Hot Crab Dip

Hot Crab Dip recipe with only 10 minutes prep is the ultimate party appetizer!

This Hot Crab Dip recipe will be one of the best and easiest dips you ever make-or tasted!  It is rich, creamy, cheesy, packed with flavor and did I say 10-minute prep already? This luxurious Crab Dip is a mixture of buttery crab meat, cream cheese, sour cream, cheeses, Old Bay seasoning and a few splashes of Worcestershire, lemon juice and hot sauce all baked together into addicting splendor.  This creamy Crab Dip is not only quick and easy but can be made ahead of time or in the crockpot for a an outrageously delicious, stress-free, crowd pleasing appetizer!

up close of serving hot crab dip recipe by scooping dip up with bread

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CRAB DIP RECIPE

With game season wrapping up, I hope you’ve been able to dive face first into some of my favorite game day appetizers: Jalapeno Popper DipHoney Buffalo Meatballs, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball and on and on.  And if not, it’s not too late – almost too late – but not quite.  This weekend you can impress your guests with this outrageously delicious, decadent crab dip!   Just think creamy dip + crab cakes and you have mesmerizing Hot Crab Dip!

There are millions of Crab Dip recipes out there and I’ve experimented, researched and taste tested to bring you the BEST Crab Dip recipe – in my humble opinion.  There are many similarities between recipes, so in the end, it comes down to actual ingredients and most importantly, proportions.  Too much crab and you lose the creamy base, not enough Old Bay Seasoning, lemon juice or Worcestershire and our dip is bland, omit the green onions and you’re missing that extra oomph.  But when all the ingredients come together in perfect proportions you arrive at cheesy, creamy, dreamy perfection.

Here’s why you’ll love this Hot Crab Dip recipe:

  • DELICIOUS & FLAVORFUL.   Creamy, hot and cheesy filling enveloping buttery, tender lump crab meat spiked with salty, peppery, smoky Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce and green onions. 
  • CREAMY.  This Crab Dip is mega creamy with ample mounts of cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise.
  • CHEESY.  Instead of just using cheddar like most recipes, this Hot Crab Dip recipes uses both sharp cheddar and mozzarella for more flavor and extra ooey gooey action.
  • QUICK and EASY. Mix up the filling in one bowl, add the filling to a skillet and top with golden panko then bake – that’s it! 
  • MAKE AHEAD.  You can prep the Crab Dip recipe 100% in advance, refrigerate then just pop it in the oven when ready!
  • SLOW COOKER OPTION.  You can make the Crab Dip in the slow cooker or in the oven – your choice.  You can also transfer the dip to the slow cooker to stay warm.
  • FEEDS A CROWD.  I love serving dips at parties and get togethers because they’re easy to make and feed a lot of people.  This crab dip is more filling than most due to the hefty dose of crab, so it will go the distance.
a hand dipping into baked crab dip in a black skillet with a baguette slice

WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS FOR HOT CRAB DIP RECIPE?

  • Crab:  you can use any crab meat here – what’s ever easiest/ most economical for you, but I highly recommend lump crab meat for mouthwatering bites of crab as opposed to sad shreds.
  • Cream cheese:  is a must! Make sure you soften your cream cheese well so it mixes easily.  You can microwave it at 15 second intervals until soft.
  • Sour cream:  the sour cream adds a wonderful tanginess creaminess that can’t be beat.  Full fat sour cream melts better but you may use nonfat.
  • Mayonnaise:  adds a delectable richness and melts beautifully to thin out the cream cheese.  If you are thoroughly opposed to mayonnaise, you may substitute with sour cream, but I promise you really can’t taste/distinguish it! Please use real mayo and not miracle whip.
  • Cheese:  both sharp cheddar and mozzarella for flavor and extra points because mozzarella melts like a champ.
  • Green onions:  don’t substitute with any other onion because they will be too strong and crunchy.
  • Worcestershire sauce: adds a depth of complex savory, slightly tangy flavor.
  • Lemon juice:  cuts through the richness and awakens all of the flavors. You may use fresh or bottled.
  • Old Bay Seasoning:  is made for seafood and infuses the entire dip with sublime flavor.  Please use Old Bay Seasoning as its multi-dimension, complex flavor is hard to imitate. 
  • Seasonings:  ground mustard, garlic powder and salt round out the flavor profile.  Don’t skip the ground mustard – it is a key ingredient to crab cakes and therefore this crab dip.
  • Panko: is optional but panko + butter create a mesmerizing CRUNCH that beautifully complements the creamy dip. Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb sold in every grocery store (including Walmart) usually next to the other breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and dryer than normal breadcrumbs so they absorb less moisture and become much crispier. Please do not substitute panko breadcrumbs with Italian breadcrumbs, it is better to omit them then use Italian breadcrumbs.  

WHAT TYPE OF CRAB MEAT SHOULD I USE?

I recommend lump crabmeat for this hot Crab Dip recipe. It is mild, sweet, tender and you can purchase it fresh, canned or even frozen. Imitation crab would be my last choice, but is an option if the budget calls for it.  Here is the breakdown:

FRESH CRAB.  Fresh Crab will boast the most flavor which translates into a better crab dip.  If you are in the Mid-Atlantic States, look for blue crab, whose native habitat includes the Chesapeake Bay and is generally considered to be the best tasting and favorite choice.  Look for crab meat labeled “hand-picked” or “fresh-picked” which means it is fully cooked; it is often sold in plastic tubs by the butcher or seafood counter.  You can also ask your grocer where to find the freshest crab meat in the store.  Be sure to thoroughly pick over your crab meat for cartilage. Nothing will ruin a creamy bite of Crab Dip than biting into cartilage!

CANNED CRAB.  Canned Crab doesn’t taste as flavorful as fresh crab, but is still a great option, more economical and very convenient.  When purchasing canned crab meat, look for white lump crab meat, which comes from the knuckles of the crab and is the highest grade of canned crab meat.   You may also use fancy white crab meat, which contains the white body meat, but it is considered one step down.  Make sure you drain your crab meat in a fine mesh sieve before adding to the Crab Dip.

IMITATION CRAB.  I urge you to use fresh or canned crab unless someone in your family is allergic to crab, even still you’ll still want to check imitation crab ingredients for crab extract.  Imitation crab is made from minced fish flesh, often pollock, that has been deboned then combined with other ingredients, heated and formed into crab-like cuts.  Although imitation crab is an okay tasting alternative, it contains sugar, starch and egg whites, preservatives and often MSG. 

top view of showing what to serve with easy crab dip surrounded by vegetables, crackers, chips and baguette slices

CAN I USE FAT FREE CREAM CHEESE?

Yes!  You can make baked Crab Dip with full-fat cream cheese or low-fat cream cheese. Full fat cream cheese obviously has more flavor and melts better, but low fat will still be tasty.  Make sure you’re using a block of cream cheese, not cream cheese spread.

Can I use Greek yogurt?

I have not personally tried Greek Yogurt in this recipe but I imagine full-fat plain Greek Yogurt could be used in place of the sour cream.  Greek Yogurt is slightly more tangy than sour cream, so I would reduce the amount of lemon juice.

HOW TO MAKE CRAB DIP

This foolproof Crab Dip takes just 10 minutes to prep then it’s hands-off baking time.  Here’s how:

Beat cream cheese.  Add cream cheese to a mixing bowl and beat with a handheld mixer on medium-high speed for one minute.  Add sour cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire, lemon juice and all seasonings and beat until combined. This might seem like one extra step but it makes a HUGE difference!

