This easy 25-minute Crab Linguine Pasta is made with fresh crab meat along with 9 simple-to-find ingredients! This seafood pasta is so fresh, bright and light, yet buttery, rich and seriously satisfying! It’s an easy, no-fuss dinner your family is guaranteed to love!
This recipe is flexible and totally customizable, plus I’ve included instructions for using canned crab meat or cooking whole crabs and crab legs at home! Continue to read on for helpful tips, and don’t miss the in-depth step-by-step photos in the post!
Hi, friends! Pasta lover’s rejoice, because today I’m sharing what is sure to become your favorite summer pasta recipe! While this lush crab meat linguine looks elegant and possibly slightly intimidating to prepare, it’s actually incredibly easy and totally painless to put together!
Crab linguine: recipe overview
This shellfish pasta is fresh, flavorful and light, yet comforting and totally luxurious!
This recipe features silky, long twirls of pasta, generous chunks of sweet, succulent lump crab and juicy, fresh tomatoes tossed with a buttery, rich white wine sauce flavored with delicate shallots, pungent garlic and flavorsome Italian seasonings. This dish is totally satisfying and sinfully addictive without being too heavy or over-the-top rich! It’s the perfect balance of decadence and simplicity!
But, not only is this seafood pasta totally sublime in taste, it’s also the ultimate quick and easy dinner! This no-fuss recipe uses simple pantry staples and easy to find fresh ingredients to get dinner on the table in a matter of minutes! With just 10 minutes of prep and 15 minutes of active cook time you can create a luxe dinner anyone and everyone will love! Whether you are feeding your family or entertaining friends, this is the perfect recipe to keep in your back pocket when you are aiming to please!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- No-fuss and simple to prepare! If you can boil water and toss some stuff around in a sauté pan then you can make this easy recipe!
- 30 minute or less recipe! This recipe only requires 10 minutes of active hands on preparation!
- 10 ingredients! This crab linguine recipe uses 10 easy-to find fresh ingredients, plus a couple pantry staples!
- Crave-worthy taste! This crab meat pasta is so rich, buttery and luxurious with the most delicious bright and fresh flavors!
- Real crab! This shellfish pasta is overflowing with generous, big ole’ hunks of sweetly sumptuous and tender lump crab!
- Totally customizable! You can completely customize this flexible recipe! Try using a combination of crab and shrimp, throw in some bacon or use crab legs instead of canned crab meat!
- Versatile: This crab meat linguine is fancy enough for special occasions and entertaining, yet fast and easy enough for weeknight meals with the family!
What is crab meat pasta?
Crab pasta is a simple Italian pasta dish. As the name suggests, this no-fuss dish features: lump crab meat, onions, garlic, Italian seasonings, fresh herbs and linguine (or any variety of long, thin pasta) in a white wine and butter sauce. Crab meat pasta can be kept minimalist, or it can include a variety of tasty additions, such as cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and freshly grated cheese.
Is crab healthy?
Crab meat is one of the healthiest seafood options as it has many of the same nutrients as other popular types of seafood, such as tuna, but with lower levels of mercury!
Crab meat is high in protein and rich in a multitude of vitamins and minerals, such as niacin, vitamin B12, calcium, potassium and iron. Crabmeat is also very low in calories and saturated fat!
Ingredients in seafood pasta
This easy crab linguine recipe relies on 9 simple-to-find ingredients along with a couple pantry staples to create a dish that is restaurant-quality in taste!
What you need to make crab linguine
- Oil + Butter: This recipe uses a combination of extra-virgin olive oil and unsalted butter for sautéing to provide a base of rich flavor! Make sure you use a good-quality oil for the best taste.
- Pasta: You can use any long, thin variety of dry pasta you love! Spaghetti, bucatini, linguine and fettuccine all work beautifully!
- Shallots: Two large shallots add a touch of delicate slightly sweet onion flavor!
- Garlic: Two cloves of fresh garlic provide a distinctive, punchy taste. Make sure you use fresh garlic, not the minced variety sold in a jar.
- Seasonings: A combination of Italian seasoning blend (homemade or store-bought), red pepper flakes, kosher salt and ground black pepper all provide a ton of flavor! (See below for substitutions and variations!)
- Wine: You need one cup of white wine for this recipe. Make sure you use a dry white wine you actually like and would drink! Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc are all wonderful in this dish!
- Tomatoes: Two pints of cherry tomatoes add juicy pops of concentrated bright, sweet flavor! You can substitute grape or roma tomatoes if that’s what you love!
