Dungeness Crab Beer Boil

Dungeness crabs are a big deal around i love blue sea. After all, we have our very own crabbing captain in Rocky Burns of the Al-W.

For myself, Novembers meant family drives to Half Moon Bay on the Northern California Coast. Bundled against the coastal fog, we would eat our crabs right on the beach with steaming cups of clam chowder and loaves of sourdough bread.

After many years of crab eating, I had never attempted to take one home still alive!

Beer boiled Dungeness crabs were a hit with my friends, and much easier than I expected. I used this recipe for live crabs, though it can also be used to steam cooked crabs for more flavorful crabmeat.

For my beer boil, I aimed for a bold beer that would complement the sweet brininess of the Dungeness crab. I used my favorite red beer, the Redhook ESB.


This recipe is easy enough for beginners, and punched with flavor.


Fresh Live or Cooked Dungeness Crab

6-pack of your favorite Beer (a couple for the crabs… a couple for you)

2 cups vegetable or fish stock

1/4 C Salt


1 T Smoked Paprika

3 Garlic Cloves, whole

Some shakes of Tabasco Hot Sauce

Some shakes of Old Bay, a popular seafood seasoning


You’ll also need…

Large pot or Steamer

Long pair of tongs


If you are using live crabs, it is best to make sure they are chilled before you put them in the pot.

Heat a little olive oil in the large pot over medium heat. Add the aromatics (garlic cloves and any herbs). Once your kitchen smells amazing, add beer and water/stock at a 3:2 ratio. You’ll want just enough broth to cover the crabs if they’re live. Adjust for less liquid if you plan to steam already cooked crabs.

Turn heat to high, bringing the broth to a rolling boil. Then add the Dungeness crabs.

Cover the pot to bring the crab back to a boil. Cook live crabs for 15-20 minutes, until the shell is a bright orange. Steam whole cooked for 4 to 5 minutes.

For cleaning instructions, check out our step-by-step with pictures here.


Beer Pairing: A cold Redhook ESB went well with my Redhook ESB-infused broth.

Posted Jan 29th by Danielle