Soft-Shell Crabs with Sliced Sweet Onion

soft shell crab white dish meal
Photo: Maria Robledo
2 to 4 Serves

The ultimate seasonal treat! Here, soft-shell crabs are given a quick buttermilk brine before being coated in a mixture of seasoned cornmeal and flour and fried to perfection.


  • ½ cup low-fat buttermilk

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • ½ cup stone-ground white cornmeal

  • ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 4 soft-shell crabs, cleaned

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, very thinly sliced, for serving

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus wedges for serving

  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus sprigs for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow dish; set aside. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in another shallow dish.

  2. Working in batches if necessary, place crabs in egg mixture, and turn to coat. Let stand 5 minutes. Lift out, allowing excess to drip off. Transfer to cornmeal mixture; turn to coat. Tap off excess, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.

  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high until hot but not smoking. Working in batches if necessary, add crabs; cook, flipping once, until crisp, golden brown, and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Using a slotted spatula, transfer crabs to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Place in oven to keep warm while making sauce.

  4. Divide onion slices among plates; set aside. Pour off oil from the skillet; wipe clean. Add butter; melt over medium-low heat. Stir in lemon juice, chopped parsley, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Drizzle onion slices generously with lemon sauce, and top with crabs. Pour remaining sauce over crabs. Serve with lemon wedges. Garnish with parsley sprigs.

Cook's Notes

Ask your fishmonger to clean the soft-shell crabs for you. Crabs should be cooked within 6 hours of cleaning.

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