pair of kitchen shears. I prefer cutting them than cracking them with a cracker. You don’t get a bunch of shell bits and you can remove the full piece of delicious meat without it being mashed and mangled.
If you prefer, you can even ask your butcher/fish monger/meat counter to see if they’ll split them in half for you. It is hard to do at home, so I recommend leaving that to the professionals.
What kind of sauce do I serve with grilled Alaskan King Crabs?
Of course butter is the first thing that comes to most people’s minds. Warm melted butter. Dripping off a piece of grilled crab (or lobster of course). It just goes so perfectly with the brine of the sea flavors found in the shellfish.
Plain old melted butter will do just fine, but why not put a spin on it or try something completely different? You went the extra mile to throw your Alaskan King Crab on your Traeger so you deserve the opportunity to elevate your dipping sauce as well.
One easy twist on melted butter that works really well is to heat the butter with some capers. If you are unfamiliar with capers, they are pickled and come from two parts of the caper bush, which is also known as a “Finders Rose”.
The small round ball caper is actually the unopened bud of a caper bush flower. The caper berry is the fruit of the bush. Both taste about the same and you can easily find them typically on the specialty food aisle or where you find unrefrigerated jars of pickles.
Heat the butter and skim off the frothy white milk solids that rise to the surface to clarify the butter with the caper in the butter as it warms. Depending on your preference, you can either remove the capers or leave them in the butter to serve.
Add a squeeze of lemon juice and you are ready to serve.
You could also use garlic instead of capers and create a wonderful garlic butter. Mince your garlic very finely, then add it to your warming butter and skim the solids as well. You can put a squeeze of lemon on or just go with the garlic by itself. I like the bit of lemon to balance the garlic but it is really fantastic either with or without.
If you want the butter a little smokey as well, I highly recommend my smoked garlic butter.
I also have a couple other suggestions for dipping sauces that work well and put you on your way to the best grilled crab ever.
- Mignonette sauce – typically used for raw oysters, but this also works with the smokiness and salt of the sea flavor of the crab as well.
- Cholula Buffalo Sauce – A touch of spice, a bit of tang, and the added smokiness of the Cholula compliment the crab perfectly.
- Bloody Mary Buffalo sauce – A different take on the buffalo sauce that comes a bit closer to a classic seafood horseradish sauce but with a twist
- Homemade barbecue sauce – You cooked your crab on the grill, why not use this sauce to complete the barbecue flavors?
What can I serve with King Crab Legs as a side dish?
Crab is super rich, especially when you serve it with garlic butter, so I like to serve it with something light, like a green salad with a vinigrette dressing. My Greek Freak Dressing would be perfect for this.
Sometimes I LIKE rich though, and if I’m feeding a crowd and need something more filling to go alongside the crab, I’ll whip up a batch of this Creamy Asparagus Pasta in a hot minute.
- 3-4 pounds King Crab Legs
- 1 batch smoked garlic butter
- Preheat your grill to 180°-200° according to factory instructions.
- If your crab is split, brush it with garlic butter and then put it on the grill. If it isn't split, just put it right on the grill.
- Smoke the crab for 5 minutes, and then turn up the heat to 350°-375°.
- Grill the grab for 5 minutes at the higher temp, and then flip and grill another 5 minutes.
- Remove from the grill and enjoy with your smoked garlic butter for dipping.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 441 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 240mg Sodium: 4863mg Carbohydrates: 0g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 88g