Ultimate Guide to Cooking Crab: Recipes & Tips

10 Easy Crab Recipes to Impress Your Friends

Crab dishes are easily one of our favorite things to serve to our guests here at Pier Market. For over 40 years we’ve been serving up the best seafood that San Francisco has to offer, and with  the best views too. While we’re known for serving up amazing seafood, we know that sometimes you want to enjoy crab from the comfort of your home. If you are looking for easy crab recipes or crab meals, you’ve come to the right place. We’re the crab experts here at Pier Market. We’ve cooked crab in every way you can imagine, and the below dishes are easy crab recipes that anyone can make, no matter your skill level in the kitchen.

dungeness crab


Crab Cakes

As far as crab recipes are concerned, crab cakes are one of the easiest crab dish recipes to make at home. Crab cakes are probably what most people imagine when they’re thinking of crab meat dinner ideas. This is with good reason, crab cakes are a classic crab dish and anyone can make them. Not to mention, crab cakes are crowd pleasers. Make crab cakes for your next dinner party as an appetizer or even serve these up as your main course. All it takes is 7 ingredients, crab meat, egg, mayonnaise, old bay seasoning, parsley, and breadcrumbs. Combine the ingredients and lightly fry on the stovetop or broil in the oven for 10-15 minutes. You’re sure to be satiated and have some happy guests as well.

Crab Dip

Looking for crab recipes easy to make? You want something that will be the star of your meal, but also convenient and quick. Crab dip only takes 30 minutes to prepare. What is great about crab dip is that you can serve up either a hot or cold version of this crab dish. There are so many great crab recipes for this appetizer that it can be hard to know where to start. We recommend this hot crab dip recipe. While this dish has a few more ingredients than the crab cakes, the entire recipe is mixing all the ingredients and then placing the mixture in the oven. It doesn’t get any easier than that! This is delicious and everyone loves it. Make sure to cut up a baguette or serve crackers and chips as items to dip into this devour-able dish. 

Crab Macaroni and Cheese

If you’re looking for more substantial crab dinner recipes, crab macaroni and cheese is the way to go! Macaroni and cheese is everyone’s favorite comfort food, add crab to it and it’s everyone’s favorite dish, hands down. Take your favorite Macaroni and Cheese recipe and mix in crab. What is great about this is that you can serve it as a side or as a crab meal. Pro tip here is to mix in the crab after you’ve already mixed your noodles and cheese. Once you’ve mixed in the crab meat, place all the elements into a baking dish, top with breadcrumbs and bake.  This is an easy way to serve crab that you know everyone will enjoy. 

She-crab soup

If you haven’t had She-Crab soup and you’re in the market for crab recipes dinner time meals then we’ve found the recipe for you. She-crab soup originated in Scotland, but is most well-known as a crab dish in the south. It can readily be found in Georgia or the Carolinas. Fun fact is that She-Crab doesn’t refer to any distinct type of crab, it is in fact the crab meat from a female crab. This is one of our favorite crab recipes, it is similar to a clam chowder, just a bit more delicate. This is one of those crab meat dinner ideas that will be unexpected, and might be something that they’ve never tried. Expect a creamy texture, with a bit of a briny flavor, top it off with crab meat and sherry. Try this great She-Crab Soup recipe.  

Crab Legs with garlic butter

This is the classic and traditional way that we like to serve crab here at Pier Market, make sure to check out our menu items next time you’re in San Francisco. One of our signature dishes is garlic roasted whole Dungeness crab. We consider ourselves an expert on this one! If you’re interested in cooking crab legs at home we recommend either steaming or boiling them. We also recommend having a bib or napkin at the ready, because we know that eating crab can get messy! 

Crab Linguine

Crab dinner recipes are our favorite! Linguine with crab is a perfect weeknight go-to recipe that will keep everyone in your house happy. Mix in some tomatoes, basil and parmesan as well as some crab meat and you have yourself a winning dish. This crab dish only has 8 ingredients and is a quick 25 minute cook time. This is great for summertime especially if you can source fresh ingredients, and if not this is still a great go to recipe year round. Cook the linguine according to instructions on the box. Once finished, drain and toss with olive oil. Cook down tomatoes with white wine, sliced onion, and garlic. Cook for around 10 minutes, then add crab meat. Add in your cooked linguine. Turn off heat, add in fresh basil, parmesan and lemon zest. Finally mix all your ingredients together and you’re ready to serve! 

Crab Melt

We serve up an amazing crab melt here at Pier Market, so we know what goes into making the best crab melt you’ve ever tasted. Crab, obviously, is of the utmost importance here. However, just as important is the bread that you use. We’re big fans of the classic sf sourdough. The tang of sourdough adds a really nice balance to the finished product. The crab melt is also the perfect lunch to make for those looking for easy crab recipes. It’s quick! Head here for the perfect crab melt directions or feel free to improvise with your favorite ingredients. 

