Stone crab claws are a Florida classic, each hefty shell generously filled with plump and tender meat. This recipe serves those claws chilled, with a zesty mayo-based sauce rich with horseradish, Dijon mustard, hot sauce, and lemon juice. It's as easy as stirring those ingredients together, then loading an ice-filled platter with a ramekin of it plus the claws.
The claws themselves couldn't be easier—they're sold pre-cooked and ready to eat. At most, you'll have to crack the shells with either a claw cracker, hammer, or even just by whacking them decisively with the spine of a butter knife. Then just dip and enjoy.
The season for fresh stone crab claws runs from mid-October to the end of April. It used to go slightly longer to mid-May, but concern for the health of the stone crab population has led to tighter restrictions on the fishery. For many years stone crabs were regarded as one of the more sustainable seafood options, since the claws are plucked off and then the crabs are thrown back alive to, it was assumed, regrow the claws, a superpower shared by many marine crustaceans. More recent studies attempting to explain the crab's decline, however, have questioned just how easy it is for the declawed crabs to survive; as a result, in 2018, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, which ranks seafood by how sustainable it is, took the drastic step of downgrading stone crab claws from the highest rating of "Best Choice" to the lowest, "Avoid." Which is to say, it's worth doing your own research to see how the fishery is recovering before making a habit of eating these, though it's reassuring to know the issue is being tracked closely and measures are being taken to help improve the species's ecological health.
Out of season, you can still order stone crab claws, but they will have been frozen, which can degrade the quality of the meat, though in our experience good suppliers can still offer an excellent product, even when previously frozen.
This recipe was developed by Carrie Vasios Mullins in 2011. Daniel Gritzer cross-tested the sauce recipe and added the headnote (including up-to-date sustainability information) in July 2022.
For Mustard Dipping Sauce
1 cup (7 3/4 ounces; 220g) mayonnaise
1/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces; 65g) prepared horseradish
1/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces; 65g) Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon (5ml) hot sauce, such as Frank's
1 1/2 teaspoons (8ml) fresh lemon juice
4 pounds (1.8kg) stone crab claws (about 25 medium to large claws), chilled
In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, horseradish, Dijon, hot sauce, and lemon juice until well combined.
For serving: Pour dipping sauce into a ramekin or small bowl. Place dipping bowl on a large ice-filled platter and fan crab claws around it.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 30g||38%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||24%|
|Total Carbohydrate 2g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 12mg||59%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|