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Is Canned Crab Meat Cooked? The Ultimate Guide To All Things Canned Crab

Is Canned Crab Meat Cooked? The Ultimate Guide To All Things Canned Crab

Fresh crab meat is awesome, but it’s not always readily available to the masses. Canned crab meat is a great alternative option, as it has the same delicious crab flavor and is readily available and easy to prepare. But you may be wondering: Is canned crab meat cooked?

Canned crab meat is always fully cooked. Although many people enjoy heating it up for various dishes, it is safe to eat right out of the can!

If you’re new to canned crab meat, you likely have other questions about how to prep it, how to store it, and if it’s even real meat. We provide answers to all your questions in this guide!

We cover the following items in this post:

Does Crab Meat Have To Be Cooked?

Yes, it does.

Even though some seafood can safely be consumed raw, health experts all agree that crab meat should not be eaten raw, as it contains harmful microorganisms such as parasites and bacteria that can cause health issues.

Consuming raw crab meat can lead to Paragonimus. Although rare, people can be infected after consuming undercooked or raw crab meat, as well as crayfish meat. The symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Dry cough

Crab meat should always be cooked and the easiest way to do so is simply by boiling it in water or steaming it.

  • If boiling your crab meat, it usually takes anywhere from 5-20 minutes once the water has reached a boil for the meat to be fully cooked, depending on the size of the crabs.
  • If steaming your crab meat, it takes about 25-30 minutes in a medium to high heat setting (once they get nice and red!).

Is Canned Crab Meat Cooked?

Canned crab. Is canned crab meat cooked?

Yes, it is. 

The process works like this:

  1. The crabs are harvested
  2. The crab meat is cooked and removed from the shells
  3. The crab meat is sealed in cans
  4. The cans are heated at 185°
  5. The cans are cooled right after heating
  6. The cans are prepared to be labeled and shipped to the stores that sell them

This process leads to the removal of dangerous bacteria which can lead to foodborne illness. It also helps to keep the crab meat fresh and safe for immediate consumption. 

Does Canned Crab Meat Need to Be Cooked?

It’s best to answer this question by breaking it down into two buckets.

  1. Prior to your purchase: Yes, it does. It needs to be pasteurized to keep it safe for our consumption and extend its shelf life.
  2. After you’ve purchased it: No, it doesn’t. The meat was already cooked to preserve it, and it can be eaten right out of the can when you get home.

However, if you are making a dish in which you want the crab to be warm, be sure to reheat it in a way that preserves the flavor and moisture of the meat.

We recommend steaming the crab meat in a basket over some boiling water for 3-6 minutes. Just get it to a point where it’s warm enough, and then remove it so it doesn’t overcook.

Is Canned Crab Meat Real?

Crab meat. Is canned crab meat cooked?

Yes, it is. It’s just as real as the crab meat you can pick out of a crab shell yourself.

Not only is it real, but it’s the best option for most people who don’t live in areas where fresh crab meat is available. Now, the meat may not be from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, which is one of the most famous crab locations in the US. That’s simply because the demand for crab is much larger than what the Chesapeake can supply.

As such, some international countries are major players in the canned crab meat industry. These include America, Venezuela, Indonesia, China, the Philippines, and others.

The Washington Post reported on a taste test of crab meat. And although the crab meat from the Chesapeake Bay was the highest rated, the other meats had fine scores for being pasteurized and shipped from other countries.

And if you want to be sure, you can always check the ingredients and, of course, the first item on the list should say “crab.” 

Does Canned Crab Meat Need To Be Refrigerated?

Yes, it does.

Unlike many other canned types of meat, canned crab is recommended to be refrigerated to help sustain its shelf life and maintain quality.

In fact, Phillips Foods, most famous for their crabs, not only recommends refrigerating your canned crab meat, but they also state it should be stored in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

And one thing you don’t want to do is go against any recommendations Phillips makes about crab meat. They’ve been in the seafood game for over 100 years!

How Long Can You Leave Canned Crab Meat Out?

A clock. Is Canned Crab Meat Cooked?

Although canned crab meat has a longer shelf life than fresh crab meat, we don’t recommend leaving it out for longer than 2 hours at room temperature.

A general rule of thumb with seafood and perishables is not to leave them at room temperature for 2 hours or longer. The USDA states that rapid bacteria growth can begin if the food is left out for too long.

Either refrigerate it when you get home or eat it when you get home!

Should You Rinse Canned Crab Meat Prior to Eating It?

You can, but you don’t need to.

As part of the pasteurization process, the canned crab meat you buy is perfectly safe to eat right out of the can. Just like canned tuna fish.

Some crab fans claim that if you rinse the canned crab meat you may be left with flavorless and watery meat. I haven’t seen enough evidence to state this is a fact, but we share their opinion nonetheless.

If you’d like to rinse off your crab meat, you can do the following:

  • Soak the crab in cold water for about 8-12 minutes (ice water preferably so as not to cook the meat)
  • Strain the meat so you don’t lose any when pouring out the water
  • Gently pat the crab meat in clean, dry towels

Final Thoughts: Is Canned Crab Meat Cooked?

Canned crab meat is cooked before you buy it, and doesn’t need any additional preparation when you get home. Even though it’s canned, it’s recommended to refrigerate it and not leave it out for 2 hours or longer at room temperature. And if you’re in a rush, you can eat it right out of the can!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

Can You Eat Raw Crab Meat?

You shouldn’t eat raw crab meat as it can harm you due to the higher chances of bacteria transmission and foodborne illness risks.

Is Canned Crab Cooked?


Is Crab Meat Cooked?

It depends.

  • If you buy canned crab, lump crab, or even imitation crab — they’re all cooked and ready to eat.
  • If you buy living crabs you need to steam at home, then the meat isn’t cooked and you will need to do so. You’ll get a nice strong pinch if you forget!

Can You Purchase Raw Crab Meat?

Yes, but it will not come in a can and will require cooking.

Is Lump Crab Meat Already Cooked?

Lump crab meat is always sold in cans or containers, rather than being sold fresh. It’s cleaned, cooked, and then packaged and ready for consumers to eat straight from its packaging.

Lump crab meat. Is canned crab meat cooked?

Does Lump Crab Meat Need to Be Cooked?

No, it doesn’t. It’s already safely prepared for consumption.