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Feb 24, 2019

Potted Crab

This Potted Crab Recipe is a classic appetizer from the pubs of Ireland and England and it is a great way to showcase such an extravagant ingredient like crab. It's so easy to make, and is wonderful for both picnics and dinner parties. 

Potted Crab

Potted crab comes from the method of "potting" meats and fish to preserve them from the pre-refrigeration days. Now it's a great way to stretch crab a little further as well as make it spreadable.

Potted crab is traditionally served with buttered toast. We loved it with toasted slices of Granary-Style bread. Any multigrain bread will be delicious with this potted crab.

You can also substitute cooked and chopped shrimp or lobster for the crab for this appetizer.

Potted Crab with buttered toast

You prepare potted crab in small pots and then top it with a layer of melted butter to preserve the mixture and to prevent any air from getting into the dish.

This potted crab is excellent with fresh cooked crab, including both light and dark meat. You can also use good quality lump crab meat.

Potted Crab with buttered granary style toast

I have been to Ireland a couple of times. My husband was born in Dublin and emigrated with his parents to the U.S. when he was twelve. We had met a few of the aunts and uncles who visited the U.S. but he had not been back to Ireland at all since his family moved to California. Plus, my kids (at the time, 18 and 21) had no concept of what Ireland was like.

When we finally were able to afford it, we took the kids on a trip to Ireland to meet all of the aunts, great aunts, uncles, and cousins in Dublin and surrounding cities. It was an amazing trip. My kids had so much fun with their cousins running around Dublin (and my 18-year-old loved the legal drinking age).

One of my favorite ways to spend a day in Ireland was to pass some time in the pubs. I have great memories of the friendly people and the comforting food.

Irish pubs

With your pint of beer or glass of wine, you can grab an appetizer, bowl of chowder or Irish stew, some bread, or a bit of cake.

Granted, it's been a few years, and things may have changed since our last trip, but I suspect that the pub scene is alive and well.

Either way, this potted crab brings back memories of our trips to visit my husband's Irish family.

Potted Crab with buttered granary style toast #pottedcrab #irishfood #stpatricksday

How do you make potted crab?

All you need to do is mix the crab with some spices and melted butter, press it into a ramekin, and top it with some melted butter to seal the top. 

Serve it with some buttered toast, and you have a delicious appetizer or snack. 

Potted Crab with buttered granary style toast for St. Patrick's Day

Pub food at its best!

More Irish Recipes from Karen's Kitchen Stories:

More St. Patrick’s Day Recipes From the Our Dinner Table group:

crab, appetizer, potted crab, Irish food
Yield: 4-6 servings

Potted Crab Recipe


  • 1 large cooked crab or one pound lump crab meat
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • Buttered toast to serve


  1. Mix together the crabmeat, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper. 
  2. Add the lemon juice to taste. 
  3. Melt the butter and add half of it to the crab mixture. 
  4. Pack the mixture into four to six small ramekins. 
  5. Pour the rest of the melted butter over the top of each ramekin. Chill the ramekins in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours. 
  6. Serve with buttered toast. 
Created using The Recipes Generator
Recipe adapted from The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Thanks for the family history. I love that! And I would have put money on the fact that you would have posted a bread recipe for this. I would have been wrong. Happily wrong, too, because I can't wait to try this, Karen.

    1. Thanks Cam! You would have been right 99 percent of the time, except I've made every Irish yeasted bread I could find already, ha ha.

  2. I've never heard of that. But it sounds divine! I can't wait until blue crab are in season so I can make this.

  3. My husband is a huge fan of crabs. This sounds really tasty.

  4. I have not tried this before and it sounds so wonderful! I love the method of sealing the crab.

  5. How wonderful that you got the opportunity to take the kids to meet all their relatives in Ireland. I have made potted crab before but your recipe sounds even better than the one I used.

    1. Ooh! Someone who has tried potted crab! Thanks Wendy!

  6. This looks really good! I know this is something that my family would love.

  7. I love hearing about family history! Ireland is on my bucket list. The dish looks great.

  8. Crab and butter?! Oh baby! Pass me a Guinness and one of these babies, it's time to pretend I'm in Ireland!


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