cold crab appetisers

6 Best Cold Crab Appetisers to Impress Your Guests

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Updated on March 25, 2024

Cold crab appetisers are a delightful way to kick off any gathering. They’re light, refreshing, and packed with crabmeat’s sweet, delicate flavour. 

Whether you’re hosting a casual brunch, an elegant dinner party, or a festive summer soirée, there’s a perfect cold crab appetiser to tantalise your guests’ taste buds and set the tone for a delicious meal. They’re surprisingly versatile, too, adaptable to various tastes and dietary needs. So, ditch the tired chips and dip routine!  

This guide will equip you with everything you need to create show-stopping cold crab appetisers that will leave your guests raving.

Choosing the Right Crab Meat for Your Cold Appetisers

cold crab appetisers
cold crab appetisers

Just like building a magnificent sculpture starts with a solid foundation, crafting delectable cold crab appetisers begins with selecting the ideal crab meat. Understanding the different types and their unique characteristics will empower you to elevate your creations.

Lump Crab Meat

The king of crabmeat lump crab consists of large, flaky pieces of white meat harvested primarily from the body muscles of blue or Dungeness crabs.  

Prized for its luxurious texture and sweet, delicate flavour, lump crab is perfect for dishes where the crab truly takes centre stage. However, due to its premium quality, lump crab also carries a higher price tag. Here’s how to get the most out of it:

Applications: Lump crab shines in classic crab salads, elegant dips served with crostini, and atop delicate vol-au-vents. Since the large pieces hold their shape well, lump crab is ideal for showcasing beautiful textures in your appetisers.

Considerations: While some grocery stores might offer fresh lump crab, it’s more commonly found pasteurised in cans or frozen. Pasteurised lump crab offers convenience and good quality, while fresh lump crab provides the ultimate in flavour and texture (if available).

Jumbo Lump Crab Meat

Craving an even more impressive bite? Look no further than jumbo lump crab. These colossal chunks are the largest cuts of white meat, typically sourced from the backfin of blue crabs.  

Boasting an even sweeter flavour than lump crab, jumbo lump crab offers an unparalleled indulgence.

Applications: Reserve jumbo lump crab for truly special occasions. Let the magnificent pieces speak for themselves in a simple yet luxurious cold crab salad, or use them to create a decadent crab dip with minimal additional ingredients.

Considerations: Jumbo lump crabs, as expected, have the highest price point. Due to their size, they’re not ideal for applications where finely chopped crab meat is needed.

Backfin Crab Meat:

Hailing from the back section of blue crabs, backfin crab meat offers a delightful textural contrast. While not as large as jumbo lump crab meat, it consists of long, thin strands with a slightly sweeter flavour than lump crab meat.

Applications: Backfin crab is a versatile choice, perfect for dips, salads, and even crab cakes. Its beautiful strands add a touch of elegance and hold their shape well when incorporated into various dishes.

Considerations: Backfin crab is a cost-effective option with excellent flavour and texture. It’s a great choice for recipes that call for finely chopped crab meat.

6 Popular Cold Crab Appetisers

cold crab appetisers
cold crab appetisers

Here, we delve into six easy cold crab appetiser recipes guaranteed to tantalise taste buds and impress your guests. Here’s a delicious recipe for Crab Stuffed Mushrooms:

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

These tasty bites are perfect for holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, and the best part is that they are super easy to make.


  • 1 pound large white mushrooms
  • 7 ounces lump crabmeat (or claw meat)
  • 5 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground savory
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Combine the crabmeat, green onions, thyme, oregano, savoury, and black pepper in a medium bowl. Mix in the mayonnaise and ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese until well combined. You can refrigerate this filling for up to an hour to allow the flavours to meld.
  3. Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel while the filling chills (or preps). Remove the stems and carefully spoon out the gills and the base of the stem, creating a deep cup in each mushroom cap. Discard the gills and stems.
  4. Place the mushroom caps in a shallow baking dish. Fill each cap with a rounded spoonful of the crab mixture.
  5. Sprinkle the tops of the stuffed mushrooms with the remaining Parmesan cheese and paprika.
  6. Bake the mushrooms for 15 minutes or until heated through; the tops are golden brown.


  • To easily remove the gills and insides of the mushroom caps, use a spoon or a small melon baller.
  • For a richer flavour, use a mixture of cream cheese and mayonnaise in the filling.
  • You can substitute with 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme or Italian seasoning if you don’t have fresh herbs.
  • Panko breadcrumbs can be added to the top of the filling for a crispy texture before baking.

