Homemade Crab Stock

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This Crab Stock is made with blue crab shells and a savory blend of veggies and spices. Perfect for soups, chowders, stews, and recipes prepared with seafood.

cooked crab stock

Making homemade Crab Stock, or any stock for that matter, is beyond easy. Cooking stocks are made from simmering meat bones or vegetables in water with spices to produce a flavorful broth that is used in many ways. Soups made with seafood demand a fitting broth base. As a Marylander, a natural resource for my broth base is Maryland blue crab. Our crabbing season runs from April to October; excellent timing for early fall soups like Maryland Cream of Crab.

Crab stock ingredients and equipment

crab stock ingredients

Blue crab shells– Blue crab shells and whole claws are what you will need for this stock. You may substitute blue crab with other types of crab or shelled fish. Please see the suggestions for substitutes below.
White wine
Yellow onion
Celery ribs
Garlic cloves
Bay leaves
Olive oil
Tomato paste
Old Bay
Mustard powder
Red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Heavy bottomed pot with lid

Blue crab substitutes

crab shells

If Maryland crab is not accessible, you might try to make a stock from another type of seafood. Whichever you choose, I’m certain that it will make an amazing broth with all the ingredients in the recipe.

Dungeness or snow crab- I’ve had the pleasure of tasting Dungeness crab on several occasions and it really good. Unfortunately, we don’t get them whole in my area. Just that clean cooked body with claws. To make the swap use the shells if it’s available and the claws. If the shell is unavailable, just use the claws. Don’t use the body because the meat will be impossible to filter out. The same goes for snow crabs—use only the empty shells without the meat for the stock. 

Shrimp- Yes, of course this now means that you will no longer be making crab stock. But shrimp stock is just as good! In fact a good mix of seafood shells will make an excellent broth. A tip from Emeril Lagasse says that you should save your shrimp shells in freezer bag until you have enough the stock; about 1-2 pounds. 

Store-bought- If all else fails and fresh seafood just isn’t available, you may want to try a seafood stock from the grocery store. No, it’s no longer homemade stock but it will work in a recipe that calls for it. And it’s a 1000x better than using chicken stock in a seafood dish. Better Than Bouillon stocks are amazing. 


adding onion to a stock pot

Heat the olive oil over a medium flame in a large heavy bottomed pot. Add crushed garlic, onion, and celery.

tomato paste in a bowl

Next, stir in the tomato paste and spices.

adding bay leaves to crab stock

Let the pot heat for 2-3 minutes then add the bay leaves.

pouring white wine into the stock

Store frequently to avoid scorching. Once fragrant, pour in the white wine to deglaze the pot.

layering crab shells in the pot

Layer in the crab shells. Give a good stir to coat the shells.

pouring water over crab shels

Finally, cover the shells with water. Bring the stock to boil then turn the heat down to a low simmer for 2-3 hours.

crab sheels in a pot

Once cooled, strain the crab stock through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth if you have it. This recipe makes 4 ½-5 cups. 

How to store stock

jars of crab stock

Pour the strained crab stock into lidded jars. The stock will keep for about 3-4 days if refrigerated. It can also be frozen for 4-6 months according to Still Tasty. Freezer safe ziplock bags work fine. Pour measured stock halfway full into a freezer bag. Seal tightly removing all of the air. Lay the sealed bag flat on a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer. Once frozen, remove the tray, label the bag, and place the stock in the most advantageous place in the freezer. 


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*Updated on 10/10/2020. Original posting 9/9/2019.*

cooked crab stock
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Homemade Crab Stock

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This Crab Stock is made with blue crab shells and a savory blend of veggies and spices. Perfect for soups, chowders, stews, and recipes prepared with seafood.
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:3 hrs
Total Time:3 hrs 15 mins


  • 2 lb crab shells and claws
  • 8 c water
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • 1 lg yellow onion roughly chopped
  • 3 celery ribs trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic whole, peeled and crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp old bay
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper


  • Heat olive oil in a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven over medium flame. Add crushed garlic, onion, celery, tomato paste, spices, and bay leaves. Let the pot heat until the contents are fragrant, constantly stirring.
  • Then add the white wine to deglaze. Layer in the crab shells. Give a good stir to coat then cover with water. After bringing the pot to boil, turn the heat down to simmer for 2-3 hours. ⠀
  • Once cooled, strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer. Best is cheesecloth if you have it. This recipe makes 4 1/2-5 cups.


Calories: 96kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1007mg | Potassium: 126mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: broth, crab, seafood, soup, stock
Servings: 5 cups
Calories: 96kcal
Author: Ty

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