April 7

Can You Freeze Crab Meat?

Written by: Michael


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You're stuck with some leftover crab, and letting it go to waste seems like a huge loss. Don't lose hope just yet. Freezing crab is a totally viable option, but some precautions should be taken in order to ensure optimal flavor preservation.

Below I've provided a full guide to freezing crab meat to ensure taste is preserved for months down the line. Comment below if you have any questions.


Can You Freeze Crab Meat?

Yes, like most meat, you can freeze crab to preserve freshness. But freezing isn't without its consequences. In order to ensure the best crab taste for as long as possible, certain steps should be taken.

After researching some of the most popular crab fishing companies, and sifting through countless crab forums, there seems to be two different methods to effectively preserving flavor with freezing. 

Crab (Shell intact)

If the crab shell is still intact, I highly recommend keeping it that way. Crab shells are highly protective and slow the environmental degradation of the meat. Shelled crabs will last a few days in the fridge, whereas exposed crab meat will only last hours. 

If the goal is to keep the crab fresh as long as possible, here's what to do:

Take all the crabs you plan to freeze and boil/steam them as if you were cooking them to eat that day. Place them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Then, vacuum seal them in a food grade bag and stick them in the freezer.

While some quality is always lost with freezing, cooking and vacuum sealing ensures the best chance of a safe and fresh tasting experience for months down the line. 

Take out of freezer 2 hours prior to serving and thaw in cold water. Heat in steam/hot water if desired, and serve. 

Crab Meat (Bare)

If the meat is already out of the crab, we have to work fast. If the crab meat has been in the fridge for a few days, I wouldn't even recommend freezing it. Best to save the freezer space for things that will taste good down the road. But if the crab meat is fresh and you wish to keep it that way for as long as possible, here's what to do:

Take a food grade, sealed bag (don't vacuum seal, milk will need room to expand) and place your crab meat inside. Pour milk (whole milk is recommended) until the entirety of the meat is submerged. Freeze it and enjoy crab for up to a solid 6 months (maybe longer). 

Prepare the meat a few hours before serving. Put the crab meat and milk through a strainer and rinse with water. Run cold water over the crab meat until all milk crystals are gone. Then serve. 

Why the Milk, you ask?


Honestly I've had difficulty finding the science behind why the "milk technique" works so effectively.  I've looked everywhere trying to discredit it, but everybody seems to be on the same page.

This technique shows noticeably better flavor preservation. 

Why cant you just cover it in water? It could be due to milk's slightly lower freezing point than water, but this is unlikely. Unprocessed milk's freezing point is only one degree below waters (approximately 31°F). The average freezer temperature is far below this temperature anyways.

The most probable explanation is that milk is saturated with nutrients, both macro and micro. Where water can absorb, or steal, the flavor components of the crab meat, milk is already well-saturated with sugars, fats and minerals. The osmotic effect of these elements are probably far less drastic in milk than they are in water. 

Other Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Can you Keep Crab in the Freezer?

There seems to be no common length of time between crab companies here. As far as quality goes, 6 months seems to be a healthy average. Other people claim they've eaten good crab over a year after freezing, but I have my suspicions. 

Can You Freeze Crab Soup?

As long as everything is safely cooked, crab soup can absolutely be frozen. I've actually heard several stories of people surprised at how good crab soup tastes after months of being frozen. The only thing to look out for is the cream you add. Cream will have a tendency to curdle after reheated. So, if you can, keep from adding the cream until served.

Does Freezing a Crab Kill it?

Yes, crabs will die in the freezer if inside for over a few hours. But to make cooking slightly easier, people will temporarily store their crabs in the freezer right before cooking. This allows the crabs metabolism and movements to slow down to keep them from getting feisty in the pot.  

Can you Cook Crab Frozen?

You can, but I wouldn't recommend it. Gradually increasing the temperature (thawing before cooking) seems to reap the greatest results. Going from frozen to boiling temperatures so quickly tends to cook the crab unevenly. 


I highly encourage you to at least give it a go. While I FULLY understand there is nothing like fresh crab, there are still ways to get something that resembles "fresh." Take the steps we've outlined and let me know how it goes.



Founder of Robust Kitchen


About the author

Michael spends his days eating, drinking and studying the fascinating world of food. He received his Bachelors Degree in Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis and spent much of his time at the school brewery. While school proved to be an invaluable experience, his true passion lies in exposing the hidden crannies of food for the cooking laymen.

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  1. Milk is also good for getting rid of fishy smelling white fish. I buy frozen cod from Costco, thaw and bake them. Sometimes the fishy smell and taste is a little much.

    Read an article of using whole milk to stop the fishy smell from white fish. I placed thawed fish in a ziplock with whole milk for an hour, rinsed the fish, seasoned and baked. They were great!.

    I've soaked the fish and milk overnight as well and tasted good.

    1. Hey Annie,

      Thanks for the thoughtful response 🙂 It seems like a lot of responders use milk to “keep things fresh”. I’ve had trouble finding any sources that validate this, but I have a theory. Rather than keeping the fish “fresh”, I think the milk is simply absorbing the unappealing spoilage molecules caused by oxidation reactions. Milk has a solid level of protein, carbohydrates and fats (while almost being completely pH neutral) which makes it a perfect candidate for taking up loose (usually aromatic) molecules. This is obviously predicated on the food being stored cold (room temperature milk will spoil rapidly and the whole bunch will take on some pretty nasty flavors).

      Thanks again for your input Annie!


  2. Another use for milk i discovered is with liver. I marinate the cubed liver overnight in whole milk. Pour off the milk and toss cubes of liver in flour with personal blend of herbs/spices. Stirfry with end cuts of thick bacon(cheap)

    Toss in onions, sweet peppers ( i like mine in big chunks). Sometimes carrots if on hand.
    Then i add 2 cans of gravy ( although I just got a Instant pot so I could keep bone broth on hand) and simmer until veggies cooked.

    The milk marinade takes the sometimes bitter taste of liver and replaces it with a sweet tender liver

    Give it a try with your favorite liver recipe.

    I used to hate liver until I tasted milk marinated liver. The rest of the recipe is just my own creation.

    1. Hey Tina,

      Thanks for the insightful response! I’ve struggled to make liver palatable for a long time. But you really can’t find that kind of nutrient density anywhere else. I’ve opted to soaking the liver in apple cider vinegar over night and eating it raw! I know, disgusting! I’ll have to give this a try 🙂

      Thanks again 🙂


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