Homemade Crab Pretzels

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Homemade Cheesy Crab Dip by @sallybakeblog

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:

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

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.

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

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Homemade Crab Pretzels

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 pretzels
  • 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


  1. Wow! I hate to say that I’m not a seafood fan at all but these look amazing! I think I could do crab if it was this delicious! These are amazing, Sally!

    1. Well I’m not sure you’d love these as much as we do, Erin – but they are incredible if you love crab! Maybe try something like this with another of your favorite cheesy dip recipe.

  2. I like the sound of this Maryland favorite 🙂

  3. Those look ridiculously good. I love good crab dip, and the thought of it on a homemade pretzel is amazing. I have to try these!!

  4. Cookaholic Wife says:

    I am sad to admit as a fellow Marylander, I have not had a crab pretzel in almost a year! I can’t believe I didn’t think to just make them at home, especially since I make crab dip all of the time.

    I also have a hell of a time pronouncing worcestershire sauce. “W-shire” sauce has become my new nickname for it. 🙂

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Kevin’s parents and my entire family tried to teach me recently and I still can’t say it. Oh well. W-shire sauce is good enough for me!

  5. Hey Sally, i’m a big fan of your blog:) I have made these soft pretzels before but putting crab on top of them? omg yum! Everything that’s good you make it better!! I will be making these!

    1. Hope you enjoy the crab version of the pretzels, Megan!

  6. I live in California and have never heard of this! It looks delicious though and would be a fun app to serve watching football! Can’t wait to try it.

    1. It’s the perfect football food over here on the east coast!

  7. Amy (Savory Moments) says:

    Wow! I have never seen these before, but they look incredible. I love freshly baked pretzels and this takes them over-the-top!

    1. Over-the-top is right! 😉

  8. These look absolutely delish! Us Texan do love our ‘surf’ and i can’t think of a better way to enjoy it than on a soft pretzel!

  9. Gemma @andgeesaid says:

    Yum yum yum! This looks so delicious it makes my heart smile! I need to get me some good crab meat! xx

    1. You sure do! Let me know if you try them Gemma – thank you!

  10. These look divine! I’ve never heard of them, nor have I been to Maryland but I am pretty sure that I could demolish a whole batch in… uh… a day? Or less, probably much less 🙂 As for the sauce… being English born and Aussie raised, I’ve got it down! Does this help: “Woostah – sheer” (the last bit is like ‘sheering a sheep’ but possibly that’s only an Australian reference). Oh well, it’s not life or death if you can never say it! More importantly, I want me some crab pretzels (darn it, why am I at work? I want to bake!) xx

    1. Haha! Your comment made me laugh so hard. You gotta make these crab pretzels Laura!

  11. These look ridiculous (in a good way)! If I could only eat one food item for the rest of my life, this might be it.

    1. Kate, I like your thinking. I agree 100% with you. I could live off of these. 😉

  12. Ashley | Our Full Table says:

    I don’t like crab but I wanna take a big bite of one of these! I love that you’re branching out with your recipes! Well done!

    1. Thanks so much Ashley! That’s a 2014 goal of mine – branch out with my recipes and try new things for my readers! I appreciate your comment so much.

  13. Oh!! I have made these and can I just say, incredible!! Of course, yours look a million times better than mine did and your recipe is spot on!! Love the 5 minute pretzel dough!! Awesome recipe, Sally and I love that these are from your home state. So fun! 🙂

  14. Cate @ Chez CateyLou says:

    How have I never heard of crab pretzels?! These look amazing!!! I didn’t think a soft pretzel could get any better, but wow, they sure did with this recipe – yum!!!

  15. Liz @Life Made Sweet says:

    I’m from Maryland and you just made me the happiest girl in San Diego! These look so ridiculously good! Good crab is probably the one thing I miss the most about home and this totally takes me back! I want some NOW!

    1. Thanks Liz! Sounds like you need a little taste of MD nostalgia. Hope you try these homemade crab pretzels!

  16. Jerin @ Best Food Processor Guide says:

    They look amazing! Favorite recipe of the year? That’s a big deal… this must be as incredible as it looks! Love the photos and your process shots are unbelievably explanatory and helpful.

    1. Thanks Jerin! I’m happy the in-process shots are helpful. Sometimes I wonder if they just waste space, but I am a visual learner. Happy to know you are too!

  17. Averie @ Averie Cooks says:

    Love that you’re throwing some savory recipes in. That’s wonderful!

