Pan-Fried Soft-Shell Crabs

Ask your fishmonger to clean soft-shell crabs for you. Crabs should be cooked no more than six hours after they are cleaned.

  • Servings: 6

Source: Martha Stewart Living, June 2001


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 12 soft-shell crabs, cleaned
  • 12 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 3 lemons, cut in half


  1. Whisk flour, salt, and pepper; place on a dinner plate. Dredge 2 soft-shell crabs in flour mixture, shaking off excess (make sure crabs are completely coated).

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. The oil should be very hot but not smoking. Place flour-coated crabs, back side down, in sauté pan; reduce heat to medium if pan starts to smoke. Sauté crabs until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes (do not stand too close to pan; crabs tend to spatter during cooking). Turn crabs over, and cook 2 minutes more.

  3. Add 1 tablespoon butter and a large pinch of parsley to skillet. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over crabs. Keep warm in a low oven. Repeat process until all the crabs are cooked.


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