Whether it’s a fancy dinner party or casual tailgate, these Crab Stuffed Mushrooms will wow your guests. A creamy, cheesy filling, chock full of delicate crab, transforms the humble mushroom cap into something truly magical!
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At my house, every party leads into the kitchen, and there’s a freedom (and lack of shame) in grazing along the counter with one hand chip-digging into a bubbling dish of Hissy Fit Dip while the other clutches a refreshing cocktail.
On special occasions, though, I like a more formal set-up, with cloth napkins and even [gasp] utensils. It’s fun sometimes to fuss over little hors d’oeuvres that make my guests “ooh and ahh!”
As the saying goes, there’s a time for everything – a time to reap and a time to sow . . . a time to laugh and a time to cry . . . a time for yummy, messy party dips and a time for dainty appetizers that require a piece of dinnerware.
When that time comes, I make Crab Stuffed Mushrooms.
The key to crafting the perfect stuffed mushroom is texture, a combination of meaty, earthy creminis cradling a rich, creamy filling full of sweet, tender crab, with just a few subtle seasonings that accentuate all the natural flavors of these ingredients.
Crab meat is generally a splurge purchase for me, so I like to make sure it’s the highlight of this dish. Yes, if you look at all the recipes for stuffed mushrooms crab is actually not always the star! Mushrooms are sometimes stuffed with sausage, bacon, spinach, or even just a combination of cheeses, but crab is such a decadent ingredient that I usually make stuffed mushrooms with crab to impress my party guests.
Crab stuffing (and even crab cakes) vary a lot in their crab-to-breading-to-creamy ratio, and you’ll find lots of possibilities at your favorite restaurant chains.
The crab stuffed mushrooms Outback sells uses a lovely (but time-consuming) béchamel base and equal amounts of bread crumbs and crab. The Red Lobster crab stuffed mushrooms use crushed oyster crackers and cheddar cheese. There are no Olive Garden crab stuffed mushrooms, but they do make a version with chopped clams, bread crumbs, and Italian cheeses.
These are a wonderful starter, but the clams definitely have a distinctive texture that makes them very different from the crab-stuffed versions.
Bread or cracker crumbs in the filling add a density that takes the focus off the crab, I think, so my version is a nice, cheesy base without any bready filler getting in the way. The only breadcrumbs you’ll see in my recipe are sprinkled on for a crispy finish (and they’re panko which skips the crusts during the crumb-making process for an extra crunchy topping).
Cream cheese or mayonnaise? I like to make my crab stuffed mushrooms with cream cheese because it, well, makes it more cheesy! When I cook with mayonnaise, like the crabmeat stuffed mushrooms Emeril makes, the filling sets up with a slightly eggy consistency that works in artichoke dip and others dips that need to hold up to a cracker but that ultimately makes the filling seem less rich and creamy.
The texture is also one of the reasons I choose mozzarella, the pizza staple, instead of other cheeses like Swiss, cheddar, or parmesan. Its unique melty quality enhances the crabby goodness, and it’s a nice, mild cheese that won’t compete with the subtle crab flavor.
As far as the crab goes, I always recommend using a fresh variety from the fish market. That’s not always feasible depending on the price and/or availability, though, so you can definitely substitute canned in this recipe.
The cheesy filling is nice and rich, plus the crab will break up a bit during the mixing process (unlike in crab cakes where you want big chunks of crab), so it’s a perfectly acceptable substitute here. You’ll still need to pick through it for any leftover shell, though – we don’t want that kind of texture!
A little garlic and finely chopped green onions are the perfect aromatics for this filling.
I also love the flavor of celery but don’t like the crunch in this recipe, so I use Old Bay seasoning (bonus points for avoiding the celery chopping!). Old Bay is a classic addition to New England crab boils that adds several different heat-bringing peppers and sweet paprika, along with salt and celery, so it works great in this crab-based filling.
Although there are hundreds of varieties of edible mushrooms, there aren’t a whole lot of grocery store options for making crab stuffed mushrooms caps. Button mushrooms are the classic, but I like to use cremini, button’s slightly older, firmer, and more flavorful sibling.
You’ll want to choose mushrooms that are about two inches in diameter (or, as I like to call it, two bites) so you’ll have plenty of room for the filling.
If you want to switch out of appetizer mode into full entrée, you can also make crab stuffed portobello mushrooms using the same filling. I’ll take these over a steak any day!
My Crab Stuffed Mushrooms with cream cheese are an elegant appetizer that looks like you’ve spent lots of time on them (I won’t tell if you won’t), and they’re a beautiful addition to that fancy serving plate. Honestly, though, they’ll be a hit at your next party whether you’re serving sparkling wine in glass flutes or kegged beer in disposable cups.
Mushroom prep – To wash or not to wash? The general consensus for prepping button mushrooms that are destined for cooking is that you do want to wash them. Yes, they’ll absorb a teeny bit of water thanks to their spongy texture, but it’s an insignificant amount that will easily evaporate during the cooking process. A salad spinner works great for this job. You should also avoid the knife when removing the stems. Just pinch them between your fingers and rock them back and forth to remove them before stuffing. Don’t throw the stems away! You can toss them into veggie stock or chop them up for an omelet the next day.
Lighten up – If you skip the breadcrumb topping, you’ll make these crab stuffed mushrooms low carb. To replace the crunch, try sprinkling the top with crumbled, crispy bacon or chopped toasted walnuts. If you like the idea of the entrée version of this dish, you can also try one of the healthy crabs stuffed portobello mushroom recipes, basically ditching the cheese altogether and using a teeny bit of milk and breadcrumbs to bind the crab enough for stuffing.
Bring the heat – I know lots of us to have a “spicy” tooth, and you can certainly play around with the filling in this recipe. Replace the Old Bay seasoning with Cajun seasoning, use Pepper Jack instead of the mozzarella, add a teaspoon of hot sauce or a half cup of chopped pickled jalapenos.
Crab Stuffed Mushrooms
- About 20-Large Cremini Mushroom About 2 inches
- 1 Pound Crab Meat Picked over for any Shells
- 8 Ounces Cream Cheese At Room Temperature
- 1/2 Cup Green Onions. Finely Chopped
- 1 Clove Garlic Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 1/2 Cup Mozzarella Shredded
- 1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Dry Mustard Powder
- 1/2 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 2 Tablespoons Regular Butter Melted
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsely Chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Wipe mushrooms with a damp cloth to clean. Remove stems. Place mushroom caps on the prepared baking sheet.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the filling ingredients.
- Place a heaping Tablespoonful of crab mixture into each mushroom cap.
- In a small bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle evenly over filled mushroom caps. Bake in the preheated oven, 20-30 minutes, or until heat through and filling is hot and bubbly. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
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