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

72 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. Virginia Bidgood says:

    Mine came out dry. How can I fix it?

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. Made this for our new years eve celebration- this is the PERFECT MD crab dip. Do NOT leave out the ground mustard, DO use the jumbo lump crab. One tip is I put the cream cheese block in the microwave for about 30 seconds, then used a whisk to make it lighter, made it easier to incorporate the other ingredients. If you’re going to invest in 25 dollars worth of good crab, please buy the 3 dollar jar of ground mustard. I did not add salt, it was perfectly seasoned. Served with thin slices of baguette and TRISCUITS!

  11. I have loved everything I’ve ever made from this website except this. Oh it was terrible. Mayo was such a huge mistake. And the crab is such a sensitive flavor that anything at all overpowers it. 35$ worth of crab meat wasted. Like literally hardly edible. What a huge disappointment. It was such an investment I went with sally because these recipes have literally never let me down until today!

  12. Michelle Thomas Scott says:

    As a Marylander, this crab dip did not disappoint in flavor- it was however a little too liquidy- I’ll use more crab next time!!

  13. I’ve made this several times ( most recently Christmas Eve). It is delicious and was a hit! I love that it’s so easy and can be made ahead. Look no further fo a great crab dip!

  14. Sadly this recipe wasn’t great. The Mayo really ruined the dish. An expensive mistake.

  15. The point of a recipe is for the basics .. common sense def plays a part in anything that we cook. Since nothing is raw per se you can taste as you prepare! Lol ppl kill me with the whole oh it was terrible or the ohhh it wasn’t what I expected. Taste as you go ppl lol ! Great recipe

  16. Made this today and I was not impressed. It doesn’t taste like a crab dip to me.

  17. Very good dish recipe was easy to follow and very detailed about what to use. Made this once already and loved it!! Can’t wait to make this again!!

  18. Delicious crab dip. Just like you’d get at any restaurant here in Maryland! We did add A LOT more Old Bay though!

  19. Koudy Williams says:

    Looked so good. Way too strong of a crab flavor. I love crab, but this was overpowering. Had to throw it. Used refrigerated crab meat just like the recipe said. Rinsed it. Everything to the letter. What did I do wrong?

    1. You must have gotten some bad crabment because crab is very delicate never strong or fishy as other people replied in their comments. I always taste a lump when I open it and at $43 a pound I take it back if it isn’t 100% fresh tasting. I can’t imagine that canned crabment would be very good, recommend fresh crabmeat from a store or seafood market you trust.

  20. I skipped the mayo, and thought it was great.

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