Make Ahead Hot Crab Dip

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Hot crab dip with a gently seasoned cream cheese base can be prepped the day before and baked during your holiday party so it is served golden brown and bubbly. Add butter crackers for crunch or serve with raw veggies for a low carb appetizer option for friends.

A white baking dish with golden brown hot crab dip has a spoon serving up a portion. There are butter crackers all around the dish.

My daughter and I absolutely love crab when we head to the beach every summer.

It feels like such a luxury to cook with crab meat at home so we often save it for the holiday season.

When I pulled this golden brown and bubbly hot crab dip out of the oven and served it with crisp butter crackers one weekend, she came running out of her room to enjoy such a weekend treat.

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Why This is the Best Recipe

My daughter and I will try just about any crab meat recipe but we think this is the best hot crab dip recipe because:

  1. Make Ahead Friendly: You can make the dip the day before and just bake it during your party so it is hot and fresh.
  2. Not Too Spicy: Yes, there's a dash of hot sauce but overall this is just a delicious, savory dip with sweet crab meat in the mix.
  3. Hot and Creamy: We love the light texture of the baked cream cheese dip. It is rich and decadent but doesn't feel heavy in your bite.
  4. Mostly Budget-Friendly: There's no way around it, crab meat is pricey. This recipe only calls for one single 8 oz container of crab meat but you'll still get crab in every single bite of dip.

Ingredients

The ingredients to make hot crab dip are on the counter.

This easy appetizer spread only needs a few ingredients to make it:

  • Lump Crab Meat: You can find containers of lump crab meat near the seafood section of the grocery store in the refrigerator case.
  • Cream Cheese
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sour Cream
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese: Just regular sharp cheddar cheese melts much better than extra sharp cheddar does.
  • Garlic Salt
  • Paprika
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Lemon Juice
  • Hot Sauce: Like Texas Pete.
  • Green Onions

How to Make the Dip

Add the softened cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, shredded cheese, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, lemon juice, garlic salt, and paprika to a large mixing bowl.

Beat them together with a hand mixer until smooth.

The cream cheese, shredded cheese, mayo, and sour cream are all in the large mixing bowl ready to be mixed together.

Chop the green onions, separating the white part of the stalk from the green.

Add the lump crab meat to the mixing bowl along with just the white parts of the green onions and very gently fold the dip together.

You don't want to stir too hard because the crab meat is quite delicate and could break apart into mush if you beat it too much.

The crab meat has been added to the sauce and is about to be gently folded in.

Baking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spread the prepared crab dip into a small baking dish. My baking dish is just smaller than an 8x8-inch dish and perfect for baking small side dishes.

The white baking dish has a smooth layer of prepared crab dip.

Bake the crab dip for 20 - 25 minutes or until it is nice and bubbly with golden edges.

Sprinkle with the remaining green parts of the chopped green onion and serve immediately.

Make Ahead Tips

You can prepare the crab dip and store it in the fridge covered in plastic wrap for up to 24 hours before baking.

This means you could prep the dip the day before and then just bake it during the party so you can serve it hot.

Serving Suggestions

The baking dish of hot crab dip is being served on a platter with butter crackers.

I love serving this hot crab dip with crispy butter crackers or black pepper flavored Triscuits.

For my low-carb friends, I would serve this with a platter of raw celery and bell peppers or even baby carrots for dipping.

Variations

This easy crab dip recipe is so delicious just as is, but there are a few fun variations you could try too:

Hot Crab Bites: Spoon the prepared crab dip into store bought phyllo dough cups and place them on a baking sheet. Bake them until golden brown and serve it as a hot crab bite appetizer.

Horseradish Crab Bites: Add a tablespoon of fresh horseradish to the mix with the cream cheese.

Old Bay Crab Dip: Add 2 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning to the cream cheese mixture.

More Crab Recipes

Cooking with lump crab meat is a perfect holiday luxury when you want a party to feel extra special.

You might also enjoy these delicious easy cheesy crab melts or my homemade remoulade sauce if you plan to make crab cakes.

More Holiday Appetizers

Looking for more easy appetizers to serve at your holiday party? You won't want to miss these favorite recipes:

📖 Recipe

A white baking dish with golden brown hot crab dip has a spoon serving up a portion. There are butter crackers all around the dish.

Hot Crab Dip

4.97 from 33 votes
Classic hot crab dip has a cream cheese base with sharp cheddar cheese mixed in. You can make the spread ahead of the party and just bake until hot and bubbly before serving with crackers or raw veggies for a low carb appetizer.
TOTAL TIME 25 minutes
PREP TIME 5 minutes
COOK TIME 20 minutes
YIELD 12 servings

Ingredients
  

For the Hot Crab Dip

  • 1 (8 oz) brick of cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp hot sauce like Texas Pete
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 (8 oz) container of lump crab meat
  • 3 green onions chopped, whites and greens separated

For Serving: Pick 1 or 2

  • Butter crackers
  • Tortilla chips
  • Fresh baguette slices or crostini
  • Fresh celery sticks

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Add the cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, shredded cheddar, garlic powder, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, hot sauce, and salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Use a hand mixer to beat them together until well combined.
  • Drain the container of lump crab meat and be sure to check for shells. Add the crab to the mixing bowl along with the white parts of the chopped green onion. Use a spatula to gently fold them into the cream cheese mixture.
  • Spread the crab dip into a small baking dish. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until the dip is nice and bubbly with golden edges.
  • Sprinkle the top with the chopped green onions just before serving. Serve warm with your favorite crackers, bread, or raw veggies.
COURSEDips
CUISINEAmerican

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The photo collage shows the hot crab dip served with crackers next to a photo of the ingredients needed to make it.

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