Sautéed Soft Shell Crabs Two Ways

Finally! It is soft shell crab season. My husband and I love to enjoy them simply sautéed and served with quinoa or couscous and sautéed fresh-shelled peas. Later in the summer when the weather is hot, we enjoy the sautéed crabs without the sauce over a simple Caesar salad.

I look for live soft shell crabs from a very busy fish department and then have them cleaned for me. For the freshest taste and texture it is important to cook them that same day.

Sautéed Soft Shell Crab with Garlic and Lemon Butter Sauce

Serves 2

  • 4 live soft shell crabs, about 4 inches wide, cleaned
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (or smoked paprika)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • chopped fresh parsley (optional)


Arrange crabs in a shallow plate or pie plate and pour the milk over them. Let stand 15 to 30 minutes.

Combine flour, paprika, salt and cayenne pepper in a plastic or paper bag. Heat one tablespoon of the butter and the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the milk from crabs and one at a time shake them in the flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and add to skillet meaty sides down. Sauté for two to three minutes or until golden brown. Turn the crabs and continue to sauté two minutes or until browned. Transfer the crabs to two warmed serving plates.

Add remaining two tablespoons butter and garlic to the same skillet. Sauté two minutes, stirring up any browned bits. Stir in lemon juice and immediately drizzle the sauce over the crabs.

Caesar Salad with Soft Shell Crab

Serves 2


  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oil-packed anchovy fillet, mashed or minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, put through a garlic press
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  • 6 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 1/4 cup prepared garlic or plain croutons
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 4 sautéed soft shell crabs (without the butter sauce as per recipe above)
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese


For the salad dressing, combine mayonnaise, lemon juice, anchovy, garlic and Worcestershire sauce in a large salad bowl. Whisk in oil until dressing thickens. Whisk in the cheese.

For the salad, add lettuce to the bowl and toss well with dressing. Transfer to two large serving plates and top with the croutons and tomatoes. (At this point, salads may be refrigerated while preparing crabs.)

Place sautéed crabs over salads and top with the cheese. Serve with freshly ground black pepper if desired.

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