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Cold Crab Dip

4.87 from 15 votes

Thick, creamy, and loaded with sweet, tender crab, this recipe has been in my family for decades. It’s a must-have at family gatherings, and while the recipe has been tweaked over the years, it’s better than ever before. The next time you need a perfect party appetizer to impress the family or friends, serve them this Cold Crab Dip and sit back for the applause.

cold crab dip

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I’m pretty sure my Oma snipped this creamy dip recipe from a magazine years ago, back when gelatin salads were all the rage. I’m not sure what about this recipe caught her eye, as she wasn’t a big crab fan. However, we’re all glad she introduced us to this amazing dip that’s possibly quite different from anything you’ve had before.

What You Need to Make Cold Crab Dip

  • 1 package plain gelatin – see my notes below
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
  • Green onions
  • Celery
  • Cooked real crab – see my notes below

What is Gelatin?

Gelatin is a colorless, flavorless, and translucent powder that’s derived from pigs or cows. It is used quite commonly in cooking, especially in baking. It’s a powerful thickener that sets up when chilled.

A few decades ago, gelatin was all the rage. There were all sorts of stunning cold salads and desserts popping up, and with no added flavor, these culinary treats were as tasty as they were impressive.

Gelatin is in Jell-O. It’s what gives Jell-O its wiggly jiggly texture. But don’t worry, this recipe isn’t crab Jell-O (and I’m not sure you could convince me to make crab Jell-O!!!). In this recipe, the gelatin is used to give the dip some structure. It’s not oozy like a hot crab dip would be, and it’s a bit firmer than most regular cold crab dip recipes.

The primary gelatin brand is Knox. The gelatin comes in packets and make sure you read my instructions for how to properly use it.

You don’t taste the Gelatin, but it really is the secret ingredient in this amazing, chunky, and delicious crab dip recipe.

Gelatin powder

What Kind Of Crab Do I Use In Cold Crab Dip?

You want to use cooked crab in this easy crap appetizer recipe. Cooked crab can often be found in your grocery store’s seafood section. You’ll find it cooked and pasteurized and sealed in containers. You can find expensive jumbo or lump crab meat – don’t buy that for this recipe!

I use claw meat for this cold dip recipe. Claw meat is much more affordable, but still has plenty of big chunks.

You still need to carefully pick through the crab meat, looking for bits of shell. You don’t want to bite into that; it’ll ruin the best crab dip recipe.

Alternatively, instead of canned crabmeat, you can use canned crab meat. Most cans come in around 4-6 ounces, but the crab is packed in water and that includes water weight. You’ll need 2 cans of crab, and drain it well.

To drain canned crab, I get out my can opener and unseal the top of the can. Then, I press the lid down into the can, using the lid to press out any liquid in the crab. Push hard to remove all the liquid. You’ll also need to pick through canned crab to look for shell, but they’ll be tiny so look carefully!

How To Make This Easy Crab Dip Recipe

  1. Add 1 package of Knox unflavored gelatin to 1/4 cup of water in a medium size pot. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat on low. Whisk the gelatin and water for a few minutes until dissolved. Do not boil this mixture. You only need enough heat to dissolve the gelatin.
  2. Add the cream cheese. Break it up with a spoon and stir it into the dissolved gelatin. You can turn the heat back on very low if your cream cheese isn’t melting easily. It should be smooth and creamy when you’re done.
  3. Add the cream of mushroom soup and mix well. I use low sodium to control the sodium in this recipe.
  4. Stir in the finely diced celery and green onion.
  5. When everything is mixed, gently fold in the drained crab. Don’t over-mix or you’ll crush up all those lovely bits of sweet crab.
  6. Pour the mixture into a serving bowl and pop it into the fridge for at least 4 hours.
cold crab dip on a cracker

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • Buy good quality crab – it’ll make all the difference in this easy cold crab dip recipe.
  • Don’t add any salt! Between the salty cheese and salty crackers, this dip doesn’t need a single grain of salt.
  • Use both the white and green parts of the green onion but slice it thinly so you don’t get a big mouthful of onion.
  • Gelatin needs hot water to dissolve, and cold will set it.
  • This dip can be made a few days ahead of time. Once it is chilled and set, cover it with plastic wrap. But remember, it does have crab in it so eat it within a few days.
  • Garnish the crab dip with a bit of fresh dill, lemon zest, or finely chopped fresh parsley.

What To Serve with Cold Crab Dip with Cream Cheese

I love rice crackers with this dip. They are light and crisp and have a fairly neutral flavor which allows the crab to really shine.

Buttery crackers will work well – but look for those without assertive flavors. Tortilla chips are another good option.

Toasted baguette slices are another flavor-neutral choice.

To keep this dip low carb, use celery sticks and carrot sticks (or other crisp veggies) to scoop up this creamy crab dip, or pop spoonfuls onto cucumber rounds for a fun finger food presentation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does cold crab dip last?

Crab dip, if properly refrigerated, will keep for about 2 days. But don’t worry, you’re not likely to have leftovers and it will disappear fast!

Can I make cold crab dip with imitation crab?

I suppose you could, but spring for the real deal. It’s so much tastier! If you are using imitation crab, chop it up finely and add it just like you would regular crab.

Is this crab dip easy to make?

Yes! Once you’ve gotten the dicing of the onions and celery out of the way, it literally takes less than 10 minutes to assemble. The hardest part is waiting for it to chill and set up so you can dig in!

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Step By Step Process

cold crab dip in a bowl with crackers
Print Pin
4.87 from 15 votes

Cold Crab Dip

Loaded with sweet, tender crab and plenty of flavor, this easy Cold Crab Dip recipe is a keeper! It's an heirloom recipe in my family, and I'm sure it'll become one in yours, too!
Course Appetizers
Cuisine American
Keyword cold crab dip, crab, crab dip, cream cheese, mushroom soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Chilling time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 142kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 envelope gelatin powder
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 can low sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 6 ounces crab meat well drained

Instructions

  • Add 1 package of Knox unflavored gelatin to 1/4 cup of water in a medium size pot. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat on low. Whisk the gelatin and water for a few minutes until dissolved. Do not boil this mixture. You only need enough heat to dissolve the gelatin.
  • Add the cream cheese. Break it up with a spoon and stir it into the dissolved gelatin. You can turn the heat back on very low if your cream cheese isn't melting easily. It should be smooth and creamy when you're done.
  • Add the cream of mushroom soup and mix well. I use low sodium to control the sodium in this recipe.
  • Stir in the finely diced celery and green onion.
  • When everything is mixed, gently fold in the drained crab. Don't over-mix or you'll crush up all those lovely bits of sweet crab.
  • Pour the mixture into a serving bowl and pop it into the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  • Serve with your favorite crackers and enjoy!

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 142kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 428mg | Potassium: 275mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 508IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 1mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

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By Chef Jenn