Warm Piquillo & Crab Dip

With football season in full swing and holiday get-togethers rapidly approaching, I thought it was time to pull out another one of my favorite dip recipes.  Miles away from french onion dip in it’s unexpected flavors, this rich,  warm crab dip takes it’s inspiration from a classic Spanish seafood tapa.

If you’ve never tried a piquillo pepper before, this is a great way to enjoy them.  Imagine a jarred, roasted red bell pepper, only smaller, sweeter, smokier and more complex. That’s what to expect from a good, roasted piquillo pepper. When combined with succulent crab, fresh herbs and nutty Manchego cheese, you have a dip so unique and satisfying that you might consider foregoing the run-of-the-mill guacamole.

Don’t get me wrong, I love queso dip, spinach dip  and artichoke dip, too, but there’s something especially substantial and satisfying about this particular dip. I mean, doesn’t it always seem like the inclusion of crab ups a dish’s swankiness?


From a recipe by Jose Garces, in the August 2006 issue of Food and Wine Magazine

For even more piquillo flavor, I’ll sometimes chop a few extra peppers and fold them into the crab mixture before spreading it into the baking dish.  While fresh, lump crap meat and crème fraîche make this dish especially rich and flavorful, I have made it using canned crab meat and sour cream.  The resuling dish is just as delicious and way more affordable.  Finally, if you can find them, spanish terra cotta dishes called cazuleas make for an especially authentic cooking and presentation vessel.


  • 1 lb lump crab meat
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons snipped chives
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 lb Manchego cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • One 9-ounce jar piquillo peppers, drained and cut into strips


  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the crab, mayonnaise,  crème fraîche, parsley, chives, mustard, lemon juice and 3/4 cup of the cheese.
  3. Spread into a 7-inch cazuela or ceramic baking dish and carefully arrange the piquillo pepper strips into a lattice pattern, if you choose.
  4. Sprinkle with the remaining Manchego and place under the broiler for 5-6 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbling.
  5. Serve immediately with crusty bread or crostini.

Serves 4

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  1. Yum!

    This looks delicious.

    Perfect for game night.

    Thanks for sharing.


  2. You had me at “Manchego cheese”! This crab dip sounds amazing. Almost makes me want to watch football for an excuse to make it 🙂

  3. Seriously, this sounds AMAZING! I absolutely love Manchego cheese adn this dip just sounds decadent!

    • Gina
    • October 7th, 2009

    Your dip is beautiful enough to distract even the most intense football-watching folks — I’ve never managed to make anything that takes their eyes off the TV! I bet this will do it! Looks so darned good, and I adore the lovely crusty bit you’ve got on top.

    • marcia
    • October 8th, 2009

    Your crab dish is gorgeous. I can savor the taste as I read the recipe. I will make this and impress everyone…but I promise to give you the credit.

  4. That dip looks so good!

  5. This looks so good I’m going to have to get a cloth to wipe the drool off of my keyboard.

  6. Hi

    Featured this recipe as part of a 12 Days of Christmas feature I ran:


    Great recipe!