Crab Dip


As much as I don’t want to admit this factoid, the crab dip I prepared for the blog is a Martha Stewart recipe.

What she calls “Hot Crab Dip” is out of the cookbook “Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres Handbook,” which was published in 1999.


She might not have been a convict at the time the book was published, but my reluctance to ever buy any of her cookbooks was based on her attitude that I’ve witnessed on tv, not because she was a jailbird. I’m all for confidence and knowledge, which she definitely exudes, but it’s her haughtiness that turns me off. Something us Americans might call snottiness.

But somehow this hors d’oeuvres cookbook appealed to me and I purchased it. At the time I was doing a lot of catering, and most of my parties were of the “finger food” variety, not sit-down dinner parties. And honestly, the cookbook was inspirational to me, as much as I don’t want to admit it.

I think Ms. Stewart may have been the first to use serious food styling in cookbooks; food magazines had been doing it for a while. The photos in this book are stunning. And they’re a little misleading.

I remember talking to a bride-to-be about her wedding reception food, and she opened up bookmarked pages from this same cookbook. She showed me photos of little cucumber cups, carefully carved out with a melon baller, hollowed out cherry tomatoes, and my favorite – glasses filled with equal-length celery, asparagus, cucumbers, yellow runner beans, jicama, carrots, and green onions.


It was certainly pretty in the photographs, but for 250 people I had to explain to the young lady that all of the prep work would take hours and hours. And hours. Wouldn’t she rather spend money on actual food than my time spent carving vegetables?

In any case, I’d never made a crab dip until I saw the one in this cookbook, so I guess I must thank Martha Stewart. Because it’s served warm, it’s a great dip in the winter time, and has always been a crowd pleaser.


So here is the original recipe.

Hot Crab Dip
Makes 3 1/2 cups

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/4 cup 1/2 and 1/2
8 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
4 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
10 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over for cartilage*
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Have your crab meat prepared. I had to use frozen crab legs, thaw them, remove the meat from the shells, and then pat them dry with paper towels. Chop finely.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with the rack in the center. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.


Add 1 tablespoon of water and simmer for 30 seconds. (I don’t remember ever doing this!)

Stir in the cayenne, Old Bay, and dry mustard until well combined. Pour the 1/2 and 1/2 into the saucepan and bring to a simmer.


Slowly whisk in the cream cheese, a few pieces at a time. When the cream cheese is fully incorporated, whisk in the Cheddar cheese a bit at a time.

(When you’re melting cheese like this, do it at the lowest temperature. It takes time, but you don’t want to “cook” the cheese, only melt it. And keep stirring.)

Stir the mixture for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the lemon juice and Worcestershire and stir to combine. Add the crabmeat and half of the parsley and stir.

Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof baking dish and sprinkle with the bread pieces.

Dot the top of the bread pieces with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle with the paprika. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until the bread pieces are golden and the dip is hot.

Garnish with the remaining parsley. I served the dip warm with pita chips.



As an alternative, use pre-made phyllo cups for a fancier presentation. Fill them up with the hot crab dip and serve!


The phyllo crunch and the creamy dip is a lovely combination. And these are bite size! Just make sure to fill the cups at the last minute so they don’t get soggy.


* Fresh crabmeat is difficult for me to get my hands on, and frozen crab is waterlogged, but what I won’t use is that nasty fake crab made from sweetened white fish, that is shaped in to rubbery pieces to mimic actual crab legs, shown below.


note: Although the first time I made this I probably followed the recipe, I’ve never since included the bread topping. I used 3 tablespoons of butter, melted, mixed with about 1/3 cup of Panko bread crumbs and sprinkled the mixture on to the crab dip, followed by the paprika.

71 thoughts on “Crab Dip

  1. Here in France it is not done to mix seafood with cheese but I love your recipe and am going to try it out on some of my neighbours.
    I second your thoughts about Martha. Having seen her speak once, she came across as having a “better than you” attitude to everyone.

    • I understand completely, although this is a filling and not a crab “serving.” I personally don’t like cheese on fish or seafood. I’m half Italian and half French, so maybe that’s why! I hope you’ll like this mixture if you make it!

  2. I could eat an entire plate of those filo cups right now. Goodness, you’re making me hungry! I agree with you about MS, she always seems insufferably smug, but this is a delightful recipe.

