Red Rock Crab vs. Dungeness

Suppose you went out fishing for crabs and found a crab with a grayish-brown back. What is it? Is it a Red Rock Crab or a Dungeness? 

Well, if it has unorganized red spots, then it’s a red rock crab. However, when the shell has purple-tinged, then you just caught a Dungeness. 

They also have a beautiful circle made with spots. 

Both of them have similar tastes, whereas Dungeness crabs have a sweeter feel. They are also a bit more expensive than its red rock cousins. Other than this, red rock crabs are smaller. 

But hey, both crabs are healthy choices and are high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Today, let’s see the differences between red rock crab vs. Dungeness and compare them head to head. 

Is Rock Crab the same as Dungeness?

Rock crabs aren’t the same as Dungeness. For starters, rock crabs have a reddish-brown body, whereas Dungeness crabs have a light brown shell. Dungeness crabs also have bigger bodies and softer shells. So, you can crack it without too much effort. 

Costing over $24 to $40 per crab, the Dungeness Crab is more expensive. You can also find these crabs from November to early December. On the other hand, rock crabs are available all year round. 

Red Rock Crab Vs. Dungeness: Comparison Chart

Don’t want to go through the entire content? Luckily, our experts have made a comparison chart, just for that. Check it out and find your answers quickly and easily. 

Features Red Rock Crabs Dungeness Crabs
Living habitat  Native to the Pacific Ocean. But can be found almost in most rocky reefs Most places of the West Coast
Size Less than 5 inches 6-7 inches maximum
Color  Reddish brown  Purple tinged, grayish-brown backs with cream-colored undersides (Just brown)
Most meat in The claws The body
Their food Algae, sometimes sampling plant matter and dead animals Anything with meat
Spots Yes. But not organized Well distributed and circular patterned spots
Price Less pricey  More pricey

Red Rock Crab: Everything inside out

Native to the north-east pacific, the red rock crab lives almost anywhere where there are turbulent, windy shores and rocky reefs.

Red Rock Crab
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Having a smaller size, these crabs usually eat algae, sampling plant matter, and dead animals. Here are some traits of red rock crab worth mentioning: 

Body size

Adult red rock crabs are kind of small, and their head is about 3-5 inches. Only the bigger crabs can go up to 6 inches. They have tiny blocky front claws, and the rest four pairs of legs are broad, flat, and the tips touch the ground completely.

Living habitat

Though they are native to the north-east pacific of coastal waters, you can find red rock crabs almost anywhere on the coasts of America and Mexico. 


As the name suggests, red rock crabs are red and have a reddish-brown color. Unlike other red crab species, red rock crabs have some bright spots on their shells. 


Red rock crabs literally eat what they find. Whether it be algae, sampling plants, and even dead sea creatures. Their small size restricts them from preying on bigger food. So, they just go for anything at hand. 

Dungeness Crabs: Everything inside out

Dungeness crabs have a hard, wide shell and are about 6-7 inches. It has a light brown color and can sometimes resemble a red rock.

Dungeness Crab
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However, their spots form a circle, which makes them look mesmerizing. Here are some traits of the Dungeness crab:

Size and shape

These crabs look similar to any old crab with a bigger head size. An adult Dungeness crab has a size of 6-7 inches. Having small claws and a total of 5 pairs of legs, most of their weight is in the body.


Dungeness crabs have a light brown shell with a beautiful ring made of circular spots. The spots are arranged perfectly, which makes identifying them easy. 


These crabs generally inhabit bays, estuaries, and the nearshore coast of Alaska. However, you can also find them in chilly Pacific Ocean waters. 


Anything that has meat, these crabs will eat them all. So, don’t get surprised if you see a Dungeness crab chowing down on dead fish, crabs, snails, and so on. 

Red Rock Crab Vs. Dungeness Crab: Complete difference

Red rocks and Dungeness crabs may look similar, but they are a heck different. For starters, the color of red rocks is deep reddish-brown. In comparison, Dungeness is light brown. 

Red Rock Crab vs. Dungeness
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For the size, red rocks are about 3-5 inches. They don’t exceed more than 5 inches. However, a mature dungeness crab may turn out to be 7 inches maximum. 

Dungeness crabs have bright circular spots, which combine together to form a circular pattern. In the case of the red crab, the spots are irregular. 

The meat of dungeness crabs is sweeter. You can keep the Dungeness crab alive after catching it for a better taste experience. They also contain more meat than red rock crabs. 

When it comes to food, both of them eat whatever they find, especially anything with meat.

Overall, if you find a brown-looking crab with a bigger size, it’s a dungeness crab. On the other hand, red rock crabs are smaller and have bigger claws compared to their body size. 

Related: Jonah Crab vs Stone Crab

How do you identify red rock crabs?

You can identify red rock crabs with their reddish-brown color and irregular spots. They have a size of 3-5 inches and will not exceed it. Additionally, red rock crabs have big front claws and use them to catch food. You can find them near rocky reefs near the north-east pacific of coastal waters. 


Can you eat rock crabs?

Similar to any crab species, you can also eat rock crabs. Simply boil some water, and throw them in. Wait for a few minutes and wallah. You can also try using chicken stock or beef stock to enrich the flavor even more. Traditionally, people cook rock crabs with seasoned broth and add some butter or mayo. Either way, rock crabs are delicious. For an easy cooking method, grab your crab, boil, season, and you are done. 

Where does rock crab come from?

Rock crabs come from the north-east pacific of coastal waters. They come in a variation of colors, ranging from yellow to reddish-brown. Due to their small size, they are easy to grow commercially. You can find rock crabs in any seafood market on the Pacific coasts. Rock crabs love living in rocky reefs where there are tons of food lying around. However, they can also survive on coral beaches. 

How much does red rock crab cost?

A pound of red rock crab can cost anywhere from 3-4 dollars per pound. 

However, the price skyrockets when they reach their way to big cities. A pound of red rock crab can cost you more than 14 dollars in some places. Restaurants will charge you about 30 dollars per crab, depending on the size. 

Are Dungeness crab legs good?

Dungeness crab legs are perfect. It has a sweet texture and will just melt in your mouth. They have chewy cartilage that further enhances the meat. If you’re looking for a seafood dish that’s both tasty and nutritious, then Dungeness crab legs are a great option. They contain loads of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as high levels of selenium, zinc, and vitamin B12. However, they can be a little expensive, but they are definitely worth it. 

End note

So, have you found your difference yet? The difference between the red rock crab and the dungeness crab is that the red rock crab is kind of red and has a brown hue, while the dungeness crab is a bit lighter in color. 

The dungeness crab is also a bit bigger than the red rock crab. 

Both crabs are edible, but the dungeness crab is more desirable to seafood lovers. It also costs more as well. 

The easiest way to tell them apart is by their coloration and size. If you see well-arranged spots, then it is a dungeness crab. Red rock crabs are dull-looking in comparison. 

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