Maryland Crab Dip

Hot Crab Dip is a bit of an institution here in Maryland. While I wasn’t born and raised here, I’ve lived in the Chesapeake region going on 20 years and learned the ways of the locals.

cheesy crab dip recipe


 

This creamy dip is a great recipe when you’re looking for the perfect appetizer to serve for football season, the holiday season or ANY season.

You can serve this decadent dip with buttery crackers, in a bread bowl, sprinkled with lemon zest or even diced italian bread. When it’s the real deal like this recipe, it tastes good any way you eat it.

spoon with cheesy crab dip

Hot Crab Dip

If they aren’t fighting over “the best way to make crab cakes” and “if crab egg rolls are acceptable” they are certianly debating “the best way to make crab dip!”

The truth is, there are many ways to make crab dip. The first deciding if you want hot crab dip or cold crab dip. I prefer hot, cheesy, gooey dip, so that decision is made, but then the base becomes an issue.

Some folks swear by cream cheese, the base for many creamy dips. Others say that sour cream or mayonnaise is the only way to go. My version of Hot Crab Dip uses a hybrid of these models.

angled shot of hot crab dip

Creamy Crab Dip

Cream cheese alone is too thick, while sour cream or mayonnaise alone and then heated is too thin and wimpy, so I combine the two methods.

I also use a generous amount of sharp cheddar and monterey jack cheese and even sometimes gruyere or Swiss if I have it on hand. Don’t be shy about adding extra cheese. It is virtually impossible to add too much.

It also virtually impossible to add too much crab… read on.

hot creamy crab dip

The Crab

The biggest piece of your crab dip will be, well, the CRAB! Here is Maryland there is only one type of crab: Blue Crab. Don’t even think about suggesting snow crab, king crab… or God forbid… imitation crab.

You’ll be stoned in the town square. Seriously.

Outside of the Chesapeake Bay, and even at some cheaper places within our limits, you’ll find little to no crab in crab dip recipes. It is believed that Old Bay seasoning apparently makes everything crabby and then you can skimp on the crab.

Not in my book! I hate to be the one to tell you, but your crab dip is going to cost you a pretty penny. I buy two types of crab for my dip: lump and backfin. Lump crab meat is just that, lump.

It isn’t jumbo lump, but large enough to give some good, buttery bites. And backfin is thinner and stringier. The point here is that no bite of your dip will ever be without crab.

If you want to get super fancy, use all lump crab and if you are on a budget, use all backfin. Either way, make sure you have enough crab!

backfin crab meat in a mixing bowl

Old Bay Seasoning

The last piece is the seasoning. Old Bay is a no brainer. The Chesapeake style seafood seasoning can best be described as salty and red with a little zest. A basic seasoned salt can be used in a pinch.

It really does add pizzazz to any dish, especially dip recipes, and your brain will automatically associate it to crabs, even if there is no crab in the recipe, like Crabby Potato Chips.

There isn’t crab on your chip people, it a generic potato chip tossed in Old Bay! I also like worcestershire sauce to make it bold with a few dashes of hot sauce to give it some zest.

You can play around with your own seasonings, but know this: there is only one way to ruin hot crab dip and that is by skimping on the crab meat!

celery dipping into hot crab dip

Crab Dip Ingredients

The simple ingredients of this great dip are easily found at your local grocery store. The only ingredient that might be slightly difficult is the crab itself.

  • Cream cheese– make sure it is fully softened so it doesn’t clump
  • Mayonnaise– serves as a binder
  • Sour cream– lightens up the cream cheese and keeps things moist
  • Worcestershire sauce– adds depth
  • Hot sauce– makes it zingy, can omit
  • Old Bay seafood seasoning– the only acceptable seafood seasoning for Maryland style crab dip
  • Ground white pepper– you can also use black
  • Cheese– I like a combination of monterey jack and cheddar cheese, but use any combo you want equal to 2 cups shredded
  • Crab meat– blue crab meat
  • Crackers, bread, tortilla chips or vegetables for serving
  • Green onions or Chives
delicious crab dip recipe

How to Make Crab Dip

The best hot crab dip recipe is actually quite simple. Follow these easy steps to making an easy crab dip recipe.

  1. Prepare oven and dish. Preheat oven and coat a shallow baking dish or pie plate with cooking spray.
  2. Cream mayo, cream cheese and sour cream. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together softened cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream.
  3. Add seasonings. Add worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, Old Bay and white pepper, blending well.
  4. Fold in cheese and crab. By hand, fold in shredded cheeses, reserving about 1/4 cup for topping, and crab meat, being mindful to try and keep crab meat morsels whole.
  5. Add to baking dish. Transfer mixture to baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered until mixture has heated.
  6. Add toppings and serve. Top with chives or scallions and serve with crackers, bread slices or vegetables like carrot sticks and celery.

Storage, Make Ahead & Freezing

Make ahead: Crab dip can be fully assembled ahead of time and then baked when ready to serve. You can also heat up leftovers.

Storage: Leftover crab dip should be stored in an airtight container and chilled for up to 3 days. Since it is seafood and technically the first time you bake the dip is the second time the crab will be cooked, it is best consumed within 24 hours.

Freezing: Crab dip can be frozen before baking. In fact, I have some in my freezer right now! Thaw in the fridge for several hours until you can transfer it to a baking dish.

hot crab dip for pinterest

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angled shot of hot crab dip

Maryland Crab Dip

4.28 from 50 votes
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!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a shallow baking dish or pie plate with cooking spray.
  • In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together softened cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream.
  • Add worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, Old Bay and white pepper, blending well.
  • By hand, fold in shredded cheeses, reserving about 1/4 cup for topping, and crab meat, being mindful to try and keep crab meat morsels whole.
  • Transfer mixture to baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until mixture has heated.
  • Top with chives or scallions and serve with crackers, bread slices or vegetables like carrot sticks and celery.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.

Nutrition

Calories: 420 kcal, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Protein: 21 g, Fat: 35 g, Saturated Fat: 11 g, Cholesterol: 93 mg, Sodium: 1101 mg, Potassium: 249 mg, Sugar: 1 g, Vitamin A: 590 IU, Vitamin C: 6.8 mg, Calcium: 178 mg, Iron: 1.1 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 420
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: hot crab dip, maryland crab dip
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. 4 stars
    Great recipe! I scaled down for a pound of crab since that’s all I had. I ended up adding some lemon zest and juice because it really seemed like it needed a little brightness; chopped celery might be nice next time. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! It was great on some toasted baguette sliced that I coated with olive oil and Old Bay before toasting in the oven.

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this a few times now and everyone loves it! The flavors are so amazing, we just can’t get enough of it.

  3. 5 stars
    Oh yum! A favorite when I’m in the area. This crab dip looks so good and I love how it comes together in only 20 minutes.

  4. 5 stars
    Can I make this ahead of time? I’m thinking mother’s day but won’t have time the day of. thanks, looks so delicious!

    1. You sure can! Just put it all together and either freeze it or pop it in the oven right before serving. You can make it fresh up to a day ahead of time.