- Crab meat: I prefer to use picked and pasteurized fresh crabmeat for ease and convenience. However, you can use whole crab or crab legs and cook them yourself if you prefer! (See below for grades of crabmeat!)
- Fresh herbs: Fresh herbs provide a ton of bright flavor that really bring this dish to life! Fresh basil and chives are a must for me, but you can throw in or substitute parsley, oregano or thyme if you like!
- Lemon: The zest of one lemon adds a touch of zippy complexity while also bringing out the all the savory flavors in this pasta dish.
Want to make a few changes or additions to this crab meat pasta? Wonderful – I encourage you to make this recipe your own! Get creative or simply eliminate the ingredients you don’t like and substitute the ones you love! Below are a few easy ideas to get you started!
- Tomatoes: If fresh tomatoes aren’t in season, you can use a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes. Make sure you drain the tomatoes well before using and add them with the pasta water in step 5 of the recipe.
- Onion: If you prefer a stronger onion flavor, you can substitute the shallots with half a yellow or sweet onion instead!
- Seasonings: For the best taste, I recommend making your own Italian seasoning! However, you can use a store-bought variety of Italian spice mix. Or, simply use one or more of the following: dried basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage and/or marjoram (depending upon what you have on hand).
- Seafood: You can substitute the crab for succulent shrimp, heart-healthy salmon or luxurious lobster! Just make sure you cook the seafood first and chop or flake it into large, bite-size pieces before adding it to the pasta! Or, try making seafood pasta by using a mix of crab and your favorite fish or shellfish!
- Parmesan: No pasta is complete without a generous dusting of quality Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese!
- Sun-dried Tomatoes: This crab pasta is so delicious with slightly chewy, intensely sweet-tart sun-dried tomatoes! Try replacing the olive oil with the oil from the jar and substitute some (or all) of the cherry tomatoes for sun-dried tomatoes!
- Vegetables: You can add any vegetables you love, such as red bell peppers, asparagus, frozen (defrosted) sweet peas or roasted mushrooms! If you are adding bell peppers or asparagus, add them to the pan and sauté along with the shallots. If you are using peas or cooked mushrooms, add them to the pan along with the cooked pasta.
- Greens: Are you looking to add more greens to your diet? Try stirring in baby spinach or arugula along with the pasta in step five.
- Bacon: Do you love crispy bacon? Dice up a few strips of bacon and cook it until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and use the fat as a replacement for the olive oil to sauté the shallots! Then, add the bacon back to the pan just before serving or use it as a garnish!
What types of crab can I use in pasta?
You can use either whole crab, crab legs or fresh crab meat in this pasta recipe.
I prefer to use picked and pasteurized fresh crabmeat for ease and convenience. You can locate fresh crabmeat in the refrigerated section of most major grocery stores.
If you are using whole crabs or crab legs, you will need to cook the crab and remove the meat prior to making this pasta. You will need approximately 1 pound of crab meat to make this crab pasta recipe.
Note: I do not recommend using the shelf-stable cans of crabmeat that can be found in the canned fish aisle of your grocery store as those cans lack flavor and are riddled with preservatives.
Using canned crab meat in pasta
There are five grades of picked crabmeat. I prefer jumbo or lump for the best fresh crab flavor and generous texture! However, you can use whichever grade you like, depending upon your budget and taste preference. The grades below are listed by price, from most expensive to least.
Grades of crab meat
- Colossal and Jumbo Lump Crabmeat: These are the two most expensive grades of crabmeat; however, they also yield the sweetest taste and most tender texture! These grades are a delicacy; therefore, most recommend enjoying them on their own with drawn butter. However, if you are looking for a truly luxurious experience, jumbo lump crab meat is excellent in this linguine recipe!
- Lump Crabmeat: Lump grade crabmeat is what I use most often when making seafood pasta. It’s less expensive than jumbo or colossal and consists of sizable broken jumbo lumps mixed with large chunks of body meat. The crabmeat is flavorful, and the large chunks are perfect if you are looking for a truly decadent, restaurant-quality pasta!
- Backfin Crabmeat: This grade consists of smaller, broken chunks of lump crabmeat and flakes of white body meat. Backfin has good flavor and enough texture to hold up well in pasta if you are looking for a cheaper option than lump crabmeat.
- Special Crabmeat: Special grade is made up of smallish flakes of white body meat. Special crabmeat has a nice delicate flavor; however the texture tends to get lost once you toss it in pasta.