Crab Cakes with Spicy Remoulade Sauce

Crab cakes with spicy remoulade sauce are a top pick for cold crab appetisers. This recipe is a big hit; many think it’s the best. This recipe creates delicious crab cakes with a flavorful kick from the spicy remoulade sauce.


For the Crab Cakes:

  • 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked clean
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 ½ tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

For the Spicy Remoulade Sauce

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha (or your preferred hot sauce)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional, for extra spice)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Make the Remoulade Sauce: In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, shallots, Dijon mustard, sriracha, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and cayenne pepper (if using)—season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Prepare the Crab Cakes: In a large bowl, gently combine crabmeat, bell pepper, mayonnaise, black pepper, and green onions. Mix in the beaten egg.
  3. Add ½ cup of the panko breadcrumbs and stir until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix, which can make the crab cakes tough.
  4. Divide the crab mixture into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a patty about 2 inches wide and ¾-inch thick.
  5. Place the remaining panko breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Dredge each crab cake in the panko, coating it evenly.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, carefully add two crab cakes to the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through.
  7. Repeat with the remaining crab cakes, adding more oil as needed.
  8. Serve hot crab cakes with a dollop of spicy remoulade sauce on the side. Enjoy!


  • For a richer flavour, add a tablespoon of finely chopped celery or red bell pepper to the crab cake mixture.
  • If you don’t have panko breadcrumbs, you can use regular breadcrumbs. However, panko breadcrumbs will give the crab cakes a lighter and crispier texture.
  • Flick a few drops of water into the pan to test if the oil is hot enough. If the water sizzles and pops, the oil is ready for frying.
  • Leftover crab cakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat gently in a skillet over medium heat or the oven at 375°F (190°C) until warmed through.

Avocado Crab Rolls

There are two main ways to make avocado crab rolls: a sushi-style version with nori (seaweed) and a simpler version on bread rolls. Here are recipes for both:

Sushi-Style Avocado Crab Rolls


  • 1 (6 ounces) can lump crabmeat, drained
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ¾ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 4 sheets nori (dried seaweed)
  • 4 cups sushi rice, cooked and seasoned
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi paste (optional)
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced


  1. In a bowl, gently mix together the crabmeat, mayonnaise, and soy sauce.
  2. Place a nori sheet on a bamboo rolling mat, shiny side down. Spread a thin layer of seasoned sushi rice evenly over the nori, leaving a 1-inch strip at the top edge free of rice.
  3. (Optional) Spread a thin line of wasabi paste horizontally down the centre of the rice.
  4. Arrange some avocado slices in a single layer along the centre of the rice. Top with a spoonful of the crab mixture.
  5. Using the bamboo mat as a guide, carefully roll up the nori, starting from the bottom edge with the filling and squeezing gently to form a tight roll. Moisten the free edge of the nori with a little water to seal the roll.
  6. Repeat with the remaining nori, sushi rice, avocado, and crab mixture.
  7. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into bite-sized pieces. Serve with soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi (optional).

Simple Avocado Crab Rolls on Bread


  • 9 ounces (250 grams) of crab meat or meat from cooked crab claws
  • 1/2 red chilli pepper, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 scallions, thinly chopped
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • Small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 4 bread rolls (such as hot dog buns or sub rolls)
  • Butter for spreading (optional)
  • Handful of salad greens (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper


  1. Combine the crab meat, chilli pepper (if using), scallions, lime juice and zest, avocado, parsley, crème fraîche, and mayonnaise—season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Toast the bread rolls, if desired, and spread with butter.
  3. Divide the salad greens among the bottom halves of the rolls, if using.
  4. A generous portion of the crab and avocado mixture should be topped on the salad greens (or directly onto the bread if not using greens).
  5. Close the rolls with the top halves and enjoy!

Deviled Crab-Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

Deviled crab-stuffed artichoke bottoms are a real treat. With a divine twist on a classic dish, they make an elegant appetiser for any occasion. They have delicious crab meat packed into the base of fresh artichokes. Here’s a recipe to try:


For the Filling:

  • 6 ounces lump crabmeat (or claw meat), picked clean
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped celery (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Worcestershire sauce, a few dashes (to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Artichokes

  • 4 large artichoke bottoms (fresh or canned, quartered hearts)
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice (optional for artichoke steaming)
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs


  1. Prepare the Filling: In a medium bowl, combine crabmeat, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, celery (if using), red bell pepper (if using), green onion, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix gently until well combined.
  2. Prepare the Artichokes:
  • For fresh artichokes: Trim the stems and remove the tough outer leaves. Cut off about an inch from the top. Steam or boil the artichokes in water with a squeeze of lemon juice (optional) until tender, about 20-25 minutes.
  • For canned artichoke bottoms: Drain the artichokes and rinse them gently.
  1. Carefully scoop out the fuzzy choke from the centre of each artichoke bottom.
  2. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly brush the artichoke bottoms with olive oil.
  3. Fill the Artichokes:  Spoon the crab mixture evenly into each artichoke bottom, mounding slightly.
  4. Top and Bake: Sprinkle the tops with panko breadcrumbs.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the filling is bubbly.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!


  • Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the filling for a touch of heat.
  • If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon or dill for the green onion.
  • To make these appetisers ahead of time, prepare the filling and artichoke bottoms up to a day in advance. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Then, assemble and bake just before serving.

Crab Mango and Avocado Salad

It’s a simple dish made with fresh mango, creamy avocado, and sweet jumbo lump crab meat. Here’s a delicious recipe for Crab, Mango and Avocado Salad:


  • ½ pound fresh lump crab meat (or claw meat, picked clean)
  • 1 cup diced ripe mango
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
  • ¼ cup finely minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Mixed greens (optional for serving)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)

Dressing (Optional):

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large bowl, gently combine the crabmeat, mango, avocado, red onion, and cilantro.
  2. Optional Dressing: In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, honey (if using), salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to coat.
  3. Without Dressing:  Season the salad with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, if desired.
  4. Serve immediately over a bed of mixed greens (optional), and enjoy!


  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of mayonnaise to the salad mixture for a creamier version.
  • If the avocado starts to brown, you can toss it with a bit of lime juice to help prevent browning.
  • Fresh mint can be used instead of cilantro or a combination of both herbs.
  • To save time, you can buy pre-diced mango.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. However, the avocado will continue to brown, so it’s best enjoyed fresh.

Tips for Perfecting Cold Crab Appetisers

cold crab appetisers
cold crab appetisers

When making cold crab appetisers, there are plenty of tips to keep in mind. Here are some tips to elevate your cold crab meat appetisers:

Crab Selection and Preparation

Freshness matters: For the best flavour, use the freshest crabmeat possible. Look for crabmeat that is firm, translucent, and free of discolouration. Opt for lump crab for a chunky texture or claw meat for a more delicate one.

Prepping: Whether fresh or cooked, pick through the crabmeat to remove any shells or cartilage.

Flavor and Texture

Creamy Base: Cream cheese, sour cream, or mayonnaise are classic creamy bases for dips and salads. For a lighter option, consider ricotta cheese or Greek yoghurt.

Acidic Balance: A squeeze of lemon or lime juice adds brightness and cuts through the crab’s and cream cheese’s richness.

Aromatic Accents: Fresh herbs like chives, parsley, or cilantro add freshness. For a bit of warmth, try chopped scallions or dill.

Crunchy Contrast: Toasted bread cubes, crackers, or sliced vegetables like cucumber or bell peppers provide textural contrast to the creamy dip or salad. Panko breadcrumbs can add a delightful crunch to crab cakes or stuffed avocado halves.


Garnishes: A sprinkle of paprika, chopped fresh herbs, lemon zest, or microgreens adds a pop of colour and visual interest.

Serving Vessels: Choose a shallow decorative bowl or a platter with sections for the dip and various dippers, such as crackers or crudités (raw vegetables). Individual serving bowls or martini glasses can add a sophisticated touch to salads.

Additional Tips

Make-ahead friendly: Many cold crab appetisers can be prepared in advance. Chill crab dips for at least an hour to allow the flavours to meld. Pre-assemble crab and avocado salad ingredients and toss with dressing just before serving.

Leftovers: Dips and salads can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a day. However, the avocado in salads will continue to brown.

Dietary variations: For a gluten-free option, serve dips with gluten-free crackers, rice cakes, or vegetable sticks. For a lighter dip, use low-fat cream cheese or Greek yoghurt.

How Long Will Cold Crab Appetisers Last?

Leftover cold crab appetisers, like crab dip, should be stored covered in the fridge. For the best quality and taste, they should be consumed within 5 days. If you properly store them in an airtight container in the fridge, they can stay fresh for about 2-3 days.

However, it is not recommended to freeze cold appetisers as their consistency may change when thawed. So make sure to enjoy your delicious cold crab appetisers while they are still fresh!


Cold crab appetisers are a go-to choice when you want to impress without spending hours in the kitchen. So, next time you’re hosting an event, consider adding some icy crab bites or cool canapes to your menu for a tasty treat that everyone will enjoy.

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