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Dungeness Crab vs Snow Crab [See Who Takes Gold in 2024]

By: Shivani Choudhary
Updated On: September 30, 2023

There's quite nothing like sitting down to a hearty seafood meal, and when it comes to coveted treats from the sea, the crab has a special place on most menus. Yet, the decision between a succulent snow crab and a delectable Dungeness crab can often leave seafood lovers in a quandary. In the world of crustacean culinary delights, the Dungeness crab vs Snow crab debate is one that has lingered on for years, with each type boasting its unique attributes, flavor, and fans.

Let's embark on a journey where we delve deeper into this delicious dilemma, comparing their size, appearance, habitat, season, taste, shell durability, and price. By the end of our expedition, you will have all the information you need to make a well-informed choice the next time you find yourself confronted with the Snow crab vs Dungeness crab conundrum. Trust me, you're in for a culinary adventure.

Also Read: East Coast vs West Coast Oysters

Article Includes

Size Matters: Comparing the Size of Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

Size Matters: Comparing the Size of Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

When it comes to size, there's a noticeable difference between snow crabs and dungeness crabs. It's crucial to consider this facet while choosing one over the other as it directly influences the meat yield and, consequently, the eating experience.

Snow Crab: The Long-Legged Oceanic Delight

Snow crabs, known scientifically as Chionoecetes opilio, are characterized by their long, spindly legs. The typical size of an adult snow crab is about 2 to 4 pounds, with its leg span reaching up to 3 feet.

Dungeness Crab: The Compact Maritime Marvel

On the other hand, the Metacarcinus magister, or the Dungeness crab is considerably broader and compact. Adult dungeness crabs range between 1.75 to 4 pounds, with a width spanning up to 9 inches from edge to edge of their shell.

Crab lovers often grapple with the choice between these two because the eating experience can significantly vary with the size. For instance, while you may relish the delicacy of working through the long legs of a snow crab, you might also appreciate the generous meat yield of a Dungeness crab's body.

Snow CrabDungeness Crab
Average Weight2 to 4 pounds1.75 to 4 pounds
Leg/Body SpanUp to 3 feetUp to 9 inches

Appearance: Aesthetics and Characteristics of Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

Drawing a comparison between snow crabs and Dungeness crabs wouldn't be complete without highlighting their unique appearances. Both bring distinctive aesthetics to the table, standing out in their own ways.

The Sleek Snow Crab

A striking feature of the snow crab is its long, slender legs. Clusters of snow crabs often feature four pairs of these legs extending from a rounded body. Known for their slightly off-white, almost translucent shell, they offer a unique flair when served on a platter. The top shell, referred to as the carapace, is relatively smooth with a dusty brownish-red hue, while its underside boasts an ivory tone. Evidently, when you're looking at a snow crab, you're gazing upon an exotic piece of oceanic artistry!

The Distinct Dungeness Crab

In contrast, Dungeness crabs command attention with their distinctly hard, purple-hued shell adorned with hints of red. They have a spikier and more robust look compared to the snow crab, partly due to their considerably larger claws. Dungeness crabs generally have a wider, heart-shaped carapace and shorter, thicker legs— a sturdy body format that hosts some serious bulk of buttery crab meat. Their brown, furry underbelly is hard to miss. There's a kind of rugged charm to these crabs, making them a visually impressive centerpiece on any seafood spread.

Resourcefully, both of these crabs have evolved to blend seamlessly in their respective habitats. The muted hues of the snow crab make it a master of camouflage in icy, sandy underwater terrains, while the rugged, earthy tones of the Dungeness crab help it blend well in rocky ocean bottoms.

In essence, they both bring forth a contrasting visual palette that adds color to your dining table while promising unique flavor profiles and textures.

Habitat: Exploring the Homes of Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

Habitat: Exploring the Homes of Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

The environments in which the snow crab and Dungeness crab naturally live not only influence their size and body structures but also their taste profiles, making their habitats a crucial dimension to our comparison.

The Frosty Depths: Home of the Snow Crab

Snow crabs are native to the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean, specifically in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. In the U.S., large snow crab populations thrive around the coastal waters of Alaska, living at a depth ranging from 66 to 2,200 feet. Their resilience to freezing temperatures shapes their taste and texture, giving them a subtly sweet flavor and tender flesh.

Coastal Embrace: The Dungeness Crab’s Abode

Dungeness crabs, on the contrary, typically hail from the eelgrass beds and sandy bottoms of the Pacific coast, from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, all the way down to Santa Cruz, California. They are found at water depths of up to 300 feet, preferring slightly warmer waters compared to the snow crabs.

