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Crab Glossary: A Glossary Of The Different Crab Types

Page 2: Crab Types S To Z

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CAPSULE REPORT: Crabs are enormously popular in many cuisines around the world— only shrimp are a more popular shellfish in the U.S. But when you go to buy crab meat, the popularity can lead to confusion when you face the choices: jumbo lump…backfin…white meat…claw. Read this article and you’ll know where to spend your money.

Jumbo lump crabmeat, the costliest, comprises large, succulent nuggets of crab. They’re best for crab cocktails, Crab Louis (a salad topped with crab, avocado, hard-cooked eggs and tomato with other vegetables and Russian dressing atop romaine) or other dishes that use them whole to show off their beauty. Photo courtesy

Grades Of Picked Crab Meat:
There are four parts of the blue crab and blue swimming crab (you’ll read more about them below) that yield distinctly different grades of meat. From the  

back of the crab (top of the illustration) forward are the Jumbo Lump, the Backfin Lump, the White and the Claw meat.
All of the meat is removed very carefully to avoid mixing shell with the flesh. (This precise, delicate work is one reason why most of the canned crab industry has moved offshore to the Pacific Rim and South America where there’s a labor supply that specializes in this type of work.)

The four basic types of meat, and their uses, follow. Regardless of what part of the crab the meat comes from, it is almost solid protein, it 60 calories per half cup of meat, 10 calories from fat.

  Crab Diagram
Jumbo Lump Crab Meat:
Jumbo Lump comes from the pair of large muscles that drive the crab’s swimming legs. With meticulous care and skill these lumps can be removed intact, resulting in the prized whole Jumbo Lump with its incomparable elegance and visual appeal. Grades identified simply as Lump are from smaller crab varieties.

Use Jumbo Lump when you want to display beautiful white meat:

  • Crab cocktails
  • Solid-meat crab cakes
  • Dishes like Crab Louis (lumps of crab meat and hard boiled eggs on Boston lettuce, with a variation of Russian dressing) and Crab Imperial (a baked dish combining crab with mayonnaise or a sherried white sauce, spooned into scallop shells, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese or bread crumbs and browned).


  Jumbo Lump Crab Meat - Miller’s Select
Jumbo lump crab meat makes a beautiful presentation in cocktails and crab cakes.
Lump or Backfin Lump Crab Meat:

Lump or Backfin is the preferred grade for many traditional crab dishes. It has the same fine flavor and texture of Jumbo Lump, but is in slightly smaller pieces. It has the same caloric value as Jumbo Lump. Some companies call this grade Lump, some Backfin, and some Backfin Lump. The reason is that many packers include a large percentage of White Crab Meat (body meat—see below) in cans labeled Backfin. If you purchase a can labeled Lump, it will be all lump meat—just not Jumbo Lump.  
Use Lump or Backfin when you want beautiful white crab but don’t need jumbo lumps, for example, in:

  • Crab Benedict (Eggs Benedict with crab instead of ham)
  • Gazpacho (add a mound to the) center of the bowl)
  • Pasta (add to a Spaghetti) Carbonara instead of bacon, add a cup to Fettuccini all’Amatriciana)
  • Risotto


  Backfin Lump Crab Meat - Miller’s Select
Backfin crab meat provides top-quality flavor for recipes.
White Crab Meat:
White crab meat is ideal for crab cake recipes that have multiple ingredients (bread crumbs, vegetables), mixed with mayonnaise and most crab recipes where the size and shape of the crab flake becomes indistinguishable from the rest of the ingredients.
White or Special White crab meat is a more economical alternative for:

  • Appetizers
  • Bisques and chowders
  • Omelets
  • Pizza
  • Sandwiches and salads
  • Stuffed tomatoes


  White Crab Meat - Miller’s Select
Special white crab meat is a less-costly white meat alternative.
Claw Crab Meat:

Claw Crab meat is the “dark meat” of the crab. The reddish-brown claw and leg meat is actually more flavorful than the white meat, and is preferred by many who like the more robust flavor and appreciate the lower price. Claw meat also stands up to bolder seasonings. Some people mix it with Backfin Lump for added elegance, while keeping the overall price down.

Try claw meat—if you like the flavor, you may have an economical alternative and a reason to enjoy crab more often! You can use it in any preparation, but we enjoyed it in:

  • Cheese melts (try a topping of Jarlsberg)
  • Crab tacos
  • Cioppino (a hearty fish stew)

Claw crab meat is fuller-flavored dark meat that can take on more robust spices.


Continue To Page 3: Crab Glossary-Atlantic Ocean Crabs

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  Claw Crab Meat - Miller’s Select
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Last Updated  May 2018

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