On-The-Shell Deviled Crab Recipe

You're undoubtedly familiar with deviled eggs, but have you ever tried deviled crab? The crab meat in this dish is removed from its shells and mixed with a tasty blend of spices and other ingredients to give it some extra flavor, then the filling is then put back into the shells. Here the deviled crab is also topped with a layer of cheesy crumbs before baking. Recipe developer Catherine Brookes describes the results as "impressive and decadent," but says that deviled crab is "surprisingly easy to make."

You may find this recipe to be a bit more labor-intensive, however, depending on how easy it is (or isn't) to source the meat and shells. Brookes likes to make this dish with two different types of crab meat. "Brown crab meat," she explains, "is found in the shell cavity of the crab and is smoother and more paté-like in texture" than the white meat that comes from the legs and claws. Luckily for her, she was able to purchase both types of crab meat already picked and sorted along with crab shells sold on their own. If you have access to a fish market, you can always check to see if you might be able to purchase a few crab shells, but if this isn't possible, you may need to buy whole crabs and separate the meat from the shells yourself. If you can't find whole crabs or don't want to bother, though, you could replace the shells with ramekins.

Gather the ingredients for the on-the-shell deviled crabs

The main ingredient in this dish is crab meat, of course. If you're using the prepackaged kind and don't have a scale to measure out 11 ounces, Brookes assures us that it's "no problem switching up the amounts" and using 12 ounces instead — this would be ¾ of a one-pound container. You'll also need to scrounge up a few crab shells, or, as previously mentioned, find some shallow ramekins or other suitable baking dishes.

The rest of the filling consists of an onion, butter, flour, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, lemon juice, milk, and hard cider or beer. If you aren't a drinker, there's no need to purchase this last ingredient just to get the small amount needed here. While Brookes feels that "using a little alcohol adds an extra element and depth to the overall flavor of the crab mixture," she does say that you could replace it with extra milk, instead. To top off the filling, you'll be using breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.

Make the crab filling

Set the oven to 400 F so it can preheat as you prepare the deviled crabs. Next, melt the butter over medium-low and fry the onion until it softens, something that should take about 5 to 7 minutes. Once the onion is soft but not yet brown, stir in the flour and cayenne. Now add a bit of the milk, stir, then add a bit more, until it's all gone. Repeat the process with the cider or beer. You'll need to add the liquids slowly in order to make sure that the sauce stays smooth instead of getting all lumpy.

Once all of the liquid has been stirred in, turn off the heat, then add the Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice. Finish off the filling by stirring in the crab meat.

Stuff the crab shells

Divide the filling evenly between the shells, patting it down to make it nice and smooth. Top each filled crab shell with ¼ of the breadcrumbs, then sprinkle it with ¼ of the parmesan.

Bake the stuffed crab shells

Bake the deviled crabs for 25 minutes, at which point the filling should be hot and the crumb crust golden brown in color. If you want to dress the crabs up a bit when you take them out of the oven, Brookes suggests garnishing them with chopped chives. You could also have some sliced lemons on hand for squeezing over the top.

If you haven't been able to find crab shells and you've had to resort to baking the filling in a not-so-pretty pan, you could also scoop out the filling and use it to top a thick slice of crusty bread or toast. In this case, you could even sprinkle your open-face crabwich with shredded cheddar, then pop it back into the still-warm oven for a minute or two to make a delicious crab melt.

On-The-Shell Deviled Crab Recipe
5 from 31 ratings
Learn how to make this on-the-shell deviled crab recipe for your next seafood dinner.
Prep Time
Cook Time
stuffed crab shells with chives
Total time: 50 minutes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ large white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup hard cider or beer
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 7 ounces white crab meat
  • 4 ounces brown crab meat
  • 4 crab shells
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Optional Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Melt the butter over medium-low heat, then use the melted butter to fry the onion for 5 to 7 minutes until softened.
  3. Stir in the flour and cayenne pepper.
  4. Add the milk slowly, stirring after each addition.
  5. Add the cider or beer slowly, as well, also stirring after each addition.
  6. Turn off the heat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice.
  7. Combine the crab meat with the sauce in the pan.
  8. Divide the filling evenly between each shell.
  9. Sprinkle the stuffed crab shells first with the breadcrumbs, then with the parmesan.
  10. Bake the stuffed shells for 25 minutes.
  11. Garnish the deviled crab with chopped chives, if desired.
Calories per Serving 222
Total Fat 9.1 g
Saturated Fat 3.9 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 107.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 11.1 g
Dietary Fiber 0.8 g
Total Sugars 3.2 g
Sodium 691.5 mg
Protein 21.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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