Difference Between Snow Crab Vs King Crab

snow crab vs king crab

Crabs comes in different shape, size, texture and flavor. It is considered as the most popular and delicious seafood options. The most common type of crabs are the snow crab and the King crab. Both crabs have noticeable differences that sets them apart from each other despite them being on the same crab variety. Do snow crab and king crab legs have the same flavor? or Do they appear similar in size and appearance? Or which of the two tastes better? In today’s guide, let us figure out the differences between Snow crab vs king crab according to its size, texture, flavor, habitat and when each of these crabs are usually harvested.

Difference Between Snow Crab Vs King Crab

Before talking about the differences of Snow crab vs king crab, let us first talk about their similarities. Both the snow crab and the king crab is known for its tender and delicious meat. Most of the time, these two types of crabs are used interchangeably in cuisines that requires preparation of crabs. Also, both these crabs have legs that are sweet and can be found in your local supermarket near you, though you can also order them in most seafood markets on line.

The 5 major differences between Snow crab vs king crab are as follows, and we will be discussing further each of these differences below.

  • Size and Legs
  • Habitat and Fishing season
  • Taste
  • Texture
  • Price

Snow Crab Vs King Crab: Size and Legs

The most obvious differences between a snow crab and a King crab the difference in their sizes. King crabs are much larger than snow crabs and can weigh up to 20 pounds and can measure up to 6 feet across. The width of a shell in a King crab is approximately 11 inches. Though the legs of a King crab much shorter and usually weighs about 6 pounds with a tough shell.

Snow crabs on the other hand are relatively smaller than King crabs and can weigh up to 7 pounds. Compared to King crabs, legs of a Snow crab are long but shells are much thinner. Snow crab leg usually weighs between 2 pounds to 4 pounds.

You can easily tell if the crab is a snow crab or a king crab by just looking at its legs. King crab has approximately 3 pairs of legs and 2 big claws, and a snow crab has 4 pair of legs and 2 claws.

Snow Crab Vs King Crab: Habitat and Fishing Season

Both the Snow crab and the King Crab has different habitats and different harvest season. While Snow crabs thrives well in deep and cold water with a temperature range of -1 and 5 degrees Celsius particularly in the North Atlantic and North pacific oceans. Most of the time, Snow crabs are found in areas such as Alaska, Canada, Russia, Norway, Greenland and Maine.

King Crabs thrives well in muddy coastal waters and usually found in the Bering sea (between Alaska and Russia). Most King crabs prefer to live in water that are not more than 600 fee above, though a golden king crab otherwise prefers to live in a much deeper water level (between 1000 to 3000 feet deep).

When it comes to harvesting and fishing season, Snow crabs harvesting season usually starts in late fall although it can extend in early summers while King crabs are usually harvested between late fall and early winter season. Because harvesting season usually takes just a few weeks, King crab are relatively pricey because of limited supply but with higher demands.

Snow Crab Vs King Crab: Taste and Texture

The meat of a snow crab is sweet and with a subtle briny flavor. Its texture is firm and more fibrous where it is easy to shred the meat into smaller pieces as compared to the King crab that has a rich and sweet flavor. King crab meat is also known for being tender and its texture is similar to that of a lobster.

Snow crab’s meat texture are delicate and usually turns from red to snowy white while King crab’s meat usually comes out as big and firmer chunks of meat.

When it comes to consuming the crab, the snow crab leg shells easily breaks and cracks open even without using a cracking tool and just your bare hands, though snow crabs must not be overcooked to be able to use your hands to crack it open.

The shells of a King crab is more thicker that has a spikey appearance and texture. The shells are very hard to crack open that is why you will be needing a cracking tool to crack the shell open and enjoy its delicious meat inside.

Snow Crab Vs King Crab: Price

As previously mentioned, Kings crabs have a shorter harvesting season and with that the availability of King crabs are very limited. Aside from that, and because of its lobster like flavor, King crabs are relatively more expensive than snow crabs.