Crab Salad

Light and refreshing, this crab salad is served cold and keeps well. Plus this is one of the crab meals that is one of the easiest crab meals on the list, just mix up the ingredients and serve over lettuces. We mix crab, mayonnaise, celery, dijon, capers, parsley, and finish off with a squeeze of lemon. While our preferred method is serving this over lettuce, it also works well on a sandwich, or even on its own. However you wish to serve it up, it will be a homerun. 

Crab Fried Rice

Why not add a little asian flair to your dinner. A favorite dish is the crab fried rice from our sister restaurant, Crab House. This Thai style recipe is a great one to follow if you’re wanting to make this delectable dish at home. Trust us, you’ll find yourself devouring it all in one sitting! This falls into the category of crab dinner recipes that take less than 30 minutes. We love how quick and tasty this is!

Crab Benedict

Our sister restaurant Eagle Cafe serves up an amazing crab benedict if you find yourself on PIER 39 and are in the mood for crab. It’s easy to make this one at home, just follow your favorite benedict recipe and add crab. OR follow this innovative way to make crab benedict and use crab cakes as a replacement for an english muffin. It’ll be to die for good and rival any dish you could get out. 


What sides to serve with crab recipes

Because we have such a variety of dishes we wanted to choose side items that could easily work for all of these diverse crab recipes. Check out our favorite things to serve with crab below. Or if you’re looking for additional ideas make sure to check out our post on what to serve with clam chowder. A lof of these sides are also wonderful options for any crab dish!


Greens are an easy go-to for a side dish alongside crab. When dressed right they bring a bright acid component to your entire meal. Give your meal a nice balance with a bright lemon and olive oil dressed salad, it works very nicely, especially when you’re having the luxurious and decadent crab meat. Having a bright character will help cut through the luxuriousness of the crab and oftentimes the butter that goes along with crab recipes. 


Potatoes are a beloved food anywhere in the world. They are one of the most perfect food dishes to serve as a side to any crab recipes. We recommend roasting potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper and just a hint of rosemary. We also recommend baked potatoes to add more starch to your meal. This is a perfect accompaniment to the lighter crab recipes that you make including cold crab salad or roasted crab legs with garlic. However, you can also serve up a potato salad for the heavier dishes. Overall, you can’t go wrong with any type of potato side dish. 

What to drink with crab recipes

cocktails in san francisco

Not every beverage is the perfect pairing for crab. The best approach is finding a way to enhance the crab and not compete with the flavor! Below you’ll find our favorite things to drink alongside these easy crab recipes.


Wine pairs wonderfully with all types of crab recipes, everything from pinot grigio to the classic pairing of Chardonnay. We do recommend pairing crab with white wine but there are recipes that also work beautifully with lighter reds. The preparation of your crab will determine the best style of wine to look for. However, the best way to determine the wine to serve with your crab dinner recipes is figuring out the experience you want to have. There are two approaches when it comes to pairing wine. You can either pair the wine that has a similar flavor profile of the crab meals you are serving, or you can find a wine that has opposite qualities from the texture of your dish to add more complexity. Crab tends to have a delicate taste, so try and look for a wine that won’t overpower the flavor of the crab dish you are putting together. Crab is also often prepared with tons of butter and looking for a wine to compliment that profile is easy. Buttery chardonnays that are oak aged and have a bit more body. A Pinot Grigio will also work quite nicely, look for one that is unoaked so you can have a nice acid element to your dining experience. 

Any crab recipes that are tomato based will work excellently with a light red like a Pinot Noir or Gamay. Make sure the body or oak flavor profile does not overpower the crab. If you’re looking for more wine resources, check out our blog on pairing wine with fish!


Sometimes you just crave a cold beer to wash down the latest crab dish you’ve made in the kitchen. Pilsner is an obvious choice for crab. The delicate and lighter beers will truly work the best. The citrus notes you find in pilsners work wonderfully with crab cakes that have a lemon squeezed over the top or a fresh crab salad. 

Sake for crab recipes

Sake can easily be one of the most delicate alcoholic beverages made. With its pretty floral notes and perfect crispness. It’s a wonderful match and compliment for crab meat because they both have a delicate and subtle flavor. 

Cocktails and Mocktails

We recommend steering clear of any dark liquor if you’re ordering a cocktail along your crab dish. Although there are definitely exceptions depending on the easy crab recipe you are making, we have found that simple vodka based cocktails suits crab the best. The best approach to pairing a beverage with crab is to make sure that the flavor of your drink isn’t overpowering the delicious flavor of the crab. 


We hope that this guide has inspired you with new crab meat dinner ideas and just generally easy crab recipes that anyone can make. If you’re in San Francisco make sure to come check out Pier Market for the best crab dishes! We hope to see you soon, and until then happy cooking!