Buttery Crab Imperial

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  • This Crab Imperial is a delicious, easy seafood dish and one of my all-time favorite crab meat recipes. You’ll want to make it again and again for special occassions and more. 

    Crab Imperial is one of the best easy lump crab meat recipes. Jumbo lump crab in a simple seafood recipe with a crunchy topping and simple imperial sauce.

    Crab Imperial

    Just thinking about this easy lump crab recipe makes my mouth water. Made with jumbo lump blue crab meat, it’s essentially an easier, less hands-on version of crab cakes.

    I think this is one of the easiest casserole recipes that use crab. Actually, it might be the ONLY casserole I make using crab. But it’s oh so good. 

    And an easy recipe. This delicious crab imperial recipe is made in just a few steps, with no complicated ingredients or techniques required.

    Just combine the ingredients, add to the casserole dish, top with your favorite crunchies, place in a baking dish and cook! 

    Seasoning

    The most common flavor accompaniments to the crab mixture are ground red pepper, Old Bay Seasoning and dry mustard.

    If you want to get crazy, add an imperial sauce, my simple beurre blanc sauce. A simple lemon and butter topping that pairs well with most foods. 

    Beurre Blanc with a spoon

    Bread Crumb Options

    As the same for crab cakes, you can use a variety of bread crumbs from saltines, traditional Italian or in this batch, I used crumbled leftover Hot Dog Bun Croutons.

    Sourdough, whole wheat and even panko breadcrumbs work perfectly. 

    Ingredients

    The ingredients list fairly simple with crab meat being the most important.

    • jumbo lump blue crab meat
    • shallots
    • Dijon mustard
    • flat parsley (italian parsley)
    • lemon juice
    • garlic
    • mayo
    • bread crumbs
    • salt

    How to Make Crab Imperial

    This entire seafood dish takes just under 30 minutes to make and can be assembled ahead of time.

    1. Combine jumbo lump blue crab meat, shallots, Dijon mustard, parsley, lemon juice, grated garlic, mayonnaise, bread crumbs and fine sea salt in a medium mixing bowl. Toss to combine and do not over mix. You don’t want those glorious bits of crab meat to break apart.
    2. Transfer mixture to casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs.
    3. Bake until hot and browned. This will depend on how shallow your dish is, the top should be lightly browned.
    4. Serve with additional lemon wedges and enjoy.

    Crab Imperial can be served as the main entree, which is my preferred way to serve this lazy man’s seafood dish, but is also frequently used to top steak or stuff other proteins.

    Serve it over baked chicken for Chicken Chesapeake or even use it to stuff shrimp, scallops and other fish.

    Crab Cakes vs. Crab Imperial

    So what is the difference between Crab Imperial and crab cakes? As I mentioned above, the two are very similar.

    Crab Imperial is typically a little wetter and has more filler. Crab cakes (at least good ones) have less filler and are more dry, in order to hold them together.

    They are both good and they both have their place on the menu. Here is a crab cake for reference (and my award winning crab cake recipe).

    Maryland Crab Cakes are made with jumbo lump crab meat with little filler, Dijon mustard and Old Bay Seasoning plus secrets to making authentic Chesapeake crab cakes! #marylandcrabcakes #crabcakerecipe www.savoryexperiments.com

    Imperial is better for serving large groups because your crab will go further and it isn’t as delicate as crab cakes.

    You can also serve smaller portions alongside another protein or fish. Check out my Filet Mignon featuring a crab imperial topping! 

    Good Crab Meat

    Not everyone can everyone can grab fresh crab from the Eastern shore of Maryland like I can, but you can find good crab at your store. I prefer to use unpasteurized crab, but if that is all you can get your hands on, go for it!

    Do I have to use jump lump crab meat? You don’t, you can use a variety of crab meat that meets your budget. Feel free to use a mixture as well. Here is a guide to buying blue crab meat.

    Next is knowing your type of crab meat. Here is a brief crab meat tutorial.

    • Claw– dark meat that comes from the claw, a little more stringy than other varieties.
    • Special– smaller pieces, comes from small little crevices or the “special” sections of the crab, good for flavoring and dips.
    • Backfin– some larger lumps coming from, you guessed it, the back of the shell, whiter meat, does well in crab cakes, feathery texture.
    • Jumbo lump– large, lumps of meat, the beauty is the large pieces used for crab meat cocktails or delicious to pop in your mouth plain, very tasty and moist.
    Bowl of jumbo lump crab meat
    Jumbo Lump Crab Meat

    Can I use imitation crab meat? I would advise against using imitation crab meat for this recipe. Crab is the main ingredient and will flavor the whole dish.