    Okay so I developed a wicked shellfish allergy in my early 20s and while I never ate much, I could eat it a couple times a year without any issue and was fine and one of my fave things on EARTH is hot crab dip (or spinach and artichoke dip with crab in it) omg….love it and I’ll never have it again, but if I could, I would want to try yours 🙂 Pinned!

    1. Thanks for pinning and sharing, despite your allergy Averie! I love crab dip so much, and your spinach and artichoke dip with crab in it idea sounds so good.

  18. Jen and Emily @ Layers of Happiness says:

    Wow… I’ve never heard of these before but I’ll definitely be making them very soon. How do you think they would do if I took them to a New Year’s Eve party? Girls were instructed to bring a snack but I’m not sure if these will be too messy?

    1. Hi Jen & Emily! I plan to take them to a new years bash tomorrow. They’re a great snack food! They’re a little messy, but the dip bakes on nicely tot he pretzels and doesn’t fall over everywhere. Once cool, just put them in a single layer in a container to bring over. Happy New Year!

  19. Erin | The Law Student's Wiferin says:

    I am moving to Maryland. Just kidding. But seriously. Love that you brought this amazing dish into my kitchen Sally. Happy New Year!

    1. I personally would LOVE to have you here in MD, Erin! 🙂 Happy New Year to you!

  20. Lisa @ Garnish with Lemon says:

    Being from Minnesota I have never heard of these, but clearly have been missing out in life! These are definitely on the must make list. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    1. Lisa, I hope you give them a try!

  21. Mary Frances @ The Sweet {Tooth} Life says:

    My mind is blown. That is cheesy, seafood, carb heaven right there. Would you believe I’ve never heard of these! Where has this been my whole life?! I am crazy about soft pretzels and hot mayo based dips are my faves. I cannot believe you just combined them. Like I said, mind.blown. So pinning this!

    1. I knew this recipe would blow a few minds. This Maryland specialty is amazing, Mary Frances. It sounds like it’s right up your alley!

  22. Hi Sally, I may have intrigued you with potato candy, but you’ve introduced me to this. Never heard of crab pretzels. Now I’m the one intrigued! :). Thanks for something else from your blog to try. Looking forward to this. I love pretzels. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Angela! Hope you give these a try.

  23. Jess @ On Sugar Mountain says:

    So I have never seen one of these before, nor ever tried one. Now I am super sad. But also super happy because I can make yours! Thank goodness; they look too amazing to just NOT eat immediately!

    1. They are SO easy to make at home, Jess. Hope you try them one time!

  24. Layla @ Brunch Time Baker says:

    These pretzels look delicious Sally! I never thought of putting crab on a pretzel, a new one for me. I will try this for new years as an appetizer.

    1. Definitely try them, Layla! They’re amazing. Let me know how you like ’em!

  25. This is genius! As if I wasn’t hungry enough before 🙂
    Happy New Year Sally!

  26. I love this! I would totally make a meal out of these.

    1. Yes! We definitely DID make a meal out of them. 😉 Thanks Shannon!

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

    1. Wonderful! So glad you enjoyed them Ivori. Thanks for reporting back!

  28. I’m definitely a California girl… I’ve never heard of these pretzels, and I’ve only heard of crab dip once or twice! (With so many shellfish allergies in my family, we stick to fish as our seafood and that’s about it…) But they look and sound amazing!

    I love how you’ve started incorporating a few more savory baking recipes to your repertoire. First the pizzas, now the pretzels… And Kevin must be really happy with all of it! 🙂

    1. Thanks Amy! These are certainly an East coast specialty. Both Kevin (and my dentist, I’m sure…) are loving the savory recipes! I hope to include many more in 2014. Happy new year my friend!

  29. Mademoiselle C. says:

    When I first saw this, I thought it was crab apple pretzels, I was like – YUM!.
    I’m from Australia so pretzels aren’t a thing.

    But i was delighted that it was crab, like from the sea. Which I think I am a bit more excited about. Will def give these a whirl 🙂

    Thanks Sally – Happy New Year!

    1. You have to give them a try! Let me know when you do. Happy New Year!

  30. Jennie @themessybakerblog says:

    I could easily take down two of these in one sitting. You can’t go wrong with a soft, chewy pretzel topped with creamy deliciousness and gooey cheese. Happy New Year, Sally!

    1. Yes! Me too. Easily two of them. They are so darn good. Happy New Year!

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