- Claw Crabmeat: Claw-grade crabmeat is the least expensive of the bunch; however, it also has the most robust flavor. Claw meat has a hearty flavor versus the delicate, sweet flavor found in the other grades. It’s also brownish-pink in color rather than snowy white. Claw crabmeat tends to overwhelm the delicate butter and white wine flavors and the texture gets totally lost in this pasta. However, if you love claw meat, by all means, use what you love!
Using crab legs in pasta
They type of crab legs you use to make pasta will depend upon your budget, preference and time of year! I recommend using either Alaskan king crab or snow crab legs.
- Alaskan king crab legs are available October through January. King crab legs are sold individually, and they are quite pricy. However, king crab legs contain thick, juicy chunks of meat. While I do love king crab legs, you may want to reserve this delicacy for eating on their own with some drawn butter.
- Snow crab legs are available late fall through early summer. Snow crab legs are sold in clusters (usually with 6-8 legs intact) and they are a more economical option. Snow crab legs are meaty; however, their meat isn’t as thick and dense as king crab.
How to cook crab legs for pasta?
Cooking crab legs is easy to do at home! Crab legs are typically sold already pre-cooked and either frozen or thawed from frozen; therefore, all you need to do is heat up the crab legs!
There are three easy ways you can cook (reheat) crab legs: steaming, grilling and baking. Please note, while you can boil crab legs, I don’t recommend it because it water-logs the crab legs, diluting the natural fresh flavor in the meat!
Steaming crab legs is personally my favorite method as it’s easy to do and it gently reheats the crab legs so that they retain their natural juicy moisture and fresh flavor!
- Add water to pot: Add 1-2 cups of water to a large stockpot (you should have approximately 1 1/2-inches of water) and insert a steam basket in the pot.
- Add crab legs: Add as many crab legs as your pot will accommodate (make sure you will still be able to cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid!).
- Boil water: Bring the water to a gentle boil.
- Cover and steam: Cover the pot and steam until the crab legs are fragrant and steaming hot – about 5-7 minutes for thawed legs and 9-11 minutes for frozen crab legs.
- Crack and remove meat: Remove the crab legs from the pot and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. Crack the legs open and remove the crab meat.
If the weather if nice, grilling crab legs is a great cooking option – it keeps your clean-up to a minimum and infuses a bit of smoky flavor into the crab legs! I recommend thawing your crab legs prior to using this method.
- Prepare grill: Prepare your charcoal or gas grill for medium heat.
- Prepare crab legs for grilling: Lightly brush the crab legs with oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill
- Grill: Place the crab legs over direct heat and grill for 3-4 minutes, or until the crab legs are fragrant and steaming hot.
- Crack and remove meat: Remove the crab legs from the grill and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. Crack the legs open and remove the crab meat.
Oven baking is perfect for those of you who are looking for a hands-off option! I recommend thawing your crab legs prior to using this cooking option.
- Preheat oven: Arrange the oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 450. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Prepare crab legs: Place the crab legs on the baking sheet and brush the legs with lightly melted butter or olive oil.
- Form foil pack: Bring the ends and sides of the aluminum foil up and over the crab legs to create a foil pack, folding the ends to seal the pack closed.
- Bake: Place the crab legs in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until the crab legs are fragrant and steaming hot.
- Crack and remove meat: Remove the crab legs from the oven and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. Crack the legs open and remove the crab meat.
Using whole crabs to make linguine
If you want to use whole crab to make this crab meat pasta, your best option is to purchase live crabs if possible. When purchasing, look for crabs that are alert and wield their pinchers when nudged. Live crabs should smell like the ocean with a fresh saltwater aroma – never purchase crabs that smell fishy or sour. A quick note about using whole crabs, prepare for a lot of work and not a lot of return – a whole crab will generally yield anywhere from 13% to 30% meat. Store live crabs in the refrigerator and make sure you use them the day of purchase.
The type of crab you use to make crab pasta will depend upon the availability and what part of the country you reside. I recommend using either blue crabs (Maryland, summer season) or Dungeness crabs (California, winter season).
How to cook whole crab for pasta?
Cooking whole crabs is a super easy process; however, the process of cleaning them is labor intensive and will not yield much meat. You can boil, steam, grill or roast whole crabs; however, I recommend either boiling or steaming them. While you can grill or roast whole crabs, you will need to quickly boil or steam them prior, so I don’t recommend taking those extra steps for using the meat in pasta.
Boiling is the most common way to cook live crabs; however, some of the fresh crab flavor will be seeped out into the water.
- Boil water: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously season the water with salt and whatever seasonings/flavorings you love, such as beer or Old Bay.
- Add crabs: Quickly add the crabs to the boiling water, one right after another.