Stir in remaining ingredients. Stir in green onions, ½ cup cheddar, ½ cup mozzarella, then gently fold in crab meat. You don’t want to just mix the crab in, but rather fold it in with a spatula so it doesn’t completely break apart.

showing how to make crab dip by mixing cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise until smooth then adding cheddar cheese
showing how to make crab dip by adding lump crab m eat to a glass bowl with cream cheese base

Transfer to baking dish.  Spoon into a 2-qt. baking dish or 10” skillet and spread into an even layer. Evenly top with remaining cheeses; set aside.

Make crispy panko. The panko is optional but we LOVE its buttery crunch at our house.  For the crunchiest panko you ever tasted, don’t add it directly to the top of the dip without toasting first, this will never deliver evenly golden, crazy crunchy, buttery panko.  For the BEST, truly crispy panko topping infused with buttery bliss, you need to toast it first in a skillet with melted butter.  This step literally takes minutes but adds tons of YUM! 

Bake.  Cover with foil and bake at 375° F for 25-30 min. or until cheese is completely melted and bubbling around the edges and hot throughout (baking time will vary depending on depth of dish).  This will ensure the cheese has completely melted to ooey gooey delight.

CAN I MAKE THIS CRAB DIP IN THE SLOW COOKER?

Yes, you can either keep this Crab Dip warm in the slow cooker after baking or make it entirely in the slow cooker.

To make Crockpot Crab Dip:

  1. Lightly grease slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray or use a crock pot liner.
  2. Add cream cheese to a mixing bowl and beat with a handheld mixer on medium-high speed for one minute.  Add sour cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire, lemon juice and all seasonings and beat until combined.
  3. Stir in green onions, ½ cup cheddar, ½ cup mozzarella, then gently fold in crab meat.
  4. Transfer mixture to the crock pot but do not top with remaining cheeses.
  5. Cook on LOW for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Once the dip is hot, top with remaining cheeses and panko if using, cover and cook on low for an additional 30-60 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.

TIPS for CRAB DIP RECIPE

  • Splurge for real crab.  The fresher the crab, the better the dip.  In a pinch you can use imitation crab, but it won’t have the same flavor.
  • Use soft cream cheese.  If your cream cheese isn’t soft enough, the cheeses and seasonings won’t evenly combine and you’ll be left with pockets of ingredients.  To soften cream cheese, cube it and microwave at 15 second intervals until its easy to stir. 
  • Use an electric mixer.  Beating the cream cheese until fluffy with an electric mixer instead of whisk makes your dip 10X creamier.  I know beating the cream cheese seems like an extra step, but I have tried it with beating and without beating, and I promise it is worth it.
  • Freshly grated cheese.  Please use freshy grated cheeses because pre-packed cheeses use anti-clumping chemicals which prevents them from melting as well.
  • To panko or not panko. The panko adds the buttery CRUNCH that is a delectable compliment with the dip. I love adding panko if I am serving with less crunchy dippers such as bread or vegetables.  If you are serving with buttery Ritz or tortilla chips, it isn’t as necessary.  
a skillet of baked crab dip coming out of the oven

BAKED CRAB DIP RECIPE VARIATIONS:

This baked Crab Dip is already hypnotic due to the tender crab meat.  That being said, you are welcome to jazz your dip up until your heart (and belly) are content.  Just make sure that you don’t go crazy with add-ins or your dip won’t be as creamy. If you want to go crazy, then reduce some of the crab meat.

  • Spice it up:  Add more hot sauce, chopped pickled jalapenos (my fav!), chopped chipotle peppers, or cayenne pepper.
  • Add Artichokes: Are a favorite variation.  Add ½ cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts.
  • Add Vegetables:  Add sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers or corn kernels.
  • Add Bacon: Add 6 cooked and crumbled bacon pieces to the dip and 2 cooked and crumbled pieces on the top for garnish after baking.  Use thick cut bacon so it doesn’t get lost.
  • Add a Different Protein:  Swap half of the crab meat for cooked chorizo.

How “hot” is Hot Crab dip?

I know I’m going to get this question so let me clarify that the “hot” in Hot Crab Dip does not refer to the spice level, rather it means the dip is baked and served warm as opposed to cold crab dip. 

