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  • Writer's pictureThe Crab Place

Exploring the Different Snow Crab Species: Bairdi and Opilio

Updated: May 7

When you're on the hunt for top-tier seafood, few choices can match the delicate taste and texture of snow crabs offered by Offering both Opilio and Bairdi snow crab species, we provide only the best options that the ice-cold Ocean waters have to offer. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the unique flavor profiles of each while also highlighting the health benefits and sustainability practices that make the snow crab an exceptional choice for seafood lovers.

Cracked Opilio and Bairdi Snow Crab

A Taste Worth Savoring

Anyone who has tried Snow Crab Legs knows that the meat from crustaceans can be divine. Yet, what they may not know is that there is a distinct difference between the flavor profile of the Opilio and Bairdi varieties. Canadian Opilio, which is what you would typically find in mainstream grocery stores, boasts a milder sweetness and a softer texture making it the perfect addition to your seafood dips, soups, and other delicious recipes where you want to add high-quality crab meat.

The Alaskan Bairdi however, has a stand-out flavor profile that makes the consumer feel as though the meat has already been seasoned. A deliciously rich flavor, with a salty finish, the Alaskan Bairdi makes a great appetizer as it is easy to reheat and prepare for guests to enjoy. The texture is also firmer than the “melt in your mouth” experience that the Canadian Opilio species provides.

Opilio Snow Crab Shown in a seafood boil

The Health Benefits of Snow Crabs

Snow crabs offer an array of health benefits, making them a nutritious addition to any diet. With low calorie content and high protein levels, they provide a satisfying option for those seeking a lean protein source. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals such as zinc, copper, selenium, and vitamin C, snow crabs contribute to robust immune system function. Additionally, their high omega-3 fatty acid content, along with vitamin B-6 and iron, promotes cardiovascular health and supports cognitive function, making them an excellent choice for both brain and heart health.

Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword; it's a promise of preservation and responsibility. 

Bairdi and Opilio snow crabs are quintessential examples of sustainable seafood sourcing. Regulated by entities such as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, these snow crabs are caught following meticulous quotas and management plans that ensure only the right size male crabs are harvested in the appropriate season. These measures ensure the welfare of the crab populations and the health of the marine ecosystem, proving that exceptional taste need not come at the expense of environmental recklessness.

Such sustainability is vital for two reasons: it helps maintain the delicate balance of our oceans, and it safeguards the future of the seafood industry. A well-managed fishery supports a thriving habitat, leading to a sustainable harvest year after year. It's a win-win for our plates and the planet.

The Prime Time For Premium Snow Crab Legs

The best season to buy Bairdi and Opilio snow crab varies slightly depending on the specific fishing regulations and quotas set by fisheries management authorities, but generally, both species are most readily available during the winter and early spring months.

  1. Bairdi Snow Crab: The main fishing season for Bairdi snow crab typically occurs from January to March. This is when the majority of the harvest takes place, and the crab is at its peak quality in terms of meat fill and flavor.

  2. Opilio Snow Crab: The fishing season for Opilio snow crab usually follows the Bairdi season, typically from late winter into early spring, around March to April. This is when Opilio snow crab is most abundant and available in the market.

Alaskan Bairdi

Canadian Opilio


Darker Red/Orange

Lighter Orange


Larger/Thicker Clusters

Medium/Thinner Clusters


Luxuriously rich and salty flavor; firm texture

Subtly sweet flavor; softer, more delicate texture


Used in high-end Surf & Turf dishes;

Used in premium seafood boils and dips

How We Determine Their Size:

We purchase our snow crab legs from vendors already graded out. However, during our in-house processing phase, we do weigh them again to ensure accuracy.

How They're Packed:

Our snow crab legs are pulled from our shelves labeled according to their graded size, and then we weigh them out to order based on the number of pounds a customer purchases. This ensures that customers receive the exact weight they've ordered.

Snow Crab Sizes:

  • Large: Each full cluster weighs at least 10 oz. or up.

  • 3 lbs. = approx. 4-5 clusters

  • 6 lbs. = approx. 9-10 clusters

  • 9 lbs. = approx. 14 clusters

  • Jumbo: Each full cluster weighs at least 12 oz. or up

  • 3 lbs. = approx. 4 clusters

  • 6 lbs. = approx. 8 clusters

  • 9 lbs. = approx. 12 clusters

  • Colossal: Each full cluster weighs at least 14 oz. or up

  • 3 lbs. = approx. 3-4 clusters

  • 6 lbs. = approx. 6-7 clusters

  • 9 lbs. = approx. 10 clusters

Final Thoughts

Crab Place boxes being picked up by delivery service

In conclusion, if you're eager to indulge in the exquisite flavors of Alaskan Bairdi and Canadian Opilio snow crab, look no further than The Crab Place. Unlike the limited selections often found in grocery stores, The Crab Place offers premium options of these coveted snow crab varieties, delivered straight to your doorstep. Elevate your dining experience with the unparalleled quality and freshness that only Bairdi and Opilio snow crab can provide. Don't miss out on the opportunity to savor these delicacies from the icy waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Order today and treat yourself to a culinary delight that's sure to impress even the most discerning seafood connoisseurs.

Facts & FAQ's

  • “Some of my Crab legs are discolored, making them appear to be ‘old’ or even potentially ‘spoiled’:  This is often the result of the natural habitat they’re sourced from and doesn’t mean they’re bad and/or inedible. It’s a very common occurrence and doesn’t affect the taste or quality of the crab meat inside.

  • “Some of my Crab legs have black spots on them”:  These are typically sea lice & are also the result of their natural habitat from where they’re sourced from, and they don’t negatively affect the meat inside. They can easily be scraped off and the crab legs are perfectly safe to eat.

  • “My Crab legs are ‘smaller than expected’ and they don’t look like the size I ordered”:  There are two methods to verify if the customer received the correct size. 1) count the number of clusters received. Ensure this number matches the number of clusters advertised for the size and number of pounds ordered. 2) weigh the clusters. Each full cluster should weigh at least 10 oz., 12 oz., or 14 oz., depending on the size ordered.

  • “Some of my Crab legs are too salty”: Crab legs are often salty due to the saline brine they're dipped in before freezing. This process helps lock in their moisture and freshness. To reduce saltiness, it's recommended to thoroughly rinse the crab legs before serving. This can help remove excess salt and enhance the flavor of the crab meat.

  • Some of my Crab leg clusters have arrived broken”: Unfortunately, the snow crab clusters are extremely fragile/brittle and sometimes it’s possible that a few of the clusters may arrive broken due to rough handling during the delivery process. However, although not as visually appealing, all of the crab legs (broken or not) are 100% perfectly fine to eat.

Seeing Is Believing

Watch as former NFL quarterback, Brett Hundley compares our snow crab to that of a grocery store's selection:

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