Grilled Dungeness Crab

Any large fresh crabs will do here, if you can’t obtain Dungeness.


  • 2 live Dungeness crabs, 2 to 3 pounds each
  • 6 serrano chilies
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup salsa
  • crab butter (optional)


Divide the crabs in half by holding the claw and legs on 1 side of the crab in each hand and smashing the underside of the crab against the edge of a table or sink. Then twist the 2 sides in alternate directions, pulling the body away from the top shell. Clean out the body parts, removing the gills and other debris. Scoop out the coral from the shell and save for crab butter (recipe follows), if you wish. Discard the shell. Crack the claws and legs with a cracker or the flat of a heavy knife, being careful to keep the pieces intact.

Coarsely chop the chilies and garlic and combine them with the oil and salt in a large bowl. Toss the crabs in the oil mixture, making sure the cut sides are well coated. Marinate the crabs for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat the broiler or start a charcoal fire.

When the flames have died down, grill the crabs about 3 minutes on each side. Then turn them so that the cut sides are facing the grill and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. The crabs are cooked when the meat is opaque and the shells red.

Serve with the salsa and crab butter.