Teat yourself to the seafood dinner (or appetizer) you deserve with this Crab Imperial recipe! Succulent bites of jumbo lump crab meat are nestled in a buttery, creamy sauce and baked to perfection beneath a layer of crunchy breadcrumbs. It’s an elegant, impressive dish that’s oh so easy to make!

Two servings of crab imperial are garnished with parsley.

Crab Imperial

I’m going to be very honest here… I don’t think I’ve ever met a crab recipe I didn’t like. When it comes to seafood, crab is at the tip top of the list for me. While there’s a very long list of crab recipes I’m absolutely obsessed with (scroll to the bottom of this post to check those out), crab imperial always has a special place in my heart!

There’s something so elegant about it. Is it the name? Is it the fact that it’s usually served in nicer restaurants? Perhaps. I just know that any time I serve crab imperial at a dinner party, I always receive the most wonderful chorus of “oohs” and “ahhs!” Whether it’s served as an appetizer or as the main course, crab imperial always aims to impress.

Crab imperial is now considered a retro recipe, which is kind of sad! I love this dish and wish I could order it more often at restaurants. Luckily, I have this homemade recipe that I can always count on. It takes just a few minutes to prep and 10 minutes to bake. The end result is always so buttery, tender, creamy and perfectly portioned into four ramekins, so it’s perfect for a small dinner party!

Lemon slices are placed next to two servings of crab imperial.

How to Make Crab Imperial

In just about 15-20 minutes, you’ll have the very best crab imperial on the table! Scroll to the very bottom of this page to see more info on ingredient measurements and instructions.

  1. Prepare. Preheat the oven to 425°F and spray down 4 ramekins with non-stick spray.
  2. Make the cream sauce. Melt just 1 TBSP of butter in a pan over low heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour until smooth. Let it cook until golden brown, which should only take a minute or so. Slowly whisk in the half and half, minced onion, and worcestershire sauce. Once combined, remove from heat.
  3. Finish off the sauce. Stir in your shery, mayo, lemon juice/zest, salt and pepper.
  4. Sauté the crab meat. Increase the heat to medium and melt 3 TBSP of butter. Toss in the crab meat and sauté for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  5. Combine. Fold the sautéed crab meat into the cream sauce. Divide the mixture between the ramekins.
  6. Make the breadcrumb mixture. Melt more butter in the skillet. Stir in the breadcrumbs, parmesan and garlic powder.
  7. Bake. Sprinkle the toasted breadcrumb mixture all over the ramekins. Place them all on a baking sheet, then pop them in the oven for 10 minutes. Cook until golden brown.
A fork is holding a small portion of crab imperial over a ramekin.

Ingredient Notes

Here’s what you’ll need to make homemade crab imperial:

  • Butter – It can be salted or unsalted, whichever you prefer.
  • All-Purpose Flour – This is used to thicken the cream sauce to the best thick consistency.
  • Half and Half – I don’t recommend swapping this with anything else! Heavy cream would be too thick and whole milk would be too thin.
  • Onion – Make sure it’s finely minced into very small pieces! You want to experience the flavor of the onion, not so much the texture.
  • Worcestershire Sauce – This adds a tangy, savory depth to the sauce.
  • Dry Sherry – Don’t let the rest of the bottle go to waste! Use it to make my favorite chicken divan casserole.
  • Mayonnaise – I don’t recommend using a low-fat mayo, since that might affect the consistency.
  • Lemon – Use fresh lemon juice, not bottled! You’ll also need the zest.
  • Seasonings – Kosher salt, ground pepper and garlic powder is all you need in this simple recipe. They work to enhance the natural flavors of the crab rather than overpower it.
  • Jumbo Lump Crabmeat – Drain it well before using it! Also, pick through it to make sure there aren’t any shell fragments that snuck in there.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs – These give the very best crunch! I don’t recommend swapping them with anything else.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Freshly grated parmesan is the way to go for the best flavor and consistency.
Two servings of crab imperial are presented next to lemons and oyster crackers.

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Lemon slices are placed next to two servings of crab imperial.

Get the Recipe: Crab Imperial Recipe

Classic Crab Imperial recipe is made with jumbo lump crab meat baked in a creamy, sherry spiked sauce before being baked under a golden blanket of buttery breadcrumbs. So decadent and easy.
5 from 1 vote


  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested.
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat, drained
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


  • 4 Ramekins


  • Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  • Coat 4 ramekins with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth and cook until golden brown, approximately 1 minute. Slowly add the half and half, onion and Worcestershire sauce, whisking to combine. Remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the sherry, mayonnaise, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper.
  • In a skillet, melt 3 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the crabmeat and saute for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Fold the crabmeat into the sauce and then divide evenly between the ramekins.
  • In a small skillet, melt the remaining butter. Stir in the bread crumbs, cheese and garlic powder.
  • Sprinkle each with the breadcrumb mixture and transfer to a baking sheet.
  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.
  • Serve immediately with lemon wedges, if desired.
Calories: 512kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 40g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 109mg, Sodium: 1655mg, Potassium: 367mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 609IU, Vitamin C: 23mg, Calcium: 127mg, Iron: 2mg