We evaluate the potential for decapod larvae to develop under temporally limited daily access to food across a broad thermal range. Larvae of the European lobster Homarus gammarus and velvet swimming crab Necora puber were successfully reared to juvenile and megalopa stages, respectively, at four temperatures (range 15–24°C) under both permanent (24 h) and limited (4 h) daily access to prey. Survival was high in both species with no consistent effect of food limitation. Larvae developed faster with increasing temperature. Model selection indicated that limited access to food in N. puber slowed development from zoea III onwards by 10–25% depending on stage and temperature. Food limitation slowed development of H. gammarus in zoea III and stage IV by 6–30%, with significant interactions of food × temperature. Dry mass, carbon and nitrogen content of H. gammarus all decreased with temperature and were lower under limited access to food. Decapod larvae of the tested species show a high potential to survive and develop with a temporally patchy food resource, although a longer development and smaller body mass at the time of settlement may lead to fitness costs.