  3. I don’t even like seafood, but your phyllo cups look great! If I didn’t know they had crab in them, I’d grab them all and run :-D Love the pics, too!

  4. We MUST be on the same wavelength! Just last weekend I used the mini phyllo shells to make miniature pecan tarts on my blog. I love the savory direction you went with the crab. The presentation is lovely :) Hope you have a lovely weekend!

  5. They do come in handy, although back when I catered, I would have to purchase extra because so many would be broken, in spite of the fairly sturdy packaging!!! I should have demanded some money back!!!

  6. Oh wow, that was probably a lot of work to shell that many crab legs for this! But you gotta do what you gotta do when you don’t have any viable alternate. The dip looks really good, I’ll have to save this off to make when we go crabbing again later this year. Very nice photos, too!

  7. I love crab served just about any way. Phyllo cups and shortbread cups are always in my pantry ready to serve up a savory or sweet recipe. Martha is quite a character – I’ve watched her on and off for many years and I do have a couple of her cookbooks. I try to look beyond the person and see only her recipes and gardening ideas.

  8. I actually like Martha not because she’s a nice person, she’s not (I’ve heard) but because I respect her business sense, her determination and her talent and she is talented. I think the crab dip sounds and looks delicious.

    • She’s definitely determined, but I just wonder how many people’s heads she stepped on on the way up. That’s what I meant – she has good qualities that young women should strive for in life and business. But then, she might have gone too far. Some might say that a man with her accomplishments/sucess might be highly respected, but as a woman, she’s just considered a bitch. I certainly hope that’s not how I’m viewing her!!!

      • I know people who work for her and she is a right bitch but evidently it can’t be that bad some have been with her 10 plus years. I am sure she must have tromped on some heads for sure. I just can’t help but admire what she has accomplished.

  9. I share your thoughts on Martha Stewart, So much that I’ve avoided purchasing any of her books. The few I’ve looked at looked so “styled” that it just didn’t appeal. This does sound like a tasty recipe, though.

  10. Here is what I have to say about her recipes: she does have a great test kitchen because anything I ever tried was consistent with what I expected. Crab dip – just in time for the super bowl.

  11. YUM, YUM and YUM!! These look fabulous!! As far as Martha Stewart goes… in many ways I admire her… but in other ways I’ve find her to be a big phony. I used to love it when she’d have her mother, ‘Big Martha’, on her show because her mother did NOT stretch the truth. One time, as Martha (‘Little Martha”??) was preparing something with nutmeg she said to her mother, “And I always remember you grating fresh nutmeg for this recipe”. To wwhich ‘Big Martha’ replied, “Really… I don’t remember ever doing that”. I LOVED IT!!

      • You made me laugh!! And – I was thinking of you when I (just) posted a recipe for a pie made with leftovers… right in the middle of the recipe is the good old 1960’s and 1970’s standby – good old mushroom soup in a can!! (Hey – the end result is pretty good – LOL !)

  12. I’ve heard of Martha Stewart and am aware she did some time in jail but I’ve never seen her on TV. I’ve also heard she’s very good with styling. Hot crab dip is quite popular in Oz. I love how you’ve presented it xx

  13. I agree with you. She sure is smart and talented but there is something off about her. I think she is not able to create a real connection with the public at large: she is not funny or sympathetic and she always keeps her distance. Still she is very successful.
    The dip sounds perfect for a dinner party and the phyllo shells’ presentation is super, Mimi!

  14. Well, Martha may not be the warmest person in the world, but in general, I think her recipes are pretty good. The funny thing is that I just made this for new year’s. I had never made a crab dip before and I thought it was about time. Truth is, we all decided that we prefer our crab straight or in crab cakes. Kind of funny, because I know most folks adore crab dip! I guess we are a bit odd!

  15. I have the same book, Mimi, and have used it occasionally wishing that I had the same army of minions Martha has! It would make all this apps so much easier if I had help! I haven’t tried the crab dip yet, so will give it I a try for our next gathering.

    • Everything is very creative in the book, and so pretty. It’s just not realistic. Personally, I don’t think you have to go that far if you’ve made good food. Because good food is pretty food! I’ve always said that, but I think a famous chef also said it.

