How to Clean and Crack Hard-Shell Crab. Dungeness crabs have more meat in proportion to their body weight than any other hard-shell crabs - and they're easy to eat, too. You can clean and crack crabs before or after cooking, but be sure to cook hard-shell blue crabs before cracking.
Place crab on a table, belly-side up.
Pull off triangular-shaped belly flap, or "apron."
Turn over and remove shell by inserting your thumb between body and shell at rear of crab and pulling shell up.
Twist off claws and legs.
Use a nutcracker or small hammer to crack open the leg shells.
Pick out meat with a lobster pick, fork, or tip of a crab claw.
Use a spoon to scoop out crab meat and roe (also called "crab butter") from the inside of the shell. Keep the roe or discard it, depending on your preference.
Pull off the spongy gills and small paddles at the front of the crab and discard.
Use a knife to cut the crab's body in half lengthwise and then into quarters, if desired, or simply snap the body in half. Pick out meat.
If crab is alive, kill it by placing a heavy knife over its belly lengthwise and hitting the knife with a mallet to cut through the crab.
Watch out for live crabs' pincers.