How Can I Store Fresh Crabs Overnight?

by Brynne Chandler

The full, succulent flavor and delicate texture of freshly caught and cooked crabs bear little resemblance to the paler and often drier taste of frozen crab. Storing fresh or live crabs overnight helps retain some of that just-caught freshness when done correctly. Fresh crabs need only be placed in the coldest part of the refrigerator with a sealed bag of ice on top. Keeping fresh, live crabs overnight requires a little careful planning, but proper storage helps ensure the freshest taste and prevents dangerous bacteria from developing.

Place your crabs into a ventilated container. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the container without completely submerging the crabs.

Place a clean, damp towel on top of the crabs. This can get tricky if they are alive and agitated, so it helps to have another person to help get the towel in the container while helping to corral any strays.

Layer sealed plastic bags full of ice on top of the wet towel. Loose ice will melt and possibly drown live crabs.

Put the lid on the container and place it in a cool spot out of the reach of curious pets or young children.

Items you will need

  • Ventilated container with lid
  • Clean towel
  • Ice
  • Plastic bag


  • Change the water once or twice during the night and immediately move any crabs that die to the coldest part of the refrigerator to help ensure that the crabs stay as fresh as possible.


  • Never store crabs in an unventilated container or water deep enough to completely cover them or they will suffocate or drown.

About the Author

Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images