Want to win the dip game? Then bet on the spread. Maryland Style Hot Crab Dip is the ooey, gooey, melty, cheesy star of every holiday party it makes an appearance at. The drool-worthy blend of fresh lump crab meat, two cheeses, and signature seasoning (featuring Old Bay) will have everyone asking for the recipe. Serve this creamy crab dip warm with crusty bread – or fresh veggies for a keto treat!
If you’re not a fan of crabs, I don’t recommend you move to Maryland. I mean, please, come on down – more crabs for the rest of us – but life in Maryland is divided into 2 seasons: crab season and waiting-for-crab season.
Obsession is putting it mildly. But it’s not just about the consumption of these delicious crustaceans. Our economy and ecology is dependent on a precarious balance in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. So yeah, even out here toward the middle of the state, we take our crabs very seriously.
Which is why Marylanders have a gazillion recipes (and variations on recipes) featuring crab. Ask a dozen people where to find the best crabcake, and you’ll get a dozen answers. We can also argue all day long about the virtues of Old Bay vs. J.O. (Team Old Bay all the way). And we will fight you if you think boiling is better than steaming. Heck, we stuff crabs with meat from other crabs. So if we can put crab in it or on it, it’s happening.
Coincidentally enough, our state beverage happens to be milk (we apparently have as much reflux as we do crab recipes) so what better homage to my current “home” state, than a hot crab dip featuring our favorite crustacean and five different variations on dairy. Mallets not required.
Let’s talk crab
To be clear, when we talk crab, we’re talking Blue Crabs. (Not Snow, not King, not Dungeness, which are all West Coast.) For those who are unfamiliar, Eater’s Guide to Maryland Crabs offers a thorough, yet compact overview of Blue Crab basics. But some things you really need to experience yourself.
If you’ve never picked a “Jimmy” before, then I cannot satisfactorily relay to you the pure, unadulterated joy of getting any semblance of a whole “lump” of meat out intact; I also cannot describe the absolute ferocity with which you will dig for every last teensy flake of pearly white flesh before discarding the shells and membranes, bits of which you will gladly spit out along the way if it means more meat.
And this is why we rely just as much on professional pickers for recipes requiring lump crab en masse. Because getting a pound of crab meat out (much less lump…much less jumbo lump) is no small feat. Believe me when I tell you, there will be blood.
It takes about 6 large crabs (up to 8 depending on the actual size and how thorough you are) to get 1 lb. of crab meat. Now, that would include claws, and it would also inevitably include a lot of small flakes because, as previously mentioned, those lumps are elusive.
So, feel free to pick if you’re a pro, but most Marylanders would agree that it’s far from a cardinal sin to just buy the meat.
- Claw meat is certainly cheaper, but tougher and better left to soups and stews.
- Special and/or back fin meat is usually comprised of much smaller flakes, typically best for stuffings and crab cakes.
- If you want to splurge, feel free to use jumbo lump, but those jumbo lumps are gonna cost you extra.
- Lump crab meat will more than suffice for this recipe – half the fun is getting a nice tender chunk on your crostini every now and again. You gotta give the people what they want.
- Regardless of your final pick, buy it fresh. Few varieties of canned crab are going to yield the flavor and texture of fresh.
Hot crab dip ingredients
- Cream Cheese: use full fat; let it come up to room temperature for about 60 minutes
- Sour Cream: use full fat
- Greek Yogurt: use full fat; plain, no flavors
- Green Onions: thinly sliced, extra for garnish
- Parmesan Cheese: fresh or pre-grated
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese: fresh or pre-shredded
- Old By Seasoning: only the original will do!
- Garlic Powder: not garlic salt
- Mustard Power: sub for 1/2 tablespoon of Dijon if you don’t have powder
- Salt and Pepper: season to taste
- Lump Crab Meat: avoid special, back fin, or claw meat – the shreds and flakes are simply too fine.
How to make Maryland hot crab dip
Crab dip is an easy, classic recipe for a crowd that everyone should (and absolutely can!) master. Be sure to check the recipe card for thorough step-by-step instructions and photos.
- Whisk cream cheese, sour cream, and yogurt until very smooth.
- Mix green onions, parmesan cheese, and seasonings into the cream cheese mixture.
- Gently fold in the crab meat. Do this with care to preserve big chunks of crab meat in every bite!
- Transfer the dip to a cast iron skillet or casserole dish. Sprinkle with more cheese, then bake in a 350°F oven until the cheese is bubbling and the dip is warmed through.
- Serve with bread (traditional) or sliced vegetables (the later makes it 100% keto friendly – woot!).
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Don’t skimp! Use full-fat dairy so your dip is (literally) as creamy as possible.
- Only use lump crab meat to make sure everyone gets meaty bites.
- Serve in your skillet or baking dish to keep it warm. Wrap and refrigerate (if there’s any leftovers). Reheat by baking at 350°F for about 15 minutes, or until bubbly.
What to serve with crab dip
- Rounds of crusty bread are classic. If you’re toasting, don’t over do it – lightly golden brown will do it.
- Sliced vegetables are delish and great for keto/low carb diets. Go for celery, mini bell peppers, or cauliflower florets.
- If you opt for chips and crackers, be forewarned – this dip is dense, so you’ll want something thick if you’re dipping.
More snacks and appetizers for the holidays
- Healthy Spinach Dip
- Italian Antipasto Platter
- Winter Harvest Endive Cups
- White Bean Green Goddess Dip
- Muhammara Party Dip Cups
Did you make this crab dip? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below
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- Cast Iron Skillet
- 8' x 8' Casserole Dish
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ c sour cream
- ¼ c full fat greek yogurt
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
- 1 c grated parmesan cheese, divided
- ¼ c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp old bay seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp ground mustard
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 lb lump crab meat
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, and greek yogurt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until well combined and very smooth.
- Add the green onions, ½ c parmesan cheese, old bay, garlic powder, ground mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula.
- Add the crab meat and gently fold.
- Scrape the dip into a 10" cast iron skillet or 8x8 casserole dish. Divide the remaining parmesan and cheddar cheese over the top. Bake 20-25 or until bubbling.
- Rest 5 minutes, then garnish with chopped green onions. Serve with sliced bread and vegetables.