Many people may be excited that football season is here, but what gets me most excited for fall are these crab bites! My mother-in-law makes these appetizers the day before games, hence the name: Tailgate Crunchy Crab Bites. They are gone quickly after serving and because they are so delicious they get eaten up before halftime. I started making these for not only football games, but also when company drops in unexpected. Since they go from freezer-to-oven-to-plate in less than 12 minutes, they are perfect to throw in right before your visitors arrive.
These crab bites are great served with appetizers like chips, salsa and homemade guacamole and I always get compliments on how good they are (not knowing how easy they are to make!). Your friends and family will thank you for the much needed sustenance as soon as they walk in your front door. Or they will be begging you for the recipe at your next football watch party! I always keep these simple and easy to find ingredients on hand, especially in the fall.
Being fond of my mother-in-law, I also use the imitation crab meat instead of the canned as she does. They taste a lot better this way and are better for those that don’t love seafood. Preparation is less messy, no rinsing and drying the canned crab meat, however you can of course use it instead. Ready for a simple, yet tasty tailgate recipe? Let’s get to it!
All of these ingredients are easy to find and it’s important not to skip the seasoning. An optional seasoning I didn’t include is a ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder. It’s also vital that you let the butter rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes to soften. This way it will mix in smoothly with the Old English cheese spread and chopped imitation crab meat.
Another imperative step is to freeze overnight. The first time I adapted this recipe from my mother-in-law, I didn’t freeze them at all and I had a gooey mess in the oven. If you are really in a pinch for time, let them freeze for at least two hours. Some football games go almost four hours, so you can still serve them before it’s over. Bonus: if your team is losing, these will definitely cheer everyone up.
Tailgate Crunchy Crab Bites
- 6 English Muffins
- ½ cup of softened unsalted butter 1 stick
- 1 jar of Kraft Old English cheese spread
- ½ package of imitation crab meat
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp of pepper
- Dice imitation crab meat and set aside.
- Cream together softened butter and Old English cheese spread. Mix in imitation crab meat.
- Season with salt and pepper and mix again.
- Cut English muffins in half and spread each half with the crab mixture.
- Take each half and cut into quarters.
- Arrange quarters on a plate and freeze overnight.
- Place them on tin foil and cook in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Set the oven to broil and cook an additional 1 – 2 minutes until edges are golden. Take out of the oven and let cool. Try not to eat them all before the coin toss and enjoy!
Step One – Chop the Crab Meat
To begin, take out a large cutting board and dice half of the package of imitation crab meat. The imitation crab meat I use is made with a blend of Alaska pollock fish and King Crab and this brand works really well in the recipe. I also like that it is already fully cooked. Set aside and get a Kitchenaid stand or hand mixer and bowl.
Step Two – Mix Together Main Ingredients
In a large Kitchenaid stand mixer bowl or regular large one, add the stick of softened to room temperature butter (unsalted) and the small jar of Old English cheese spread. Start slow, gradually speeding up the mixture to high speed. Mix the two ingredients together for at least a full minute and then stop. Add in the chopped crab meat mixture and again, gradually speed up the mixer and mix on high for an additional minute. You want all of the ingredients to be completely mixed in, you don’t want someone to get a bite full of butter while eating!
Step Three – Season
Measure out a ½ teaspoon of salt and add to the bowl of ingredients, which is now a nice orange color. Mix in the salt on low and add in a ½ teaspoon of pepper (and optional garlic powder if desired). Next, gradually speed up to high speed and mix for one minute. You now have the main part of the dish ready and we are only at step three.
Step Four – Spread
Take out the six English muffins from the package and slice down the middle with a knife. Lay out the 12 muffin tops on a plate, face-up. You will want to use the same knife and get a generous amount of the mixture and spread onto the top or bottom of the English muffin. I know this is an unlikely crust for these, but I promise you they pair perfectly once cooked!
Once you have all 12 English muffin halves covered, take any additional leftover mixture and add to them. You want to have a nice thick layer of the mixture on every inch of the muffins. Since you are freezing them overnight, you don’t have to worry that the cheese spread is too high and going to run off while cooking.
Step Five – Slice into Even Quarters
Now that all of your English muffins are covered, take the knife you used to spread the mixture and cut the muffins in half. Next, cut those halves in half again to get quarters and they should look like mini pizza slices. Make sure they are not touching sides, so they don’t freeze together.
Step Six – Freeze
Cover the crab bite quarters with tin foil and place in the freezer overnight. You might want to arrange them on two or three plates before you do this. Also, make sure they are laying flat in the freezer. As mentioned in the beginning, the freezing option is critical to getting them to come out of the oven looking put together, crunchy and picture perfect. Whatever you do, don’t skip this step!
Step Seven – Cook, Serve and Enjoy!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the crab bites have frozen solid, take them out of the freezer and arrange them on a sheet of tin foil or a broiler safe baking sheet or pan, since you will be broiling for 2 minutes. The cookie sheet I own can’t be used in heat over 400 degrees Celsius and is a pretty common one, so double-check yours. I always place them on tin foil and cook for 10 minutes. Once the timer goes off, turn the oven to “broil” and set the time for two minutes or until the edges of the crab bites are golden. Do not let them sit in the oven, take them out immediately or they will continue to cook and may burn. Make sure you watch them, as the broiler cooks fast! Lastly, place on a plate, let cool and enjoy! Go team!