- Boil: Bring the water back to a boil and cook until the crabs start to float (much like fresh ravioli!), about 10-15 minutes.
- Crack and remove meat: Remove the crabs from the pot and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. Clean the crabs, crack them open and remove the meat.
Steaming is my favorite method for cooking crabs. This method helps the crabs retain their juicy moisture and delicious flavor!
- Add water to pot and boil: Add 1-2 cups of water to a large stockpot (you should have approximately 1 1/2-inches of water) and bring the water to a boil.
- Add crab to steamer basket: Add as many crabs as your steamer basket will accommodate (make sure you will still be able to cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid!).
- Add basket to pot: Gently drop the steamer basket into the pot.
- Cover and steam: Cover the pot and steam until the crabs are fragrant and cooked through, about 10-20 minutes depending upon the size of your crabs
- Crack and remove meat: Remove the crab from the pot and set aside until they are cool enough to handle. Clean the crabs, crack them open and remove the meat.
How to make crab linguine at home?
This crab meat pasta recipe is simple and easy to prepare! Plus, it’s totally customizable – you can make this recipe as fast or fancy as you like! You can use canned crab meat or try steaming your own crab legs! Or try substituting the crab for shrimp, throwing in some crispy bacon or tossing in some leafy greens! No matter how you decide to make it, everyone will love this simple, yet elegant white wine seafood pasta!
- Cook Pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water and then drain the pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, sauté shallots + aromatics: Melt butter in a large sauté pan and add the shallots along with the garlic. Cook, stirring often for 2 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are fragrant.
- Add the wine + tomatoes: Add the wine and tomatoes to the pan along with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and bring the wine to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the tomatoes are soft and juicy.
- Add remaining butter: Add the butter to the pan and gently stir until the butter is combined.
- Add crabmeat: Add the crabmeat to the pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Add the pasta + cooking liquid as needed: Add the pasta and ¼ cup of pasta water to the pan. Cook, tossing, until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta.
- Garnish & Serve: Remove from heat and top with fresh herbs and lemon zest (and parmesan if using). Toss well to combine. Serve warm with lemon wedges on the side and enjoy!
How to make crab meat pasta step by step photos
(Scroll down for the detailed instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.)
Are you looking for new and exciting ways to serve your pasta in crab sauce? Below are a few of my family’s favorite ways to serve and enjoy this recipe!
What goes with it?
Crab meat pasta is filling enough to serve as a stand-alone meal; however, this butter pasta is on the lighter side, so I like to serve it with one or two different sides. Below are a few side dish ideas to help you think outside the box!
Chef serving recommendation:
- Buttery Dinner Rolls: Quick 1-Hour Soft Dinner Rolls
- Italian marinated veggies: Easy Marinated Mushrooms
- Salad: Your favorite simple green salad works great here!
10 delicious dishes to serve with crab linguine pasta
- Bread: Serving pasta without some sort of bread for sopping is a no-no! My family loves garlic knots, cheesy breadsticks, crusty artisan bread and fluffy dinner rolls!
- Green Salad: A light green salad is a great way to balance out buttery pasta!
- Italian Salad: A hearty chopped Italian salad is a great option if you are looking for a green salad with a little more heft and heartiness!
- Tomato Salad: A fresh, juicy tomato salad is a great way to mimic the flavors in this crab and tomato pasta!
- Bruschetta: Fresh and flavorful bruschetta is a classic Italian starter or side that works beautifully with this crab meat linguine!
- Artichokes: Simple artichoke hearts with a touch of lemon are always a fan favorite!
- Mushrooms: Saute your favorite variety of mushrooms for an easy side that will add a touch of meaty flavor to your dinner spread!
- Asparagus: Tender-crisp asparagus is so easy to prepare and it’s mild, earthy flavor contrasts the richness of the pasta beautifully!
- Broccoli: Roasted or steamed broccoli dusted with parmesan is a favorite side dish in this house!
- Wine: For those of you who are 21 and up, this crab meat past pairs beautifully with a tall glass of wine! (See below for the best wines to serve with crab and buttery pasta!)
What wine to serve with crab?
Wine and seafood are such a delicious pairing. In general, white wine varieties work best with buttery shellfish pasta.
- Chardonnay: Butter, slightly bold Chardonnays are a great choice for crab. The dry flavors in Chardonnay pairs perfectly with the rich flavors in crab and pasta!
- Pinot Grigio: A crisp, fruity Pinot Grigio will enhance the simple flavors found in dish!
- Sauvignon Blanc: Crisp, acidic Sauvignon Blanc cuts the buttery, rich goodness of crab pasta perfectly!
