What Do You Use to Crack and Pick Crab and Lobster?

Cracking: A hammer? Nutcracker? Kitchen shears? Your teeth? A Rock? Your fist?

Picking: Seafood fork? Nut pick? Claw tip? Paring knife?

I used to use just my teeth to crack, but now a rock is my weapon of choice. For picking crab, I favor a leg tip.

Cracking: lobster/crab crackers
Picking: seafood fork

If you eat crab and lobster a lot, dedicated tools are your best bet.


What kind of crab? I use a nut cracker sort of like this

, scissors, and fondue forks for dungeness.

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I have, for 65 years. I’ve tried every cracking tool I’ve been around, and I still prefer a rock. I think most manufactured cracking tools apply too-localized pressure. Blunt force works better for me.

Good to know you are respecting your ancient ancestors

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This is what I use:

And then my fingers or a chopstick.

That said, I also tend to eat my lobster in the kitchen, over the sink. But, I can apply as much or as little force as the particular lobster part needs.


For lobster, kitchen shears for cutting the underside of the tail and Shrinkrap’s nutcracker doohickey for the claws.

For king crab, kitchen shears cutting down the length of the entire leg, then spread it open (like opening a book) by hand. Nutcracker doohickey for knuckles/claws, then usually a nutpick to get any small crevice-wedged nuggets.

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Not any significant pohaku. I look for rocks that fit well in the palm, egg-shaped, but kinda flattened. I keep a basket of different, interesting ones at the beach house for crab feeds. My version of wine glass charms, I guess…

My teeth to crack, my hands to pick!

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I crack with a smallish meat pounder (it’s really too small to pound meat effectively, but perfect for cracking crabs). To pick, I use the pointy end of on of the crab’s many legs. I have no experience cracking or picking lobsters.

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I don’t need anything but my hands and teeth for most lobsters. If those fail, lobster cracker and a chopstick.

I’ve never bought lobster (and only very, very rarely seen it on a restaurant menu). It’s just too much of a premium product here, with a price to match. This is very much rich people’s food - and not stocked by any of my three local fishmongers.

As for crab, I always buy them ready dressed at the fishmongers. I’m a big fan of other people doing the work.


two different crustaceans - different tools are advised . . .
the crab body is finger opened and picked, the claws need a gentle touch so something like the nutcracker design works well. but, of course, a (wooden) mallet also works… bit more ‘finesse’ needed - but mallets work.

lobster tails - I snip both sides of the underside with kitchen shears - so the tail meat comes out cleanly. the claws/et al are broader and a mallet works best, for me . . . anyway…

As a child I watched my father use a heavy (skinny end) butter knife for eating Maryland Blue Crabs. He would use the heavy handle end to break the crab shell and other semi-pointed end to dig out the meat. So that is what I used, as well.
Eating blue crabs with my Dad… good memories!!


Do you have local lobster there? I don’t see lobster here in California nearly as much as I see crab, I assume because it is not local. ETA looks like there are “spiny lobster” here.

Not to mention different species! I don’t think you can crack and pick a Maryland blue crab with the same stuff as a Dungeness


I use a small sharp knife on crabs, no cracking or pounding. It’s the Baltimore way.

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For blue crabs or similar size and shell hardness, generally my hands and teeth. For a bit bigger crabs, or if I ever get to indulge on King crab legs, I use a seafood cracker. Looks kind of like a nut cracker, but with an indentation better fitting a crab claw. To pick, I use chopsticks.

For King crab legs, I have occasionally used my meat pounder to crack the harder shell too. If I’m really such, you I’ve also used the back of a chef knife, or tried to cut off a part of the shell.

Yes. But I only in small quantities. Even the online seafood specialists tend to be selling North American lobster. For example, I see a cooked & frozen American lobster, weighing 500g, is being sold at £24.70 (28.05 USD). A British one of about the same size would be £46.70 (56.14 USD)


For Dungeness crab; nutcracker and seafood fork for claws; fingers and seafood fork for body.