Exploring the Crab World: Snow Crab (Queen Crab), King Crab, and Dungeness Crab – Detailed Differences Unveiled

The month of December is the season of crabs!! It comes as no surprise that China tops the countries that eat the crabs most. However, it’s the common seafood that people around the globe like to consume due to its availability. If we look at worldwide supply of crabs, it was 112 thousand metric tons in the year 2017. 

The fact that there are more than 4500 species of this seafood may blow your mind. Among the 4500 species of crabs, the most common are snow crab, Dungeness crab, king crab, and queen crab. They vary based on taste, size, and texture. 

This article intends to differentiate between these prevalent types of crabs. So, keep on reading as there’s so much information ahead.  

Dungeness Crab

Do you know, it’s illegal to catch female Dungeness crabs in most states? Let me tell you that the female crabs are smaller in size and they have wide aprons (a flap on the white underside of the crab). 

Additionally, you’re not allowed to catch male crabs while the molt (the time when they melt their shell) period. The size limit set to catch these crabs by coast management is at least 6¼ inches. This is to assure that crabs are older enough and that they’ve mated at least once. 

Let me tell you that the size might differ based on the area you live in. Nonetheless, you need a license to fish these crabs. 

These crabs have relatively small legs yet have a lot of meat as the legs are wide. If you’re on a hunt for the meatiest crab, Dungeness would be your go-to crab. 

I would never recommend catching a softshell Dungeness crab. The reason is they’ll taste watery. Also, you might end up not liking the poor-quality meat. 

How Does Dungeness Crab Taste Like?

What is Dungeness crab and how does it taste like?
Taste of Dungeness Crab

The Dungeness Crab has a unique sweet taste. If you’ve tasted snow crab, you might know it is sweet. However, Dungeness crab is a little bit sweeter than snow crab. 


A Dungeness crab would cost you anywhere between 40 to 70 bucks. 

King Crab

Interesting facts about King Crab
King Crab has larger legs

These crabs are heavier in weight and larger in size as the name indicates. The King crabs grow more rapidly. Interestingly, these crabs discharge 50k to 500k eggs once a year. That’s a lot!

Like Dungeness crabs, you cannot fish female crabs and males of any size while molting. It’s essential to follow these guidelines to keep their reproduction alive. The minimum size for harvesting is 6.5 inches. 

Despite being bigger in size, they’ve less meat than the Dungeness crabs. It’s a hard job to open and clean this type of crab. 

The reason behind this is the additional spines in the shell. You can grab these in two months; November and December. It’s quite a tough task to catch these crabs because they’re only available in winters. 

Taste Of King Crab

The meat of these crabs is more firm and the legs are bigger as compared to snow crabs. It has a unique sweet flavor and juicy taste. 


These crabs will cost you a lot more than snow crabs. You’ll have to spend 55 to 65 bucks to get 1 lb. 

Snow Crab Or Queen Crab

What is the difference between snow crab and queen crab?
Snow crab and queen crab are the same.

The size of both male and female snow crabs differs. Like other species of crabs, you can only harvest snow crabs above 6 inches. A crab smaller than this size is illegal to catch. A snow crab leg has almost the same amount of flesh as a Dungeness crab leg. However, it has less meat than the king crab. 

It’s easier to get the meat out of the shell due to fewer spines in these crabs. You may see these crabs more often in markets due to their large volumes. They’re less costly when it comes to price than Dungeness crabs. You can fish them starting from spring and all the way to summer which mainly includes months from April till October and sometimes the harvesting keeps on going till November but mainly this particular crab has harvesting done during months of spring/summer.

Does Snow Crab Have a Sweet Taste?

It has a sweeter flesh than king crab. Though these crabs are smaller in size, they still have a marine flavor.

To get to know more about the tastes of these crabs I’d recommend watching the following video.


Taste Test of Crabs


An lb of snow crab legs will cost you around 40 bucks which makes them less pricey in comparison with other discussed species of crabs. 

What’s The Difference Between Snow Crabs and Queen Crabs?

The brownish snow crab is also known as the queen crab. Both these titles are used for Alaskan crabs that come with a life span of 20 years. The 2021 data shows that these crabs were over-harvested. Therefore, the management sets a harvesting limit every year. 

Snow Crab Vs. King Crab Vs. Dungeness Crab

To see how these carbs are different from each other, let’s take a look at different features:

Features Snow Crab/Queen CrabKing CrabDungeness Crab
Where the most crabs are caughtBristol BayCoast of AlaskaBering seaNorth America (the Bering Sea and Aleutian islands)AlaskaNorthern California Washington
Minimum legal size6 inches6.5 inches6 ¼ inches
Harvesting MonthApril to OctoberOctober to JanuaryMid-November to December
Shell Easily breakableNeed a toolEasily breakable
Life20 years20-30 years10 years
The table compares snow crab, Dungeness crab, and king crab


All the types of crabs are different in color, shape, size, and taste. The water temperature plays a key role in how the crab will taste. The reason why these crabs taste sweet is that they’re found in cold waters.

The freshly caught crabs will taste different and unique than the frozen ones you buy from the market. To experience this freshness, you’ll need to get your fishing license.

Because of different harvesting seasons for different types of crabs, you can enjoy this delicacy almost all around the year by consuming different kinds based on their specific harvesting season. And if no fresh crab is available you can always go for the stored one.

When it comes to cleaning crabs, as compared to others, cleaning a king crab is harder than you think because of all the spiky stuff. But in my opinion all seafood is a little tricky to clean. However, the heavenly taste makes up for all the cleaning effort. And once you have developed a liking for crabs it will be too had to revert it back.

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A web story that differentiates Snow Crabs, King Crabs, and Dungeness Crabs can be found when you click here.

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