This Hot Crab Dip recipe is the perfect party appetizer! It’s warm and cheesy, has a familiar sweet crab taste, with just the right amount of heat from Cayenne pepper. Best time to serve it? We’re thinking a New Year’s Eve party! Also, it’s insanely quick to prep. Isn’t that the best?!
Here’s why we love it so much:
- Make ahead friendly! The crab dip can be assembled 1-2 days in advance, then baked off right before guests arrive so it’s piping hot. Love that!
- Other than crab, it’s made with pantry and staple ingredients. You won’t even need to splurge on jumbo lump crab meat, the less expensive lump crab meat is just fine in this preparation.
- It’s hot! Not spicy hot, but warm and gooey hot. I find that hot appetizers are always the most requested at holiday parties, and this is no exception. People will be drawn to that familiar crab and Old Bay aroma!
We love to serve this Maryland crab dip with crackers or crudité. Trust me when I say guests will be begging for this recipe!
- Cream cheese: Softened cream cheese is the base of our hot crab dip. It won’t completely melt, which helps to add structure to the dip.
- Mayonnaise: Mayo adds a richer, creamier texture to the crab dip.
- Sour cream: This gives the dip a little bit of tang.
- Shredded Cheddar cheese: A little mixed into the dip, as well as melted on top, to give a golden brown cheesy crust.
- Worcestershire sauce: Adds a bit of umami flavor.
- Old Bay seasoning: It wouldn’t be crab dip without Old Bay seasoning!
- Dry mustard:
- Lemon zest and fresh lemon juice: The fresh acidity helps to brighten the flavors in this dish.
- Cayenne pepper: For a bit of heat add just a pinch. If you want a lingering spice, add ¼ teaspoon.
- Lump crab meat: We recommend fresh crab meat (it’ll be in a cup or sealed large can in the seafood department). No need to use jumbo lump for this recipe unless you want to pay up for it, lump crab meat works great. I love North Coast for quality and freshness!
- Fresh parsley: Gotta add some fresh herbs, and parsley is a perfect complement to the crab and lemon in this dish! Sliced green onion would be delicious!
For serving, we recommend baguette, crackers, or crudité (bell pepper, celery, carrots, endive leaves, etc.). Tortilla chips would be delicious too!
How To Make Our Crab Dip Recipe At Home
- Combine cream cheese and all other ingredients except for the crab. The crab gets added next. Mixing everything else together ensure that the dip will be creamy, without breaking the crab into smaller pieces.
- Fold in the crab meat. Once the dip is assembled, fold in the crab to gently incorporate.
- Transfer to a serving bowl. Spread the cold crab dip into a serving dish so it’s in a flat, even layer. The bowl seen here holds about 1¼ quarts, and the dip is about an inch thick. Any small baking dish will do.
- Bake until warm and bubbly! The very best part! Bake for 25-30 minutes until the dip is warm throughout. If you want more of a golden brown crust, pop it under a broiler for just a couple minutes.
- Cool slightly, just so no one burns their mouth, then serve immediately! It’s so delicious!
- Drain the crab and pick through for any shells. Any extra liquid could result in a loose, thin dip. That’s not what we want! Drain excess water to keep the hot crab dip thick and cream. And don’t forget to pick through for any missed shell pieces!
- Make sure the cream cheese is room temp! Otherwise it’ll end up lumpy in spots.
- Don’t use a cheese that will overpower the sweet crab! You can certainly play around with different cheeses, but stick to something that is mild and neutral. We really love Tillamook Cheddar for this recipe. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese at the end would be delightful.
- Want it spicier? You can up the amount of Cayenne pepper to ¼ tsp (or more!) or add a couple of dashes of hot sauce to the mixture before baking. Chopped fresh or pickled jalapeños would be great too!
We’re big fans of jumbo lump crab meat, but it’s incredibly expensive. This is one of the few times we say go for lump crab meat instead. It’s still got some larger pieces (it comes from the body instead of the claws), but it’s about half the price. It’s all getting mixed together anyway, why not save a few dollars?
No. Imitation crab meat is definitely not a good substitute for real fresh crab. If you’re looking for a recipe, try our Spicy Kani Salad Recipe instead!
Great catch! We are never shy with Kosher salt, but there’s enough salt in the other ingredients that you just don’t need any here. A little goes a long way, and you don’t want salt to overpower the crab.
Make Ahead, Reheating, and Storage
- Make ahead: Our crab dip recipe can be assembled up to 2 days in advance, then covered and refrigerated. When ready, bake uncovered as directed.
- Leftover crab dip will keep in a fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in a microwave or in a preheated oven in an oven safe dish until warm throughout, about 350F for 20 minutes.
- Freeze: Unbaked or baked (and cooled completely) dip can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before cooking or reheating.
One bite and you’ll be hooked. It’s addictive in the best way possible! If you make this Hot Crab Dip recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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Hot Crab Dip Recipe
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup sour cream
- 1½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese divided
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp lemon zest plus 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (or up to ¼ tsp for more heat)
- 1 lb lump crab meat
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped, plus more for serving
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Make the crab dip. Preheat oven to 375F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 8 oz cream cheese until very smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add ⅓ cup mayonnaise and ⅓ cup sour cream, then beat another minute until very well mixed. Add 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire, 2 tsp Old Bay, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp lemon zest, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Beat again, just until well mixed.
- Fold in the crab meat. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold 1 lb lump crab meat into the cream cheese mixture.
- Prepare the serving bowl. Transfer the dip to a large ramekin or oven-safe serving bowl that’s been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Use the spatula to smooth out the top, then sprinkle on the remaining ½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese and 1 Tbsp chopped parsley.
- Bake the crab dip. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the dip is bubbly and golden brown on top. Can be broiled for just a few minutes to get the top extra brown, if wanted. Serve hot or warm with baguette, crackers, or crudité.
- Make ahead: Crab dip can be prepared 1 day in advance, then wrapped in saran wrap or aluminum foil and stored in a refrigerator. Bake uncovered as directed.
- Freeze: Unbaked or baked (and completely cooled) crab dip can be frozen for up to 3 months. Seal tightly in a freezer-safe, airtight container. Thaw before baking or reheating. If reheating, warm in an 350F oven until hot throughout and the filling is bubbly, about 20 minutes.
- Leftovers and storage: Leftovers should be tightly wrapped and stored in an airtight container in a fridge. Use within 5 days, as seafood tends to have a shorter shelf life than other proteins.