The habitats of both these crabs undoubtedly impact the overall culinary experience. With snow crab, you get a taste of the deep, freezing oceans, resulting in a sweet, delicate, and succulent bite. On the other hand, the Dungeness crab, cultivated in the warmer, coastal waters, delivers rich, buttery flavors that define truly delectable seafood.

Seasonal Delights: When and Where to Find Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab?

When it comes to seafood, 'tis always the season for some delicacy or the other. However, if you're particularly a fan of either the snow crab or the Dungeness crab, you might want to note down some season-specific details.

Snow Crab: Encounters in the Chilly Depths

Snow crabs, true to their name, are creatures of the colder climes. They hail from the northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The Canadian North Atlantic fishery is one of the largest suppliers of these remarkable crustaceans.

Although they're commercially cooked and frozen right after they’re caught, making them available year-round, you'd find the freshest of catches between late fall and early spring. That's de facto snow crab season, specifically from October through May.

Dungeness Crab: Toasting the West Coast Winters

Dungeness crabs, on the other hand, are native to the chilly waters off the west coast of North America, stretching from Alaska’s Aleutian Islands all the way down to Santa Cruz, California.

The Dungeness crab season typically stretches from December through the spring. If you're curious about sampling the freshest catch, December is your best bet.

For the lucky ones who are geologically close to these creatures' native habitats, local availability and seasons might differ. It’s equally important to note that both crabs are sustainably managed and harvested, which occasionally may lead to changes in their respective seasons.

Regardless of the time of year, there's always a promising pick waiting for you from the exciting world of crabs. Whether you're a snow crab fan or a Dungeness enthusiast, you can indulge your craving, by tailoring your menus to match these sea stars' schedules.

Also Read: Hand Roll vs Cut Roll Sushi

Taste Test: The Unique Flavors of Snow Crab vs. Dungeness Crab

Taste Test: The Unique Flavors of Snow Crab vs. Dungeness Crab

When it comes to the taste, snow crab and Dungeness crab take your palette on diverse, yet equally delightful sensory journeys. The duel of flavors that these two maritime titans present is nothing short of a gastronomic adventure.

Snow Crab: The Sweet Subtlety

The flesh of the snow crab holds its own with a sweet and subtly briny flavor, often drawing comparisons to the taste of lobster meat. It's delicate yet rich, making it the perfect centerpiece for a light summer meal or a hearty winter feast. Want to add a punch to your dishes? The sweet, tender meat of snow crabs lends itself well to a range of accompaniments from a simple squeeze of fresh lemon to a pool of melted garlic butter.

Dungeness Crab: The Robust Rhapsody

Dungeness crab, on the other hand, greets your tastebuds with its robust and slightly nutty flavor packed within its dense meat. It's more pronounced than the subtle snow crab, and many describe its punch of taste as the hearty 'flavor of the sea'. The Dungeness crab meat is versatile and holds up well in a variety of dishes, from rich bisques and soups to a show-stopping centerpiece served with a side of tangy cocktail sauce.

In the battle of flavors between these two, it’s honestly down to personal preference. Are you more enticed by the sweet, subtle allure of the snow crab or the hearty, robust tang of the Dungeness crab? The choice is yours, and it's not an easy one! But I can assure you, whichever side you fall on in the Dungeness crab vs. Snow crab debate, your palette is in for a treat.

Can You Crack the Code? Shell Durability of Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

When we talk about shell durability, we’re looking at how easy or challenging it is to reach the flavorful meat inside these creatures. While we could all agree that eating crab is a fantastic experience, dealing with the shell isn’t always a walk in the park. Let’s dive into the specifics.

Snow Crab: A Pleasanter Path to Piquant

Snow crabs usually have a thinner and smoother carapace, or outer shell, which can easily be cracked open by hand, or with some basic kitchen tools if you feel the need for reinforcements. This attribute makes the snow crab particularly appealing if you're keen on an easy-to-manage crab dining experience. Their leg joints are also quite flexible, allowing you to fold the legs back and forth until they snap open, leading the way to those delightful morsels inside.

Dungeness Crab: A Slightly Sturdier Shell

On the flip side, you have Dungeness crabs with a generally stronger and bulkier shell. It's known for being a bit tough and requires some good old-fashioned effort to crack open. That being said, those who are well-versed in the art of handling Dungeness crabs are often found reaching out for crab crackers or a mallet to make their job easier. If you're up for a robust crab cracking session, Dungeness is your guy!

