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Homemade chewy, super soft pretzels piled high with cheesy crab dip made with fresh jumbo lump crab. This snack is a Maryland favorite!

2 images of a soft pretzel topped with cheesy crab dip on a white plate and a hand holding a piece of one pretzel

If you’ve ever lived in Maryland, you’re probably pretty stoked right now!

Crab pretzels are a regular where I live. You can find them on nearly every bar or pub menu. Kevin and I order them all the time and wash them down with a cold beer. They’re a Maryland classic. Comfort food at its finest. The best darn appetizer you’ll ever taste.

And they’re quite overpriced. So let’s just make them at home.

soft pretzels topped with cheesy crab dip on a white plate

Crab pretzels served at your favorite Maryland restaurant are typically the size of a large dinner plate. It’s a giant chewy and super soft pretzel, topped with warm crab dip (made with pricey lump crab meat, if done right) and topped with cheese. And of course, Old Bay seasoning. Broil it in the oven until the cheese is nice and crispy. It’s like crab cakes, but with pretzels and lots of cheese. 🙂

I took it upon myself to make a homemade version of our favorite snack. I used our family’s recipe for soft pretzels, then whipped up a homemade cheesy crab dip for topping.

soft pretzels topped with cheesy crab dip on a wood board

First, start with some quality crab meat. None of that cheap stuff in a can. REAL lump crab meat. I bought a pound of it (double the amount of what you’ll need) and it cost me $25. But trust me, lump crab meat is so worth the extra money. Don’t grab claw meat, don’t buy the stuff in a can.

This luxurious crab meat will be the base of your homemade crab dip, which must be made before the pretzels. It doesn’t take long, don’t worry.

Along with the crab, you’ll need cream cheese, mayonnaise, grated parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, fresh lemon juice, hot sauce, old bay, and garlic. Sometimes I throw a few Tablespoons of finely minced onions in there too, but I left them out this time.

3 images of crab in a bowl, crab dip in a white bowl before baking, and crab dip in a white bowl after baking

Baking with Yeast Guide

Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.

Now bake the crab dip for about 30 minutes, which is about 10 minutes less than the amount of time it should be baked. This is because it will go back into the oven on top of your homemade soft pretzels. If you’re only making this hot crab dip (and not putting on top of pretzels) – make sure to bake for 30 minutes, throw some cheddar cheese on top, and bake for 10 more minutes. Serve with veggies, pita bread, crackers, or my homemade soft pretzels!

Now, you’ll make my homemade soft pretzels. Whip up the 5 minute pretzel dough. Yep, 5 minutes is all you’ll need to stir it all together. There’s no rising with my pretzel dough! I love a solid, quick recipe.

But wait, my homemade soft pretzel recipe gets even better. There is no mixer required for the dough and all of the 5 ingredients (+ water!) are probably sitting in your pantry right now. Mix the first few ingredients together and when it’s time to add the flour, do so a little bit at a time. You’ll want to add flour *just* until the dough is no longer sticky. Adding any more than that could create tough (not soft) pretzels. Poke the dough with your finger – if it bounces back, it is ready to knead. The total amount of flour I typically use is 3.75 – 4 cups.

Before kneading the dough, I throw 9 cups of water and 1/2 cup of baking soda into a large pot. Bring to a boil as you knead.

Knead the dough for just about 3 minutes. Shape into a ball and cut off 8 even pieces, which is about 1/3 cup of dough each. Roll into long, thin ropes – about 20 inches in length. To roll into a pretzel shape, form the rope into a “U” shape with the ends pointing away from you. Twist the ends, then bring them towards yourself and press them down into a pretzel shape. You all know what pretzels look like!

Working with one pretzel at a time, lower them into the boiling baking soda/water. Give them a nice dunk for 30 seconds. Raise them out and let some of the water drip off. Place on a lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the pretzels. My baking sheet only holds 4 pretzels, so I did this in two batches.

This very quick baking soda “bath” will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color while keeping the inside white and fluffy. Don’t be nervous, the baking soda bath is so easy!

