27 Crab Recipes to Add to Your Repertoire
Whether you're a fan of lump crab cakes, crispy soft shell crab, or creamy, crabby pasta (join the club), these crab recipes are here to help you make the crustacean-packed meal of your dreams. There's soups and dips, a rich gratin, and a seafood boil, too, which not only features king crab legs but littleneck clams, jumbo shrimp, and andouille sausage. Read on for even more ways we love to cook with crab.
Baltimore-Style Crab Cakes
"This is the best crab cake recipe you will ever find," says Andrew Zimmern. "If you don't overmix, and don't pack your mounds too tightly, you will experience pure, unadulterated crab cake heaven."
Gabriel Rucker (an F&W Best New Chef 2007) tweaks French dishes like céleri remoulade, the mayo-dressed celery-root salad.
This gumbo from chef Donald Link owes its flavor to the roux, a mix of flour and oil that's cooked until it's coffee-colored.
Crab and Smoked Salmon Pintxos with Vanilla Oil
These delightful pintxos combine a lemony fresh crab salad with smoked salmon and salty pops of salmon roe. A drizzle of fragrant vanilla oil is a surprise complement to the seafood, but it can be optional.
Open-Faced Crab Empanadas
José Andrés says: "I love America! Without a doubt, one of my favorite American ingredients is blue crabs, a true delicacy! And a great value, I think." This recipe is his twist on the traditional Basque txangurro (crab simmered with tomato), crossed with a savory Galician empanada. "Part of my efforts to build a bridge between America and Spain," he explains.
Warm Piquillo and Crab Dip
For this classic tapa, Jose Garces stuffs his delicious crab salad into individual piquillo peppers and roasts them until hot. Make it more easily by spreading the crab mixture in a baking dish, topping it with slices of the peppers, then cooking until warm and melty.
Crab Omelet-and-Tomato Soup
Inspired by the Vietnamese soup bun rieu cua, blogger Shu Han Lee makes a quick broth with chicken stock, fermented shrimp paste, and cherry tomatoes, then swirls in beaten egg mixed with crab and pork.
Spicy Crab Bisque
Tanya Holland's luscious crab bisque is studded with plenty of lump crabmeat. Thanks to a hit of cayenne and Tabasco, the soup has a sneaky heat.
New England-Style Crab Dip with Brown-Butter Crumbs
Chef Matt Jennings tops this simple, crab-packed dip with super-crispy brown-butter breadcrumbs.
Ajo Blanco with Crab and Green Grapes
Chef Katie Button's version of this classic Spanish soup is jaw-droppingly silky thanks to her homemade almond milk. The crab adds heft and sweetness.
Chilled Avocado Soup with Crab
F&W Best New Chefs 2017 Rico Torres and Diego Galicia serve this zesty, creamy, cold soup as a refreshing beginning course to their Michoacán tasting menu. That region is the largest and most important avocado producer in Mexico, so this dish is a fitting start to the meal.
Crispy Soft-Shell Crab Banh Mi with Tamarind Sauce
Tamarind crab is a classic Vietnamese dish in which tart sauce melds with fresh, sweet crab. At Nen Restaurant in Da Nang, chef Summer Le switches things up by using soft-shell crab (available year-round in Vietnam). We love it served on a baguette for a soft-shell crab banh mi.
Deviled Crab Dip
Make this creamy crab dip from chef Joe Kindred in a large baking dish for a crowd, or divide into 6-ounce ramekins for individual servings. Either way, make sure to have plenty of crackers and crudites on hand to go with it.
"Espaghetti" with Poblano Cream and Crab
2018 Best New Chef Diana Dávila's "Espaghetti" with Poblano Cream and Crab sums up the essence of her cooking. It's based on a dish her mom used to make, with broken and fried noodles. Dávila turns it up to 11 with sweet crabmeat, crunchy shaved cauliflower, and an oozy egg. The poblano cream sauce stays super-green thanks to the addition of fresh spinach and cilantro.
Seafood Boil with Cajun Seasoning
The secret to a seafood boil packed with perfectly cooked shrimp, king crab legs, and clams? Taking it one step at a time. A warm bowl of butter sauce spiked with more Cajun seasoning makes the perfect dipping partner for every delicious bite.