Meticulous MorselsSnow CrabDungeness Crab
Shell DurabilityEasy to crackTougher to crack

In the grand dispute of snow crab vs Dungeness crab, the shell's durability plays a significant role. Are you up for an easy break-and-eat experience with the snow crab, or does the challenge of dismantling a Dungeness entice you more? The answer to that question may well be the key to decoding your preference in this delectable debate.

The Price Tag: Dissecting the Cost of Snow Crab vs. Dungeness Crab

The Price Tag: Dissecting the Cost of Snow Crab vs. Dungeness Crab

The price point—it's that inevitable factor we all circle back to when deciding between two comparable items. In the culinary world, the value of a dish extends beyond its taste to incorporate factors such as rarity, harvest difficulty, and even prestige. In the great debate of snow crab vs. Dungeness crab, the question of cost is certainly an influencer.

Snow Crab: A Taste of Luxury

Snow crabs are often considered the more premium choice, generally fetching a higher price in the market. They are typically harvested in colder waters like the North Atlantic and the northern Pacific Ocean, with Alaska being a significant contributor to the US's snow crab supply. The cost of snow crabs can vary greatly, influenced by factors like seasonal availability and the market demand. On average, expect to spend anywhere from $20 to $50 per pound for snow crab legs.

Dungeness Crab: A Delicacy for your wallet

On the flip side, Dungeness crabs are usually more affordable and provide a bang for your buck. These crabs are native to the west coast of North America, from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska down to Monterey Bay, California. They are a ubiquitous catch in these areas and provide a high meat yield, especially from their body section. Dungeness crabs typically cost between $12 and $30 per pound, making them a more budget-friendly option for the crab enthusiast.

Snow CrabDungeness Crab
Average Price per Pound$20 to $50$12 to $30

Of course, the ultimate decision regarding which crab to choose is subjective—the cost can tip the scales, but the unique flavor, texture, and culinary satisfaction each one offers is the true determinant. Whether you lean towards the luxurious allure of the snow crab, or the budget-friendly yet equally delectable Dungeness crab, you're in for a crustaceous treat.

Final Verdict: Choosing Between Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

Final Verdict: Choosing Between Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

Choosing between the classic snow crab and the treasured Dungeness crab can be a real challenge. After all, they each have their unique attributes when it comes to size, taste, shell durability, and price.

Personal Preferences

To begin with, your decision can point in the direction of your personal preference. If you have a penchant for sweet, subtle flavors, then you may lean toward the snow crab. On the other hand, if you appreciate a robust, bold seafood taste, the Dungeness crab might be the best option.

Culinary Adventures

Undoubtedly, your culinary adventure can shape your choice. If you relish a side of challenge with your meal, wrestle with the super-tough snow crab shells that promise a grand reward. If you prefer a more relaxed experience, Dungeness Crabs' sturdy yet manageable shells may be the suitable choice.

Considering Size

With a size in mind, if you're going for an impressive presentation and love long crab legs, snow crabs take the cake. However, if it's about compact size with ample meat quantity, Dungeness crabs are your heroes.

Ultimately, whether you're a casual consumer, an aspiring home cook, or an ardent seafood enthusiast, the decision will boil down (no pun intended) to your individual taste and preference. The most beneficial part of this journey is that you can't go wrong with either choice. The snow crab vs Dungeness crab tussle doesn't have a loser; they both provide incredibly delectable experiences in their own right. So, why not enjoy both? After all, life is too short to miss out on the pleasures of the underwater culinary world. Cheers to your next crab feast! Bon appetit!

How to Cook: Perfecting the Art of Cooking Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

How to Cook: Perfecting the Art of Cooking Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

Both Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab are culinary treasures from the sea. Tracing their culinary footprints globally, these crabs have enthralled countless palates with their unique taste profiles. As much as it's about the crab, the way these marine gems are prepared also plays a substantial role in the final flavor profile. So, let's dig into the art of cooking these two formidable crustaceans.

Snow Crab

Snow crabs are known for their succulent, sweet meat cloaked within long, spiky legs. Their quick-cooking nature makes them an easy dish to whip up at home.


Boiling is a quick way to cook snow crab. A few minutes in boiling water and they're ready. Just remember to add some generous amounts of salt to the water.

  1. Rinse the crab to remove any residual sand or sea particles.
  2. Add the crab to a large pot of boiling, salted water.
  3. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until the shell turns bright orange.

The result? You get to savor incredibly sweet and tender crab meat.

