Soft Shell Crabs are in the House!

Grilled Soft Shells

Grilled Soft Shell Crabs

Grilled Soft Shell Crabs! (Yummm!)

At this time of year in our neck of the woods, soft shell crabs become available and, as with the short-lived white asparagus season in France, lovers of these delicious creatures begin to get the shakes as soon as the first “Soft Shells Are In!” signs sprout on the roadway, in shop windows and on restaurant “Specials” boards.

Soft-shell crab is the culinary term for crabs which have recently molted their old exoskeleton and are still soft. The soft-shell is the blue crab in its molted state. The molting process means an abundant supply of soft crabs from late spring to early fall, with May through September ranking as the most productive months.

Peeler Pounds

Crabs, in the process of shedding, are watched constantly.

The soft-shell season is traditionally marked with the first full moon in May. At that time, the blue crab begins its molting season to accommodate its summer growth. The actual shedding of the shell can take anywhere from one to three hours, after which it must be removed or the hardening process will continue, reducing the quality of the soft-shell crab.

Soft-shells are harvested in their peeler stage in peeler pounds or pots and transferred to shedding operations where they are monitored around the clock.

When purchasing soft-shells, you would be wise to understand the terminology of size. The following chart should help you out:

Medium: 2.5 or 4.0 inches

Hotel: 4. to 4.5 inches

Prime: 4.5 to 5.0 inches

Jumbo: 5.0 to 5.5 inches

Whales: over 5.5 inches

These babies are a much sought-after delicacy here at The Kitchen Island and Wanda is about to show you how to prepare them. Click on “Continue Reading” for the details… and a short video!


What you need. Pretty simple!


4 tablespoons deli-style mustard

3 tablespoons melted butter

6 prime soft-shell crabs, cleaned


We’re going to grill these soft shells, so make sure you grill is ready. (Webster, being a throw back to simpler times, is a charcoal man – I swear he can make a peanut butter sandwich taste good on a charcoal grill! – but you can use a gas-fired grill as well.)

While the grill is heating up, mix the mustard with enough melted butter to get a liquid paste. Brush this on the crabs.

Crabs ready for grill

Crabs ready for the grill!

Crabs ready for the grill!

Once the coals have stopped flaming, place the crabs on the grill for 2 minutes on each side, as shown below.

2 minutes on one side…

First, one side

2 minutes on one side…

…and 2 minutes on the other.

The other side

…and 2 minutes on the other.

Ready to plate ‘em up!

Ready to plate

Ready to plate

Serve immediately with a side of sauteed veggies. Serves two. Open a bottle of chilled Pinot Gris and you’ve got yourself the makings of a mighty fine feast that is simple, tasty and WAY appropriate for the deck – the one on the back of your house or the one on your boat!

Grilled Soft Shells

Grilled Soft Shell Crabs and Sauteed Veggies

Grilled Soft Shell Crabs and Sauteed Veggies

Bon appetit!

About The Kitchen Island

Dedicated to the art of cooking simply and tastefully.
This entry was posted in Crabs, Dinner, Seafood`, Soft Shells and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Soft Shell Crabs are in the House!

  1. Mom says:

    Just finished my dinner but my mouth is watering. Since Wanda has a way with cooking, I know how delicious these crabs can be!

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