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  • Writer's pictureThe Crab Place

Fresh vs Pasteurized Blue Crab Meat

Blue crab, renowned for its sweet and tender meat, is a beloved staple in many coastal cuisines. When buying blue crab meat, you’ll encounter two main types: fresh and pasteurized.

When it comes to fresh vs pasteurized blue crab meat, we will aim to dispel the myths surrounding pasteurized crab meat and provide a comprehensive understanding of the differences between these two distinct options. We'll delve into the processing methods, flavor profiles, and culinary applications of both fresh and pasteurized crab meat so you can know which to use for your next seafood dish!


Fresh Crab Meat

Jumbo lump crab meat from The Crab Place


  • Processing: Fresh crab meat is typically packed soon after being picked from the crab. It is perishable and must be kept refrigerated.

  • Shelf Life: It has a shorter shelf life, usually up to a week when kept properly chilled.

  • Flavor: Known for its superior taste and texture, fresh crab meat retains the natural sweetness and delicate texture of freshly cooked crab.


  • Best enjoyed in recipes where the quality of the meat can be appreciated, such as in cold salads, sandwiches, or as a standalone dish.

  • Ideal for gourmet dishes where the freshness of the crab can significantly enhance the overall flavor profile.

Pasteurized crab meat

Pasteurized Crab Meat


  • Processing: Pasteurized crab meat is heat-treated and vacuum-sealed in cans or jars to extend its shelf life, which can range from several months to over a year if unopened and refrigerated.

  • Shelf Life: Once opened, it should be used within a few days, similar to fresh crab meat.

  • Flavor: With little to no difference to its fresh counterpart, pasteurized crab meat retains it's delicious flavors.


  • Suitable for a wide range of dishes including casseroles, crab cakes, and soups where the meat is combined with other ingredients.

  • An excellent option when fresh crab is not available, offering a longer shelf life without the need for immediate use.

If you're looking to try out these two different types of crab meat, check out our Maryland sourced fresh and pasteurized options at!


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