- Riesling: A crisp, dry and slightly fruity Riesling will provide the perfect balance to fresh crab.
- Pinot Gris: A full-bodied and rich or a delicate, crisp and slightly fruity Pinot Gris will both pair perfectly with this pasta, depending upon your personal preference and taste.
When it comes to food storage and storing leftovers, safety is of the utmost importance! Make sure you follow the simple tips below for properly storing and reheating crab linguine!
How to store pasta with crab?
This pasta with crab meat recipe makes enough for four people, so depending upon the size (and appetite) of your family, you won’t likely have any leftovers! However, if you do, this crabmeat pasta stores beautifully!
To store seafood pasta, first allow the pasta to cool completely to room temperature –do not leave the pasta out on the counter for more than 1 hour to ensure safety and prevent growth of bacteria! Once cool, store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
How to reheat crab pasta?
Pasta with seafood is best when eaten fresh; however, you can reheat it as long as you do so gently!
- Stovetop: Transfer the pasta with shellfish to a medium skillet. Place the skillet over medium-low to low heat and reheat, stirring occasionally, until warm throughout. Note: You may want to add a pat or two of butter or a small splash of wine at the beginning of reheating to keep the pasta moist and the sauce fresh!
- Microwave: Add an individual portion of leftover seafood pasta to a microwave-safe container. Add a splash of wine, broth or clam juice and/or a pat of butter to keep the pasta moist and the sauce fresh! Place a lid on the container, leaving the lid slightly cracked at the side to form a vent. Reheat for 45-second intervals stirring in between, until the pasta is warm throughout. Please note, make sure you microwave in short increments, or at a lower power, to avoid overheating the crab!
Can I freeze this?
While you can freeze crab linguine, I do not recommend it! Freezing and thawing will compromise the flavor and texture of this dish.
Buttery, luxurious and overflowing with fresh sweet crab, this white wine linguine is easy to make and even easier to love! Until next time friends, cheers!
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The best Linguine with Crab Meat recipe 👇
Crab Linguine (Easy Crabmeat Pasta Recipe)
- Large Pot
- Large, high-sided sauté pan
- 12 ounces dry Pasta (any long thin variety you love: linguine, spaghetti, bucatini or fettuccine)
- Kosher Salt & Ground Black Pepper – to taste
- 4 TBS Unsalted Butter - DIVIDED
- 2 large Shallots – finely chopped (about 1 heaping cup)
- 2 cloves Garlic – thinly sliced
- 1 ¼ tsp Italian Seasoning
- ½ to 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes – to taste
- 1 Cup Dry White Wine (SEE NOTES)
- 2 pints Cherry Tomatoes – halved (about 20-22 ounces)
- 1 pound Lump Crabmeat – drained & picked over for shells (SEE NOTES)
- 1/3 to ½ Cup Fresh Basil – thinly sliced (julienne), to taste
- 2 TBS Fresh Chives – thinly sliced
- 1 medium Lemon – Zest (about 2 tsp.) (TIP: cut the zested lemon into wedges for serving)
- Optional for Serving: Lemon Wedges, Freshly Grated Parmesan
- Cook Pasta: Add 3 ½ to 4 quarts (14-16 cups) of water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Season the water with 1 ½ tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until 1 minute shy of al dente according to the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water and then drain the pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, sauté shallots + aromatics: Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large, high-sided sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until just softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the wine + tomatoes: Add the wine followed by the tomatoes to the pan. Season with a generous pinch of pepper. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer, stirring often, until the wine is reduced by about half and the tomatoes are soft and juicy, about 6-8 minutes.
- Add remaining butter: Add the remaining butter to the pan and gently whisk/stir until the butter is melted and combined.
- Add crabmeat: Add the crabmeat to the pan and cook, stirring, until just heated through, about 1 minute.
- Add the pasta + cooking liquid as needed: Add the pasta and ¼ cup of pasta water to the pan. Cook, tossing constantly and adding more reserved pasta water as needed, until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta, about 1-2 minutes.
- Garnish & Serve: Remove from heat and top with fresh herbs and lemon zest (and parmesan if using). Toss well to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve warm with lemon wedges on the side. Enjoy!
- Wine: Make sure you use a white wine you like and would actually drink! I tend to use a Chardonnay; however, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc are all wonderful in this dish!
- Crabmeat: I used lump crabmeat in this recipe; however, you can use whatever grade of crabmeat you love! You can also cook whole crabs or crab legs use the meat to make this pasta recipe! Please refer to the post for comprehensive details.
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