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Crab Imperial

Crab Imperial is a simple, classic Maryland seafood recipe that really lets the flavor of the crab shine through. It’s warm, creamy, and delicious. Serve with crackers or baguette slices for an elegant appetizer. If there are any leftovers, they make a great omelet filling.

Crab Imperial

What Is Crab Imperial?

It’s a classic crab recipe in which the crab is combined with a mayonnaise-based mixture and then baked with a bread crumb topping. Typically it is served in individual ramekins of scallop shells, but baking it in a single dish is much easier and more practical for the home cook.

Which Type Of Crab To Use?

Lump crab meat is the main ingredient in Crab Imperial. You’ll want to use 1 pound of good quality fresh jumbo lump crab meat. This dish is all about the crab flavor. The other ingredients are just there to accentuate the crab flavor. Jumbo lump crab meat comes in big chunks that have a wonderful sweet flavor.

Jumbo Lump Crab Meat is expensive. You can substitute lump crab meat or back-fin crab meat if needed, but use fresh, NOT canned.

Crab Imperial is a classic Maryland recipe

Other Ingredients

The crab is tossed with 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, an egg, some lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, parsley, and shallot.

I like to add a cracker crumb topping but you can leave it off if you want.

The mixture only needs about 20 minutes to bake. Just long enough to get it hot.

How To Serve

Can be served either as an appetizer or main dish. If serving as a main dish, some great sides to go with it are a garden salad with Creamy Italian Dressing, Angel Biscuits, Hush Puppies, and Marinated Cucumber, Tomato, and Onion Salad.

Crab Imperial with a cracker topping

Try These Other Crab Recipes

Crab Imperial

Crab Imperial

Crab Imperial is a simple, classic Maryland seafood recipe that really lets the flavor of the crab shine through. It's warm, creamy, and delicious.

PREP: 15 minutes
COOK: 20 minutes


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup coarsely crushed Ritz crackers
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pound fresh jumbo lump crab meat, picked over to remove any pieces of shell


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dish.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay, salt, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper.
  • Stir in parsley, shallot, and crab. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
  • In a small bowl, stir together Ritz cracker crumbs and melted butter. Scatter on top of crab mixture.
  • Sprinkle paprika on top. Bake for 20 minutes. 
  • Serve with crackers or toasted baguette.


Stir the crab in gently so you don’t break it up too much.


Calories: 242kcal
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: crab dip

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4 thoughts on “Crab Imperial”

  1. George Anschutz

    Turned out great! I can’t ever follow a recipe exactly, so I have to confess I’m a rube and I used fake crab. It still tasted great, with lots of crab flavor. Instead of Ritz crackers, I used Panko, which is my favorite topping. I did spread it on Ritz crackers. A couple caveats…make sure you used the best neutrally-flavored mayo, and be careful of the amount of cayenne. I love cayenne, so I added a bit more than the recipe suggested, and with the delicate flavor of the dish, I definitely noticed it. On a positive note, the cayenne didn’t obliterate the other flavors. I cooked at 375 for 18 minutes (high-altitude here), let it rest for 5 minutes, and YUM!

    1. Being born an raised in Md I have to tell you the only seasoning you need is old bay. There was a mention of crab dip which this not, crab dip contains shredded cheese and baked until bubbly

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