Dungeness Crab

With heavier bodies and thicker shells, Dungeness crabs require a longer cooking time compared to snow crabs. Here's how I do it.


Steaming is my go-to method. It preserves the Dungeness crab’s sweet, buttery flavor without making it too watery.

  1. Rinse the crab and place it in a steaming pot.
  2. Fill the pot with about two inches of salted water.
  3. Once the water comes to a boil, let the crab steam for about 15-20 minutes.

What to keep in mind: the cooking time can be adjusted accordingly for larger crabs.

Cooking these crabs may seem a bit daunting to first-timers, but the process is quite straightforward and the results are undeniably delicious.

Health Benefits: Why You Should Include Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab in Your Diet?

When it comes to seafood, I must admit, crabs are one of my absolute favorites. And it's not just about the succulent taste, but the array of health benefits that come with indulging in these scrumptious delicacies. Allow me to share with you the fantastic perks of including both Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab in your diet.

Snow Crab

Firstly, let's take a dive into the icy cold waters where the Snow Crab resides. This crab is not only tantalizing to the palate but also packed with health benefits.

High in Nutrition

Snow Crab is rich in high-quality proteins, making a single serving an excellent source for daily protein needs. But that's not all. It is also a powerhouse of vital vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B12, Zinc, and Selenium, essential for a well-functioning immune system. These nutrients are vital for brain health, bone strength, and metabolic functions.

Low in Calories

For those watching their weight, snow crabs are an excellent choice. They are low in fat, thus low in calories. This makes the snow crab an incredibly guilt-free indulgence for those late-night cravings.

Dungeness Crab

Moving toward the sunny West Coast, let's surface the health benefits of the Dungeness Crab, a local favorite among seafood lovers.

Abundant in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Dungeness crabs are a premium source of Omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are good fats that your body needs but can't produce itself. They work wonders in promoting heart health, reducing inflammation in the body, and even aiding brain function. They're also known to aid in maintaining healthy skin.

High-Low Combo – High in Proteins, Low in Fats

Just like their cold-water cousins, Dungeness Crabs are high in protein and low in fat. They are also rich in trace minerals such as copper and phosphorus, crucial for maintaining optimum health.

To sum it up, both the Snow Crab and the Dungeness Crab are healthy choices when considering a nutritious diet. The table below provides a side-by-side nutrient comparison for a quick glance.

NutrientSnow CrabDungeness Crab
Vitamins & MineralsHighHigh

With these points in mind, there's every reason to enjoy these crabs, not only for their delectable taste but their health benefits too. Here's to enjoying a healthier, tastier dietary choice!

How to Select: Choosing the Freshest Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

How to Select: Choosing the Freshest Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab

When it comes to selecting crabs, regardless of the species, freshness is the key. Choosing the freshest snow crab and Dungeness crab might seem a bit of a challenge, but with a few tips in your culinary repertoire, you'll be able to pick out the freshest crab like a pro.

Check the Weight and Shell

First off, a fresh crab will feel heavy for its size. Snow crabs and Dungeness crabs should have a solid heft to them. If a crab feels light, odds are, there's not much meat inside. Also, examine the shell. A fresh crab should have a hard and intact shell. An old, unfresh crab will often have a flaky or brittle shell.

Look at the Eyes

When you're examining a live crab, take a look at its eyes. They should be clear, bright, and lively. Cloudy or dull eyes can indicate that a crab is past its prime.

Smell Test

This is a trick any seafood lover should be familiar with. Give the crab a good sniff. It should smell like the ocean – fresh, briny, and clean. If you detect any strong, fishy or off-putting odors, avoid that crab.

Ask the Seller

When buying crabs (or any seafood for that matter), don’t hesitate to ask the person behind the counter. They can tell you when the crabs were caught, whether they're wild or farm-raised, and how they've been stored. All these factors can be very telling about the freshness of your prospective snow or Dungeness crab.

Remember, selecting the freshest crab not only ensures an enjoyable dining experience but is also essential for health reasons. After all, who wants to risk food poisoning? Know your crab well, and you can relish the delectable, sweet, and succulent flavors that fresh snow crab and Dungeness crab promise to deliver.

Crab Care: How to Store Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab at Home?

When you've finally got your hands on some fresh snow crab or Dungeness crab, you want to ensure that you store them correctly to maintain their flavor and texture. Here are some essential tips that will help you take care of your crabs at home.

Snow Crab Storage

Immediately After Purchase

As soon as you purchase your snow crab, it's crucial to bring them home and refrigerate them immediately. It's best to store live snow crabs in a breathable container - like a cardboard box - within your refrigerator.

