Spicy crab pasta with lemon and capers is perfect for a weeknight meal or as the star of your next date night in. Bonus: it’s ready in 20 minutes!
Spicy crab pasta with lemon and capers. It’s a love letter to seafood and carbs, and also to anyone you deem worthy enough to serve it to. This is the perfect example that simple and unfussy can be both elegant and refined.
When I tell you how long it took to make this crab meat pasta, you won’t believe me. It literally comes together in minutes — don’t even try to make the sauce while the pasta is cooking, or you’ll risk burning the garlic. Instead, wait until the pasta is ready to be drained, because in 10 minutes (!!) this lemon caper pasta will go from pan to plate. Thankyouverymuch.
Please make this spicy crab pasta. And please allow yourself the pleasure of going back for seconds.
What’s in this spicy crab pasta?
This simple pasta with capers uses very few ingredients to achieve such a bold flavor. I chose a thicker tagliatelle as the base because I wanted something that would hold up next to the crab.
For the sauce, I used a mixture of butter and olive oil, then threw in fresh garlic, red pepper flakes, anchovy filets, and lump crab meat. White wine and kosher salt finish off the sauce, then I flavored it with fresh lemon juice and zest, plus some fresh parsely and dill, capers, and Parmesan.
I should also note that some of the pasta water and a splash of heavy cream gets added to the sauce as well, so don’t drain all the water once the tagliatelle is cooked through!
How to make spicy crab pasta
First, you’ll need to cook the tagliatelle according to package instructions. Reserve some of the pasta water before draining it.
To make the sauce, saute the garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes in a little butter and olive oil. Use a spoon to break apart the anchovies (they should melt into the sauce). Add the crab meat and cook until just heated through, then deglaze the pan with some white wine.
Add the drained pasta to the crab sauce, then flavor with lemon juice and zest, dill, parsley, capers, and Parmesan. Pour in some of the reserved pasta water and gently toss to combine.
When serving this spicy crab pasta, I like to garnish it with additional Parmesan and black pepper.
Can I use another type of pasta?
Yes, any long pasta will work well in this lemon caper pasta recipe.
What type of white wine should I use?
Any dry white wine will work well in this crab meat pasta recipe. Choose a wine you’d actually like to drink!
Tips for making spicy crab pasta
When boiling the pasta, make sure to generously salt the water. You want the pasta itself to have some flavor as well as the sauce.
Don’t omit the anchovies in this recipe. They add a lovely depth of flavor you won’t achieve with just the crab meat.
If you want a thinner pasta sauce, add more pasta water or cream to it. For a thicker sauce, add less.
If you make spicy crab pasta, please let me know by leaving a review below!
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For additional easy pasta recipes, check out the following:
Spicy Tagliatelle with Crab, Lemon, and Capers
- 1 lb tagliatelle (or other long pasta)
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 medium cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 anchovy filets (drained)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 lb lump crab meat (picked through for shells)
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- lemon juice and zest from 1 lemon
- ¼ cup parsley (chopped)
- ¼ cup dill (chopped)
- 1 heaping Tbsp capers (drained)
- ¼ cup Parmesan (grated, plus more for serving)
- ¼ – ½ cup heavy cream
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add about 1 Tbsp kosher salt. Add tagliatelle, then cook according to package directions, or until al dente. Reserve about ½ cup of pasta water, then drain pasta and set aside.
- Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes, then use a wooden spoon to break down the anchovies (they should melt into the sauce), cooking for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add crab and cook until just heated through, about 1 minute, then deglaze with white wine. Season with kosher salt, then cook 1 minute more. Add drained pasta. Add lemon juice and lemon zest, parsley, dill, capers, and parmesan. Stir to combine.
- Pour in about ¼ cup of reserved pasta water and ¼ cup of heavy cream, then toss gently. If you want more of a sauce, add more reserved water and/or cream, otherwise taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with extra black pepper and parmesan cheese on top.