Pan-Fried Soft Shell Crab


Pan-Fried Soft Shell Crab is extremely easy to prepare and cook. The basics are as follows: butter, soft shell crab, a pan and heat. Add some garlic and a squirt of lemon and you have a mouth-watering appetizer on your plate—one with a crispy outer shell filled with sweet juicy crab meat.

Last friday, I cooked a seven-course seafood themed Father’s Day Dinner (Yes—sometimes, I impress even myself).

Last friday, I cooked a seven-course seafood themed Father’s Day Dinner (Yes—sometimes, I impress even myself). To shop for ingredients, I went to Diana’s Seafood Delight shop with my Aunt and we filled our baskets with some lobster, shrimp, chilean sea bass and, can I have a drumroll please?—soft shell crab. It was the first time I have ever seen soft shell crab for sale and I quickly nabbed 3 of them to try ($6.99 CDN each). Apparently they are in season from April to September, so now is an excellent time purchase them.



The name ‘soft shell crab’ is given accordingly—it describes the state when the crab has recently shed their old shell and their new shell has yet to harden. Their soft shell makes prep for cooking super easy and the best part is the minimal effort required eating soft shell crab compared to normal crab. The entire crab, shell and all, is edible so all you have to do is pop it into your mouth and chew!


When buying soft shell crab, choose the freshest you can, preferably still alive. This may sound cruel, however, the best way to check is to gently brush up against their eyes and if they move, the crab is still alive. It’s best to eat the crab(s) the day you buy them to guarantee freshness (which also applies for all seafood).


Pan-Fried Soft Shell Crab

YIELD: 3 soft shell crabs
ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME (active + inactive time): 15 minutes
CREDITS: Frances Lam


  • 3 soft shell crabs (roughly 130g each)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 stalks green onion, sliced (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)
  • lemon wedge to serve


  1. Prepare the soft shell crab by snipping off the front where the eyes and mouthparts are. Lift the pointed side of the shell and remove the gill, repeat with the other side. Turn the crab onto its back and remove the triangular flap covering the stomach. Wash, pat dry and season very lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the butter over medium heat and add minced garlic and green onion, sautéing until fragrant. Add the soft shell crab right side up and cook for 2-4 minutes each side. The crab will change to a golden color and look crispy once done. Section each crab into two pieces and serve with a squeeze of lemon juice on top.


  • Don’t prep the crab until you are going to cook it. Store any live crabs in the fridge for a max of 2 days, with a loose covering to ensure they have air. Don’t worry, they won’t crawl away, they are weak at this stage and the cold discourages them from moving.


  • Spencer
    9 years ago

    Thanks for sharing! These pictures and descriptions make it look so yummy.

    • frances
      9 years ago

      Spencer! You’re the first person ever to comment on my blog! You don’t know how much this means to me!!!! THANK YOU!

  • 8 years ago

    absolutely beautiful post and photography

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