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9+ Key Differences Between Lobster and Crab to Know Before Your Next Seafood Dinner

9+ Key Differences Between Lobster and Crab to Know Before Your Next Seafood Dinner

Lobsters and crabs are both popular seafood options, loved by many for their unique flavors and textures. While they may have some similarities, there are significant differences between the two that can impact your dining experience.

Physical Differences

Shell Differences

Top view of whole red lobster with ice and lime on a black slate plate

One of the most noticeable differences between lobsters and crabs is their shell. Lobsters have a harder, more rigid exoskeleton, while crabs have a softer, more flexible shell.

Snow Crab

The shells of both animals are primarily made of chitin, but the composition and structure differ, giving them their unique characteristics.

Size Differences

Lobsters are generally larger than crabs, with some species reaching lengths of up to 3 feet and weighing as much as 40 pounds. Crabs, on the other hand, are typically smaller, with most species measuring between 4-6 inches in width.

However, there are some exceptions, such as the giant Japanese spider crab, which can have a leg span of up to 12 feet.

Color Differences

While both lobsters and crabs can come in a variety of colors, lobsters are usually a dark green or brownish color when alive, turning bright red when cooked.

Crabs can be found in shades of blue, green, brown, and red, with their colors often changing after they molt or when cooked.

Claw Differences

Another significant physical difference between lobsters and crabs is their claws. Lobsters have large, powerful front claws that are used for catching prey and defending themselves.

The claws of a crab are generally smaller and less powerful, with some species having specialized claws for specific purposes, such as the fiddler crab’s enlarged claw used for mating displays.

Taste Differences

Flavors of Lobster

Lobster meat is known for its rich, succulent taste and tender texture. It’s often described as having a slightly sweet, briny flavor that pairs well with butter and other rich sauces. The tail and claw meat are considered the most flavorful and tender parts of the lobster.

Flavors of Crab

Crab meat is also highly regarded for its sweet, delicate flavor and soft, flaky texture. The taste of crab can vary depending on the species, with some being more mild and sweet, while others have a stronger, brinier flavor. The most prized part of the crab is the merus, found in the legs, which is considered the tastiest and most tender.

Nutritional Value

Protein Content

Both lobster and crab are excellent sources of high-quality protein, with each providing around 20 grams of protein per 100-gram serving.

However, lobster has a slightly higher protein content than crab, making it a more filling and satisfying option for those looking to increase their protein intake.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

In addition to being rich in protein, both lobster and crab are packed with essential vitamins and minerals. They’re particularly high in vitamin B12, selenium, and copper. Lobster is also a good source of zinc and phosphorus, while crab is rich in magnesium and potassium.

Both seafood options are low in fat and calories, making them a healthy choice for those watching their weight or following a balanced diet.

Popular Varieties

Popular Varieties of Lobster

There are several different types of lobster, but the most common and sought-after is the American lobster, found in the cold waters of the North Atlantic.

Other popular varieties include the spiny lobster, also known as rock or slipper lobsters, which lack large front claws and are typically found in warmer waters.

Popular Varieties of Crab

There are many different species of crab, with some of the most popular being King crabs, snow crabs, blue crabs, and Dungeness crabs. Each variety has its own unique taste and texture, making them suitable for different types of dishes and preparations.

Popular Recipes

Popular Lobster Recipes

Lobsters can be prepared in a variety of ways, with some popular dishes including lobster bisque, lobster rolls, and lobster thermidor. Steamed or boiled lobster served with melted butter is a classic preparation that showcases the natural flavors of the meat.

Popular Crab Recipes

Crab can also be used in many different dishes, such as crab cakes, crab chowder, and crab-stuffed mushrooms. Soft-shell crabs are often deep-fried or pan-fried, while other varieties may be steamed, boiled, or baked. The versatile nature of crab meat makes it suitable for a wide range of recipes and culinary styles.

Cooking Techniques

Effective Ways to Cook Lobster

There are several methods for cooking lobster, including boiling, steaming, grilling, and baking. Boiling and steaming are the most common methods, as they result in tender, evenly cooked meat.

Grilling and baking can add a smoky or richer flavor to the lobster but require careful attention to prevent overcooking.

Effective Ways to Cook Crab

Crab can be cooked using various techniques, such as boiling, steaming, baking, and frying. Boiling and steaming are popular methods for cooking crab legs and whole crabs, as they preserve the delicate flavors and textures of the meat. Baking and frying can add extra crispiness and flavor, especially for soft-shell crabs and crab cakes.

Price Comparison

Cost of Lobster

Lobster is generally considered a luxury food item and tends to be more expensive than crab. Prices can vary depending on factors such as the size and species of the lobster, as well as market conditions and availability. However, some types of crab, such as king crab legs, can also be quite pricey.

Cost of Crab

Crab is typically more affordable than lobster, though prices can vary depending on the type and size of the crab. Some varieties, like blue crabs and snow crabs, are relatively inexpensive, while others, like king crabs, can be more costly due to their high demand and limited availability.

What’s the difference between crab and lobster taste?

The difference between crab and lobster taste lies in their texture and flavor. Crab meat is usually sweeter and more delicate, while lobster has a richer, buttery flavor with a firmer texture.

What is better lobster or crab?

Determining whether lobster or crab is better depends on personal preference. Some people prefer the sweet taste of crab, while others enjoy the rich flavor of lobster.

Is lobster considered a crab?

Lobster is not considered a crab, as they are two distinct types of crustaceans with different physical characteristics and habitats.

Are lobsters and crabs in the same family?

Lobsters and crabs are not in the same family, but they both belong to the larger group of crustaceans. Lobsters are part of the Nephropidae family, while crabs belong to the Brachyura infraorder.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there are several key differences between lobster and crab that can impact your seafood dining experience. From their physical appearance and taste to their nutritional value, popular varieties, recipes, cooking techniques, and price, both options offer unique qualities and flavors that cater to different preferences and budgets. Whether you choose to indulge in the rich, succulent taste of lobster or the sweet, delicate flavor of crab, you’re sure to enjoy a delicious and satisfying meal.