Hot Crab Dip with cream cheese is a is a Maryland classic! Blended with cheese, lump crab and Old Bay, this crab dip served hot is the best party appetizer recipe!
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. If they aren’t fighting over “the best way to make crab cakes” 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.
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 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.
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 your hot crab dip. 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 hot 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!
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. It really does add pizazz to any dish 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 Worchestire 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!
Tools for making Hot Crab Dip:
- Pie Plates– I think every kitchen should have at least three shallow dishes or pie plates for the process of breading and frying. You can also bake pies in them! Hehe. Crab dip is also best baked in a shallow dish like this to ensure it is warm the whole way through.
- Glass Mixing Bowls– If you don’t think the type of mixing bowl you use impacts your food, you are wrong. Make sure you read up on your kitchen chemistry!
Other easy party dip ideas:
- Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip
- Caramelized Onion and Garlic Dip
- Green Chile, Corn and Bacon Dip
- Roasted Red Pepper Dip
- Roasted Garlic Eggplant Dip
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 cup mayonnaise or sour cream
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay seafood seasoning
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 1/2 pounds crab meat 1/2 lump and 1/2 backfin
- Crackers, bread or vegetables for serving
- 2 tablespoons scallions chopped
- Cooking Spray
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 and mayonnaise.
Add worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, Old Bay and white pepper, blending well.
By hand, fold in shredded sharp cheddar cheese and crab meat, being mindful to try and keep crab meat morsels whole.
Transfer mixture to baking dish. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes.
Top with scallions and serve with crackers, bread slices or vegetables like carrot sticks and celery.