Snow Crab vs King Crab

Both snow crab and king crab are certainly familiar to seafood lovers. These two varieties of crab are frequently offered in restaurants and relished at home thanks to their sweet, meaty meat. But what precisely separates king crab from snow crab?

King Crab with lemon and cilantro on black background

The size of snow crab and king crab is one of the most obvious variations. King crabs can weigh up to 24 pounds, making them substantially bigger than snow crabs.

On the other hand, snow crabs are smaller and typically weigh between 1 and 4 pounds. The texture and flavor of their meat are likewise impacted by this size disparity.

The thickness of the two varieties of crabs’ shells is another distinction. Snow crabs have a thinner, more fragile shell than king crabs, which have a spiky, hard-to-crack shell.

This means that while the meat from a snow crab is easier to extract than that from a king crab, it is also less tasty and substantial.

Of course, taste is a personal thing, and many people favor the softer, sweeter flavor of snow crab to the more robust flavor of king crab.

Snow Crab: An Overview

Snow crab is one of the most widely consumed kinds of crab. What you need to know about this delectable crustacean is provided below.

Snow crab on black background

Appearance and Size

The distinctive feature of snow crabs is their long, spindly legs, which are protected by a thin, delicate shell.

They are smaller than king crabs and often weigh between 1 and 4 pounds. Snow crabs nevertheless produce a respectable amount of meat despite being smaller than other crabs.

Taste and Texture

Snow crab meat has a mildly saline flavor that is sweet and delicate. Its firm and somewhat flaky texture makes it ideal for a variety of meals.

Although snow crab is frequently consumed simply steamed or boiled, it can also be used in salads, soups, and pasta dishes.

Habitat and Season

Arctic, northern Pacific, and Atlantic waters as well as the Arctic Ocean are all home to snow crabs.

Their average harvesting season runs from January to April, with March being the busiest month. Traps or pots that are dropped to the ocean floor and left to collect crabs are frequently used to catch snow crabs.

Nutritional Value

One serving of snow crab has about 20 grams of protein, making it a healthy source of the amino acid. A serving has about 100 calories, and it is also low in fat and calories.

A good amount of vitamin B12, zinc, and selenium, among other vitamins and minerals, can be found in snow crabs.

Overall, snow crab is a tasty and wholesome seafood alternative that works well in a wide range of meals.

Snow crab will satisfy your taste senses whether you eat it as a main course or add it to a salad or pasta dish.

King Crab: An Overview

You’ve probably heard of king crab if you enjoy seafood. This kind of crab is renowned for its enormous size and mouth watering flavor. What you should know about king crab is as follows:

Tasty king kamchatka crab with lemon slices on wood board

Size and Appearance

Snow crabs are substantially smaller than king crabs, which may grow up to 20 pounds in weight and 5 feet across.

They are a popular alternative for crab legs since their legs are robust and meaty. A king crab’s shell is spiky, reddish-brown, and has sharp points on the edges.

Habitat and Season

Off the coast of Alaska, in the seas of the Bering Sea, are where one may generally find king crabs. They are a seasonal delicacy because they are only caught over a brief season from October to January.

Taste and Texture

The meat of the king crab is soft, sweet, and somewhat salty. It has a subtle flavor that goes well with many different sauces and seasonings.

King crab meat has a satisfyingly firm, flaky, somewhat chewy texture that makes it easy to consume.

Nutritional Value

A 3-ounce portion of king crab has about 15 grams of protein, making it a good source of protein. In addition, it is a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals like selenium, zinc, and vitamin B12.

If you haven’t already, king crab is a tasty and healthy seafood option that is definitely worth trying.

King crab will astonish you with its size, flavor, and texture whether you eat it as part of a crab leg feast or as a seafood pasta dish.

Physical Differences

The biggest distinction between snow crab and king crab in terms of physical characteristics is size. Snow crabs are considerably smaller than king crabs.

snow crab

In comparison to king crabs, which have a leg spread of roughly 5 feet (150 cm), adult snow crabs have a leg span of less than 3 feet (90 cm) [Ocean Info].

The typical weight of a king crab leg is six pounds, whereas a male snow crab can weigh up to four pounds (1.8 kilograms) [OceanSide Seafood].

The thickness of the two crabs’ shells is another physical distinction between them. In comparison to king crabs, snow crabs’ shells are notably thinner [OceanSide Seafood].

This is because, in contrast to king crabs, which are found in deeper waters, snow crabs are found in shallower areas.

The king crab’s thicker shell aids in insulating it from the pressure of deep water [Southern Living].

King crabs are more recognizable and stunning than snow crabs in terms of look.

Snow crabs have a smoother, rounder shell with a light reddish-brown tint as opposed to king crabs, which have a spiky, reddish-brown shell [The Kitchn].

In addition, according to OceanSide Seafood, the snow crab’s legs are both longer and thinner than those of the king crab.

Overall, there are quite a few substantial physical variations between snow crab and king crab.

Snow crabs have longer, thinner legs and a smoother, rounder shell than king crabs, which are larger and have a thicker shell.

Culinary Differences

There are a few significant aspects to take into account when comparing the culinary attributes of king crab and snow crab.

