Try This Maryland Favorite: Crab Soft Pretzels

A couple weeks ago for the April 1st Cook’n newsletter, I shared a recipe for super easy soft pretzels that you may have already tried making for yourself. They are so simply perfect on their own. However……….I may have found a recipe that just might blow your mind a bit and get you to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for this perfect cheesy appetizer today!

If anyone from Maryland is reading this right now, you are about to be very excited because we are talking about a Maryland staple today--the crab pretzel. Apparently it is a big deal and tons of restaurants, particularly local pubs and bars serve them as appetizers and the author of this recipe, Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction, loves to get them every time her and her husband visit their home town in Maryland, and she says they love washing them down with an ice cold beer. It is the perfect comfort food and the perfect appetizer!

This little appetizer is simply a base of a large soft pretzel (you can find that recipe I love in the April 1st newsletter), topped with a lovely cheesy crab dip (made with good quality lump crab meat) and is covered in melted cheddar cheese. So it is really similar to crab cakes, but with pretzels and has tons of cheese!

The cool thing is you can actually just use this crab mixture as a hot dip to dip crackers, veggies, pita bread, or sliced baguette, etc. in. Now, there are a few keys to make these homemade crab pretzels taste the very best. Here are a couple tips from Sally:

1. Get the right crab meat.

Sally says you’ve really got to get the good stuff for these to taste just right. You want to avoid the stuff in the can, or claw meat. You want to get the pricey REAL lump crab meat. It is worth it!

2. Mix up your crab dip.

This crab dip is very easy to whip up and is so incredibly flavorful. To a bowl with your lump crab meat you’ll add cream cheese, mayo, grated parmesan cheese, Worcestershire sauce, fresh lemon juice, hot sauce, Old Bay, and garlic. You can even add some finely minced onion if you’d like. You pop that in the oven for 30 minutes and if you are just making the crab dip and no pretzels, you’ll add some shredded cheddar cheese on top and bake for 10 more minutes, until the cheese is melty and bubbling. If you are doing the pretzels, you can make them while the crab dip is in the oven.

3. Whip up easy homemade pretzels.

Make up your favorite recipe for quick homemade pretzels and they will be ready by the time the crab dip is ready. After your pretzels have baked for 10 minutes, pull them out and add a generous ⅓ - ½ cup of crab dip on top of the pretzel, plenty of shredded cheddar and pop it back in the oven for 5-8 minutes, until the pretzels are golden on the outside and the cheese is melted on top.

4. Give it some extra seasoning.

Now you can finish by adding a dash or two of Old Bay Seasoning, or even some hot sauce on top and you can finally dig in! You won’t believe how amazing these pretzels are! And if you are anything like me, you probably just found yourself your favorite appetizer and an extra item added to your travel bucket list to try these at a cool Maryland pub someday!

Homemade Crab Pretzels

An easy recipe for homemade crab pretzels, a Maryland classic! Author: Sally

Prep time:
Cook time:
Serving size: 8
Calories per serving: 257

1 (8-ounce) package full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large garlic cloves, minced (or 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sauces (add 1 tsp more for extra spice)
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasonings
1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, free of shells
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Homemade Soft pretzel
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).

In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until creamy and free of lumps. On low speed, beat in the mayonnaise, grated parmesan, garlic, Worcestershire, fresh lemon juice, hot sauce, and Old Bay. Add the jumbo lump crab and beat for a quick 5 seconds to very slightly break up any huge lumps.

Spoon the crab dip into an 8-inch or 9-inch casserole dish. I simply used a 9-inch pie dish. Top with a sprinkle of pepper, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to slightly cool as you prepare the soft pretzels.

Turn the oven up to 425°F (218°C). Make my homemade soft pretzels through step 5 (including the baking soda bath, which is step 5. Do not use the egg wash in step 6). I usually make the pretzels while the crab dip is baking.

Bake the pretzels for 10-11 minutes. Remove from the oven and spoon crab dip on top of each pretzel. I used about 1/3 cup – 1/2 cup of crab dip on top of each pretzel, but the amount is entirely up to you. Sprinkle each with cheddar cheese. Place crab pretzels into the oven and bake for 5-8 more minutes until the cheese is bubbly and the pretzels have slightly browned. Optional: top finished crab pretzels with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, Old Bay, or pepper.

Serve crab pretzels immediately. Crab pretzels taste best immediately after they are made, though they keep well for up to 2 days stored at room temperature covered tightly. We warmed up the leftovers for about 30 seconds in the microwave before digging in.


Recipe formatted with the Cook'n Recipe Software from DVO Enterprises.

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    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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