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RECIPE: Soft Shell Crab Sandwich

How do you celebrate soft shell crab season?

If you’re like us, you order soft shell crabs every time you see them on a menu.

On weekends, we buy them, dredge them in cornmeal and sauté them, impressing family with our culinary skills (there’s nothing easier than sautéing—just don’t tell them).

If you’re a professional chef, you make something memorable for your customers. Here’s a creation from The Redeye Grill (photo), located in New York City across the street from Carnegie Hall.

The Redeye’s Maryland Soft Shell Crab Sandwich is a cornmeal-dusted Maryland jumbo soft shell crab on a freshly baked bun. The “red eyes” are dried cranberries.


How fun am I? Soft shell crab sandwich
photo courtesy The Redeye restaurant | NYC.


The soft shell crab sandwich is served with aïoli tartar, lettuce and tomatoes and crispy French fries. It’s sure to become a favorite way of enjoying soft shell crabs.

Soft shell crabs are in season in the Northern Hemisphere from April to mid-September, with a peak in June and July. In the U.S., these are typically blue crabs that have shed their hard shells.

Soft shell crabs are not specific to any one species. They are a stage in a crab’s growth: just after molting, before the new shell has had time to harden. Its hard shell prevents a crab from growing; the only way it can grow larger is to throw off its old shell and grow a new one. The crab grows rapidly within a few days of casting off its shell, then the new shell grows over the larger body. Ideally, crabs must be eaten within four days of molting to enjoy the soft shell.


Ingredients Per Serving

  • 1 soft shell crab, cleaned and patted dry
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cornmeal (you can substitute regular flour)
  • 1 large roll (we prefer brioche)
  • Aïoli (garlic mayonnaise) or tartar sauce (you can mix mayonnaise with pickle relish)
  • Lettuce and tomato
  • 2 dried cranberries (optional)
  • Lemon wedge for garnish
  • French fries, cole slaw or other slaw (optional)
    1. Season crabs with salt and pepper and dredge in cornmeal, shaking off excess.
    2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add olive oil and sauté the crabs until soft, about 2 minutes on each side.
    3. Slice roll in half. To make the eyes, use a chopstick or kitchen instrument to poke small holes in the top half of the roll. Insert the cranberry eyes.
    4. Spread top and bottom with aïoli or tartar sauce. (If you prefer, you can serve this condiment on the side.)
    5. Layer bottom half of roll with lettuce, tomato and soft shell crab. Add top half of roll and serve with a side of fries, slaw and a lemon wedge.

  • What’s the difference between a blue crab, jonah crab, Norwegian crab, rock crab and stone crab? Learn your crab types in our Crab Glossary.

    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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