    Imitation crab meat is just a white fish compressed into crab-like shapes and then tinted a weird orange color. 

    Can I use king crab or snow crab? What makes a good imperial is the blue crab. I supposed you can use one of the other two, but I would advise against it.

    What to Serve With

    I like my imperial best with just a spritz of fresh lemon juice, but others like tartar sauce or even a zesty cocktail sauce. Plain melted butter or clarified butter also work.

    Clarified butter is nothing but butter with the milk solids removed. Make sure to choose a high quality butter when making this liquid gold sauce. 

    More easy crab recipes:

    Crabby Totchos
    Crabby Totchos are crispy fried tater tots smothered in hot crab dip and topped with melty cheddar cheese. The perfect party appetizer! #tatertots #easyappetizerrecipes www.savoryexperiments.com
    Crabby Totchos are crispy fried tater tots smothered in hot crab dip and topped with melty cheddar cheese. The perfect party appetizer! 
    Maryland Crab Dip
    creamy hot crab dip in a casserole dish
    Hot Crab Dip with cream cheese is a is a Maryland classic! Blended with cheese, lump crab meat and old bay, this crab dip served hot is the best party appetizer recipe!

    Tools:

    Mixing Bowls– make sure to check out my article on Using the Right Mixing Bowl, you’d be surprised how many people aren’t!

    Measuring Utensils– I generally eyeball it, but you can measure things out, if you’d like! 

    Small Casserole Dish– I recommend using a shallow dish so it heats the whole way through without the top getting dry. 

    Special Lifestyles

    Is crab imperial keto friendly? This is not a keto friendly recipe because it contains bread crumbs. You can use one of the keto approved substitutes like pork rinds, as a binder. 

    Is crab imperial gluten free? If you use a gluten free alternative to bread crumbs, then yes, it is gluten free. 

    Is crab imperial dairy free? This recipe is dairy free. The recipe, minus beurre blanc sauce, is dairy free. You don’t have to use any sauce at all, or you can serve with fresh lemon wedges cocktail sauce, tartar sauce or chipotle aioli

    Storage & Freezing

    Crab imerial is best eaten fresh out of the oven. You can make it all ahead of time and then add bread crumbs right before baking to save time.

    Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave and low heat oven for 10 minutes.

    Can I freeze crab imperial? I generally don’t recommend freezing any recipe that contains mayonnaise.

    You also need to be mindful to not refreeze seafood that has previously been frozen. Many brands of pasteurized, canned crab meat, has been previously frozen. 

    Crab Imperial is one of the best easy lump crab meat recipes. Jumbo lump crab in a simple seafood recipe with a crunchy topping and simple imperial sauce.Click to Tweet

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    Crab Imperial is a deliciously easy lump crab recipe. It's one of the most popular recipes that use crab and oh so delicious! Ready in 30 minutes! #crabimperial #lumpcrabrecipes www.savoryexperiments.com
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    4.19 from 22 votes

    Crab Imperial Recipe

    Crab Imperial is one of the best easy lump crab meat recipes. Jumbo lump crab in a simple seafood recipe with a crunchy topping and simple imperial sauce.
     
    Prep Time10 mins
    Cook Time15 mins
    Total Time25 mins
    Course: Main Course, Side Dish
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: crab imperial
    Servings: 4
    Calories: 443kcal
    Author: Jessica Formicola

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a small casserole dish with cooking spray.
    • Combine jumbo lump blue crab meat, shallots, Dijon mustard, parsley, lemon juice, grated garlic, mayonnaise, bread crumbs and fine sea salt in a medium mixing bowl. Toss to combine and do not over mix. You don’t want those glorious bits of crab meat to break apart.
    • Transfer mixture to casserole dish. Top with 2 tablespoons bread crumbs.
    • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until hot. This will depend on how shallow your dish is, the top should be lightly browned.
    • Serve with additional lemon wedges and enjoy.
    • If you liked this dish, please come back and let us know how it was in the ratings and comments!

    Video

    Nutrition

    Calories: 443kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 2507mg | Potassium: 505mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 155IU | Vitamin C: 20.7mg | Calcium: 129mg | Iron: 2.2mg

     

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