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. It’s the perfect example that simple and unfussy can be both elegant and refined.
This crab pasta 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.
It’s salty and briny like the ocean, but light and fresh from lemon juice and sweet crab! You’ll love serving this with a chilled white wine for a date night in or easy entertaining with friends and family.
What’s In Spicy Crab Pasta?
This simple pasta with capers uses very few ingredients, but achieves a bold flavor. Use linguine, fettuccine, tagliatelle, or spaghetti — this pasta works best with a long, thin noodle.
For the sauce:
- A mixture of butter and olive oil
- Fresh garlic, sautéed until golden brown and fragrant
- Red pepper flakes — adds just a touch of heat, the perfect contrast against the sweet crab meat! We use a full teaspoon, but you can add less if you’re sensitive to spice.
- Anchovy filets (a must!!) — adds that pungent umami flavor
- Jumbo lump or lump crab meat — sweet, delicate, and tastes fresh like the ocean!
For the sauce:
- Dry white wine
- Kosher salt
- Lemon juice and zest
- Fresh parsley and fresh dill — please don’t use dried herbs. They have don’t have the same bright, fresh flavor!
- Parmesan cheese: If you can buy a block of Parmigiano Reggiano and grate it yourself, that always tastes best.
- Reserved pasta water
- Heavy cream
You could absolutely buy whole crabs or crab legs and cook them at home, but we prefer to buy a container of lump crab or jumbo lump crab meat. The meat is fully cooked, cleaned, and picked over for shells. Can’t beat that! And yes, it is definitely an expensive ingredient, this makes a huge quantity of food, totaling about $50-60 dollars, and will easily feed 6 adults. Way cheaper than dining at a restaurant!
How To Make Spicy Crab Pasta
Believe it or not, this crab pasta recipe can be made in 10 minutes! Don’t begin making the sauce until the pasta is cooked and drained, otherwise you’ll risk burning the garlic while you wait.
- Cook tagliatelle (or other long, thin pasta) until al dente. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water. Adding this back into the pasta sauce later will create a thick, lush, creamy sauce.
- Make the sauce: sauté 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.
- Deglaze the pan with some white wine. Make sure it’s something you’d enjoy drinking, as the flavor intensifies as it cooks down!
- 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.
To serve spicy crab pasta, garnish with additional Parmesan and lots of freshly cracked black pepper!
Can I Use Another Type of Pasta?
We’ve used linguine here, but any long, thin pasta will work well in this lemon caper pasta recipe.
What Type of White Wine Should I Use?
A dry white wine, such as Pinot Blanc, Albariño, or Chardonnay works best. 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. We love this Kosher salt.
- Don’t omit the anchovies in this recipe. They add a lovely depth of flavor you won’t achieve with just the lump crab meat.
- If you want a thinner pasta sauce, add more pasta water. For a thicker sauce, add more heavy cream.
When cooking with wine, use a wine that you don’t mind drinking. The flavor concentrates when cooked down!
More Crab Recipes To Enjoy!
- Crab Salad
- Our Best Ever Crab Cake Benedict
- Crab Stuffed Shrimp
- Baltimore Crab Cake Sandwich
- Creamy Crab Bisque
- Baked Crab Legs
If a stress-free seafood pasta is what you’re after, spicy crab pasta with lemon and capers is the dish for you! Easy elegance at its finest.
If you make Spicy Crab Pasta at home, please let me know by leaving a review and rating below!
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For additional easy pasta recipes, check out the following:
- Spaghetti alle vongole (clam pasta with white wine sauce!)
- Weeknight Pasta with Pancetta, Peas, and Mint
- Sunday Supper Sugo
- Macaroni with Pancetta, Peas, and Arugula
- Linguine with Chorizo, Butternut Squash, and Sage
Spicy Crab Pasta
- 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, plus more for serving
- 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
- Cook the pasta. 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.
- Begin making the sauce. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 3 cloves chopped garlic, 2 anchovies, and 1 tsp 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.
- Finish the pasta. Add crab and cook until just heated through, about 1 minute, then deglaze with ⅓ cup white wine. Season with 1 tsp Kosher salt, then cook 1 minute more. Add drained pasta, lemon juice, lemon zest, ¼ cup chopped parsley, ¼ cup chopped dill, 1 Tbsp drained capers, and and ¼ cup parmesan. Stir to combine.
- Add cream, then season. 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. Garnish with additional black pepper, Parmesan, and chopped parsley, then serve immediately.