Dungeness Crab

Cancer magister

Market Name(s): Dungeness crab

Contact Purchasing
Dungeness Crab
  • Primary Source: Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, British Columbia
  • Season: Ocean Fishery - Northern CA: Dec 1 - June 15 OR Dec 1 - July 15; WA: Dec 1 - Sept 15 (Opening may be delayed if meat yield is low.) Inside Waters - WA state (openings vary); AK: Southeast June - Nov; Central AK: May - December; BC: Year-round.
  • Primary Fishing Method: Pot

Size Range:

LIVE: 1 to 3 lbs.

Product forms:

FRESH: Whole cooks graded 1-1 1/2, 1 1/2 -2, 2 up, combo meat (from both fresh and frozen sections) packed in 8-oz., 14 oz., 1-lb. and 5-lb. cans; fry legs (upper leg meat);

FROZEN: Whole cooks, (clusters) graded 3/5 oz., 5/8 oz. and 8 ups; cocktail claws; snap ‘n’ eats; split legs.

Storage & Handling

Dungeness crab can be prepared in a wide variety of ways — involving just the meat or the whole crab. Many people like to get whole cooked Dungeness and busily crack the legs and dip the tasty meat in a little warmed butter. Already sectioned legs can be sautéed and served with a little black bean sauce, or simply served warm and cracked. Dungeness crab meat is incredibly versatile and can be made into crab cakes, added to omelettes, soups, salads, soufflés. When using Dungeness meat, make sure to add it at the last minute as it is already cooked and can dry out.

Cooking Suggestions

Not available.

Selling Points

  • Clean and sweet tasting.
  • Dungeness is the favorite crab of discerning seafood gourmets from San Francisco to Shanghai.
  • Available year round.
  • Wide variety of products to meet every need.
  • The best deals on Dungeness are in December, when landings are heaviest right after the ocean season opens.


  • Slimy or “Light” crab with meat fill less than 20%.
  • Meat that is stringy and dry (indicates slow freezing or old age).
  • Broken shells on whole cooks.
  • Dark bellies, or “tar bellies” – a cosmetic defect, which has no effect on meat quality.
  • High ratio of body to leg meat.
  • “Bluing” indicates crab was not properly cleaned.

The Pacific Advantage

  • Largest producer of Dungeness Crab in the world
  • Dungeness Crab Fishery is considered one of the most efficiently managed crab fisheries globally
  • Harvested and Processed in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California
  • Blanched cooking enhances natural meat appearance, flavor and reduces bacteria, increasing shelf life
  • Cryogenically frozen crab keep the "fresh" flavor and juices locked in
  • Processor of all forms of Dungeness Crab, from traditional whole cook to pasteurized extracted crabmeat
  • Pacific Seafood industry leading product traceability systems, assuring food safety
  • Year round fresh crabmeat production


How good is Dungeness? Let’s just say that it’s Julia Child’s favorite crab. Named after Dungeness Bay in Washington state on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Dungeness is a seafood staple on the West Coast. These days, though, the secret’s out and sweet-tasting Dungeness can be found on menus from New York to Shanghai.

Dungeness are found only in the eastern North Pacific, ranging from Alaska’s Aleutian Islands to Southern California.

Dungeness are in greatest abundance off the coasts of northern California, Oregon and Washington. The ocean fishery off these states produces about 70% of the North American Dungeness harvest each year.

Most Dungeness are landed from December through February, when the crabs are actively feeding after molting. Generally, meat yields will improve as the season progresses.

Typically, Dungeness prices are at their lowest point of the year in December, when landings are at their peak shortly after the season opens.

Other significant Dungeness fisheries take place in Puget Sound in the inside waters of Washington state, Southeast Alaska and British Columbia.

Dungeness harvests normally follow a 7-year cycle of abundance, ranging from a low of about 15,000 tons to a high of almost 30,000 tons.

Only male Dungeness can be harvested (males can be distinguished by their v-shaped belly flap; females have a large round belly flap) that have a minimum carapace (top of shell) size of 6 1/4 inches (in Alaska it’s 6 1/2 inches)--equal to a size of about 1 pound. The biggest Dungeness can reach almost 3 pounds in size.

The market for Dungeness has expanded greatly in recent years. Almost 25% of the Dungeness harvest is now exported to growing markets in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The Chinese translation for Dungeness is “very valuable crab.”