Steamed Maryland Blue Crabs

Close up of a pile of steamed crabs and corn on the cob.

5 from 3 reviews

These steamed blue crabs are the best you'll ever have! Steamed Maryland style with lots of Old Bay and a few family secrets to make them extra delicous.

This is not a recipe as much as it is a method. Your amounts will depend on how many people you're serving, how big of a pot you have, and how much seasoning you prefer.


  • light beer (about 3/4 cup)
  • plain white distilled vinegar (about 3/4 cup)
  • Live blue claw crabs (about 3-6 per person, depending on size)
  • Old Bay seasoning, to taste, plus more for serving
  • melted butter, for serving (optional)


  1. Add equal parts beer and vinegar to the bottom of a large steamer pot, about 1 inch.
  2. Bring the liquid to a boil, then add a single layer of live crabs. Be careful, they'll put up a fight!
  3. Sprinkle the crabs liberally with Old Bay seasoning, then repeat with 2-3 more layers of crabs, but no more than 4 total. Make sure the liquid is at a rolling boil.
  4. Cover and steam for about 8-12 minutes, depending on size. Larger crabs (#1's) will take 12 minutes, slightly smaller crabs (#2's) about 10 minutes, and smaller crabs about 8 minutes. Set a timer.
  5. Line a big table with newspaper or brown paper bags, then dump the steamed crabs out on top. Repeat with the rest of your crabs until they're all used up.
  6. Serve immediately with extra old bay, melted butter, corn on the cob and plenty of ice cold beer.


  • This is more of a method than an exact recipe. The quantities and cook time will vary based on the size of your pot and the size of your crabs. 
  • Don't overcrowd the pot with too many crabs or the crabs on the bottom will overcook while the crabs on top might undercook. It's best to work in batches. The amount will depend on the size of your crabs and the size of your pot, but keep each batch to 4 layers or less. 
  • Some people like to remove the backs from the crabs and lean out the lungs and guts prior to steaming. This makes them a little easier and less messy to pick, but it takes away some of their flavor and adds more work for the cook. We prefer to cook them whole because they taste better that way. 
  • Don't be shy with the Old Bay Seasoning. Most of it will stick to the shell and won't actually make it to the crab meat, so the more the better. 


Keywords: crabs, boil, steam, seafood, shellfish, beer, vinegar, the best, Chesapeake, maryland