Bake your pretzels for 10 minutes. Yup, only 10 minutes in the oven. Remove the pretzels from the oven and top with your semi-baked crab dip. Just spoon it on top. Trust me, it doesn’t have to look perfect. Depending how much you pile on top, you may have leftover crab dip. Leftover cheesy crab dip is something I’ve never heard a complaint about though.

Now, top with some cheddar cheese:

soft pretzels topped with cheesy crab dip on a silpat baking mat before baking

Throw back into the oven for 5-8 more minutes until the pretzels are golden and the cheese on top has browned.

I sprinkled a little bit more Old Bay on top of the pretzels when I removed them from the oven. Alternatively, you could sprinkle with some parmesan cheese or pepper. Perhaps a little cayenne to spice things up, too? YUM!

Fluffy, plump, soft pretzels smothered in homemade hot crab dip. Slightly spicy (you can control the spice!), salty, ultra cheesy, and filled with fresh lump crab. This east coast favorite is so good, I can’t even handle it. I’m just going to to throw it out there… this homemade crab pretzel is life changing.

2 images of soft pretzels topped with cheesy crab dip

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soft pretzels topped with cheesy crab dip on a wood board

Homemade Crab Pretzels

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 pretzels 1x
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Homemade chewy, super soft pretzels piled high with cheesy crab dip made with fresh jumbo lump crab. This snack is a Maryland favorite!


  • 1 (8 ounce) package full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced (or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (add 1 tsp more for extra spice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, free of shells
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Homemade Soft Pretzels
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).
  2. In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until creamy and free of lumps. On low speed, beat in the mayonnaise, grated parmesan, garlic, Worcestershire, fresh lemon juice, hot sauce, and Old Bay. Add the jumbo lump crab and beat for a quick 5 seconds to very slightly break up any huge lumps.
  3. Spoon the crab dip into an 8-inch or 9-inch casserole dish. I simply used a 9-inch pie dish. Top with a sprinkle of pepper, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to slightly cool as you prepare the soft pretzels.
  4. Turn the oven up to 425°F (218°C). Make my homemade soft pretzels through step 5 (including the baking soda bath, which is step 5. Do not use the egg wash in step 6). I usually make the pretzels while the crab dip is baking.
  5. Bake the pretzels for 10-11 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon crab dip on top of each pretzel. I used about 1/3 cup – 1/2 cup of crab dip on top of each pretzel, but the amount is entirely up to you. Sprinkle each with cheddar cheese. Place crab pretzels into the oven and bake for 5-8 more minutes until the cheese is bubbly and the pretzels have slightly browned. Optional: top finished crab pretzels with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, Old Bay, or pepper.
  6. Serve crab pretzels immediately. Crab pretzels taste best immediately after they are made, though they keep well for up to 2 days stored at room temperature covered tightly. We warmed up the leftovers for about 30 seconds in the microwave before digging in.


  1. As Dip: You may simply make this hot crab dip and serve as it is, without baking on top of my soft pretzels. Simply bake the crab dip for 30 minutes, remove from the oven and top with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese. Place back into the oven for 10 more minutes and serve with veggies, pita bread, crackers, or alongside my homemade soft pretzels!
  2. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.

Keywords: crab pretzels

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. These were so yummy! The crab goes perfectly with the cheese and pretzel! Definitely making these again!

    1. definitely! I would set it on low; I’m unsure how long it will take.

  2. Being a Marylander I was estatic to find your recipe for homemade crab pretzels and can’t wait to make them.  They look fantastic!  Could you please let me know what oven rack to bake them on?  

  3. How would you reheat a crab pretzel that was stored in the refrigerator?

    1. Microwave for 20-30 seconds or in a 350F oven for 10 minutes or so. 🙂

  4. Can I mix all the the crab dip ingredients night before and store in fridge? If I do it as a dip rather than a topping, I guess I just bake it 30 min then add cheddar and bake another 10min. bright?

    I’m going to do the pretzel bites with the crab dip. Could I bake these the day before my party?

    1. Hi Liz! Yes, this crab dip is great on its own. You can mix all the crab dip ingredients together before storing in the refrigerator. Add a little cheddar cheese on top before baking.

  5. These are great and much better than the prepared kinds we can find at the grocery store in MD!