Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches Recipe

A simple batter, then frying, makes these guys crispy as hell, tasty af, and our favorite way to eat soft shell crabs.
Soft Shell Crab Sandwiches Recipe
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Servings: 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour


for the crab:
3 jumbo soft shell crabs, gills, face, and under flap removed
6 large egg whites, lightly whipped until smooth but not frothy
1 pint cornstarch
kosher salt, to taste
canola oil, for frying

for the lemony ranch:
2 parts aioli (recipe below)
1 part buttermilk
kosher salt, to taste
lemon zest, to taste
lemony herbs (lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon thyme, etc) finely chopped


for the aioli:
5 large egg yolks
1 lemon, juiced
4 garlic cloves
1 quart|946 ml neutral oil
kosher salt, to taste

for the buttermilk puree:
1 quart|946 ml buttermilk
kosher salt, to taste
honey, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste

for the slaw:
½ English cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly diagonally
2 heads endive, sliced at an angle
1 lemon, zested and juiced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

to serve:
6 Martin's potato rolls, toasted


  1. Make your aioli by placing the egg yolks, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor and let it run for 30 seconds until you get a smooth consistency. While the food processor is running slowly add the oil until the aioli is thick and smooth, adding a tablespoon of water as needed. Season it with salt and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Make your buttermilk puree by pouring the buttermilk into a large pot and slowly bring it to a simmer, until you see curds separate from whey, making sure the liquid doesn't come to a boil. Strain the whey from the curds (save the whey cause its good for a lot of things such as making pickles), and let the curds hang until they resemble ricotta cheese. While the buttermilk curds are still warm, place them in a blender or a food processor with a little honey and the remaining seasonings. Blend it until you get a smooth consistency, add a little strained whey if it is too thick. Refrigerate until cold.
  3. Heat 2-inches oil in a large saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 350°F. Place the egg whites and cornstarch in two separate bowls. Coat the cleaned crabs in egg whites, letting the excess drip off, then cover it in cornstarch. Gently place the dredged crabs in the hot oil and cook for about 1 ½ minutes. Flip the crab and cook for another minute or so, until the crab is red, golden, and firm. Remove the crabs from the oil and transfer to paper towels or a wire rack to drain. Season them with salt, then cut the crab in half from head to tail.
  4. Mix together the aioli and the chilled buttermilk purée until you get a smooth consistency. Fold in the chopped herbs (anything with the word 'lemon' in it). Season it with salt and lemon juice and place it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  5. Mix all the ingredients for your coleslaw together lightly and reserve it in the refrigerator.
  6. Spread a lot of ranch on the inside of the top and bottom of the buns. Put the fried crab on the bottom bun and cover it with the crispy, just made slaw. Top it with the top bun and get into it.

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