As far as the heat – it is up to you!  A few dashes of hot sauce will not make it spicy, but you can add as much hot sauce as you like or spice it up with chopped pickled jalapenos.  I opt to keep it milder when serving a crowd and then leave the hot sauce out for those who love it HOT.

WHAT SHOULD I BAKE CRAB DIP IN?

Any oven proof dish will work that is roughly 3 quarts or 9-10 inches.  You can use a baking dish that is roughly 8 x11” or a 9×9 square baking dish, a 9-inch pie pan or cake pan.  You can also use a 10” oven proof skillet as I did in these photos.

HOW DO YOU SERVE Easy CRAB DIP?

  • After the hot Crab Dip comes out of the oven, let it sit for at least 5 minutes so guests don’t burn their mouths.
  • If using a skillet, wrap the skillet handle in a towel to protect your guests from burning themselves.
  • Crab Dip is best served hot.

WHAT DO YOU SERVE WITH BAKED CRAB DIP?

Baked Crab Dip is delicious with everything it touches, you’ll just want to make sure the dipper is sturdy enough for the decadent dip. Here are some serving ideas:

  • French Baguette
  • Sourdough
  • Soft pretzels
  • Butter crackers such as Ritz
  • Tortilla chips (sturdy tortilla chips are best otherwise they can break)
  • Pita chips
  • Carrots
  • Bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower

If you want to serve with baguette slices as pictures, brush the slices with olive oil, spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

top view of hot crab dip recipe in a cast iron skillet with a dipper stuck into the center of the dip garnished with green onions.

Can I serve this dip cold?

Technically you can serve this Crab Dip cold, but I would only serve it cold after it has been baked previously so the cheeses have melted.  We definitely prefer this dip hot, and I can only recommend the piping-hot-out-of the-oven version.

CAN YOU MAKE CRAB DIP AHEAD OF TIME?

Yes, this easy Crab Dip is a wonderful make ahead dip! 

  • Prepare dip according to directions up to baking except don’t add panko if using.  Keep panko separate in a plastic bag.
  • Cover prepared dip with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days.
  • When ready to bake, add panko, recover with and bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH LEFTOVERS?

It is a happy (and rare) day when there is leftover Crab Dip!  You can add it to a skillet with some milk and gently heat to create the most incredibly rich creamy, cheesy, sauce!  This cheese sauce is spectacular with rice, pasta or even soup!

Leftover crab dip is also fabulous on chicken (usually called “chicken Chesapeake”), or stuffed in chicken with asparagus. It is also yummy in quesadillas, flautas or taquitos.

How do you REHEAT CRAB DIP?

You can reheat Spinach Artichoke Dip in the oven at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. You can microwave smaller portions at 30 second intervals until heated through.

HOW LONG WILL CRAB DIP LAST?

Leftover Crab Dip should be covered tightly with foil or transferred to an airtight container and stored in the refri.  When stored properly, Crab Dip is good for up to three days.

DOES CRAB DIP FREEZE WELL?

I do not recommend freezing Crab Dip due to the mayonnaise and sour cream.  The fat will separate and become a funny texture.  Instead, you can prepare your Crab Dip in advance and refrigerate or half the recipe if you are worried about leftovers.

WHAT TO EAT WITH CRAB DIP?

Crab Dip is a favorite party food for game day parties, viewing parties, potlucks, Christmas, New Years, etc.  It is stand alone delicious but also pairs well with these other appetizers and party food we love:

up close of easy crab dip dipped into with a cracker

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Crab Dip

This Hot Crab Dip recipe will be one of the best and easiest dips you ever make-or tasted! It is rich, creamy, cheesy, packed with flavor and did I say 10-minute prep already? This luxurious Crab Dip is a mixture of buttery crab meat, cream cheese, sour cream, cheeses, Old Bay seasoning and a few splashes of Worcestershire, lemon juice and hot sauce all baked together into addicting splendor. This creamy Crab Dip is not only quick and easy but can be made ahead of time or in the crockpot for a an outrageously delicious, stress-free, crowd pleasing appetizer!
Servings: 12 servings
Total Time: 40 mins
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins

