Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes: Steamed Blue Crabs

By Debbie Hanson

Oct 30, 2023

Get seafood Thanksgiving recipes that break from tradition. Skip the Thanksgiving turkey recipe, swap it out for this blue crab recipe that everyone will love.

Have you been looking for non-traditional Thanksgiving recipes? This year might be the year to take a break from the turkey and make the switch to steamed blue crabs instead. The time from prep to table is only about 25 to 30 minutes, which means more time enjoying family and less time in the kitchen.

Steamed Blue Crab Ingredients


Once you’ve made the decision to swap the usual Thanksgiving turkey recipe for steamed blue crabs, all you need is five ingredients.

• Water

• White distilled vinegar

• One dozen live blue crabs (stored on ice, not in water)

• Old Bay or similar seasoning to taste

• Melted butter

If you plan to harvest your own blue crabs, you should know that some states have laws that prohibit the harvest of female blue crabs so be sure to check the regulations in your state and learn how to identify a female from a male blue crab. Male crabs have a long pointy apron down the center while females have a larger, wider apron. Females also have red tips at the end of their claws.

If you don’t have time to harvest your own blue crabs, no worries. The month of November can be a great time of year to get the largest blue crabs at the best prices if you plan on shopping at a seafood market.

Directions for Steaming Blue Crabs


When it comes to simple non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner recipes, steamed blue crabs are the ideal choice if you have seafood-loving friends and family. Anyone can learn how to steam blue crabs since the process only involves a few steps.

1. Add equal parts water and vinegar to the bottom of a large stock pot with a steamer basket. Water and vinegar should be about 2-inches deep in the bottom of the stock pot.

2. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then add a single layer of live blue crabs.

3. Coat the crabs generously with Old Bay seasoning. Repeat this same process with 2 to 3 more layers of blue crabs. Make sure the liquid is at a rolling boil.

4. Cover the pot and steam for about 8 to 12 minutes (set a timer). Steaming time will depend on the size of the crabs. Larger crabs will take the full 12 minutes, medium-sized crabs about 10 minutes, and small crabs about 8 minutes.

5. Line your table with brown paper bags and dump the steamed crabs out on top of the paper bags. This will make the clean-up process quick and super easy when you’re done with your

6. Serve with extra seasoning, melted butter, corn on the cob and potatoes.

Not all recipes for Thanksgiving have to involve turkey, hours of cooking, and a dozen side dishes. If you and your family love seafood, keep it simple and try steaming blue crabs instead!

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.