Walk into pretty much any Maryland restaurant and you’re bound to find hot crab dip on the menu. It’s our staple. Sometimes served on soft pretzels and sometimes baked in a skillet, but always a must-have order. We eat it on chicken (usually called “Chicken Chesapeake”) or in quesadillas, but the best way to serve hot cheesy crab dip is with fresh bread, pita wedges, celery, and/or sturdy crackers.

Here in Maryland, WE LOVE OUR CRAB DIP.

This Hot Crab Dip Is:

  • Made with jumbo lump crab, just like crab pretzels
  • Cheesy dip meets crab cakes
  • Irresistibly creamy
  • Old Bay-seasoned
  • Baked or slow cooked, your choice
  • Extra quick, no pre-cooking
  • Nothing less than a huge hit, guaranteed!

This does Maryland justice!

hand holding baguette slice dipped in Maryland crab dip.

Search the internet and you’ll find millions of crab dip recipes. They’re all centered around—you guessed it—crab, but the other ingredients can vary. I’ve tasted dozens of crab dips (I’m surrounded by it!) and I know what works, and what doesn’t.

The Best Crab Dip Ingredients

These are the 9 ingredients you need to make the best Maryland crab dip on the planet. And that’s not an exaggeration. I know lifelong Maryland locals who swear by this one!!!!

  1. Cream Cheese: Cream cheese is the base of this dip. No substitutions here.
  2. Mayonnaise: I don’t like mayonnaise and I still love this crab dip. You don’t need much—just enough to thin out the cream cheese and add that necessary creamy dip texture.
  3. Sour Cream: Some crab dip recipes call for just mayo and cream cheese, but I like to break down those heavier ingredients with tangy sour cream.
  4. Cheddar Cheese: You can use sharp cheddar or white cheddar if desired, but don’t use another cheese that has a stronger flavor because you don’t want to overpower the crab.
  5. Ground Mustard: A dash of mustard is a key ingredient in any Maryland crab cake recipe and we’re using something similar here, too. Ground mustard is necessary—and don’t worry, you do not taste mustard.
  6. Lemon Juice: Fresh, balancing flavor!
  7. Old Bay Seasoning: This salty spice is a staple in Maryland, where it’s made, especially with crab.
  8. Worcestershire Sauce: So much flavor. You don’t need a lot—just 2 teaspoons.
  9. Lump Crab Meat: For the absolute best crab dip, I recommend using lump crab meat or a mix of lump crab meat and backfin meat. Lump crab meat guarantees those big, mouthwatering bites of crab.

A dash of hot sauce is delicious, too!

jumbo lump crab meat in glass bowl on gray backdrop with green linen in top left corner.

How to Make Hot Crab Dip

You’re only about 30–35 minutes away from this bliss.

  1. Beat the cream cheese first. You want it super creamy and smooth.
  2. Beat in the rest of the ingredients, except the crab.
  3. Gently fold in the crab meat. Avoid using a mixer for this step because you don’t want to completely break down the lump crab.
  4. Slow cook or bake. Slow cook on low for 3–4 hours until hot and creamy; or bake in a casserole dish, pie dish, or oven-safe skillet for 25 minutes, or until browned and bubbly around the edges.

The process is quick, simple, and foolproof as long as you’re using the right ingredients. A handheld or stand mixer is definitely helpful and makes mixing easier, but I’ve mixed it together by hand before too.

overhead photo of crab dip in cast iron skillet shown without cheese and with cheese sprinkled on top.
crab dip in cast iron skillet with toasted baguette slices around the edges.

Serving Crab Dip

For serving, keep things simple. You want the flavors from the dip to shine, so don’t serve with crackers or breads with overpowering flavors. Baguette slices, toasted artisan bread (pictured!), or sturdy crackers/pita chips are key so you can scoop up all that lump crab.

Best Crab Meat for Crab Dip

At the market, you can find canned, frozen, or fresh (refrigerated) crab meat. Unrefrigerated canned crab meat doesn’t have the freshest flavor (obviously). If you need to use canned, look for canned crab meat in the refrigerated section of your market. The fresher the crab meat, the better the crab dip will taste.

Crab meat labeled “hand-picked” or “fresh-picked” is fully cooked and sold in plastic tubs by the butcher or seafood counter. This is what I always use for crab cakes and crab dip, and highly encourage you to use the same here. It’s pricier than canned, but you have a completely different (and fresh) product. Don’t worry, all the other ingredients are pretty inexpensive, especially if you purchase store-brand or find them on sale.

Ask your grocer where to find the freshest crab meat in the store. I purchase fresh crab meat sold in a 1-pound tub from the seafood counter.

hot crab dip

This DOES NOT disappoint!

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hand holding baguette slice dipped in Maryland crab dip.

Crab Dip (Best Maryland Style)

  • Author:

  • Prep Time:
    10 minutes

  • Cook Time:
    25 minutes

  • Total Time:
    35 minutes

  • Yield:
    serves 8

  • Category:

  • Method:

  • Cuisine:


For the best texture, use lump crab meat and each ingredient listed. No substitutions! Serve with crusty baguette, sturdy crackers, celery sticks, or pita wedges. For more success tips and to learn which crab meat to use, see blog post above.


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F (191°C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the mayonnaise, sour cream, 1 cup cheddar cheese, ground mustard, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce (if using). Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Using a spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold in the lump crab meat. If you used hot sauce, taste, then add more hot sauce if desired.
  4. Transfer to a 9-inch (or slightly larger) baking pan, pie dish, or oven-safe skillet. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly around the edges.
  6. Serve warm.
  7. Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a 350°F (177°C) oven until warmed throughout.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can fully assemble this crab dip, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking/slow cooking and serving. You can also freeze the unbaked or baked (and cooled) crab dip for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake as directed; or, if already baked, thaw and heat in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 25 minutes or until warmed throughout.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Glass Mixing Bowl | Electric Mixer (Handheld or Stand) | Wooden Spoon or Rubber Spatula | Oven-Safe Skillet
  3. Make sure you’re using a block of cream cheese, not cream cheese spread. I’ve used lower-fat ingredients with no problem like reduced-fat (not fat-free) cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo, but the dip obviously tastes richer with the full-fat versions.
  4. Old Bay: Use 2 teaspoons for a spicier kick. (I usually do!)
  5. Which Crab Meat to Use: For any questions regarding which crab meat to use, see Best Crab Meat for Crab Dip in the blog post above. I highly recommend fresh (refrigerated) lump crab meat.
  6. Slow Cooker: Follow steps 2 and 3. Instead of transferring to a baking dish, spoon into your slow cooker (do not add the 1/4 cup of cheese on top) and cook on low for 3–4 hours until hot and creamy. Stir occasionally as it cooks. During the last 30 minutes, sprinkle 1/4 cup reserved cheddar cheese on top.