Sea urchins are spiny, baseball-sized, ocean-dwelling creatures. Considered a delicacy in some areas, sea urchins are becoming a popular item in the culinary world. There are more than 500 different sea urchin species, but the most common are the green, red and purple varieties. Typically, the desired element in a sea urchin is the roe. In a female sea urchin, roe is the eggs; in males, the gonads.

Things You'll Need

Apply gloves to your hands. Sea urchins are covered in sharp spines. To avoid being poked or cut by them, it is best to wear thick, rubber gloves when handling a sea urchin.

Place the sea urchin on a cutting board, with the hole on top. This is probably the most stable position for the sea urchin when cleaning.

Insert kitchen scissors into the hole on the top of the dome. Shears that are fairly heavy and thick will have an easier time cutting through the outer layer of the sea urchin.

Cut towards the outside of the sea urchin until you have gone around in a circle. You essentially want to cut the top off of the creature. Be careful not to dig too deep with the scissors–you don’t want to puncture the roe.

Drain the liquid and the dark viscera, or organs, from the sea urchin. Be careful not to let any of the roe slip out.

Remove the roe using a rubber spatula. Carefully run the spatula under the roe along the inside of the urchin to remove the brightly colored substance. Roe is extremely fragile and can break easily, but gently try to collect it whole. Use your fingers or tweezers to remove any additional viscera from the roe. Clean the roe by rinsing it in cold water, then drain it well.


  • Save the shell of the sea urchin and serve your dish inside it for a bit of dramatic flair.

  • When selecting sea urchins, be sure to choose those that smell sweet.

  • It is best to use sea urchins the day of purchase. Freshly harvested roe can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days.

References and Resources

Chow: Sea Urchin