Deviled Crab

Lowcountry seafood at its best.

  • Serves

    serves 4

  • Cook

    2 hours


By Emily Meggett

Published on April 15, 2022

Deviled crab is best when you clean and cook the fresh-caught crab yourself. Remove the flesh from their shells, then season the meat with ingredients like lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Then, you’ll spoon the mixture back into the shells for a final cook to slightly crisp the meat. (You can use prepared crab meat from the store, just make sure to also buy large crab backs to hold the meat mixture.) Don’t be shy with the filling—you want that deviled crab to be overflowing so it’s a real treat for guests. The Worcestershire sauce adds a light, tangy flavor, and the breadcrumbs introduce a subtle crunch that, when combined with the crab mixture, will take you back to memories of a sunny, sandy beach in the Lowcountry.

Adapted from the new book Gullah Geechee Homecooking: Recipes from The Matriarch of Edisto Island, by Emily Meggett, published by Abrams. Text © 2022 Emily Meggett.


  • 5 slices white or whole wheat bread
  • 10 large blue crabs (or 1½ lb. crabmeat and 8 large crab backs)
  • 2 tbsp. Nature’s Seasons seasoning blend
  • 14 cup plus 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 34 cup mayonnaise
  • 14 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 12 tsp. yellow mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Step 1

Preheat the broiler to 500° F (or its highest setting). Place the bread slices on a large rimmed baking sheet, then slide them directly under the broiler and toast until golden brown and crisp, 2–3 minutes. Flip the slices over and broil 2–3 minutes more. Turn the broiler off and allow the bread to crispen and dry out in the oven, about 15 minutes, then remove and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Step 2

Using a hand grater, grate the toast into coarse breadcrumbs. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.

Step 3

Meanwhile, cook the crabs. Set a colander in the sink. Fill a large pot two thirds of the way with water, stir in the Nature’s Seasons seasoning, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Carefully lower the crabs into the water and cook until their shells are evenly bright red, about 15 minutes. Drain through the colander, and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Step 4

Transfer the cooled crabs to a large rimmed baking sheet and set them by your work station. Remove and reserve the crab back from each crab, then, remove and discard the gray gills. Pick and reserve the meat from the shells and claws and set aside. Rinse and clean the crab backs inside and out and discard the other shells.. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 5

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 6

To a large skillet set over medium heat, add ¼ cup of the butter. Once hot and bubbling, add the celery and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a mediumbowl, then add the reserved crabmeat, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard; using a fork, gently combine, taking care not to break up the crab meat. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the reserved breadcrumbs, then stir the remaining crumbs into the crab meat mixture. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Step 7

Place the crab backs, open-side-up, on a large, rimmed baking sheet, then fill each with about ½ cup of the crab meat mixture, adding more as needed to create a mound of filling. Sprinkle each crab with the reserved breadcrumbs, and dot with the remaining butter. Transfer to the oven and bake until lightly golden brown, about 35 minutes. Remove the deviled crabs from the oven, transfer to a platter, and serve warm.

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