This easy baked Crab Dip with Cream Cheese is made simple with the use of canned crab meat and a simple, flavorful cream cheese sauce quickly made on the stovetop! While the preparations are minimal, don’t underestimate the flavor delivered by this baked appetizer. It delivers in every which way: Savory, creamy, cheesy, and fully loaded with jumbo lump crab meat.
Today, you’re leaving with more than just a stellar appetizer recipe to serve at your next party! We’re cover how to get an easy crab dip on the table, food safety guidelines when it comes to serving and storing crab dips, and of course, make-ahead instructions, serving tips, and of course, what to serve with your crab dip!
This day and age, time is typically of the essence, and who wants to spend it boiling crab and picking through shells? Been there, done that — not doing it again for a dip. Instead, we’ll call upon canned crab for our crab dip.
This is an appreciated shortcut, but one that will require your attention. Stand-out dishes require quality ingredients, and the type of canned crab you use for your dip truly matters. Do you know what canned crab actually is and which kind you should be buying? Rest assured. All bases are covered straight ahead.
ABOUT CANNED CRAB
Canned crabmeat comes in multiple grades, but all crab meat (regardless of the grade) has been pasteurized. Within the process of pasteurization, the meat is sealed in cans, heated to 185°, and then quickly cooled to remove any pathogens.
Do not go to the tuna fish aisle for canned crab meat. Rather, go to the seafood counter, and look for crab in plastic tubs (rather than actual cans) with a shelf-life of 10-14 days when refrigerated. You can also look to see where the crab has been sourced from. The location of where the crab has been harvested is a good indication of how long it was traveling before it ended up at your grocery store. As with all meat, the fresher the better and domestic (i.e. from within the U.S.) is best.
WHICH CAN OF CRAB TO BUY FOR YOUR DIP?
Lesser grades of crab meat include “backfin,” “special,” and “claw meat.” The crab meat within will appear almost minced and will likely taste fishier than the higher grade variety. You’ll want to steer clear of these grades for your crab dip.
The higher the quality, the better tasting the crab. The créme de la créme of canned crab meat for crab dip is called “jumbo lump” crab meat and as I mentioned earlier, will be found at the seafood counter of your grocery store. The next grade down is “lump” crab meat, and this is also a welcomed choice for your crab dip.
ABOUT CRAB DIP WITH CREAM CHEESE
There are many different routes to take when it comes to making crab dip. It can be served cold, started off with a roux, or cream cheese based. For simplicity’s sake, this crab dip avoids a roux altogether and is made with cream cheese. It’s also gluten-free thanks to the binding power of the cream cheese. In addition to adding flavor to the dip, cream cheese is a wonderful thickener and enables the sauce to stay together.
Hot Crab Dip with Cream Cheese is savory, cheesy, and pretty much everything you could want in a dip…and then, some more. It begins on the stovetop with a quick sauté of chopped green onions and fresh garlic, and ends with a bubbly bake in the oven. The sauce is made of mainly cream cheese, cream, and Cheddar, and is flavored with classic crab dip ingredients like freshly squeezed lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.
All of these ingredients work beautifully alongside the sweetness of lump crab meat, and once the sauce comes together on the stove top, the crab meat goes in, the dip is topped with more cheese, and it is baked until the cheese is melted and the sides bubble over. Yes, please.
HOT CRAB DIP WITH CREAM CHEESE | RECIPE OVERVIEW
- Sauté green onion and garlic until softened.
- Add sauce ingredients: Cream cheese, cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and grated Cheddar.
- Stir to combine and add crab.
- Transfer to an oven-safe dish, top with cheese and bake at 375°.
SERVING GUIDELINES FOR BAKED CRAB DIP
According to the FDA seafood safety guidelines, cooked seafood should not be left unrefrigerated for any more than 2 hours. So what does this mean? You have a 2-hour window to serve your crab dip from the time it comes out of the oven and you should, therefore, do your best to have your crab dip ready as soon as your guests are arriving. However, you can extend this window by transferring your baked crab dip to a small crockpot and keeping it warm throughout the duration of your party.
If you have leftover crab dip beyond the 2-hour point (as unlikely as that may be), the remaining crab dip should be discarded, and not saved for leftovers.
MAKING THE DIP AHEAD
Serving time constraints can make party preparations tricky and making the crab dip shortly before guests arrive may not work with your schedule, but rest assured — you can make it ahead! The sauce for this Crab Dip with Cream Cheese can be made up to 2 days in advance. To do this, follow recipe instructions up to the point just before you add the crab, and refrigerate the sauce in a sealed, airtight container. Just before you’d like to bake your crab dip, add the crab, top it with the cheese, and bake. Note, you may have to bake the dip a few minutes more if it is going into the oven cold.
STORING AND REHEATING YOUR CRAB DIP
Once canned crab has been opened, it should be used within two days. This means the shelf life of your crab dip starts on the day you open your canned crab to prepare the dip and ends two days later. However, as mentioned earlier, if your crab dip set out at your party, it should be discarded beyond that 2 hour period. Freezing crab dip is not recommended.
You can reheat crab dip within the two-day time frame. This can be done by either microwaving the crab dip in a microwave-safe container and heating at it 30-second intervals until it is to your liking. To reheat crab dip in the oven, place it in an oven-safe container and bake at 350° until hot and bubbly once more, about 10-15 minutes depending on the quantity of the leftovers.
Between the canned crab and the cream cheese, you’ll find this dip a cinch to prepare. The dip comes together quickly, the prep is minimal, and you’ll find it very easy to make. It’s creamy, savory, and full of jumbo lump crab meat, and makes for a special addition to any party or gathering. Once your Crab Dip with Cream Cheese is hot and bubbly out of the oven, serve it alongside slices of toasted baguette, water crackers, Bagel Chips, Bruschettini Toasts, or even tortilla chips, and enjoy!
5 MORE DIP RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Crab and Piquillo Pepper Dip is an elegant twist on baked crab dip featuring Havarti and Manchego cheese, piquillo peppers, and jumbo lump crab.
- Mexican Shrimp Cocktail is made with quick-cooking pan-seared shrimp dressed in a vibrant cocktail sauce, with creamy avocado, and the perfect blend of crunchy vegetables.
- Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Dip features freshly sauteed spinach, Fontina cheese, and marinated artichoke hearts. Addictively delicious and perfect potluck party food!
- Artichoke Jalapeño Dip is the perfect combination of savory and spicy with flavorful marinated artichokes, minced jalapenõs, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- French Onion Dip with Cream Cheese is made with caramelized onions and thick-cut, crispy bacon, and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser perfect for any party!
A savory, creamy recipe for baked Hot Crab Dip with Cream Cheese featuring simple ingredients and easy preparations.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped white and light green parts only, reserve the green for garnish (if desired)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 ounces (1/2 a package) cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cup freshly grated White Cheddar or Havarti Cheese
- 8 ounces jumbo lump crab meat
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375° and have ready a greased, 4-cup capacity, oven-safe dish.
In a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Do not allow butter to burn. Add the green onions and sauté 1 minute. Add the garlic and sauté about 1 minute more.
Add the cream cheese and cream, and stir until combined and smooth. Stir in the lemon juice, Worcestershire, salt, and cayenne, followed by 1 cup of grated Cheddar cheese. Add the crab and stir once more.
Transfer to the serving dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of Cheddar and the Parmesan (if using). Bake for 16-18 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Garnish with green onion tops, serve, and enjoy.
Makes about 3 1/2 cups of dip.