With its sweet flavor and tender, flaky meat, Dungeness crab is a favorite in restaurants throughout the country. This Pacific crab is becoming increasingly popular as more and more chefs discover its exceptional taste and versatility.

Dungeness crab is caught with environmentally-responsible crab pots, which means this delicious seafood is also ocean-friendly. This tasty crab is extremely adaptable, and lends itself well to both strong and delicately-flavored recipes. Try Dungeness crab in a classic crab cake recipe or a satisfying crab bisque.

Also known as:

Dungeness crab, market crab, San Francisco crab



Product forms:

Fresh and frozen, whole, sections or picked meat; also available live

Shopping tips:

Live crabs should be active and responsive. Fresh crabs and meat should look clean and moist, with legs and claws intact and a bright orange-red shell. There should be no unpleasant odor. Frozen crabs and meat should be free of discoloration and freezer burn.


Substitute Dungeness crab for any type of crab, including blue crab and Jonah crab. Also a good substitute for lobster.


Wild-caught Dungeness crab cakes

Wild-caught Dungeness crab bisque
Dungeness crab fishery: Dungeness crabs are typically caught with crab pots or traps. More.

Conservation notes:

Dungeness crabs are considered an ocean-friendly seafood choice because the fishery is well-managed and the fishing gear used does not capture unwanted species or cause significant habitat destruction. More.
Last updated: April 2008

Dungeness Crab Fishery

Dungeness crabs are typically caught with crab pots or traps. These traps are designed to only capture legal-sized Dungeness crabs. This significantly reduces the accidental capture of smaller crabs and untargeted species. Since the crab pots and traps sit stationary on the seafloor until they are collected, they do not cause significant habitat damage.

Dungeness crabs are fished off the Pacific coast of North America, from Canada through California. The majority of U.S.-caught Dungeness crab is collected from Oregon, Washington and California.

Conservation Notes

Dungeness crab fisheries in the U.S. and Canada are well-managed by three S's: size, sex and season. These regulations ensure that crabs are allowed to reach maturity and reproduce, that there are plenty of females in the population, and that they aren't disturbed during biologically sensitive periods of the year.

Many types of commercial fishing gear can cause significant habitat destruction, or may catch large numbers of unwanted fishes and other animals. Because they are designed to sit in one location, habitat destruction is not a problem with crab pots or traps.

Crab pots and traps are generally designed to target a particular species, which means that unwanted and accidental capture is rare. And, since the pots or traps do not injure the captured animals, it is very easy to release any unwanted species or undersized crabs.