Ryan Cooks: Soft Shell Crab with Pancetta Sandwiches

Entertaining  //  

If you read our recent Friday Favorites post, then you already know my love of soft shell crabs.  Recently, while at our local farmers market, we saw a stand for soft-shell crabs.  Although we didn’t purchase the crabs for this post at the market, it did inspire me to try my hand at cooking my very own soft shell crab sandwiches.  Check out the recipe below to learn how to make your very own! Enjoy!

RECIPE: Soft Shell Crabs with Pancetta Sandwiches



    • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
    • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 4 slices of pancetta (or bacon if pancetta is not available)
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 jumbo soft-shell crabs
    • Approximately 2 cups of all-purpose flour, for dusting
    • 2 buns, preferably brioche, but any sandwich bun will do
    • One small bunch of arugula, washed
    • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced


Step 1: In a small bowl, combine red onion, tarragon, and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside for later.

Step 2: Arrange pancetta slices in a single layer in a large pan.  Place a smaller pan on top of the pancetta to weight it down to prevent the pancetta from curling.  Cook pancetta over medium-high heat until crisp and browned, turning once, approximately 3 minutes per side.  Remove pancetta and dry on paper towels.

Step 3: Wipe out any leftover juices from the pan.  Over high heat, melt butter with the olive oil in the pan.  While the butter and olive oil heat, season the soft shell crabs with salt and pepper than cover both sides generously with flour.  Place the crabs in the pan and cook on high heat.  Turn once after 3-4 minutes and continue to cook until crisp and brown, an additional 3-4 minutes.

Step 4: While the crabs are frying, prepare your buns by adding argulua, tomato, and 2 slices of pancetta to the bottom half of each bun.  Spread the mustard on the top half of the bun.

Step 5: Once crabs are done cooking, gently place one on top of pancetta.  Add the top half of the bun and enjoy!


Prepare the mustard.

Thinly slice the tomato and set aside.

Cook pancetta over medium high heat for 3 minutes per side until crisp.

Season crabs with salt and pepper and coat generously with flour.

Once butter and olive oil have heated over high heat, add the crabs.

Cook each crab 3-4 minutes per side until crisp and brown.

While crabs are frying, prepare your buns with arugula, tomato, and pancetta.

Spread mustard on the top half of each bun.

Gently place one crab on each bun.

Add top of bun and enjoy!