Appetizer COOK Pescatarian

Crab Dip for a Crowd

Crab Dip for a Crowd-6

Crab dip makes any event a little more tasty. It can be made in a large quantity, and who does not love a hot dip? When I was invited to a lobster bake on the beach recently, and asked to bring something for an appetizer, I pondered. In addition to wild Maine blueberries, seafood is a summer staple. Frequently, we get it directly from the fishermen and meet them at the dock. Lobster is the seafood that Maine is known for, but crab is equally abundant through the summer months.

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Fresh Crab all the way.

There is no substitute. If you find a can in the supermarket, pass right on by. Now that being said, frozen is perfectly acceptable. Crab, like fish, should smell freshly-sweet. If it has an off-putting odor, it is past its prime. Make sure you are buying it from a good fishmonger. In Maine we are surrounded by the ocean and its tasty creatures. In Berlin, I have my wonderful fishmonger down the street. As I mentioned in one of my posts Curried Haddock/Cod, getting to know your fishmonger can, no it will, transform your life.

Carefully check the crabmeat for little pieces of shell.

No matter how carefully picked crab is, there can be small pieces of shell. I spread it out on a plate or cutting board and inspect all the little bits before adding it to the pot. You do not need to flatten every chunk of claw or leg meat, but look carefully through the smaller bits.

Crab is the perfect balance for sweet-heat.

Sweet and heat go hand-in-hand. I wavered on the amount of spice in this recipe. Crabmeat has a sweet flavor, but I find it a little more heightened than Lobster. I felt it could withstand the spice, and used a blend of sweet and hot, smoky paprika. Cayenne pepper or Tabasco® can be used as well, but if you can find a smoky paprika, give it a try. Remember with heat, a little goes a long way, unless you are looking to provide a lip-burning experience. Smoked sweet and hot paprikas are being used frequently in my kitchen, and can easily be substituted for regular paprikas.

Serving vessel choice.

When serving a crowd, think about the venue. If it is a more formal affair then a chafing dish may apply. Mine was going to the beach, so I served the dip in a tin. Maybe not the most elegant serving piece, but one that if I left the party early, would not miss. If I were doing this for a party at home, my choice would be a fondue pot, as it can keep the dip hot. It stayed warm in the tin, but not as hot as if it had been in a fondue pot. Le Creuset® and Swissmar® make beautiful cast iron, enameled ones, should you be searching for a new one. Williams Sonoma and, of course, Amazon, have good selections.

A sauce with body.

In past recipes where I have used avocado, you may recall seeing the packets of frozen puréed avocado. In case not, avocado freezes quite well and as it is now a staple in our diets, I keep a lot on hand. Check the freezer section of your grocery, or it can easily be ordered online (what can’t?). I got to thinking about the chocolate pudding that is made with avocado as a base instead of custard.

In essence the crab dip was a basic béchamel with Philadelphia Cream Cheese instead of milk or cream, but it craved more depth. Glancing at the packet defrosting on the counter, not really intended for the crab dip, but rather a cumin scented avocado dip, I snipped the corner off and put it into the pot. It gave a bit of a green sheen, but the texture was silky-smooth and ever so rich. No one questioned it, of course we were dining by the light of the moon, and as you can see it seemed to be well-enjoyed.

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Additional recipes to try…

Louisiana Hot Crab Dip from
Tyler’s Ultimate Crab Dip from Tyler Florence on the
Mom’s Best 10-Minute Holiday Crab Dip Recipe from The Seasoned Mom

Crab Dip for a Crowd

Serves: Lots
Cooking Time: 20 min


  • 8oz/230g fresh or frozen crabmeat
  • 16oz/450g cream cheese
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 TBSP sweet paprika
  • 1.5 tsp smoky, hot paprika
  • 2oz/60ml olive oil
  • 8oz/230g shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 TBSP white flour
  • 6oz/170g puréed avocado



Dice the onion.


Check through crabmeat for small pieces of shell.


Grate the cheddar cheese. Place in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with flour.


Purée avocado, unless it has been previously frozen and is ready to use.


In either a sauté pan or a stove proof fondue pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions.


When the onions become translucent, add the cream cheese. Stir it until it melts into the onions. Add the cheddar and blend well. It may seem a bit thick, and add a few tablespoons of water if necessary.


Add the paprikas, crab and avocado. Blend well.


Heat through and serve with tortilla chips, crostini or French Bread slices.


I poured the hot dip into the metal tin and brought it directly to the beach. It stayed warm for a while, and seemed to get consumed quickly.

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