Creamy Butter Crabs Recipe by Anis Nabilah

Creamy butter crabs is a popular seafood dish that Malaysians love to eat. However, it can get quite pricey when you’re eating it at a restaurant. But did you know that it is actually very easy to make at home?

I like to make my creamy butter crabs extra saucy as the delicious butter sauce can also be used as gravy to dip your bread or buns in, and can even be served with rice. Once you’ve made this dish at home, you won’t need to go to a restaurant for your creamy butter crabs anymore! I’ll even teach you how to properly clean crabs.



  • 5 kg crabs
  • ¼ yellow or white onion, diced small
  • 2 ½ tbsp garlic, blended fine
  • 7 birds eye chillies, stems removed and cut small
  • 20 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 600g evaporated milk (roughly 1 ½ cans)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil


Cleaning crabs

  1. First, remove the carapace from the rest of the body.
  2. Next, remove the gills. Some people don’t remove this part of the crab before cooking, but as it acts as a filtration system for the crab, I prefer to remove it to get rid of dirt and impurities.
  3. Remove the under plate under running water, rinsing the crab as you go along.
  4. Grab the abdomen with both hands and snap it in half. You can also use a knife.
  5. Cut off the large claws and use a pair of bone cutting shears to remove the sharp thorns.



  1. Heat cooking oil in a wok on high heat.
  2. Next, add 3 large and generous tablespoons of butter and let it melt completely.
  3. Once the butter and oil starts to bubble, add blended garlic and stir to cook.
  4. Next, add diced onions and cook until lightly caramelized. If you feel the fire is too hot, turn it down to medium as we don’t want the onions to burn.
  5. Add curry leaves and cook until fragrant.
  6. Add cut birds eye chilies to the mix. Stir until everything smells delicious!
  7. Next, add evaporated milk and stir through.
  8. Add salt and sugar next, give it a stir, and give it a taste to ensure you like the balance of flavours. Add a little more salt or sugar as necessary.
  9. Bring the sauce to a boil. If you need to thicken your sauce, add a mixture of 1 tablespoon corn starch to ½ cup water and add it in when the sauce starts boiling. Give it a good mix.
  10. Taste your sauce and adjust for sweetness, saltiness or spiciness as necessary. Once the flavour is how you like it, add in the crabs. Make sure crabs are evenly coated by the sauce and stir occasionally until thoroughly cooked through.


Extra tips

  1. Birds eye chilies help to reduce the rich flavour of this dish, so your taste buds won’t be overwhelmed by the incredibly rich and buttery sauce.
  2. Handling birds eye chilies can make your hands feel tingly hot. Wash your hands with salt to get rid of that feeling.
  3. Even though we use butter in this recipe, I also use cooking oil at the start of cooking this dish to ensure the butter doesn’t burn if it stays hot for too long.
  4. If you like a stronger garlic kick, feel free to add more blended garlic. Also, you can add more or less birds eye chilies depending on how hot you like your creamy butter crabs.
  5. Want a thicker sauce? Add a bit of corn starch mixed with water to your sauce while it is boiling or starting to boil. This ensures your sauce thickens straightaway and you won’t accidentally add too much corn starch.
  6. You can also replace crabs with prawns or fried chicken.


Serve your creamy butter crabs with rice, toasted bread, steamed or fried man tao buns so you can thoroughly enjoy the sauce! For more details on how to prepare creamy butter crabs, check out this link for the YouTube video or watch it below. I’ve also shared a few more recipes that I hope you will enjoy.



Video courtesy of Anis Nabilah and Official Kartel TV.

Anis Nabilah

Guest Chef

Anis Nabilah is an accomplished international celebrity chef with many awards under her belt, including a medal from the 2007 Culinaire competition. In 2014, she was selected as one of the world’s 80 most influential celebrity chefs invited to participate in "Restaurant Australia", a campaign organised by Tourism Australia. A household name in Malaysia, Anis has hosted 35 cooking shows aired on all the main local TV networks, including Malaysia’s number one cooking show, Selera on TV3. She has also been featured on several shows on the Asian Food Channel and TLC Asia.

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