Soft Shell Blue Crabs


NICKNAMES softies, softshells
AVAILABLE fresh April through September, frozen year-round
HARVESTED FROM Core Sound & Albemarle Sound
CATCH METHOD crab pots
SIZES hotel, prime, jumbo, whale, slab
A GREAT SOURCE OF vitamin B12, selenium, zinc, omega-3

Soft shell crabs, or “softies” are blue crabs that have recently molted their shell. They are harvested before they can regrow a new shell, so their skin is soft. This means their entire bodies are edible: shell, claws, and all.

The soft shell season is traditionally marked by the first full moon in May, when the blue crab begins its molting season to accommodate summer growth. May through September are the most productive months for live softies. Many folks, including Locals Seafood, will buy softies in bulk this time of year and freeze some for the winter season.

Before you can cook a soft shell crab, it needs to be cleaned. We sell cleaned softies at our markets, as well as live crabs. Cleaned softies can be kept in the refrigerator, on ice, for 1-2 days at most. They should be gently rinsed at home before cooking to remove any unwanted natural fluids, then pat dry with a towel. 

If you decide to buy live softies, keep them alive until you’re ready to cook them. They can only survive in a refrigerator for 1-2 days at most. We recommend you buy them live the day you will cook them. Cleaning the crabs is not for the faint of heart – you might need to face your fears. Here’s a video that shows a quick method of cleaning.

Once cleaned, soft shell crabs can be breaded, battered, or simply coated with oil. You can grill them, pan-fry them, or deep-fry them.

One last word on soft shell crabs: tomalley. Sometimes called the mustard, tomalley refers to the yellow paste near the face of the crab. This paste is edible, and quite tasty, but if it’s not for you go ahead a remove it. We won’t judge.


“They always try to give me a good selection (e.g. making sure the crab has both claws on). I had blue crabs last week and they were so delicious – sweeter than any other times I had blue crabs — well at least as good as ones we caught ourselves in CT.”

“Thanks for the wonderful crabs, they were amazing. We will be ordering again this summer.”

“The crabs were awesome yesterday. Thanks Lin and Ryan for your great seafood.”

“The whale soft shell crabs were absolutely delicious!”

“My homies came through as always. Crab meat for crab cakes and soft shells for spider rolls and it’s all from NC. Thanks!”

Explore Similar Seafood

Hard Shell Blue Crabs

Rich, buttery flavor. Hard shell protects flavorful meat.


Rich, buttery flavor. Hard shell protects flavorful meat.

Blue Crab Meat

Sweet briny flavor. Soft white meat.