Can You Eat Horseshoe Crab? [Tips & Recipe]

Finding new ways to cook food can be an exciting process. Do you enjoy fishing or trying new types of seafood and wonder whether the horseshoe crab is edible? If you can eat this crab species, what will it taste like? Can you make dinner with one?

Luckily enough, we've researched these questions extensively and have the answers below!

Yes! You can certainly eat horseshoe crab, although it won't be as delicious as a meatier species. Typically, horseshoe crabs are popular throughout Asian countries, with their eggs being just as eaten/desired as they are.

One thing to note with these crabs is that they aren't too thick in consistency, with many describing their taste as briny rubber.

As we start, we will discuss whether it's safe to eat horseshoe crab and offer insight on how to cook using this species. We'll also cover where you can get horseshoe crabs, how to prepare them for cooking, and much more. With that said, let's dive right into this topic and answer some questions!

Spicy salad horseshoe crab egg with lettuce in white dish on table, Can You Eat Horseshoe Crab? [Tips & Recipe]

Is It Okay To Eat A Horseshoe Crab?

Yes. As long as you prepare your crab and clean it properly, you should be entirely fine to consume it. As we said above, many people eat horseshoe crab eggs rather than the salty meat they have, so you might have more luck in that department.

Horseshoe crab in a shallow water

However, if you want to prepare your entire horseshoe crab for consumption, that's when you want to clean it thoroughly and cook it at hot enough temperatures.

According to some experts, it's usually better to order horseshoe crab at a restaurant, where an experienced chef can prepare it. Sometimes, using this crustation for cooking can be tricky.

Furthermore, the pros at Food And Wine discuss how the only part of a horseshoe crab worth eating is its roe, which doesn't leave much on your plate.

As their reputation alludes, horseshoe crabs are mainly shell.

Are Horseshoe Crabs Poisonous?

No. Consuming a horseshoe crab is 100% safe as long as you clean it and cook it correctly. This species is not considered poisonous, so working with one will not harm you.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, horseshoe crabs, although intimidating looking, are entirely harmless. Even though they have sharp tails and shells, this is not an indication of poison or aggressive behavior.

On top of that, horseshoe crabs don't have any harmful toxins, nor do their shell spikes. So, if you prick your finger on the shell or tail, you won't experience adverse symptoms.

Many people confuse these crabs for rays or skates; horseshoe crabs are typically friendly and don't have any predatory or dangerous behaviors/side effects.

So, if you want to use one for a new recipe, we say go for it!

How Does A Horseshoe Crab Taste?

Horseshoe crab on the menu

Now that you know you can eat a horseshoe crab: what do they taste like? Well, according to most people who consume them, expect a salty rubber-like flavor.

Remember, this crustation is mostly eaten throughout Asia, especially its eggs, so the meat isn't always the focus. However, if you decide to cook your horseshoe crab, there won't be much to work with.

As we covered, this crab's roe is the main section you'll be able to salvage and prepare.

Therefore, if you want to share dinner with another person or you're starving, eating a horseshoe crab may not be the fix you're after. Unfortunately, not all crabs taste the same.

Again, you might enjoy the flavoring of a horseshoe crab's eggs instead of their meat, so there are other options here to consider.

What Is The Best Way To Prepare A Horseshoe Crab?

When it comes to preparing your horseshoe crab, you can usually do this in two ways. First, you can place your entire crab into a pot of boiling water and let it sit until the eggs have all been cooked.

Second, you can place your horseshoe crab on the grill for about five minutes or until the eggs cook. So, you must allow the crab eggs to cook regardless between these two prep options.

In addition, a horseshoe crab's meat will also cook during this time, so you can eat both parts of your crustation during lunch/dinner.

On top of that, you also want to keep your horseshoe crab in one piece before boiling or grilling. Doing this ensures an evenly cooked crab and is easier for your prep time.

Just remember to clean your crab beforehand with warm water to ensure any dirt or debris is off the shell before placing it in a pot or grill.

What Is A Good Horseshoe Crab Recipe?

For anyone who still needs a horseshoe crab recipe, why not try a delicious salad? Since this is mainly an Asian meal, we will share a recipe from that region for a yummy horseshoe crab salad!

