If you’re looking for a comforting, casual main dish course, this baked crab casserole is the perfect dish for you. It’s super cheesy and delicious, and it’s so easy to make.
With imitation crab meat as the main ingredient, it’s a delicious, budget-friendly alternative to traditional crab recipes!
If you don’t believe me, check out this Thrillist article, The One Ingredient Secretly in a Ton of the Seafood You Eat.
Crab Casserole: A Comforting, Casual Main Course
Crab casseroles have long been synonymous with Chinese buffets. You may have tried it at your local Chinese buffet.
While this casserole is similar, we’re giving a tip of the hat to my home state of Maryland with the addition of Old Bay. The spice blend gives it that classic scent that transports you right to the east coast.
It’s a quick and easy recipe for busy nights. Serve it over rice or pasta for a hearty casserole meal that everyone in the family will enjoy.
Baked Crab Casserole Ingredients
This recipe uses easy to obtain, simple ingredients.
- Swiss cheese
- Cream cheese
- Sour Cream
- Fresh onion
- Green pepper
- Green onions (scallions)
- Garlic powder
- Mustard powder
- Old Bay Seasoning
- Imitation crab meat
- Cheddar cheese
Step-By-Step Instructions for Imitation Crab Casserole
This is such an easy dish to prepare!
Step 1: Preheat Oven & Prepare a Baking Dish
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Grease a 1 quart casserole or 9-inch pie plate.
Step 2: Make the Creamy Sauce
In a large bowl, combine shredded swiss cheese, softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, minced onion and green bell pepper, scallions, garlic and mustard powders and Old Bay. Mix until well combined.
Add the flake style imitation crab meat and gently fold in to distribute evenly.
Step 3: Bake the Casserole
Transfer the creamy crab mixture to your prepared baking dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until it’s bubbling.
Top it with shredded cheddar cheese during the last five minutes of baking so it melts.
Step 4: Garnish & Serve
Sprinkle finely chopped chives over the top of the baked casserole.
Serve it over rice or pasta for a filling meal!
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Store leftover baked crab casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To reheat crab casserole from the refrigerator, preheat your oven to 350°F and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through.
Substitutions & Variations
- Instead of Swiss or Cheddar, try it with different hard cheeses, such as Monterey Jack or Gruyere.
- Instead of sour cream, use full fat plain yogurt.
- Add in vegetables like petite broccoli florets, peas, baby spinach or fresh mushrooms.
- Substitute red pepper for the green bell pepper.
- Add black or white pepper for some subtle spice or cayenne pepper for a bigger kick of heat.
- If you don’t have or can’t find Old Bay, use a blend of your favorite spices or creole or cajun seasoning.
- Use a combination of seafood, like crab and shrimp.
- Combine bread crumbs with parmesan cheese and sprinkle on top for a little crunch.
Make Ahead Options
To make the casserole ahead of time, assemble it as directed but do not bake. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
To freeze crab casserole, assemble it as directed but do not bake. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or foil, and place in the freezer. When ready to bake, thaw the casserole overnight in the refrigerator. Then, bake as directed.
Why Imitation Crab Meat
Imitation crab meat is still in fact real seafood, and there are a few benefits to using it instead of real crab meat in this recipe
- It’s much cheaper than real crab meat.
- It’s already cooked and ready to eat, so there is no need to prepare it in any way.
- Imitation crab meat is widely available, and can be found in your local grocery store.
If you want to spring for the real thing, I suggest lump or jumbo lump crab meat.
What to Serve with Crab Meat Casserole
This is delicious served over rice or noodles, like penne pasta, but here are some other accompaniments and side dishes that you can serve with crab casserole:
- Green beans
- Caesar salad or a mixed green salad
- Mashed potatoes
- Garlic bread or crusty bread
- Fruit salad
The casserole is already rich and creamy, so you may want to choose lighter, side dishes or simple basic flavors that let the casserole shine through.
No matter what side dishes you choose, I’m sure your hot crab casserole will be a hit!
Baked Crab Casserole Recipe
- 1 cup Swiss Cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
- ⅓ cup Mayonnaise
- ¼ cup Sour Cream
- 1 tbsp Onion, minced
- 1 tbsp Green Pepper, minced
- 3 Green Onions, chopped
- ½ tsp Garlic Powder
- ½ tsp Mustard Powder
- ½ tsp Old Bay Seasoning
- 14 ounces Imitation Crab Meat, flake style, I recommend Trans-Ocean Crab Classic
- ½ cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- 1 tbsp Chives, finely chopped
- Steamed Rice or Pasta, for serving
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 1 quart casserole or 9-inch pie plate.
- Combine swiss cheese, cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, onion, green pepper, green onions, garlic powder, mustard powder and Old Bay in a large bowl. Fold in the imitation crab meat.
- Spoon crab mixture into baking dish. Bake for 20-25 min or until bubbling.
- 5 minutes before removing from oven, sprinkle shredded cheddar on top and allow to melt and lightly brown.
- Garnish with chives and serve over steamed rice or pasta.
Check out these other delicious recipes made with affordable imitation crab: