This Grilled King Crab Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing is delicious at home or at a picnic, and is light, refreshing, and healthy!
This Grilled King Crab Salad with Creamy Avocado is delicious at home or at a picnic, and is a light, refreshing, and healthy seafood salad!
Let’s all take a moment to pause, ponder, and be thankful for whoever it was, long, long ago, that discovered that crustaceous crabs, with their hard shells and spiny legs, are full of sweet, delicious meat. To me, these crawly sea monsters do NOT appear edible, and quite honestly are a little scary-looking, but I’m extremely grateful to whoever figured out that they make a fabulous dinner!
Today we’re cooking with legs from red king crab, a crab that can grow up to 5 feet in length, and golden (or brown) king crab, its slightly smaller relative. I’ll walk you through how to open up the crab legs (even without a crab cracker!), and how to make a healthy and delicious Grilled King Crab Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing.
Buying King Crab Legs
What should you look for when you’re buying king crab legs? For the most part, king crab is harvested off the Alaskan and Norwegian coastlines in the Barents Sea, and is considered a highly sustainably-sourced seafood. Most of the king crab legs you’ll find will be frozen and precooked.
For this recipe, use either (or both) red king crab legs or golden (brown) king crab legs. What’s the difference? The flavor is slightly different– some people claim red king crab is sweeter, and some claim that golden king crab is sweeter. The meat is interchangeable in this recipe, so use whichever you prefer!
For this recipe, I got my crab legs from Orca Bay, my favorite seafood supplier! Their wild-caught, high-quality king crab legs are large and meaty, but still incredibly manageable. Unlike some “colossal-sized” king crab legs, these actually fit on my grill, and are easy to work with!* Both their red king crab legs and golden (brown) king crab legs come in 1 pound bundles that feed 4-5 people, and are frozen in see-through packaging, with the legs, claws, and shoulder meat.
Order Orca Bay Online: Use my Ambassador Code: champagnetastes for 15% off!
Find Orca Bay locally: Use their store finder, or try these vendors: Costco, Ingles, Giant Eagle, Market of Choice, Whole Foods (Northwest Region), HyVee, Dierberg’s, Woodman’s, Acme Fresh, Hen House, Price Cutter, Harp’s, Price Chopper- Kansas City. (Note: if you don’t have one of these stores in your local area, but do have a health food store, check there! That’s where I find my Orca Bay fish.)
Grilling King Crab Legs
Grilling king crab legs is pretty straightforward– simply get your grill hot, brush the legs with oil, and set them on the grill in a single layer. If you’ve let the frozen legs thaw, you’ll grill them for about 4 minutes, and if they’re still frozen, grill them for about 10 minutes. Use grill tongs to turn them about halfway through the grill time.
Cracking Open King Crab Legs (Without a Crab Cracker)
First of all, know that there are a lot of tools made specifically for cracking open crabs. If you already own a crab cracker, or have worked out a crab-shelling technique after years of practice– keep at it! For those of us who don’t own crab crackers, or for those of you who DO own them, but can never remember where you stored your handy crab tools, this tutorial is for you! All you need is a large cutting board, a chef’s knife, and kitchen shears.
- Using the back of a chef’s knife, cut the crab legs apart at each joint. (Alternatively, you could bend them back and forth until they break.) Cut off the shoulder meat (but don’t throw it away!), and pull out the long plastic-like cartilage strips.
- Try to push the crab meat through the shell with your finger. This won’t work for each section, but when it does work, it’ll save you a little effort.
- Take the remaining large leg sections, and split the shells by holding each leg on end, placing the tip of a chef’s knife at the top, and pushing the knife down through the shell. (Alternatively, skip to step 4 and use the kitchen shears on each leg section.)
- For the remaining smaller leg sections, use kitchen shears to cut a slit lengthwise up the shell. Use the scissors to open the claws up too, or pick the meat out with a seafood fork or pick.
- Use your fingers to pry open the split shells and shoulder sections and remove the meat. Discard the shells, and keep the meat.
Making Grilled King Crab Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
Once you’ve grilled the king crab legs and removed the meat, go ahead and start assembling your salad. You’ll need lettuce (I like to use a spinach and romaine mixture), some boiled eggs, diced tomato, and a few lime wedges on the side. For the avocado dressing, simply blend together an avocado, a little yogurt, and some lime juice. Top the salad with the crab meat, and serve this salad at home, at a picnic, or wherever your crab-loving friends will be!
*When you’re shopping for crab legs, be aware that red king crab legs are sometimes sold in ‘colossal’ or ‘jumbo’ sizes. While these legs are pretty spectacular, they can be tricky to prepare for those of us without commercial-sized kitchen equipment or massive grills! Personally, I prefer to buy king crab legs that are a little easier to handle, and will fit on my 18″ charcoal grill.
Grilled King Crab Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing
Serves 4 as Main Dish, 6-8 as a Side Dish
- 1 lb King Crab Legs (*See Recipe Notes) Orca Bay Crab Legs recommended
- 1 TB olive oil
- 4 oz fresh spinach
- 1 Romaine heart, roughly chopped
- 4 boiled eggs (or more if desired), halved
- 1 large tomato, diced (or more if desired)
- 2 limes, quartered
Creamy Avocado Dressing:
- 1 avocado
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lime, juiced
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Brush legs with olive oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill. Place crab legs on grill in a single layer, and grill 4-5 minutes total for thawed crab legs or 10-11 minutes total for frozen legs. Flip legs about halfway through grill time.
Removing Crab Meat:
Remove legs from the grill, and allow them to cool slightly. Using the back of a chef's knife, cut the crab legs at each joint. Cut off the shoulder meat (but do not discard!!!). Pull out the long plastic-like strips of cartilage.
Next, attempt to push the crab meat straight out of the shell section with your finger. (This will be easiest on the upper portions of the legs, but will likely not work for each section.)
To split the remaining large leg sections, hold the crab leg on its end, and insert the tip of a chef's knife into the top of the shell. Push down.
To split the rest of the leg sections, use kitchen shears to cut the shell open. Use the scissors to open the claws up too, or pick the meat out with a seafood fork or pick.
Using your fingers, pry the split or cut shells off, and reserve the meat. Peel the shell off of the shoulder meat. Discard the shells, collect the meat.
Creamy Avocado Dressing:
Add avocado, yogurt, lime juice, and salt to a blender basin. Blend until creamy. (This dressing is thick, allowing it to work as both a dressing and a sauce to dip the crab into. If you prefer a thinner dressing, add more lime juice.)
Assemble the Salad:
Toss together the romaine hearts and spinach. Use the lettuce as a base for the salad, and then add the tomatoes, boiled eggs, and crab. Serve with limes and the avocado dressing.
*King Crab legs are typically sold pre-cooked, and simply need to be heated up. The cook time for this recipe assumes your crab legs are pre-cooked, so if you're using fresh, uncooked crab legs, the cook time will be longer.
Calorie Information was calculated per serving using My Fitness Pal. Calorie count does not include the olive oil, since it is not consumed.