  1. To begin, grab a large bowl and fill it with water.
  2. Add herbs or any extra veggies you want (carrots, peppers, etc.).
  3. Grab an additional stove-friendly pot and place it on top.
  4. Pour a large cup of water into the boiling pot.
  5. Place your horseshoe crab into the boiling water.
  6. During this time, wash your veggies in lettuce.
  7. Place them on your place and prepare the salad.
  8. After 5-10 minutes, remove your crab from the pot.
  9. Cut around the interior border of your crab's shell.
  10. Lift the shell and scoop the eggs (they should be yellow).
  11. Using a spoon, move the eggs onto your salad.
  12. Finish it off with some dressing, and you're done!

Again, you can add whatever vegetables you want to your salad, so that's up to you. Furthermore, this recipe is perfect for lunch or dinner, so whenever you want a salad, why not add horseshoe crab eggs?

This recipe also comes from the Philippines, so this is a perfect way to invite a new culture into your home for a meal.

To watch a video depicting this process, check out this tutorial from Manila Samnang's YouTube:


How Do You Clean A Horseshoe Crab?

Fisherman is exploring horseshoe crab

Circling back to preparing a horseshoe crab for cooking, you'll need to focus on cleaning. As we said, many seafood species can pose harmful health side effects if they aren't prepared correctly, so this step is crucial.

Generally, you need to rinse off a horseshoe crab under running water before getting started. We recommend lukewarm water temperature and letting your crab sit in a strainer for a few minutes.

Since you will be placing your crab into boiling water or a super hot cooktop, the water you rinse with doesn't need to be extremely hot.

However, you do want to ensure you let the water run through your crab, focusing on the inside where you will be eating from. Especially if you caught your crab from the local beach, there could be bacteria in the water that isn't necessarily healthy to consume.

Therefore, thoroughly cleaning your crustation before cooking adds an extra safety blanket for you and the other people eating it. When in doubt, overclean your horseshoe crab!

How Do You Store Horseshoe Crabs Before Cooking Them?

In general, you want to use crabs the day you catch them. However, experts claim raw crab meat should also be refrigerated and used within 24 hours.

Regardless, you want to ensure you keep your crab at a refrigerated temperature before you are ready to cook it. Failing to do this can cause bacteria to form and multiply, ultimately exposing you to harmful pathogens.

So, for example, if you catch a horseshoe crab at the beach, you need to eat it that same day.

That's because you are not purchasing raw meat but rather have the entire organism in your possession. Ideally, you will take the crab home, rinse it off, and then boil or grill it for your next meal.

In contrast, if you purchase raw horseshoe crab meat or eggs from a market/store, that's when they're safe to be in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Remember to use your crab within those timelines to avoid becoming sick.

Which Crab Is Most Popular As Food?

Red king crab legs with butter sauce on a plate

One of the main crab species we use for food is the Alaskan King Crab. Typically, you will see crab legs on the menu when you go out for a nice meal at a restaurant.

Almost always, the crab used for the legs is the King crab. On top of that species, you'll also find Stone crabs on menus throughout the southern United States.

Snow crabs are another popular option for dining, as they're smaller than King crabs and aren't as pricey.

As we said, horseshoe crabs aren't that common in US eateries, so you're more likely to find them throughout Asian countries.

Are Horseshoe Crabs Going Extinct?

Although this crab species has had some extinction scares, they are not currently going extinct. As of 2019, the numbers for these crabs went up to around 725,000, which isn't low enough to give them a red flag.

An interesting thing about these crabs is that they are living fossils.

American horseshoe crabs are considered fossils, as they have lived hundreds of millions of years in the ocean's depths through five mass extinction events.

So, you might not want to eat one if you care about the sustainability of this species.

To Wrap Up

Whether you have eaten horseshoe crabs or not, it's always good to know if it's healthy/safe. You can eat horseshoe crabs, although mainly for their eggs.

This crab species is not particularly meaty and resembles briny leather in terms of texture/flavor. However, we did find a yummy salad recipe out of the Philippines, so you could try that!

Made it to the end? Check out these other helpful kitchen posts below:

Can You Eat Atlantic Sand Crab? [Yes! Here's How To Prepare It!]

How Many Pounds Of Crab Legs Per Person For A Boil?

Can You Eat Barnacles? [& How To Prepare Them]

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