How to Make the Crab Dip to End All Crab Dips

The secret to the best crab dip? Go light on the cheese and heavy on the shellfish

People at parties cannot get enough of dips, and one crowdpleaser in particular has stood the test of time: hot crab dip. This one comes from a less expected source—the windy mountains of Patagonia—and comes loaded with king crab meat. Which is why it’s the best one we’ve ever tasted: it’s all about the crab.

Traditionally, this spin on Chilean chupe is made with seafood-pasta style including shrimp, scallops, shellfish, and crab, but chupe de centolla allows the southernmost coastal region’s native king crab to be the centerpiece. Grana Padano cheese, “grana” meaning grainy, is similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, and is known for its crumbly texture but bold, sweet taste. That’s the only cheese that goes into this dip—the rest of the binders are just onion, milk-soaked bread, and a touch of cream, mixed with the crab and then crisped under the broiler.

Prepare this dish in advance and then broil it right before your guests arrive, leaving them awestruck as they walk in to find this melty, steamy crab dip still bubbling at the hors d’oeuvres bar. Feel free to serve right out of the cast iron dish, which makes for a rustic contrast next to your dainty olive oil crackers. Interested in more dishes from Patagonia? Check out The Epic Food and Landscape of Patagonia.

The Ultimate Crab Dip

Known as chupe de centolla, this Chilean crab gratin borders on a cheesy crab dip. While similar South American chupe are always prepared with milk-soaked bread and any combination of shrimp, scallops, shellfish, meats, and cheeses, Patagonia’s version relies solely on the massive local king crabs, the hallmark of fishermen’s kitchens along Chile’s southernmost coast. Get the recipe for The Ultimate Crab Dip »