Best Crab Pots

Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for Best crab pots

If you’ve ever tried to cook crabs or lobsters for a group, then you know that standard cookware just isn’t up to the task. A dedicated crab pot is the easiest way to cook crabs, lobsters, clams, or crawfish, either for yourself or for a group.

While their general design is pretty simple – a large pot, a strainer, and a lid – crab pots come in a variety of sizes, are constructed from a range of materials, and all have their own unique features for standing out from the competition.

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Boiling is the most common method of cooking crabs. Other popular cooking methods include steaming, grilling, and roasting.

Key considerations


Crab pots are usually made from aluminum, stainless steel, or porcelain enamel. Some crab pot sets use encapsulated disks or multi-ply designs to take advantage of the benefits of various metals. Whichever pot you go with, the material should be thick, not prone to pitting or staining, and should have no sharp edges.

Heavy-gauge aluminum crab pots tend to be lighter than stainless steel pots but not as durable. That said, when a pot is full of hot water and crabs, the lightweight design of aluminum can be a significant plus.

Stainless steel is both heavier than aluminum and more durable. It also stands up to hotter temperatures, while aluminum’s lower melting point can create problems at high heat.

Porcelain enamel crab pots have a steel core with an enamel coating. Enamel pots tend to be thinner than either stainless steel or aluminum, which can limit their usefulness for other kinds of cooking. If you opt for one of these classic crab pots, check that it is not prone to chipping.


Size determines not only the price of a crab pot but also how big a party you can throw. The larger the pot, the more people you can feed.

Crab pots generally range from 20 quarts to 80 quarts or more in size. Large crab pots are pretty massive, to the point where you might not be able to fit one onto your stove or into your sink to clean. A large pot is also extremely heavy when filled with water and seafood. You may even struggle to find a place to store the crab pot when it’s not in use.

However, if you get a small crab pot, you’re only going to be able to feed a limited crowd. Decide up front what size you need and shop accordingly. The majority of crab pots available come in several different sizes.

Outdoor use

If you will be primarily using your crab pot on the beach or in other outdoor areas without stove access, go with an option that includes a burner or a pot that can be easily used with a burner. One of the biggest problems with using a crab pot outdoors is that portable propane burner rings are not large enough for reliable stability with a large pot. As such, a more compact crab pot is often better for outdoor use.



A strainer should fit snugly within the crab pot so that there is not much empty space in the pot when cooking. Full-size strainers are the most common, although some crab pots use strainer inserts that fit into the bottom of the pot. A strainer should have a secure lip or feet to keep it over the water level for steaming.


Some lids are made from the same material as the crab pot, while others are constructed from glass. The advantage of the latter is that you can check on your food without lifting the lid and letting out heat. The downside of glass, of course, is that it is more fragile than metal. Some lids also have vents that keep steam from building up too much.


In addition to the pot, strainer, and lid (and the occasional propane burner element), some crab pots come with useful extras. These include deep-fry thermometers to keep an eye on cooking temperatures and additional stockpots with lids to handle other dishes that will be served with your seafood, such as potatoes, corn on the cob, or chowder.


Crab pots generally require little to no assembly. The exception is crab pots that ship with a propane burner element for mobile use. Also, be sure to wash all the elements of a crab pot set before using them for the first time.

Ease of cleaning

If only used to boil or steam seafood, a crab pot set is fairly easy to clean, but you may find yourself cleaning by hand. While some crab pots are dishwasher-safe, the majority are simply too large to fit into a dishwasher.

Crab pot prices

While you can find crab pots for under $40, the majority are in the $50 to $85 range, though the highest-end pots cost $100 or more.

More than anything else, size is the biggest factor when it comes to price. The larger the crab pot, the more expensive it will be. Build is secondary, with more expensive crab pots having a much more solid construction, including thicker walls, riveted handles, and overall better quality. At higher price points, you will also find crab pots that come with extras, such as additional stockpots.

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Did you know?
One of the benefits of a porcelain enamel crab pot is that the surface is nonstick and easy to clean.


  • To boil crabs, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add whatever seasonings you like (Old Bay Seasoning is a classic for crabs). Add all the crabs at the same time. This will allow them to cook evenly. Use tongs to remove the crabs when they start to float, usually within 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Take care that you don’t go too high with the heat as some crab pots, particularly aluminum ones, have a fairly low melting point.

  • If you’re torn between two different size crab pots and are unsure what to choose, always get the larger one so that you can cook for more people if needed.

  • If you plan to put your crab pot to double use as a saucepan, be sure the bottom of the pot is thick enough to distribute heat effectively, or you will end up scorching your sauces.

  • Feet on a strainer not only improve stability but also provide a reliable gap for boiling water when you wish to steam foods.

  • Riveted handles tend to be sturdier and last longer than welded handles.

  • Always cook crabs the same day that you get or catch them.
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Health officials warn against eating the internal organs of crabs due to the concentration of harmful chemicals that can build up there. Learn how to crack and clean a crab, and only eat the firm white meat.


Q. Should I pay up for a high-quality crab pot or settle for a cheaper one?

A. More expensive crab pots not only tend to be larger but also more durable. They will generally last you for years, even with steady use. Cheaper pots, on the other hand, wear out more quickly and are considerably less reliable. What it really comes down to is how often you’ll use the crab pot. If a crab pot is something you pull out once or twice a year to do a crab boil, a cheaper pot should meet your needs. If you plan to use the pot often – and for a variety of different foods – go with a more expensive pot.

Q. Is a crab pot only for cooking crabs?

A. Absolutely not! A crab pot can handle a number of other tasks in the kitchen, including cooking pasta, steaming vegetables like artichokes, making tamales, brining meats, blanching vegetables for the freezer, cooking large batches of sauce or soup, and more.

Q. What is the spigot on a crab pot used for?

A. While not standard, some crab pots include a spigot. The spigot is used to drain off the crab or other seafood broth while leaving the sediment from the seafood behind. A spigot is also a handy way to empty the pot without having to lug a pot full of hot water to the sink to dump it.

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