Cold Crab Dip Recipe

 It takes just 5 minutes and 4 ingredients to create this easy cold crab dip recipe, which is creamy, tangy, and full of flavor.

Cracker with crab dip.

If you’ve been looking for a super easy, delicious, and lightning-fast appetizer to take to your next potluck, party, or summer picnic, look no further! Move aside artichoke dip, because this cold crab dip recipe ticks all those boxes and then some.

All you need is 5 minutes and 4 ingredients to make this creamy crab dip. What are those 4 ingredients, I hear you ask? Imitation crab meat, cream cheese, cocktail sauce, and lemon juice. Chop up your crab meat, mix the ingredients together, and your imitation crab dip is ready. 

The cream cheese ensures this is the creamiest seafood dip you’ll ever taste, while the cocktail sauce and lemon juice add the perfect amount of flavor and tanginess. A lot of cold crab dip recipes use sour cream or mayonnaise (or a combination of both), but I’m a big fan of cream cheese crab dip. After one bite, I bet y’all will be too! 

When it comes to easy dip recipes, this quick and easy crab dip is definitely a winner. See our full recipe card below for more details and keep scrolling for serving suggestions.

Alright, are you ready to make the best crab dip ever in just 5 minutes? Set those timers and let’s go!

Ingredients for a cold crab dip recipe.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Imitation crab meat
  • Reduced-fat cream cheese (check out our easy-peasy homemade cream cheese recipe)
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Lemon juice
  • Sturdy crackers

How to Make My Cold Crab Dip Recipe

Add all ingredients to mixing bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the crab meat, cream cheese, cocktail sauce, and lemon juice.  

Mix ingredients together.

Stir this crab mixture until well combined.  

Bowl of crab dip.

Serve immediately with crackers or cover it with plastic wrap and chill until ready to eat.

Chill it for 2 hours up to overnight.

Bowl of crab dip.

Enjoy the most delicious crab dip ever!


  • Store leftover dip covered or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • I don’t recommend freezing cold crab dip, as cream cheese doesn’t freeze well.

Recipe Notes

  • Imitation crab comes in different varieties, such as flake style, leg, or stick. Any style works for this imitation crab dip since you are chopping it. You can find it packaged in the seafood section.
  • You could also use fresh crab meat and jumbo lump crab meat, but the latter is definitely on the expensive side in terms of crab meat. On the other hand, I don’t recommend using canned crab meat in this dip recipe.
  • I like reduced-fat cream cheese, but regular works too. I used 4 ounces for an extra creamy crab dip.  
  • Here are some more simple variations to make this easy crab dip your own:
    • Add lime juice instead of lemon juice.
    • Add 1/2 a cup of green onion, chopped red onion, or celery to this crab dip. 
    • For extra flavor, add lemon zest, a teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, or a pinch of chili powder for some heat.
    • Add 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped chives or parsley.
    • For extra heat, add a tablespoon of hot sauce.
    • If you don’t like cocktail sauce, I’d substitute it for your favorite salsa and see what you think!
    • Garnish with crispy bacon bits for a smoky flavor.

Recipe FAQs

What is imitation crab dip made of?

Every imitation crab dip recipe is different. But most of them include imitation crab meat (of course), lemon juice, seasoning, and the creamy substance of your choice. This might be plain yogurt, sour cream, or mayo.

What can I substitute for cream cheese?

If cream cheese is scarce in your neck of the woods, I have used plain Greek yogurt and it was just as tasty. Other recipes have listed mayo or sour cream as subs too.

What can I substitute for the crab?

I have made this with little mini shrimp (normally I am not a big seafood fan) and it was divine!

What is imitation crab?

Imitation crab is usually made from something called surimi or white fish flesh. It has the bones removed and minced into a paste. Then it’s combined together with other ingredients including both natural and artificial flavors, starch, sugar, and sodium.

What is good to dip in crab dip?

Here are some serving suggestions for your cold crab dip:

  • A sturdy cracker (light and flaky crackers can break when dipping), like Ritz crackers or water crackers.
  • Pita chips
  • Tortilla chips
  • Baguette slices
  • Crostini
  • Parmesan crisps
  • Bagel chips
  • Potato chips
  • Pretzels
  • Mini peppers (cut in half so you can use them as a scoop of sorts).
  • Bell pepper slices
  • Celery or carrot sticks
  • Cucumber slices

How do you make hot crab dip?

To make this into a baked crab dip recipe, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the crab dip into a small oven-safe dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Then top with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese or parmesan cheese, turn the oven to broil, and broil until the cheese is golden brown.

Warning: It’s important to remember that imitation crab is actually fish (as mentioned above). So for any fish allergies, you want to stay away from this dip. Make one of the other recommendations below instead.

Here are more delicious dips to make:

Baked Vidalia Onion Dip

Pimiento Cheese Dip

DELICIOUS Pumpkin Pie Dip

Reuben Dip Recipe

Jala Jala Cheese Dip

Grandmama’s Tex Mex Dip

Bowl of crab dip.

Cold Crab Dip Recipe

It takes just 5 minutes and 4 ingredients to create this easy cold crab dip recipe, which is creamy, tangy, and full of flavor.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: crab, dip, seafood
Servings: 6


  • 1 8-ounce package imitation crab meat, chopped
  • 3-4 ounces softened reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 2 ounces cocktail sauce
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Sturdy crackers


  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the crab meat, cream cheese, cocktail sauce, and lemon juice. 
    1 8-ounce package imitation crab meat, chopped, 3-4 ounces softened reduced-fat cream cheese, 2 ounces cocktail sauce, 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Stir this crab and cream cheese mixture until well combined.  
  • Serve immediately with sturdy crackers or cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to eat. You can chill it for anywhere between 2 hours up to overnight.
    Sturdy crackers


Warning: Imitation crab is actually fish so for any fish allergies do not make this dish with imitation crab!
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!



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  1. 5 stars
    I have been looking for a new dip recipe. Just printed this out and will be making this tonight. My hubby is excited as we both love crab meat!

  2. I’m not much of a crab person (or maybe that’s crabby person) but this sounds good and I may try it!

    Jenny in Florida

    1. I’ve chopped up cooked shrimp and made something very similar. It’s delish. You can buy the shrimp already cooked to make it easier.

  3. Folks with seafood allergies BEWARE! Imitation crab meat is actually FISH. My son-in-law can eat shellfish but is allergic to fish. He did the research and I’m thankful he did!

      1. I didn’t until I researched it a couple of years ago. When we make something for a group, small or large, I make a copy of the recipe that I used. I also bring a few extra recipe cards — in case someone asks for the recipe. Unfortunately, I was raised a dishwasher and my other siblings were raised as cooks. But, guess whose house is cleaner?!

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