Chilli Crabs Recipe {or How to Cook Singapore-Style Crabs with Chilli Sauce}

Crabbing is something that we’ve been meaning to do as a family for some time now. However, we only managed to brave the whole idea after we joined some people we know for a short crabbing session last year. In fact, I shared the recipe for Blue Crabs and Vegetables in Coconut Sauce – which was the product of the crabbing session. But, even with that experience, we only really went on our own crabbing last weekend.

On the first day, we only caught small crabs. But, since we can’t legally keep those crabs, we ended up throwing about 50 small crabs back in to the sea. The next day, we went out again. And that time, we were much happier after catching 3 decent-sized sand crabs and 1 big blue crab. And, I decided to give cooking chilli crabs a go.

You see, I discovered chilli crabs when I was living in Singapore some time ago. And, it was love at first bite. In fact, every time I get the chance to visit Singapore again, the trip is not complete without eating chilli crabs in a Chinese restaurant or hawker centre.

Since I haven’t had chilli crabs for a while, I thought I might as well try cooking them. So, I searched for recipes on the ‘net and found some that seemed interesting including this and this. But, I decided to make some adjustments while I was cooking. And, since I’ve had a few requests to share my recipe, I thought I’d write it down here for easy access –


Chilli Crabs Recipe
This how to cook Singapore-style chilli crabs.
Cuisine: Asian
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4 - 6
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 3 - 4 Fresh Blue Crabs / Sand Crabs / Mud Crabs (approx. 300 grams each)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 10 tbsp tomato sauce (ketchup)
  • 3 tbsp white sugar (or more, if wanting more sweetness in sauce)
  • 3 tsp cornflour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 cloves of chopped fresh garlic
  • 4 pieces of chopped fresh red chilli (I used Thai-style chillis but other types of red chilli might also work)
  • 5 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic and herb salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 spring onions, chopped in to small pieces
  • 2 tsps fresh lime juice (or lemon or cumquat juice)
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  1. Mix the sauce ingredients together first in a big bowl. Just put together water, tomato sauce, cornflour, sugar, and salt and mix them using a fork until they're dissolved.
  2. Heat the saucepan or wok and add the vegetable oil.
  3. Sauté the chopped garlic until light brown (takes just a few seconds to a minute in a hot pan).
  4. Add the chopped red chilli and sauté quickly until you can smell the spice.
  5. Mix in the fresh crabs and fry them together until the crabs turn red (orange-y colour). The length of this will vary on the number of crabs being cooked at the same time - and their sizes.
  6. Once the crabs are red, slowly add the sauce mixture in. Mix in the oyster sauce and the garlic and herb salt. Stir and let simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes. Again, this will depend on the crab sizes and number. You'll know when the crabs are cooked by the crab shell's colour (turning orange).
  7. While still simmering, add the eggs in. And, break the eggs using your wooden spoon or fork. Make sure you do this quickly, so that the eggs won't get lumpy.
  8. Then, add the freshly squeezed lime juice, spring onions and some fresh coriander. Stir.
  9. Once cooked, put the crabs in a big serving dish and drizzle the sauce on top. Then, sprinkle the rest of the chopped fresh coriander.


I love eating this with fresh steamed white rice. And perhaps, a stir-fried vegetable dish (usually, bok choy with oyster sauce and garlic).

It’s also great to eat chilli crabs with Chinese-style fried bread buns. I’m still on the lookout for recipes for those buns. Especially yummy for trying to make the most out of the sauce! Anyway, I’ll let you know if I ever come across them.

Right now, I’m just sooo glad to learn how to make one of my all-time favourite dishes. Chilli crabs will probably be a much-requested dish during the summer crabbing season. :-)

If you ever give this recipe, please let me know. I’d love to hear about it!

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  1. stanley woo says

    Hi, i saw your request for support to vote for the Best Blog About Stuff and voted for you. Thanks for your constant effort in updating your blog and i just want to encourage you!

    • Nick says

      Wow, thanks for the great recipe. I discovered chilli crabs 6 months ago when i went to Thailand for a holiday.I also fell in love with a Thai girl when i was over there.We are engaged now and are getting married soon.I cant wait to go out and catch fresh crabs and make this dish.Thanks for the recipe Shai:)

  2. rahul says

    hi there Shai, your recipe looks and sounds great, just a quick question did clean the crab like removing the gills and spongy parts before frying them?

    king regards

    rahul subash

  3. says

    I visited Singapore on numerous occasions and had Chilli Crab at several restaurants. Your recipe tasted great. Maybe you have 1 for black pepper crab, add to your blog plse

  4. says

    Hi, everyone! Glad you’re all liking the recipe. Good to know that some of you have given it a try and had great results too. :-) Thanks for telling me!

  5. Rod Viloria says

    Hey Shai, thanks for posting this recipe… I tried it and found it very simple to make and it tastes amazingly delicious.

  6. Riza says

    Hello Shai, We tried your Singapore Chili Crab Recipe and it was very good. It was just like the one we recently had at Jumbo Restaurant in Singapore. Thanks very much for posting.

  7. Mark says

    Thanks for the recipe, tried it last night and my wife loved it……

    Thanks heaps

  8. Mocca says

    Thank you for recipe. I have made it 3 times for 3 different parties already. Everyone loved it.

  9. mary jade piloton says

    me and my boyfriend love crabs very much,we’ve been going to restaurants just for the crabs,i want to try this recipe at home,thank you shai.. :)

  10. Anne says

    Thanks for sharing your recipe, Shai! I made it for the first time last night and it was so easy and delicious :) I’m planning to try using shrimps/prawns instead crabs the next time I make it. I think the sauce will really go well with these too.

    • says

      Ah yes, I empathise, Simon. My late dad used to pick out all the crab meat for me so it was only as an adult that I learned to crack open and eat crabs without my dad’s help. :) I think it’s best to stay methodical with it. Also, crack the shells as best as you can so the full meat can slide out. 😉 I love crabs so I can put up with the inconvenience. :)