Snow Crab Vs King Crab: What’s the Difference?

Snow Crab vs King Crab

Seafood is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s also delicious. Two of the most popular types of seafood are snow crabs and king crabs. Although they both have “crab” in their name, they are different species with different characteristics. This article compares snow crab and king crab, covering taste, texture, nutrition, cooking methods, and more. Help you discover the key differences between snow crab vs king crab.

What is Snow Crab

Snow crab is found in the cold waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. It is also known as the queen crab or opilio crab. Snow crabs have a round, flat body and long legs covered in small spines. Typically, people harvest them in the winter months when they migrate to shallower waters to mate and lay their eggs. Snow crab meat is sweet and delicate, and commonly used in seafood dishes like salads, soups, and pastas.

What is King Crab

The highly sought-after species of crab, known for its large size and sweet, succulent meat, is called King crab or Alaskan king crab, and it is found in the cold waters of the North Pacific Ocean. King crabs have a hard, reddish-brown shell and long, spindly legs. During the winter months, people typically harvest them when they migrate to shallower waters to mate and lay their eggs. High-end seafood restaurants often serve the meat from king crab legs as a delicacy and a main course.

Main Difference Between Snow Crab and King Crab

Battle of Crabs

Snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) and king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) are related species of crustaceans that share the same family. However, they differ significantly in several characteristics. King crabs are heavier, with an average weight of 20 pounds or more, and have a more elongated body with shorter, thicker legs. In contrast, snow crabs weigh 1-2 pounds on average, have a rounder body, and long, slender legs. Moreover, snow crabs have a reddish-brown shell, while king crabs have a dark red or brownish-purple shell.

Snow Crab Vs King Crab: Which One is More Expensive

King crabs are generally more expensive than snow crabs due to their larger size and higher demand. The price of king crab can vary depending on the season, location, and quality, but it usually ranges from $20 to $50 per pound. Snow crabs are more affordable, with a price range of $8 to $20 per pound. However, the price may also depend on the region, as snow crab is more common in some areas than others.

Snow Crab vs King Crab: Which One is More Flavorful

comparison of Snow Crab and King Crab

Some people prefer one over the other, but both snow crab and king crab are known for their sweet and delicate flavor. Snow crab meat has a slightly sweeter taste and a softer texture than king crab meat, which is firmer and more succulent. However, the flavor and texture may also depend on the cooking method and seasoning used.

Nutritional Comparison

Both snow crab and king crab are low in fat and calories, and high in protein. They are a healthy choice for maintaining a balanced diet. They are rich in essential minerals that support immune function and promote healthy skin, hair, and nails. King crab meat contains more cholesterol than snow crab meat, so people with high cholesterol levels should consume it in moderation.

Snow Crab vs King Crab: Cooking Differences

Snow crab and king crab can be cooked in various ways, including boiling, steaming, grilling, and baking. However, the cooking time and method may differ depending on the size and type of crab. Snow crab legs are usually cooked for 4-6 minutes in boiling water or steamed for 5-7 minutes until the meat turns white and opaque. King crab legs are bigger and take longer to cook, usually between 10-15 minutes in boiling water or 15-20 minutes when steamed. Grilling and baking are also popular methods, as they can add a smoky flavor and caramelized crust to the crab meat.

Are snow crab and king crab interchangeable in recipes

Snow Crab or King Crab

Snow crab and king crab can be used interchangeably in most recipes, but the cooking time and portion size may vary. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 pound of king crab, you may need to use 1.5 to 2 pounds of snow crab to get the same amount of meat. However, keep in mind that king crab legs are thicker and contain more meat, so they may require more seasoning or sauce to enhance their flavor.

Availability in Grocery Stores and Seafood Markets

Snow crab is more widely available in grocery stores and seafood markets than king crab, especially in regions where it is caught. King crab is more of a delicacy and is usually shipped from Alaska, Russia, or Norway, where it is harvested from the Bering Sea or the North Atlantic. However, some specialty seafood stores may offer both types of crab, either fresh or frozen.

Do snow crab and king crab have different textures

Yes, snow crab and king crab have different textures due to their muscle fibers and connective tissues. Snow crab meat is softer and more delicate, with a flaky texture that melts in your mouth. King crab meat is denser and chewier, with a firmer texture that requires more effort to bite and chew. However, the texture may also depend on the age and size of the crab, as younger crabs tend to have more tender meat than older ones.

How to Crack Open and Eat Them Properly

Snow Crab or King Crab

Cracking open and eating crab is an art that requires some practice and patience, but it’s also a fun and rewarding experience. To crack open a snow crab or king crab leg, start by holding it with both hands and twisting it gently to separate the joints. Then, use a pair of scissors or a crab cracker to cut through the shell and expose the meat. Finally, pull out the meat with a fork or your fingers, being careful not to leave any shell fragments behind. You can dip the meat in melted butter, lemon juice, or your favorite sauce to enhance the flavor.

Freezing Snow Crab and King Crab: Storage and Shelf Life

Yes, you can freeze snow crab and king crab for later use. Freezing snow crab and king crab is possible, but proper techniques are necessary to maintain the meat’s quality and freshness. Then, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. Label the package with the date and store it in the freezer at 0°F or below. Frozen crab can last up to 6 months if stored properly, but it’s best to consume it within 3 months for optimal taste and texture.


In conclusion, snow crab and king crab are two delicious types of seafood that have their unique characteristics and benefits. Both king crab and snow crab are healthy and flavorful ingredients that can enhance any dish, although king crab is pricier and larger. Whether you prefer the delicate texture of snow crab or the firmness of king crab, both options are equally delicious.


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