Mom's Recipes

photo of Maryland steamed blue crabs

Maryland Steamed Blue Crabs

by Joanne Rafton and Susan Right

August 14, 2020

Old Bay Seasoning and blue crabs are both synonymous with the Chesapeake Bay region of Maryland, where the plentiful crustaceans gave rise to a seafood seasoning just for them. Maryland residents will tell you: the more spice mix, the better, and only use Jimmies (the meatier, male crabs). The simple recipe makes serving a crowd super easy; in under an hour you can get crackin'!

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  • 3 dozen live blue crabs 
  • 1/2 cup Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3 cups beer (cheap beer like Budweiser is best)    
  • 3 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning (used  after cooking)


Step 1

Combine 1/2 cup of Old Bay seasoning, salt, beer, and vinegar in a large stockpot over high heat. Bring to a strong simmer.

Step 2

Right before cooking, carefully place each crab upside down and stick a knife through the shell, just behind mouth.         

Step 3

Fit a screen over the beer mixture and layer the crabs on the screen. Be sure that the crabs are above the simmering liquid. Cover.

Step 4

Steam crabs until they turn bright orange and all of the blue/green color is gone, 20 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup seafood seasoning before serving.


How would you rate this recipe?

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Jackyl - sep 06, 2021

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This is a true Maryland Blue Crab recipe! In fact I just cooked up a 1/2 bushel of Chincoteague Bay crabs with the same ingredients except the salt since these crabs are raised in the saltier Atlantic Ocean water then the Chesapeake blue crab. Do what they said then put out some cider vinegar and Bay Seasoning for dipping and you have a real Maryland crab feast. Oh yeah beer is traditional with it too!

rick holmes - august 12, 2021

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Very good, however we added J.O.'s seasoning and it was sensational.

elizabeth mcdugel - july 3, 2021

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This was very easy to prepare and oh so good!  Thanks!

Wyattdogster - may 20, 2021

elizabeth mcdugel - july 3, 2021

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This is the best method for blue crabs and is how my family has always cooked them. I don't add the salt, doesn't seem important. Make sure to serve with individual bowls of melted butter for dipping!