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Ingredients

  • 1 8 oz. pkg. Cream Cheese softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp EACH ground mustard, garlic powder, salt
  • a couple shakes Tabasco or favorite hot sauce
  • 1/3 cup thinly chopped green onions
  • 1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese divided
  • 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese divided
  • 16 oz. lump crab meat (or two 6 oz. cans, drained)

Panko Topping (optional)

For Serving

  • crackers, pita chips, chips, bread, vegetables

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Add cream cheese to a mixing bowl and beat with a handheld mixer on medium-high speed for one minute. Add sour cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire, lemon juice and all seasonings and beat until combined.
  • Stir in green onions, ½ cup cheddar, ½ cup mozzarella, then fold in crab meat. Spoon into a 2-qt. baking dish or 10” skillet and spread into an even layer. Evenly top with remaining cheeses; set aside.
  • Prepare panko topping by melting butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in panko and continue to stir constantly until panko is golden. Evenly sprinkle over cheeses.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 375° F for 25-30 min. OR until the dip is bubbling around the edges and the dip is hot throughout (baking time will vary depending on depth of dish - don't shortcut the baking, it is what helps make it creamy).
  • Serve warm with baguette slices, crackers, chips or vegetables.

Notes

Crockpot Crab Dip

  1. Lightly grease slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray or use a crock pot liner.
  2. Add cream cheese to a mixing bowl and beat with a handheld mixer on medium-high speed for one minute.  Add sour cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire, lemon juice and all seasonings and beat until combined.
  3. Stir in green onions, ½ cup cheddar, ½ cup mozzarella, then gently fold in crab meat.
  4. Transfer mixture to the crock pot but do not top with remaining cheeses.
  5. Cook on LOW for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Once the dip is hot, top with remaining cheeses and panko if using, cover and cook on low for an additional 30-60 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.

Tips and Tricks

  • Splurge for real crab.  The fresher the crab, the better the dip.  In a pinch you can use imitation crab, but it won’t have the same flavor. See detailed section in post about different crab options. 
  • Use soft cream cheese.  If your cream cheese isn’t soft enough, the cheeses and seasonings won’t evenly combine and you’ll be left with pockets of ingredients.  To soften cream cheese, cube it and microwave at 15 second intervals until its easy to stir. 
  • Use an electric mixer.  Beating the cream cheese until fluffy with an electric mixer instead of whisk makes your dip 10X creamier.  I know beating the cream cheese seems like an extra step, but I have tried it with beating and without beating, and I promise it is worth it.
  • Freshly grated cheese.  Please use freshy grated cheeses because pre-packed cheeses use anti-clumping chemicals which prevents them from melting as well.
  • To panko or not panko. The panko adds the buttery CRUNCH that is a delectable compliment with the dip. I love adding panko if I am serving with less crunchy dippers such as bread or vegetables.  If you are serving with buttery Ritz or tortilla chips, it isn’t as necessary.  

Make Ahead

  • Prepare dip according to directions up to baking except don’t add panko if using.  Keep panko separate in a plastic bag.
  • Cover prepared dip with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days.
  • When ready to bake, add panko, recover with and bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

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4 Comments

  1. Ekta says

    This sounds so yum! Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes. I have tried many and they have been always been super hits!
    What can someone with shellfish allergy use as a substitute for crab meat? Would tuna or rotisserie chicken taste good ?

  2. Chris says

    Love this recipe! But my oven is busted (new one on the way). Can I make it in the microwave?

    • Jen says

      Hi Chris, I would recommend the stove over the microwave – mix all of the ingredients except the crab and top cheeses and heat over medium-low until hot. Gently stir in the crab, heat through, add the cheese on top and cover to melt. I hope that helps!

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