Maryland Hot Crab Dip

This hot and cheesy Maryland crab dip gets the stamp of approval from locals and out-of-towners alike. For the best taste and texture, use fresh lump crab meat and the other 8 ingredients listed like cream cheese, Old Bay Seasoning, and cheddar cheese. Slow cooked or baked, this is the most irresistible dip. Draws a crowd every time I make it!

hot cheesy crab dip

Walk into pretty much any Maryland bar or restaurant and you’re bound to find hot crab dip on the menu. It’s our staple. Sometimes served on soft pretzels, sometimes baked in a skillet, always a must-have order. We eat it on chicken (usually called “chicken chesapeake”) or in quesadillas, but the best way to serve hot cheesy crab dip is with fresh bread, pita wedges, celery, and/or sturdy buttery crackers.

Here in Maryland, WE LOVE OUR CRAB DIP.

This Hot Crab Dip Is:

  • Made with jumbo lump crab
  • Cheesy dip meets crab cakes
  • Addictively creamy
  • Old Bay seasoned
  • Baked or slow-cooked, your choice
  • Extra quick, no pre-cooking
  • Nothing less than a huge hit, guaranteed

This does Maryland justice!

hot cheesy crab dip

Search the internet or your cookbooks and you’ll find millions of crab dip recipes. They’re all centered around– you guessed it– crab, but the extras can vary. I’ve tasted hundreds of crab dips (I’m surrounded by it!) and I know what works– and what doesn’t.

The Best Crab Dip Ingredients

These are the 9 ingredients you need to make the best Maryland crab dip on the planet. And that’s not an exaggeration. I have locals who swear by this one!!!!

  1. Cream Cheese: Cream cheese is the base of this dip. No substitutions here.
  2. Mayonnaise: I don’t like mayonnaise and I still love this crab dip. You don’t need much– just enough to thin out the cream cheese and add that necessary creamy dip texture.
  3. Sour Cream: Some crab dip recipes call for just mayo and cream cheese, but I like to break down those heavier ingredients with tangy sour cream. Trust me, it works.
  4. Cheddar Cheese: You can use sharp cheddar or white cheddar if desired, but don’t use another cheese that has a stronger flavor because we don’t want to overpower the crab.
  5. Ground Mustard: A dash of mustard is a key ingredient in any Maryland crab cake recipe and we’re using something similar here, too. Ground mustard is necessary– and don’t worry, you do not taste mustard.
  6. Lemon Juice: Fresh, balancing flavor!
  7. Old Bay Seasoning: This salty spice is a staple in Maryland, especially with crab.
  8. Worcestershire Sauce: So much flavor. You don’t need a lot– just 2 teaspoons.
  9. Lump Crab Meat: For the absolute best crab dip, I recommend using lump crab meat or a mix of lump crab meat and backfin meat. Lump crab meat guarantees those big mouthwatering bites of crab.

A dash of hot sauce is delicious, too!

ingredients in crab dip

crab dip before baking

How to Make Hot Crab Dip

You’re only about 30-35 minutes away from this bliss!

  1. Beat the cream cheese first. You want it super creamy and smooth.
  2. Beat in the rest of the ingredients except the crab.
  3. Fold in the crab. Avoid using a mixer for this step because you don’t want to completely break down the lump crab.
  4. Slow cook or bake. Slow cook on low for 3-4 hours until hot and creamy or bake in a casserole dish, pie dish, or oven-safe skillet for 25 minutes or until browned and bubbly around the edges.

The process is quick, simple, and foolproof as long as you’re using the right ingredients. A handheld or stand mixer is definitely helpful and makes mixing easier, but I’ve mixed it together by hand before too.

hot crab dip

Serving Crab Dip

For serving, keep things simple. You want the flavors from the dip to shine, so don’t serve with crackers or breads with overpowering flavors. Sturdy baguette slices, artisan bread (pictured!), or crackers are key so you can scoop up all that lump crab.

