Where to Buy Frozen Soft Shell Crab Near Me (2024)

Craving soft shell crab but don’t know where to find it? As a seafood lover I completely understand the dilemma. Soft shell crab is a delicious unique ingredient that can be difficult to locate, especially if you don’t live near the coast.

In this article I’ll share my tips and recommendations for tracking down frozen soft shell crab no matter where you live. Whether you want to fry up some softies at home or need them for a special recipe this guide has got you covered!

What is Soft Shell Crab?

Let’s start with the basics – what exactly is a soft shell crab? Unlike a regular blue crab, soft shell crabs have recently molted their outer shell and are still soft. There is only a brief 2-3 day window when the crabs are in this soft state before their new shell hardens. This makes them a delicacy!

When harvested at just the right time, the entire soft shell crab becomes edible – legs, claws and all. The soft shell has a sweet, tender texture and inherits the signature crab flavor we all love.

Soft shell season usually runs from mid-March through October depending on location. They can be eaten whole fried, sauteed, broiled and more. Now you’ve got me drooling just thinking about them!

Why Buy Frozen?

Obviously fresh is best when it comes to seafood, but soft shell crab presents a couple challenges:

  • Very short harvest season
  • Small harvesting regions
  • Delicate with short shelf life

This makes fresh soft shells quite expensive and tough to find out of season or away from the coast.

Enter frozen soft shell crab – the perfect solution! Flash freezing preserves the crabs at their peak while lockig in flavor and texture. Thawed and cooked properly, frozen softies can deliver an amazing experience identical to fresh.

Buying frozen allows you to enjoy soft shell crab any time of year without worrying about sourcing or shipping live seafood. It’s the ideal way to get your fix!

Where to Buy Frozen Soft Shell Crab

Now that you’re sold on frozen soft shell crab, where can you actually find it? Here are my top recommendations for locating frozen softies based on your location:

If You Live Near the Coast

Lucky you – you can likely find fresh soft shells in season and frozen packs year round! Check out:

  • Local seafood markets and trusted fishmongers
  • Regional grocery store chains like Wegmans, Harris Teeter, Publix, etc. Some carry frozen packs when fresh isn’t available
  • Seafood delivery companies like Lobster Anywhere and Citarella can ship fresh and frozen to your door

If You’re Landlocked in the Midwest, Mountains or Southwest

Being far from the crab harvesting regions makes fresh softies nearly impossible to source. But don’t worry, you can still get your fix!

  • Online seafood retailers like Seattle Fish Co., Fulton Fish Market, and Lobster Anywhere ship frozen soft shells nationwide
  • Club stores like Costco and Sam’s Club often carry large multi-packs of frozen soft shell crab
  • Specialty grocers like Whole Foods Market may have them in stock seasonally or frozen

If You’re on the West Coast

You’ll have to look a bit harder on the West Coast since most soft shells come from the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf Coast. Try:

  • Seafood delivery services and online fish markets willing to ship cross-country like Lobster Anywhere and Citarella
  • Large chain grocers like Safeway, Albertsons, and Smart & Final – availability varies by location
  • Asian supermarkets and seafood markets sometimes stock frozen softies

Don’t Forget to Check Locally!

Even if you don’t live near water, check your area for hidden gems that may carry or source frozen soft shell crab:

  • Independent fish markets and high-end butcher shops are worth investigating
  • Certain restaurant suppliers sell to the public and stock hard-to-find seafood
  • Seafood counters at well-stocked regional or ethnic grocery stores
  • Farmer’s markets, fish fries, and food festivals are good for sampling and asking around

With the right detective work, you may just get lucky and find a local supplier. It never hurts to ask!

How to Buy High Quality Frozen Soft Shell Crab

Not all frozen soft shell crab is created equal. Here are a few tips for selecting a high quality product:

  • Look for vacuum sealed packaging to prevent freezer burn
  • Inspect for a bright white/yellow color free of oxidation or discoloration
  • Size grades should be clearly marked (Jumbo, Hotel, Prime)
  • Fresh, non-mushy texture without crystallization when still partially frozen
  • Harvest date and source location should be provided
  • Reputable, transparent sellers who stand behind their product

And as with any frozen seafood, try to keep it frozen until ready to thaw and use. Repeated thawing will degrade texture and flavor.