Cioppino with Fennel and Saffron
An abundance of seafood and three types of fennel (bulb, seed, and pollen) infuse chef Brandon Boudet's version of this San Francisco fish stew with remarkable flavor, while Calabrian chile paste and crushed red pepper add a subtle layer of heat. Because the West Coast is famous for their Dungeness crab—a large orange crab with meaty claws—it makes a dramatic showing in this seafood-packed dish. Dungeness crab are available fresh from November through June, but this dish can be made any time since many fish markets have cooked and frozen crabs available year round.
Buttery Crab Casseroles
The simple seasonings in this recipe from the Irish coast, inspired by the luscious buttery crab crumble served at Vaughans Anchor Inn, highlight the crab's sweetness. Brown crabs, typical in Ireland's coastal waters, can be substituted with fresh Dungeness crabs, prized for their high yield—look for them at the fish counter at your local grocery store. The crabmeat mixture yields enough to fill 4 (12-ounce) mini casseroles or 1 (2-quart) baking dish. Serve the buttery crab casseroles with a tossed salad for a complete meal.
Crispy Crab Cakes with Tomato Butter
The late chef Patrick Clark's crab cakes at Tavern on the Green are legendary, taking on a pop of flavor from chopped fresh jalapeño and a crispy exterior from panko. Chopped whitefish provides the structure in these crab cakes, offering more flavor and a richer texture than traditional binders like breadcrumbs. Look for plastic tubs of jumbo lump crabmeat; it's fresh and unpasteurized with the cleanest taste and best texture. If whitefish is unavailable, substitute sea bass or cod.
Blue Crab Beignets
The beignet batter thinly coats a creamy, warm crab filling with a crispy, light crust. The batter is loose and can be tricky to shape at first; keep frying and practicing, and they'll improve with each batch. These are ideally eaten while still very hot, so make them while enjoying aperitifs in the kitchen.
Warm Crab in Garlic Cream with Charred Broccoli
Chef Jeremiah Langhorne uses an open-fire hearth at The Dabney to lend a rich smoky flavor to his dishes. The char on the broccoli helps replicate that flavor at home.
Crab Macaroni Gratin
"A glorious amount of crabmeat baked with shell-shaped pasta in a three-cheese cream sauce—tangy white cheddar, nutty Gruyère, and sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano—is no-joke delicious, and trés riche," Andrea Slonecker writes. "That's where the Champagne comes in. The tingly bubbles give your palate an ultrasonic scrub between each creamy, cheesy, blissful bite."
Summer Crab Carbonara with Lemons and Capers
2020 BNC Douglass Williams' method for carbonara allows you to hold the cooked pasta before adding it to the garlic–oil–pasta cooking liquid emulsion. It makes for a simple, creamy carbonara without the stress.
Louisiana Lump Crab Cakes
"My aunt Christine taught me how to make crab cakes over the phone," Melissa Martin writes. "And what I learned is that you can use leftover boiled shrimp as a binder instead of breadcrumbs. When you grind shrimp in a food processor, it becomes sticky, and just a small amount will hold crabmeat and smothered vegetables together well enough to form into patties."
Cold Crab Spaghetti
Late summer in Louisiana is boggy hot but this refreshing dish from Chef Isaac Toups comes to the rescue with sweet-tart segments of juicy tangerine and uses just a teaspoon of Dijon to create a creamy, balanced sauce. Thai chile brings a touch of heat, while a flurry of mint, basil, and parsley highlight the natural sweetness of fresh crab.
Mini Deviled Crab Cornbread Muffins
At his dinner parties in Harlem, chef and cookbook author Alexander Smalls pairs creamy, slightly spicy, fresh deviled crab with tender corn muffins, barely sweetened with brown sugar and studded with corn kernels, for a quick one-bite appetizer. Choose fresh crab over pasteurized for the best flavor.
This étouffée is inspired by 2019 F&W Best New Chef Kwame Onwuachi's memories of his grandmother Cassie Phillips' definitive version of the dish. No flavor goes to waste in it—even shrimp shells are used to make the seafood stock. If using shelled shrimp, ask for 6 ounces of shells from the fish counter, or choose a high-quality fresh stock.
Crab Pithivier with Scallop Frangipane
Perfect for a dinner party or any sort of special occasion, this stunning dish from 2017 BNC Angie Mar is a project that's well worth your time. The crab and scallops lend a delicate sweetness, and the sherry sauce brings nuttiness and brightness. Almond flour is essential, as it holds the filling together and gives it texture.