Best Crab Meat for Crab Dip

At the market, you can find canned, frozen, or fresh (refrigerated) crab meat. Unrefrigerated canned crab meat doesn’t have the freshest flavor (obviously). If you need to use canned, look for canned crab meat in the refrigerated section of your market. The fresher the crab meat, the better the crab dip will taste.

Crab meat labeled “hand-picked”or “fresh-picked” is fully cooked and sold in plastic tubs by the butcher or seafood counter. This is what I always use for crab cakes and crab dip and highly encourage you to use the same here. It’s pricier than canned, but you have a completely different (and fresh) product. Don’t worry, all the other ingredients are pretty inexpensive, especially if you purchase store-brand or find them on sale.

Ask your grocer where to find the freshest crab meat in the store. I purchase fresh crab meat sold in a 1 lb plastic tub from the seafood counter.

hot crab dip

This DOES NOT disappoint!

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hot crab dip

Maryland Hot Crab Dip

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: serves 8
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

For the best texture, use lump crab meat and each ingredient listed. No substitutions! Serve with crusty baguette, sturdy crackers, celery, or fresh pita. For more success tips and to learn which crab meat to use, see blog post above.


Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (224g) block cream cheese, room temperature*
  • 1/4 cup (60g) mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (155g) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 and 3/4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning*
  • 2 teaspoonworcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound fresh lump crab meat*
  • optional: 2 dashes of hot sauce (or to taste)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (191°C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, 1 cup cheddar cheese, ground mustard, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce (if using). Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold in the lump crab meat. If you used hot sauce, taste, then add more hot sauce if desired.
  4. Transfer to a 9-inch (or slightly larger) baking pan, pie dish, or oven-safe skillet. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly around the edges.
  6. Serve warm.
  7. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a 350°F (177°C) until warmed throughout.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can fully assemble this crab dip, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking, slow cooking, and serving. You can also freeze the unbaked or baked (and cooled) crab dip for up to 3 months. Thaw then bake as directed or, if already baked, thaw and heat in a 350°F (177°C) for 25 minutes or until warmed throughout.
  2. Make sure you’re using a block of cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. I’ve used lower fat ingredients with no problem like lower fat (not fat free) cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo, but the dip obviously tastes richer with the full fat versions.
  3. Old Bay: Use 2 teaspoons for a spicier kick. (I usually do!)
  4. Which Crab Meat to Use: For any questions regarding which crab meat to use, see Best Crab Meat for Crab Dip in the blog post above. I highly recommend fresh (refrigerated) lump crab meat.
  5. Slow Cooker: Follow steps 2 and 3. Instead of transferring to a baking dish, spoon into your slow cooker (do not add the 1/4 cup of cheese on top) and cook on low for 3-4 hours until hot and creamy. Stir occasionally as it cooks. During the last 30 minutes, sprinkle 1/4 cup reserved cheddar cheese on top.

Keywords: crab dip, crab, appetizer

54 Comments

  1. Normally it drives me insane when there are a ton of questions about substitutions in a fabulous recipe – but I’m about to do it myself! What do you think about substituting shrimp for the crab here? And it’s okay to say – Leigh, just fo find a shrimp dip recipe and don’t mess with this one!

    1. I’ve never tried it! The flavors would work. I love Old Bay with shrimp.

    2. I am from Maryland, three! This recipe is as authentic as they come and I will be making it. TBH, I sometimes click on “Maryland” recipes just to scoff at all the “nope!”. You, Sally, had me at “…we don’t want to overpower the crab”. You get it. I do have one suggestion for those unfamiliar with Maryland crabs. Please consider specifying “blue crab” crab meat. Crab dip would not be near as tasty with any other type of crab meat. Love this site!

  2. Caroline Kaufmann says:

    Hi Sally. I hate mayonnaise with a passion. What can I use instead?