Thawing and Cooking Frozen Soft Shell Crab

Part of achieving soft shell crab perfection is proper thawing and cooking. Here’s how I recommend prepping frozen softies:

  • Thaw slowly overnight in the refrigerator, not on the counter
  • Give them a quick rinse under cold water before cooking
  • Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels
  • Fry, saute, broil or bake as preferred until hot and crispy
  • Aim for 3-5 minutes per side depending on size
  • Cook through but don’t overcook and make rubbery

When prepared carefully, frozen soft shell crab can be utterly amazing. The thawed crabs will look and taste incredibly fresh. Make sure to use them right after thawing for best quality.

Favorite Recipes Using Frozen Soft Shell Crab

Here are just a few of my favorite ways to eat thawed frozen soft shell crab:

  • Classic fried soft shell crab sandwiches with lettuce, tomato and remoulade sauce
  • Sauteed in brown butter with fresh herbs and lemon zest over pasta
  • Crispy fried softies with homemade tartar sauce and coleslaw
  • Broiled with Cajun seasoning and served with dirty rice
  • Added to tacos, po’ boys, seafood boils or on top of salad
  • Soft shell crab cakes made with lump crab meat and Old Bay seasoning

The possibilities are endless – soft shell crab is so versatile! Use your thawed frozen softies in any recipe calling for fresh.

With the tips above, you should have no problem tracking down and selecting high quality frozen softies from reputable sellers online or locally. And thawing and cooking them properly will yield incredible results.

Where to Buy Frozen Soft Shell Crab Near Me (1)

Customer Reviews Based on 45 reviews

We made half the crab the day after they arrived. They were still frozen when they arrived, and perfectly fresh when we cooked them. Only downside is I thought they were grouped in pairs or individual, not six. Id prefer them grouped by four for cooking. B.

They were wonderful and delicious! Top of the line seafood at Graham and Rollins J

The crabs were freshly frozen solid in four trays of 3 Whale crabs each tray. I will be back. These are great crabs from a great company and they delivered when I wanted them. Thanks D.

Fresh and so tasty B

The soft crabs were very flavorful. Im very happy to have such good soft crabs delivered to Florida .

Regular price $ 599

Our soft shell crabs are the best you can get from the Chesapeake Bay. We take extra care to keep their sweet and sour flavor and make sure they get to you primed and ready to cook. Try a special treat that comes straight from our plant in Hampton! Soft shells are dressed, which is a fancy word for cleaned, vacuum sealed, and flash frozen in small batches to make sure all the flavor stays in.

One of the four sizes is the Hotel, which is 4″ to 4-1/2″ across. The Primes are 4-1/2″ to 5″ across, the Jumbos are 5″ to 5-1/2″ across, and the Whales are 5 1/2″ or more across. Please note that soft shells may be season dependent and availability may be limited during the off-season months. Crabs are measured prior to cleaning and vacuum sealing.

Where I buy Soft Shell Crabs

Where can I buy soft shell crabs?

Reach out to Harbour House Crabs for additional information on our premium seafood and to make an order. Harbour House Crabs are carefully selected for their superior quality and size. Buy soft shell crabs online!

Are soft shell crabs frozen?

One of America’s favorite seafood delicacies. Caught just after shedding their hard outer shell (called molting), our crabs are carefully selected for their superior quality and size. Our soft shell crabs are cleaned, frozen, and ready to be prepared to your liking. Packaged four per pack. They’re only available while supplies last.

How to fry soft shell crabs?

To fry soft shell crabs, first, rinse them in cold water and dry them with a paper towel. Then heat the frying oil to 365 degrees. Take a bowl and beat an egg with some milk. In another bowl, add pepper and salt with some flour. Lightly coat each crab, place it in flour, back into the egg, then flour again.

What are the market forms for soft shell crabs?

Market Forms include: J&W Seafood Chesapeake Bay Soft Shell Crabs are offered in the forms of live, fresh dressed and frozen. We grade our soft shell crabs by the following grades: Whales, Jumbo, Prime and Hotels.

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Where to Buy Frozen Soft Shell Crab Near Me (2024)
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