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How To Properly Smoke Crab Legs For Perfectly Tender Meat

crab legs on plate with a dish of melted butter
crab legs on plate with a dish of melted butter - Mphillips007/Getty Images

Crab legs are one of those delicacies that may require a lot of work, but the end result is totally worth it. Whether it's snow crab or king crab, there's nothing that many seafood lovers enjoy more than a giant bucket of crab legs steamed to perfection and served with clarified butter.

Only ... crab legs don't actually have to be steamed. That's certainly the most common way to cook them. But there's another method that will introduce a whole range of new and interesting flavor complexities: smoking. That's right, the same method you use to cook brisket can also be used for crab legs. So, if you love seafood and love that smoky, woody flavor you get from a BBQ, you're in luck because it's easily possible to combine the two. While it does take longer than steaming or boiling them, it's not like it's an hours-long process. The principle, meanwhile, is the same as brisket, king of smoked meats: Go low and slow.

Read more: 13 Tips To Make Your Shrimp Taste So Much Better

Cook Crab Legs Low And Slow In A Smoker

crab legs on cutting board with salt and lemon wedges
crab legs on cutting board with salt and lemon wedges - Foodio/Shutterstock

When we say low and slow, we mean it here. Steaming or boiling crab legs only takes about 5 to 6 minutes, but smoking them will take a bit longer: About 30 minutes if you're cooking at 250 degrees Fahrenheit and closer to an hour if you're on 225. This extra time is worth it, though, producing crab legs that are both tender and firm, with a rich, smoky flavor.

It's a simple process, too: You just put the crab legs on the grill, make a mixture of melted butter and whichever seasonings you like (any sort of barbecue seasoning works great here), and brush the legs with the mixture roughly every 10 minutes during the cooking process. Then, you serve the end product with the leftover butter/seasoning mixture, and you're done. It's really that simple. And since you're cooking them in a smoker and letting them take care of the process themselves, it has the added benefit of freeing up kitchen space.

Cherry Wood Is An Ideal Wood For Smoking Crab Legs

pile of wood chips
pile of wood chips - Svetlana Monyakova/Shutterstock

As far as which wood to use, you typically want to go with any hardwood because it tends to burn longer and slower than other woods, and this is a low and slow cook. A particularly good choice here is cherry wood. Much like with turkey, cherry wood imparts a subtle sweetness to your smoked protein, and that's a flavor that plays very well with crustaceans. For flavoring, you don't technically have to use BBQ seasoning as part of your mixture ... but why wouldn't you? It's a flavor you already know goes well with smoking, so why not play to its strengths?

So, the next time you want to make crab legs at home, consider firing up your grill and getting your smoke on. It may not be the traditional way to cook them, but you should always be willing and eager to try new things.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.