  16. Did you see the clip of Martha online on Ellen’s show with Drew Barrymore? She was so rude to Drew! Drew had the audience on her side in such a fun manner. I know Martha Stewart has great ideas but she is so snobby about it. I do, however, love this recipe. And aren’t the phyllo cups a great go to?

  17. I understand. I have the same response to the Pioneer Woman (although I will readily admit it is part jealousy based). Love the crab dip. Is it on your SB50 buffet table? If not, should be….

    • Well for one, I cannot stand her voice. So it’s like fingernails on chalkboard for me. But she has certainly become successful. I just don’t like her recipes. I guess I don’t feed Cowboys! Where have you been? I think I lost you for a while?!!

  18. I’m not much a fan of her either, though I do enjoy many of her recipes. Luckily, most can be found online and I don’t have to listen/watch her prepare therm. This crab dip does sound like a good one. Figures she’d know her way around a crab. :)

  19. I actually find Martha hilarious. Of course she’s totally out of touch. But compared with the 1%ers we are forced to put up with these days, she’s almost like a next door neighbor. And her (or her staff’s) recipes are almost always good.

  20. The first part of this post conveying your feelings towards Martha Stewart sounds exactly like me…maybe that’s why I, too, have this book which I found at a discount book store. It has some great ideas in it and now I may have to try this crab dip. It’s not hard to get crab here but it is very expensive. This looks like it would be well worth it, though. :)

  21. I have that cookbook…I probably bought it because of the beautifully presented food in the photos but never made one thing out of it. I’ll go by your recommendation and give the dip a try because I do love crab. I’m like you, I hate the phony stuff.

  22. My husband would be so happy if I made this tonight…. And love the “vintage” pre-incarceration Martha book. I agree- she’s a little snooty for me, but sometimes you have to overlook that for the right recipe. Looks great!

    • I’ve also heard over the years that the recipes haven’t been that well edited, or there were typos. Guess she was just in a big hurry to crank out all of her cookbooks.

  23. Hi there Mimi, I’m getting back from out of a winter funk and loving your posts, especially this beauty (I’ll pretend it didn’t come from Martha). I love crab dip but have never made a warm dip before. If i were to sit and have a seafood meal my first preference would be for lobster but for something like a dip, crab is definitely my favorite. Love those little phyllo cups!
    I probably shouldn’t say but your read on Martha is pretty accurate. I do know someone who worked for her & to say that she is a difficult person to work for is a huge understatement. It always cracks me up when you see her doing things in her garden – like digging with a shovel…well, that’s only until the photographer snaps the shot & then that shovel gets passed on to ‘staff’.

    • Hi Diane! Glad you’re back. You’re one of my favorites!!! I admire Martha for what she did – at least in the beginning. But she should have hired someone to be the “face” of Martha Stewart, she just isn’t normal.

  24. This looks sooo good – I wish I had even a tiny bit of this right now… and a bit of white wine. I haven’t had much of an appetite lately… but one look at this Crab Dip and I’m starving.
    I’m going to include this recipe – with a link to this post of course – tomorrow in my 2nd ‘Recipe Roundup’. The ‘theme’ is Super Bowl and I do believe that even a tough beer-drinking, football-loving man will love this dip, as well as his wife!
    On another note, I just noticed above that you’d said ‘welcome back’ to Diane of ‘Diane’s Kitchen Table’. Recently I made a list of blogs I follow and her blog wasn’t on that list. (I pretty much wrote it from memory.) I’m so looking forward to getting back in touch with her!

    • Thank you! I know Diane’s daughter got married but right now I can’t remember what else got her off the radar with blogging. Except that it is time consuming and much like an unpaid job! Can’t wait to see your post!

      • You got it there… an unpaid job that’s time consuming – but rewarding, or we wouldn’t be doing it.
        Not long ago a blogger I’ve been following since I began blogging posted a ‘this will be my last post’ post. I can’t remember who it was now… but I remember being saddened. (i think I might need my thyroid meds upped again… BIG BRAIN FOG lately…)
        I know you feel as i do – fellow bloggers do become friends. We learn about their lives, with all its ups and downs, and we miss them when we’re no longer in touch.
        Gonna go put the last minutes ‘touches’ on my Roundup Post!! ; o )

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