How to make deep-fried Filipino crablets: the best crispy crab recipe

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Are you looking for a perfect appetizer for cocktail parties?

Then this crispy crablet recipe is just what you need! It’s easy to prepare and cooks fast.

The crablets are usually sold along riverbanks in the Philippines. It’s no wonder why deep-fried crispy baby crabs are a popular appetizer.

Served with a spicy vinegar dipping sauce alongside beer or another refreshing drink, the crablets are best enjoyed while they’re hot and crispy.

The secret to making the tastiest crispy crablets is to use some gin or sherry to remove the fishy swampy smell from the crabs.

But don’t worry, I’ll explain everything you need to know about how to prep young crabs for frying!

Filipino Crispy Crablets Recipe
Filipino Crispy Crablets Recipe

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Filipino crispy crablets recipe

Joost Nusselder
This crispy crablets recipe is a perfect appetizer for cocktail parties. It's easy to prepare and cooks fast. The crablets are usually sold along riverbanks in the Philippines, which is better than the frozen crablets.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 4 people
Calories 1672 kcal


  • 2 lbs crablets cleaned
  • 4 tbsp gin or sherry (optional)
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cooking oil


  • Place the crablets in a bowl then pour in gin or sherry. Mix gently.
  • Sprinkle salt and ground black pepper, then mix well.
  • Heat a frying pan or cooking pot and pour in cooking oil.
  • Dredge the crablets in cornstarch, then fry until the texture becomes crispy.
  • Remove from the pan and place on a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Once excess oil drips off completely, arrange on a serving plate and serve with spicy vinegar dip.
  • Share and enjoy!


Calories: 1672kcal
Keyword Crabs
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Also check out this great rellenong alimango stuffed crab recipe

Check out YouTube user Panlasang Pinoy’s video on making crispy crablets:

How to clean and prepare crablets for frying

The first thing you need to do is to remove the “dead man’s fingers.” These are long, thin, stringy things that protrude from the crab’s legs.

Many baby crabs don’t have anything you need to remove, and you can just fry them as is.

After removing the “dead man’s fingers,” you need to clean the crablets.

To do this, put the crabs in a large bowl and cover them with water. Add 1/4 cup of salt for every gallon of water.

Let the crabs soak in the saltwater for about 20 minutes. This will help to remove any sand or dirt that’s stuck to them.

After soaking, rinse the crabs well with clean water.

Now they’re ready to be cooked. At this point, you can add the sherry or gin to remove any smells.

Cooking tips

For this crispy crablets recipe, you can use whatever crabs you can find, both fresh and frozen. Fresh is better than frozen crablets.

However, both the freshly caught crablets and frozen ones have some fishy and unpleasant odors. But if you happen to purchase fresh or frozen crablets and find their scent is a little off, the secret is to squeeze in some gin, dry sherry, or lemon juice to eliminate the fishy smell.

Crispy Crablets with sauce

To ensure that your crablets are crispy, coat them in cornstarch that’s seasoned with paprika, salt, and pepper. The cornstarch makes the crablets crunchy and crispy when deep-fried, unlike flour, which makes the crablets a bit soggy.

To get rid of excess oil drips, place the fried crablets on a plate lined with paper towels, which will absorb and drain excess oil.

Substitutions and variations

The crispy crablets ingredients in this recipe are quite basic. In fact, the dish is simple, so you don’t need to do much substituting!

As with any appetizer, you can mix and match the spices added to the coating mix. I suggest you try adding some turmeric powder to the cornstarch. This will also add a yellowish-orange hue to the crablets.

The sauces used for dipping vary as well. You can use your favorite hot sauce or any dipping sauce that you like.

The best coating is cornstarch because it makes the crablets extra crunchy. But if you want to use flour, make sure to mix the flour with a bit of cornmeal to get that desired crunch.

I also like to garnish my crispy crablets with cilantro or green onions for added flavor and texture.

How to serve and eat

What’s great is this crispy crab recipe is a fantastic beer pairing (pulutan)!

Crispy crablets are also best paired with and dipped in a variety of sauces and dippings.

The most popular dip for this crispy crablets recipe is vinegar-chili dip, aka spicy vinegar dip. This is made by mixing quality vinegar, salt, black peppercorns, minced garlic, chopped onions, and sliced bird’s eye chili.

Another dipping sauce that you can pair with crispy crablets is aioli sauce, also known as mayonnaise-garlic sauce. You can make this by mixing a cup of mayonnaise with 2 tablespoons of minced garlic, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

Crispy Crablets Recipe

You can also serve this crispy crablet recipe with celery sticks, carrots, and turnips.

For a complete meal, serve the golden brown crispy crablets with a side of rice and alcoholic beverages.

This is best eaten right after it’s cooked. Your guest will surely love this crispy crablet recipe!

Similar dishes

If you like this crispy crablet recipe, then you’ll also love these similar dishes:

  • Pangat na isda: Fish stewed in vinegar
  • Crispy fried tilapia
  • Paksiw na isda: Fish sewed in vinegar and ginger
  • Sinigang na hipon: Shrimp in sour soup

But if you’re keen on deep-fried Filipino food recipes, I recommend trying these:


How do you eat fried mini crabs?

It’s quite simple, really; just place them in your mouth and chew.

Since these critters are tiny, you won’t need to do any extra work to remove the meat from the shell. Just pop them in your mouth and enjoy!

You can serve with spicy vinegar dip and mayonnaise-garlic dip on the side.

What do crablets taste like?

Crablets have a milder crab flavor and are more tender than mature crabs. They’re also sweeter and have a softer texture.

When deep-fried, they become even more tender and have a light, flaky texture inside. But they’re super crispy on the outside!

Can you use panko for this crispy crablets recipe?

Technically yes, but I don’t recommend using a breading mixture like panko or breadcrumbs because it’ll make the crablets too crunchy.

I prefer using a light coating of cornstarch or flour because it yields a crispier and lighter coating.

Are crispy crablets healthy?

This dish is fried, so it’s not the healthiest option.

However, you can make it healthier by using less oil or by baking instead of frying.

Another way to make this dish healthier is to use larger crabs so you reduce the amount of oil used.

What is the difference between a crablet and a crab?

Crablets are small, immature crabs that are less than 2 inches in width. They’re also called micro crabs, baby crabs, or dwarf crabs.

Crabs, on the other hand, are fully grown and mature. They’re usually 4 to 6 inches in width.

The main difference between the 2 is size.

How do you store crispy crablets?

You’re likely wondering if you can store the crispy crablets for later.

And the answer is yes, you can! But take note that they’ll no longer be as crunchy and delicious as when they were freshly cooked.

To store, simply place the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

When you’re ready to eat, simply reheat in the oven or in a pan over medium heat. And that’s it!

Fry up crispy crablets for a tasty meal

I hope you enjoy this deep-fried Filipino crablets recipe as much as I do. If you love seafood, you’ll definitely love this dish.

Once the oil drips off completely and the texture becomes crispy, you’re ready to enjoy your delicious deep-fried Filipino crablets!

Serve with a spicy vinegar dipping sauce and share with your friends. You can make this a snack, appetizer, or even a main meal when you’re craving some crunchy crabs!

Also check out these large ginataang alimasag crabs in coconut milk

If you want to learn more about crispy crablets, read this article.

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

Try it out for free with Kindle Unlimited:

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.