What’s Troll Crab & How it Differs from King Crab?

It just turned out wondrous when The big TV show, “Deadliest Catch: The Viking Returns,” introduced the troll crab commercially, and many of you, like me, started scrolling the web pages to get information about them like:

  • Are troll crabs just king crabs, or more than that?
  • How can you identify troll crabs?
  • Whether troll crabs are safe to eat?
  • Where can you get troll crabs?
  • What does it taste like?
  • How can you cook them? 

Honestly, my studies got me nothing except superficial information. 

Did I give up?

No way…!

So, What did I do?

I visited Norwegian discussion forums and authentic websites and learned more about troll crabs. After all, these are Norwegian seafood items.

So, now, I’ve come up with the most helpful information for you about trollkrabbe.

Keep reading to enjoy the most tasty “crabby” bites mindfully next time.

What’s Troll Crab and How is it Different From King Crab?

The troll crab is often described as a red king crab from Norway. That’s why it’s considered comparable to king crabs like Alaskan king crab, Golden king crab, or snow crab.

However, despite being a king crab species, the troll crab has distinctive features. Let’s know about this differentiation.

What’s king crab, and why is it called so? Let’s know first!

A king crab is a large edible crab that lives in cold waters of the North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans. It’s named “king” for its large size and the distinctive taste of its meat.

King crab species

Several king crab species are safe to eat, though discarding some parts is recommended.

  • Red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus)  
  • Blue king crab (Paralithodes platypus
  • Golden king crab (Lithodes aequispinus
  • Snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio
  • Norwegian stone or red king crab (Lithodes maja), also known as troll crab.

All of these species of king crab are harvested commercially and are considered to be a delicacy. 

Distinctive characteristics of king crabs

  • King crabs reach lengths of up to 1.8 meters (6 feet) and weigh over 10 kilograms (22 pounds).
  • They have a tough exoskeleton covered in spiky protrusions for protection.
  • They have long, jointed, meaty legs that are helpful for walking on the ocean floor and capturing prey.
  • King crabs possess large and powerful pincers, helpful for defense and crushing their prey.
  • King crabs typically have a reddish-brown or dark-red coloration with variations.
  • They inhabit cold waters, primarily in the North Pacific and North Atlantic oceans, often residing at great depths.
  • King crabs are opportunistic feeders and predators, consuming a variety of marine organisms such as fish, mollusks, and other crustaceans.

What is a Troll Crab, and why is it Called so?

Troll Crab: Comparison, Identification, Taste, and Cooking Method

The fearsome troll crab or “trollkrabbe” refers to the Norway king crab or Northern Stone Crab (Lithodes maja). The name “trollkrabbe” is thought to have originated in Norway, where the crab is known for its large size and frightening appearance. 

The troll crabs are found along the entire coast of Norway, around the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and off south-eastern Greenland. 

In the western Atlantic, they expand from the Davis Strait between Greenland and Canada south to The Carolinas in the United States. 

Troll crabs live in cold, deep sea waters. They’re scavengers and eat a variety of marine life, including fish, shellfish, and seaweed. 

The name “troll crab” was used by fisherman Jake Anderson on the TV show Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel. He discovered it and thought he could make it the next big thing by cutting out the middleman and selling it to restaurants commercially.  

Troll crabs are not currently fished commercially, but they are a popular target for sports fishermen, for they have a great distinctive taste.

How Can You Identify a Troll Crab?

To identify a real Lithodes maja crab or Atlantic red king crab, you can look for the following distinguishing characteristics:


Body PartAverage Size
Carapace width13–14 cm (5.1–5.5 in)
Carapace length10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in)
Claw length7–8 cm (2.8–3.1 in)
Weight1–2 kg (2.2–4.4 lb)

It is important to note that these are just average sizes, and individual Lithodes maja may vary in size.

The largest recorded Lithodes maja (troll crab) was caught in Norway in 2009. It had a carapace width of 16.2 centimeters (6.4 inches) and a weight of 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds).


As the name suggests, they have a distinctive reddish-brown color which has a lighter underside. However, it’s important to note that their color can vary, ranging from dark red to brownish-red, depending on factors like age and habitat.


Troll crabs have a large, robust body with a broad carapace (shell) that covers the cephalothorax.

The males can have a carapace width of up to 200 mm and a weight close to 2 kilos. 

The troll crabs have a big and a small claw, a bit like the lobster. Female troll crab has a fairly asymmetrical abdomen.

The crab’s “saddle,” a hump on the back of the carapace, is fairly visible with a heart-like shape. 

The troll crab differs from king crabs in that the “spear” between the eyes is usually split in a y. It’s almost like a snow crab without the powerful spikes. 


The front pair of claws, known as chelipeds, are the most striking feature of the troll crabs. They’re robust and powerful, with a reddish hue similar to the rest of the crab’s body. 


Both carapace and claws have long, pointed spines. The spikes on the claws are usually slightly bent. 

If you go a little closer to the troll crab, you will see both the spikes and the split spear near the eyes, in front of the large crushing claw and the smaller, slightly more useless one.

