Elegant hot crab dip

Need a Christmas appetizer that is as much a table topic as it is a holiday nibble that your guests will gather around and rave about? Then this elegant hot crab dip is exactly what you are looking for!

This scrumptiously addictive hot crab dip is crazy easy to prep, yet will deliver an upscale taste and flair to your array of holiday appetizers.

Unlike many traditional crab dips, which are heavy on the cream cheese, our updated version is thick with real crab. In addition, the tarragon and hint of cayenne heat lend new and welcome flavors.

Topping the warm seafood dip with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and broiling it until bubbly makes it even more over-the-top irresistible.

A word about crab: If you’re fortunate enough to live near the sea, opt for fresh crabmeat straight from the fish counter for this dip. However, if your only options are refrigerated or canned crab, go with the refrigerated brands.

Why? Canned crab is processed at high temperatures and ends up with a dry, chewy texture. Refrigerated crab meat is processed at lower temperatures and delivers a juicy, tender texture and fresher flavor. You will have to pay more for refrigerated crab, but your hungry guests will appreciate it.

Cook’s note: Be sure to inspect crabmeat for bits of shell so you can pick them out before adding the meat to your hot crab dip.

MORE: A dozen delicious dips for the holidays

Elegant hot crab dip

Yield 6-8 servings


  • 1-1/2 cups French white bread, crusts removed and cubed
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, minced
  • 1/2 cup white onion, grated
  • 16 ounces whole lump crab meat
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 baguette, cut into 1/4-inch slices and toasted


  1. Preheat broiler to 500F.
  2. Combine the bread and milk in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes.
  3. Using a blender, purée the milk and bread until very smooth, then force the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
  4. In a 3-quart saucepan, warm the butter over medium-low heat. Add the tarragon and sauté gently, just until it becomes fragrant and begins to sizzle, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the onion and continue sautéing for 5 to 6 minutes, until the onion is translucent and soft.
  6. Add the crab, Cayenne pepper and the milk mixture to the pan, then stir gently until thoroughly combined and warm.
  7. Remove the pan from the stove and fold in the heavy cream.
  8. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  9. Transfer to a warmed serving dish.
  10. Serve warm with toasted baguette slices.
  11. Transfer the crab mixture to your preheated serving dish. Evenly cover the dip with grated Parmesan cheese and broil for 5 minutes.
  12. Allow the crab dip to rest for 5 minutes before serving with toasted country bread.

Courses Appetizers