Hot Crab Dip is an irresistible hot appetizer recipe. Full of cream cheese, lump crab, delicious seasonings and melted cheese it’s addictive. Rich, satisfying and always a favorite of any gathering.
Whether you are hosting a gathering, or want a tasty filling appetizer before (or instead of) a meal, this Crab Dip will be on the top of the list.
The flavors are incredible! It’s creamy, cheesy, gooey and absolutely delicious.
Recipe Ingredients + Notes
Cream Cheese. Start with room temperature cream cheese. If not it won’t become smooth when beaten. I use full fat cream cheese but reduced fat would work too if needed.
Mayonnaise. I suggest full fat mayonnaise for the best flavor and result. Though we haven’t tried it with reduced fat mayonnaise it should work too.
Seasonings. Garlic powder, Old Bay seasoning, cayenne pepper. These three seasonings are all that’s needed to give the dip a perfect flavor.
- Garlic powder is not as strong as fresh garlic (and no chopping).
- Old Bay seasoning is a classic with seafood recipes. It usually includes celery salt, red pepper, black pepper and paprika. It’s what gives the crab dip a very light reddish tint.
- Just a bit of cayenne pepper is added to give a warm flavor without making the dip spicy.
Lump crab meat. Fresh or canned lump crab meat can be used. See below for more details.
Vidalia onion. These are sweet onions and add a delicious flavor and texture to the dip. You’ll slice the onion thinly, then quarter the slices. This way there is texture added without having to deal with long strings of onions.
If Vidalia onions are not available another variety of sweet onion can be substituted. Walla Walla and Texas Sweets are two alternative sweet onion varietites.
Mozzarella cheese. The biggest tip here is shred the cheese yourself; don’t buy pre-shredded cheese. Why?
Pre-shredded cheese sold in packages include a non caking ingredients. This makes sure the grated cheese won’t end up in one large wad.
The issue with that is it prevents the cheese from melting properly. You’ll find the individual strand will melt in place but not blend together.
You’ll get that creamy, cheesy effect we love with home grated cheese.
Baguette or crackers for serving. A small regular or gluten-free baguette can be used (or more than one depending on how many are being served). Slice it and toast it before serving.
Or crackers can be used too.
Gluten-Free suggestion: I use Udi’s Gluten Free French Baguettes which come 2 in a package. They can be kept in the freezer ready for use any time.
What is lump crab?
Smaller broken pieces or jumbo crab meat or meat from the crab body.
It has a light, delicate flavor. Because it is already broken up it can be stirred right into the dip.
What is the best type of crab to use for this hot crab dip recipe?
I recommend fresh, chilled lump crab available at most grocery stores. It’s sold in 8-ounce containers which is exactly the amount you’ll need (this is equivalent to approximately 1 cup).
This type has larger and smaller pieces of crab so you can get a good bite when eating the dip.
If it’s not available or you’d prefer to use canned crab, use canned white lump crab. You’ll need 1 6-ounce cans.
Drain them before using.
Canned crab is usually finer in texture (refer to the photos below). So if you prefer that canned crab is the way to go.
Change up the cheese. Try mild cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese. As with the mozzarella, shred it yourself for the best end result.
Add a dash of hot sauce. Instead of using cayenne pepper you can add a few dashes when making the recipe.
Add some Worcestershire sauce. Try a few dashes!
Use some sour cream. For a tangy flavor use half mayonnaise and half sour cream.
How to Make it – Step-by-Step
STEP 1. Preheat the oven.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
STEP 2. Make the Crab Dip.
Using a standing mixer or hand held mixer, beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth (photo 1).
Add the mayonnaise, garlic powder, Old Bay seasoning and cayenne pepper (photo 2). Beat until smooth (photo 3).
Stir in the lump crabmeat, onion and half of the grated cheese (photo 4). Stir until fully combined (photo 5).
STEP 3. Bake the Crab Dip.
Spoon the prepared dip into an 8-inch skillet or baking dish (photo 6). Top with the remaining cheese on top of the dip (photo 7).
Cover with non-stick foil OR foil lightly sprayed on the underside with non-stick cooking spray.
Bake for 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake 15 minutes longer until the cheese begins to turn golden around the edges (photo 8).
STEP 4. Serve!
Allow the dip to sit for a few minutes after removing it from the oven. It will be very hot and sitting allows it to solidify slightly.
Garnish with chopped fresh chives or sliced green onions.
Serve with sliced toasted baguette and/or crackers. It’s great with tortilla chips too!
Allow the baked dip to cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Reheat in the oven at 325 degrees until warm. Or reheat single serving portions in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.