    1. I’m not a fan either. You can’t taste it. I strongly recommend using it!

  3. Has anyone ever substituted Greek yogurt for sour cream? I wonder if there is a big difference?

    1. Hi Tiffany, You should be able to use a plain full fat greek yogurt in place of the sour cream. Let me know if you try it!

  4. Im from MD too!! Can’t wait to try this!! No one knows how to make good crab cakes and crab dip like a Marylander!!

  5. This was perfect as part of our New Year’s Eve snack. Even my husband loved this and he isn’t fond of crab. This will be added to our long list of Sally Favorites:). Your easy orange sweet rolls are ready for our New Year’s Day brunch. Thanks Sally!

  6. Wow Sally, great recipe. We made it last night for New Year’s eve and it was a hit
    I did look to make sure you were a fellow Marylander before I would even think about trying the recipe
    LOL. You did Maryland proud!

    1. Love reading this, thank you Dennis!

  7. I’m from Baltimore Co but live on the eastern shore! I don’t think I knew you live in Maryland. This recipe is spot on! I had some once in a bar in Baltimore that had white wine in it and it was amazing. I’ve never tried to replicate it but I’d love to eat it again! My biggest complaint with restaurant crab dip is waaaaaaaay too much cream cheese and non-lump crab meat. Unacceptable!

  8. Made it for New Years Eve and loved it. I’m from New Orleans so it tasted like home. It was worth spending $22 on lump crab meat. Will make again.

  9. I have been looking and trying hot crab dip recipes for almost 20 years, trying to replicate one we had in southeastern Pennsylvania. THIS IS IT! Best crab dip ever – I sliced and toasted a baguette and my husband and I polished off the whole thing for New Years Eve!

  10. Hi Sally, your crab dip is the best I have ever made! The crab flavor really comes through in the dip. I made it yesterday for my husband and I as part of our 35th anniversary celebration dinner.

    I have also made your crab cakes and that are the best too! Love the saltine crackers instead of bread crumbs! Thank you for sharing all of your recipes Sally. I love your blog ♥️

  11. Sally, is the worcestershire sauce necessary? I need to make it gluten free for some guests and wondered if tamari could be subbed or some kind of vinegar? I dont know the flavor of it and needed an idea. I am making it this weekend for a Bubble Guppies party and we are having a seafood theme! Thank you!

    1. Hi Joanna! You can leave it out or replace with tamari if desired.

  12. Can artichoke hearts be added without messing up the consistency?

    1. Hi Carol, you can add artichoke hearts but the texture will change. The dip will have more (and larger) chunks.

  13. Allét in Los Angeles says:

    I took this dip to a Super Bowl party yesterday and they scraped the bowl clean! I doubled the recipe and it turned out great. My family is French Creole and the crab and Old Bay seasoning created a delicious flavor similar to some Creole dishes. Thank you!

  14. Patti Griffin says:

    I made this crab dip last night (2/15/20) and put it on top of previously frozen soft pretzels. It was SO GOOD!! I baked the pretzels for a few minutes and also heated the crab dip through. I topped the pretzels with the crab dip, sprinkled a little cheese on top and put it back in the oven. I cut down on the amount of cheese in the dip (3/4 cup – not a whole cup). I liked that it wasn’t real greasy. Thanks for this great recipe! I am a Maryland seafood lover!!

  15. Winner!!!!!!! Had fresh lump crab meat that I had to use so it wouldn’t go bad. Love and now a favorite and a go to for my home entertaining parties with friends and family. I baked in oven but thrilled it can go in a slow cooker! I was nervous because I did not have mayonnaise. We only had miracle whip (yuck!) But let me tell ya! It still was delish! Love love love it. Thanks for a great recipe!

  16. I make my crab dip the exact same way and I am a Marylander as well! Thanks for the amazing recipes like always Sally! 🙂

  17. Marjorie Young says:

    way way way way too much worchestershire!!!! I’ve got a lot left and will try adding a lot more lemon juice and maybe a touch of honey to tone down the w-sauce.