What Does Troll Crab Taste Like?

The meat of troll crabs is considered a delicacy and is often described while comparing it with that of other king crabs.

The huge injustice…!

Yes, I think you can only describe the taste of troll crab after eating it. Many Norwegian eaters have compared the troll crab’s mild and sweet taste with lobster and redfish or even crab sticks, not other species of king crab.

On the other hand, usually, Alaskan king crabs and Golden king crabs taste sweet and slightly briny or mild and sweet, respectively.

The effort to pull the meat out of troll crab legs adds more to the taste–it’s hard-earned.

Yet, it tastes insanely delicious…!

In short, despite being a king crab species, the troll crab retains its appearance and taste uniqueness.

Is Entire Troll Crab Safe to Eat? 

Lithodes Maja, or troll crab, is safe to eat, as some Norwegians say,

You won’t die by eating them…! 

Even most Norwegian crabs are considered to be free from metal and toxic, according to a study report referred by thefishsite.com. It’s a popular food item among seafood enthusiasts and is enjoyed in many restaurants and seafood markets.

There are no known health risks associated with eating troll crab. However, cooking the crab thoroughly is essential to kill any harmful bacteria.

If you’re pregnant or have a shellfish allergy, it is best to avoid eating troll crab.

How Much Meat Can You Get From a Troll Crab?

You can get about up to 1 pound of meat from a troll crab. And, from the legs, it can be anywhere between 80-100 grams. Meat from 10 troll crab claws is equal to 10 large prawns.

How Many Troll Crabs Per Person?

The “trollkrabbe” has got little meat to offer to you. That’s why it can only be served as a side course delicacy. You can get the meat from each of its legs, not more than that from a prawn. 

Overall, a whole troll crab legs get you meat equal to 10 shellfish.

As a rule of thumb, 80-100 grams of troll crab meat is enough per person. So, 1 whole troll crab can serve 1-2 persons.

What’s the Texture of Troll Crab Meat?

The troll crabs have tasty white, little meat with a firm texture. This meat offers you a simple slice of crab as life’s greatest joy. 

The meat is somewhat drier than that of the pocket crab. The reason is that it has lean, dry meat, unlike other popular king crab species’ fatty meat. 

It’s easy to get the meat out of the bones if you break the joints gently instead of breaking them off with brute force. 

Part of the trick is to get rid of the constrictions in the joint. So that the meat can be pulled out from claws in one nice, whole piece–there isn’t much meat.

How Can You Cook Troll Crabs?

If you can get canned troll crab meat, well and good. Yet, for freshly caught troll crabs, you can follow the method given below:


  • Boil enough water for the whole troll crab by adding 2 tablespoons of salt per liter. 
  • Once boiling, place the troll crab into the water and ensure it is completely submerged by covering it with a heavy lid. 
  • Let it simmer for 12-13 minutes, but be careful not to exceed this time.


The two claws and four legs of the crab are joined together, and all parts contain edible meat.

Each pair of legs and claws can be separated easily with scissors.

Cut the shell of the troll crab using a fish scissor. Online sources claim that the shell of the troll crab requires crushing, while the king crab’s shell is soft and can be cut with scissors.

Using fish scissors, it’ll be relatively simple to cut open the legs and claws. The meat from multiple claws can be found on the lower left side. You’ll discover that cutting across the legs just inside the attachments allows the meat to be easily extracted.


Enjoy the meat with fresh loin and melted butter; the dish could benefit from a slightly more browned appearance. 

Mayonnaise also pairs well with it.


Can you Get Troll Crabs in the USA?

No, troll crabs aren’t commercially available in the USA. Even if you succeed in getting them, they might be extremely pricey. If you want to enjoy them, it’s best to visit Norway.

Can you Grill Troll Crabs?

You can grill troll crabs, yet you might get a little meat. In fact, grilling is a great way to bring out the sweetness and delicate flavor of crab meat. 

To grill troll crabs:

  • Preheat your grill to medium heat. You don’t want the heat to be too high, or the crab meat will cook too quickly and become tough.
  • Brush the crab with olive oil. This will help prevent the crab from sticking to the grill and add some flavor.
  • Grill the crab for 5-7 minutes per side or until the meat is cooked through. The crab will be cooked through when the shells are bright red, and the meat is opaque.

Serve the crab immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.

What Parts of a Troll Crab Shouldn’t You Eat?

You should not eat the following parts of a Lithodes maja crab:

  • The viscera, which are the internal organs of the crab, include the stomach, intestines, and liver. The viscera are not edible and can be harmful if ingested.
  • The gills, which are the crab’s respiratory organs, are not edible. They can also be harmful if ingested.
  • The apron, the flap of skin on the underside of the crab. It is not edible and can be harmful if ingested.
  • The feces, which are the waste products of the crab, are not edible. They can also be harmful if ingested.

Bottom Line

Troll crab is a Norwegian species of king crab, which has not been commercialized, yet. The crab offers a unique lobster and shellfish-like taste, which is completely safe to eat. You can enjoy it in many ways as you do the other king crabs.



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