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Square side shot of crab imperial with fresh parsley garnish on a wooden board.
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4.80 from 20 votes

Virginia Crab Imperial

A traditional Crab Imperial tastes fancy, but this easy dish is ready for the oven in just 10 minutes!
Course Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine American, Southern
Keyword crab imperial, crab imperial recipe, crab meat recipes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 433.5kcal
Author Blair Lonergan



  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 4 (8-ounce) ramekins or one (1-quart) casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and onion; sauté until soft (about 5 minutes). Set aside to cool slightly.
    Sauteing red bell pepper and onion in a cast iron skillet.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together ½ cup of the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, egg, pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Stir in the cooled vegetables. Add the crab and gently fold to mix, being careful not to break up the crab.
    Stirring crab mixture in a white bowl.
  • Divide the mixture among the 4 prepared dishes. Use the remaining ¼ cup of mayonnaise to spread about 1 tablespoon on top of each dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
    Process shot showing how to make crab imperial.
  • Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until browned and bubbly.
    Close up side shot of the best crab imperial recipe in a blue ramekn.



  • If available, use a wedge of Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself instead of using canned pre-grated Parmesan cheese. The freshly-grated version has a richer taste and melts better.
  • Use the Crab Imperial as stuffing for shrimp, salmon, or flounder. This is another great way to stretch the flavor of the pricey crab.
  • Serve the creamy dish with lemon wedges or a squeeze of lemon juice for a bright, acidic contrast. Chopped fresh parsley or sliced green onion are also classic finishing touches.
  • Offer crackers or fresh, crusty bread alongside for scooping. It's like a hot crab dip!
  • I prefer jumbo lump or lump crab for this recipe, but you can substitute with backfin or a combination of lump and backfin. I do not recommend using canned crabmeat.
  • If you don't have individual ramekin dishes, you can substitute with one 1-quart baking dish.
  • Cooking Just for Two? Cut all of the ingredients in half and bake two portions of the recipe instead of 4. The rest of the instructions remain the same.
  • Many crab meat recipes call for sherry, which I do not include here. If you like, you can add a splash of sherry to your mayonnaise mixture.


Serving: 1ramekin | Calories: 433.5kcal | Carbohydrates: 1.3g | Protein: 22.4g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 7.9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1.6g | Cholesterol: 155.7mg | Sodium: 708.8mg | Potassium: 35.2mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 5.1g