    1. Kimberly L Broman says:

      Not sure if you measured the Worchershire sauce correctly but this recipe is exactly how Maryland Crab dip taste. I have made this numerous times and the ONLY change I would make (is a personal preference) is adding more Old Bay (because I am from Maryland so there is never enough). Whenever we have gatherings i always get nominated to bring THIS dip. It is always the first bowl empty and usually doesn’t last 10 mins, even when I double the recipe.

  18. Simply to make, and with toasted baguette bread it is really good!!! Making it again tonight!!

  19. Made this yesterday for Mother’s Day and let me tell you, everyone was falling over themselves to get some. Didn’t change the recipe at all…(just doubled the ingredients cause I added shrimp) and there was a little less mayo. I favorited this page before I even made it. Thank you for the recipe and I will definitely be making this a few more times before the year ends

  20. Dianne Jacobsen says:

    Omgoodness. This dip was amazing. I made it for Mother’s Day and it was the first thing to go. I’m making it again on Sunday. I’m treating my family to a Lobster bake on Sunday.

  21. So good! The flavor is spot on. My favorite crab dip recipe.

  22. Love this recipe! The picture looks like there is something green chopped on top of the crab dip, but I don’t see anything green in the recipe. Are they chopped scallions? If so, do you mix them in or just sprinkle some on top? Before or after baking?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Donna, Yes, they are just sprinkled on top after baking for looks 🙂

  23. James L Roxby says:

    I thought this be amazing. I love cream cheese but here was the problem, the cream cheese completely hid the “expensive” lump crab. $25 for a pound of lump crab meat wasted.

  24. I liked the flavors of this recipe but planned to make a crab stuffing for Tilapia fillets, so I cut the sauce in half and it worked very well but I also used other cheese added to the cheddar. The leftover dip was actually of perfect consistency if I was serving this as an actual dip with crackers or flatbread but in the future, I probably won’t add as much of the wet ingredients from the full recipe when I do. All in all, I was happy with the result.

  25. Great Hot Maryland Crab Dip…..Delicious!…The Crab was the main flavor ….. served with Pita triangles….great for every occasion…make it Today!

  26. Sorry, I love a lot of the recipes from this site but not this one.

  27. This was my first time making crab dip, I love crab dip but have always been scared to make it myself ..omgggg this recipe is delicious. It’s spot on for Maryland crab dip, the only thing I didn’t use was the ground mustard, but it was still good . this will be my go to recipe from now on

  28. Longtime Marylander married to a native who is super snobby about crabcakes and crab dip. We love this recipe. My kids requested it for Christmas Eve. I add extra Old Bay, worscestershire, some hot sauce, and a pinch of cayenne. I like it with a little kick, reminds me of Riordan’s of Annapolis (RIP), which had the amazing crab dip. Sally’s recipe is spot on and 100 percent legit. My neighbors rave when I make this for parties. I like to serve it with pretzel bread, ritz, or baguette. Also pita chips.

  29. Sooooo disappointed in the recipe – made it for Christmas Eve- everyone hated it. Super fishy – zero flavor. Followed the recipe exactly as written – wasted $25.00 on lump crab meat. Do NOT use this recipe

    1. Hello JDub- If you use prepackaged pasteurized refrigerated lump crab, you will need to soak the crab meat in milk for at least 30 mins. If possible it’s best to It’s use the crab meat from freshly steamed Maryland crabs. But soaking the meat will get rid of the “fishy” flavor that pasteurizing gives the meat when packaging.

    2. Lisa Stepanski says:

      If it’s fishy you’ve got old or bad crab. Has absolutely nothing to do with the recipe. Anytime shrimp or crab smell fishy…toss it!

  30. I found lump crab for $13/pound so I decided to try this out. It was good. I don’t recommend freezing because crabmeat becomes stringy.

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