Catching and picking blue crabs is a summer tradition for many of us.  When May comes around, that means softshell crabs are back, and locals look forward to the tasty bounty every year!

A big blue crab caught in the Neuse River, Pamlico County, NC.
Ben Bruno of Endurance Seafood shows off a big blue crab caught in the Neuse River, Pamlico County, NC.

If you’re a newbie to softshells, it’s kind of an odd concept to eat the entire crab… but you’ll get used it.  No crab crackers required, you’re going to eat the whole thing, shell and all. Softshell crabs are harvested right after the crab molts, or sheds it’s exoskeleton, which means the shells are soft and most important, edible.  Sure it looks like it’s going to crawl right off the plate, but they’re some kind of delicious fried, sautéed, or even grilled.

If you haven’t tried them yet, what are you waiting for?!? Head over to Gary’s Downeast Seafood just down the street from AP. If you want to chef it up at home, visit Blake at Paradise Shores Seafood Co or Keith at Endurance Seafood for peelers as fresh as they come.

Many locals you’ll meet have a time honored, tried and true method for cooking them, like our dad who soaks them in milk and hot sauce before breading in House Autry and frying. If you don’t already have a go-to recipe, check this one out from AP resident Terri MacMahon. The word around the neighborhood is “two claws way up!”

Throwing crab pots into the Neuse River.
Tossing crab pots into the Neuse River.

Endurance Seafood Fried Softshell Crabs

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 55 mins


  • 4 Softshell Crabs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups Panko crumbs
  • 3-4 eggs depending on crab size, beaten
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Thyme & Lemon Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Avocado or Vegetable oil


  1. Put 1/2 – 1 inch of oil in a pan and heat over medium-high heat until oil bubbles immediately when a pinch of flour is added.
  2. Mix Old Bay Seasoning, salt and pepper into flour.
  3. Mix Old Bay Seasoning, salt, pepper, chopped Thyme, chopped Lemon Thyme, and chopped Parsley to Panko crumbs.
  4. Coat Crabs thoroughly with flour.
  5. Dip Crabs in eggs, cover all with the season flour.
  6. Coat Crabs with seasoned Panko crumbs.
  7. Cook Crabs in hot oil for 3.5 – 4 minutes per side or until golden brown.
  8. Let cooked Crabs sit to drain on paper towels, preferably over paper bags.

Interested in seeing what it’s like to actually to pull these beauties from our local waters? Check out “Crabbing with the Bruno Brothers” written by local photographer Will Conkwright.