Snow crabs is less expensive than King crabs aside from that fact that snow crabs is much thinner than king crabs. Also because Snow crabs harvesting season is usually longer, therefore more available supplies hence it is less expensive.

Cooking Methods for Crab Legs

There are different way to cook Snow crab legs and King crab legs such as boiling, steaming cooking in the oven and grilling. You can always choose however you want to cook the crab legs according to one’s preferences.

Boiling snow crab and King crab legs

If you want the traditional and simply way of cooking crab legs, opt for the boiling method. It is the perfect method if you want the water to simply flow in and out of snow crab and king crab legs allowing crab meat to keep its moisture while at the same time retaining the crabs meat juices. Although a downside for using the boiling method is that crab meat tends to be watery if water will not be completely drained, always keep in mind to completely drain the water.

Steaming snow crab and King crab legs

The steaming method is also a very simple and easy method of cooking crab legs. This method is best used when using a large pot enough to cover crabs. A typical steaming basket can usually hold up to 1 pound of crab legs, therefore plan your cooking ahead of time so as to accommodate the number of crab legs you will be needing to prepare.

The steaming method is the preferred method since as compared to boiling, steaming allows the flavor of the crab meat to be kept inside its shell and not leaking outside the water where it is being cooked. Also, with steaming method crab legs will be less watery as compared to the boiling method.

Oven Crab Legs

Cooking crab legs in the oven is preferable especially if you intend to make large batches of cooked crab legs. You can bake crab legs in the oven per clusters of crab legs. Wrapping each clusters using a heavy duty aluminum foil for 25 minutes ( for frozen crab legs) or 15 minutes for thawed crab legs.

If you want butter to infuse its flavoring to your crab meat, broiling method is ideal. The temperature will not only caramelized the crab legs but also helps in enhancing its flavors.

Grilling snow crab and King crab legs

Preparing snow crab and king crab legs off the grill will definitely result to a delicious crab meal. Grilling will leave a smokey flavor to your crab legs. When grilling, make sure snow crab and king crab legs are packed in foil packets to prevent messy preparations therefore it would be easy to clean after. However, if foil packets are not available make sure to brush hot coil with butter or olive oil before grilling crab legs. Doing so will prevent the crab legs from sticking to the grill and it will be easier to clean up too.

Learn how to cook Snow crab or King crab legs

  • Preparation time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 13 minutes


  • 3 to 4 pounds of crab legs (either snow crab or king crab)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (unsalted)
  • 1 pc lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp. parsley (freshly chopped)


  1. Allow crab legs to defrost from the freezer in the fridge overnight (the night before you plan to cook the crabs).

    You can also place frozen crab legs under running water for 15 minutes)

  2. Preheat oven to 191 degrees Celsius or 375°F.

  3. Mix melted butter and chopped parsley in a small sized bowl.

  4. Evenly place the crab legs to the baking sheet and brush crab legs using the mixture of butter and parsley.

  5. Start baking for at least 7 minutes. Make sure not to overcook crab legs to avoid a rubbery and chewy texture.

  6. Once cooked, remove baking pan from the oven. Topped crab legs with remaining parsley.

  7. Serve

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a male king crab and a female King crab have the same body shape?

No, a the body shape of a male king crab differs from the body shape of a female king crab. Male King crabs have a triangular shaped body with a pointed shells while female kings crabs on the other hand have a fan-shaped body.

Are King crabs and Snow crabs dangerous?

King crabs and snow crabs are not known to be dangerous to humans. Although it would be only be dangerous during harvesting season since it usually happens during winter season and the water is extremely cold during that time therefore extra careful is necessary.

Which type of crab should you buy: King crab or snow crab?

Deciding whether to buy a king crab or a snow crab depends on your preferences. But whichever type of crab you choose to buy, both have the same delicious taste and flavor.

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