Cleaned and Steamed Blue Crabs – Chesapeake Bay Classic

Cleaned and Steamed Blue Crabs

Growing up on the middle peninsula of Virginia, cleaned and steamed blue crabs were a delicacy in our family. Not everyone likes to clean their crabs before steaming them, but we always do. Not only does cleaning the crabs ahead of time make eating them easier and cleaner, but it helps the crabs absorb more of the Old Bay flavor. Gather up some friends, melted butter, crackers and some cold beer and enjoy!

To clean the crabs, you will start by putting on some thick rubber gloves. You then pull the top shell off, and then remove the “deadman” which is the gray gills. We usually remove the yellow “mustard” at this point, but that is optional as some people leave this in for additional flavor. Remove the apron and the eyes and then spray the crab about with a water hose to get any leftover parts. Always be sure that the crabs are still alive before starting the cleaning process. Do not cook any crabs that were dead before cleaning.

Tips for Cleaning and Steaming Blue Crabs:

  • Your crabs should always be alive just before steaming. NEVER start out with dead crabs.
  • Wearing thick rubber gloves is HIGHLY recommended when cleaning the crabs. I have included a link below to a good pair of gloves.
  • Serve crabs with some melted butter, additional Old Bay, vinegar, crackers and cold beer.
  • Steamed crabs can be kept in the refrigerator for about 5 days to enjoy later.

Products I recommend for cleaned and steamed blue crabs:


Steamer pot

Nut crackers

I would love to hear what you think of this recipe! Please let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to select a star rating. Thanks and enjoy!

How to clean blue crabs:

Cleaned and Steamed Blue Crabs

Steamed blue crabs are a Chesapeake Bay tradition and cleaning them before steaming is a must! This recipe is our family's way to do it.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: blue crab, chesapeake bay, cleaned, crab, crabs, dairy free, keto, low calorie, low carb, old bay, pescatarian, Seafood, steamed, virginia
Servings: 12 people
Calories: 229kcal


  • Steamer Pot


  • 1 bushel blue crabs
  • 1 lager beer I use Budweiser
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup Old Bay seasoning
  • water


  • To clean the crabs: remove the top shell, the gills, the yellow "mustard", the eyes and the apron. Spray the inside of the crabs with a hose and set aside.
  • Pour the beer and vinegar in the bottom of the steamer pot. Add water until there is about 3 inches in the bottom of the pot. Place the steamer basket in and fill the basket with half of the crabs. Sprinkle half of the Old Bay on the crabs and put the top on. Allow the pot to begin to steam and then steam for 20 minutes. Repeat the process for the rest of the crabs.


Sodium: 2213mg | Calcium: 136mg | Vitamin C: 18.7mg | Vitamin A: 100IU | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 557mg | Cholesterol: 111mg | Calories: 229kcal | Saturated Fat: 1g | Fat: 2g | Protein: 49g | Carbohydrates: 1g | Iron: 2.1mg

If you like this recipe, you may also like my Summer Shrimp Salad, Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos or my Scallops of Angel Hair.

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