Storage in the Fridge

Snow crabs can survive for a day or two in your fridge. Just be sure to keep the temperature below 40°F so the crabs stay dormant. Cover them with a damp cloth or seaweed to keep them moist and comfortable.

Freezing Snow Crab

If you're not planning to cook your snow crab immediately, consider freezing them. Clean them thoroughly then flash freeze them. They can be stored in the freezer for several months without losing their integrity.

Dungeness Crab Storage

Initial Stage

Dungeness crabs are equally simple to store. Like their snow crab counterparts, they need to be refrigerated right after purchase. Store them live in a breathable box, and be sure to keep them cool.

Refrigerating Dungeness Crab

You can keep a Dungeness crab alive for a day or two in your refrigerator under ideal conditions. Ensure the temperature is below 40°F and cover the crabs with a wet cloth to provide moisture.

Freeze Your Dungeness

For longer-term storage, the freezer is your friend. Thoroughly clean the Dungeness crabs and consider flash-freezing them in icy brine before moving them to the freezer.

Remember, accuracy in storage should not compromise safety. If you ever doubt the freshness of your crab, it's advisable to err on the side of caution and dispose of them.

With all this information in mind, I hope you feel prepared and confident to store your delicious catch until it enters the cooking pot. Good crab care paves the way to better food hygiene and a more delectable dinner.

Also Read: Dumplings vs Potstickers

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the key difference between Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab?

While both are delicious, the main difference is in their size, habitat, and flavor. While Dungeness crabs are commonly larger, they have a sweet, delicate, and slightly nutty flavor. Snow crabs are smaller, but have a sweet, briny flavor and their meat is slightly firmer.

Are Snow Crabs larger than Dungeness Crabs?

Actually, it's the other way around. Dungeness crabs are usually larger, averaging 6 to 7 inches across while Snow crabs typically measure 4 to 6 inches.

Do Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab have the same taste?

Not quite. Snow Crab's meat has a sweet, briny flavor and a firm texture, while Dungeness Crab is known for its sweet, slightly nutty taste and tender flesh.

Where can I find Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab in their natural habitat?

Snow Crabs are typically found in the chilly waters of the northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Dungeness Crabs, on the other hand, are more commonly found in the colder waters off the coast of western North America.

Which kind of crab is more expensive – Snow Crab or Dungeness Crab?

Crab prices can fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including location, season, and market demand. However, generally speaking, Dungeness Crabs tend to be slightly more expensive due to their larger size and the higher demand for their sweet and flavorful meat.

Is the meat from Dungeness Crabs harder to extract than that of Snow Crabs because of their shell durability?

Dungeness Crabs do have thicker shells compared to Snow Crabs, which can make the meat more challenging to extract. However, with a little practice and the right tools, you'll be cracking crab like a pro in no time.

Can you eat Snow Crab and Dungeness Crab in any season?

Snow Crab season is typically during the winter months, generally from late fall to early spring. Dungeness Crab season, meanwhile, usually kicks off in December and lasts through the spring. Of course, these are fresh catches. You can usually find frozen crab in grocery stores year-round.

Are there any specific health benefits to eating Snow Crab over Dungeness Crab, or vice versa?

Both crabs are rich in protein and provide a good dose of essential vitamins and minerals. Dungeness Crabs, due to their larger size, may offer more meat and thus more protein per crab. However, the differences in nutritional benefits between the two are quite minimal.


If you found yourself on a "Crab Quest" trying to discern the difference between snow crab and Dungeness crab, I hope you have your answer now. Whether you're shopping for a family feast, planning a gourmet meal, or simply satisfying a personal craving, your choice between these two crab varieties will likely boil down to individual preferences for taste, texture, size, and the overall culinary experience.

While both have unique qualities in terms of their appearance, habitats, seasons, tastes, shell durability, and price, they each offer a distinct dining experience that every seafood lover should try at least once.

Remember to buy fresh, cook with care, and eat with an open mind. After all, the joy of food lies in its diversity and the taste adventures that come along with it. Most importantly, no matter whether your heart leans toward the cold, sweet meat of the snow crab, or you prefer the juicy, full-flavored chunks of a Dungeness crab, may your crab dining experience be everything you hoped for and more. Happy feasting!

Food Lover and Storyteller ????️✨ With a fork in one hand and a pen in the other, Shivani brings her culinary adventures to life through evocative words and tantalizing tastes. Her love for food knows no bounds, and she's on a mission to share the magic of flavors with fellow enthusiasts.
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