Big whole alaskan crab

Size and Meat

The size distinction between the two varieties of crab is one of the most important. Snow crabs are substantially smaller than king crabs, which can grow to weigh up to 20 pounds in some cases.

Snow crabs, on the other hand, usually weigh between 2 and 4 pounds. King crab legs are therefore much meatier and larger than snow crab legs, which are smaller and thinner.

Taste and Texture

King crab meat is sweeter and more succulent than snow crab meat, which has a subtle salty flavor. In comparison to snow crab meat, which is softer and more tender, king crab meat is tougher.

Cooking and Preparation

When cooked and prepared properly, both varieties of crab are delectable. Snow crab legs are often served with melted butter and lemon wedges after being steamed or cooked.

King crab legs can be prepared the same manner as other seafood, but to bring out their inherent sweetness and improve their flavor, they are frequently broiled or grilled.

There is no obvious winner when it comes to the culinary distinctions between king crab and snow crab.

Both varieties of crab are mouthwatering in their own right and can be served in many ways to suit your palate.

You’re guaranteed to enjoy a delectable seafood feast whether you prefer the delicate flavor and texture of snow crab or the robust, meaty flesh of king crab.

Nutritional Differences

King crab and snow crab are equally high in protein and low in fat when it comes to nutritional value.

red snow crab

You should be aware of some variations in their nutritional content, though.

3 ounces of raw snow crab include about 76.5 calories, 15.7 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 46.8 milligrams of cholesterol, according to the USDA.

A 3-ounce serving of raw king crab, in contrast, has about 82 calories, 17.7 grams of protein, 0.6 grams of fat, and 71.5 milligrams of cholesterol.

Both varieties of crabs are abundant in vital elements like selenium, zinc, and vitamin B12. In contrast to snow crab, king crab has a higher concentration of these nutrients.

For instance, 3 ounces of king crab has almost 43% of the daily required consumption of vitamin B12, compared to 22% in the same quantity of snow crab.

Both varieties of crabs are good suppliers of omega-3 fatty acids. However, king crab has a minor advantage over snow crab in terms of omega-3 fatty acid content.

It is important to remember that crab’s nutritional value might change depending on how it is prepared.

For instance, increasing the fat and calorie content of your crab by adding butter or other high-fat sauces.

Overall, king crab and snow crab are both healthy seafood choices that can give you access to vital nutrients.

However, king crab might be a better option if you’re seeking a little bit more in the way of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

Frequently Asked Questions

Red king crab on ice in the restaurant at addiction aquatic development taipei

What is the difference between a snow crab and king crab?

The most obvious difference between snow crab and king crab is size. King crabs are larger and can weigh up to 20 pounds, while snow crabs typically weigh around 2-4 pounds. King crabs also have a meatier texture, while snow crabs have a more delicate texture. Additionally, snow crab legs have a slightly more briny taste compared to the sweet, mild fish flavors of king crab legs.

Can you eat the whole crab?

No, you can’t eat the whole crab. The edible parts of the crab are the legs, claws, and body meat. The legs and claws are the most sought-after parts of the crab, as they contain the most meat. The body meat is also edible but is less commonly eaten.

How do you cook crab?

Crab can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, steaming, grilling, and baking. Boiling and steaming are the most common methods. To boil crab, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the crab. Boil for 8-10 minutes for snow crab and 12-15 minutes for king crab. To steam crab, place the crab in a steamer basket over boiling water and steam for 6-8 minutes for snow crab and 10-12 minutes for king crab.

How do you crack open crab legs?

To crack open crab legs, use a crab cracker or nutcracker to break the shell. Start by cracking the joints of the legs, then work your way down to the claw. Use a small fork or seafood pick to remove the meat from the shell.

How do you store crab?

Fresh crab should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 2-3 days. Cooked crab can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Crab can also be frozen for up to 6 months, but the texture may suffer. To freeze crab, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in a freezer bag.

japanese snow crabs in styrofoam box


In conclusion, both king crab and snow crab are delectable seafood choices, yet they differ from one another in a few important ways.

When determining which one to select, have the following points in mind:

  • Taste: Both crab species have an excellent balance of sweet, mild fish flavors, but snow crab legs have a slightly more briny taste and delicate texture, while king crab legs are meatier, with a texture more comparable to that of lobster.
  • Size: King crabs are larger and have more defined shells than snow crabs, which makes them easier to spot in a body of water. Snow crabs also look snow-white from far away, making them distinct from other species.
  • Habitat and Season: King crabs are typically found in colder waters, while snow crabs can be found in both cold and warm waters. King crab season is usually in the winter months, while snow crab season can vary depending on the region.
  • Price: King crab is generally more expensive than snow crab, due to its larger size and meatier texture.
  • Preparation: Both snow crab and king crab can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as steaming, boiling, grilling, or baking. However, king crab legs are often split in half and served with butter, while snow crab legs are usually served whole.

The decision between snow crab and king crab ultimately comes down to taste and availability.

Whichever option you select, make sure to enjoy the tantalizing flavor and health benefits of these delightful crustaceans.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.