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February 20, 2020
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If you’re ready to take your steak to the next level this Chesapeake Crab Butter Sauce is what you seek. Rich buttery crab with a hint of old bay spice make this sauce a must for your next special dinner.

Take your steak up a notch

Nothing like fresh Chesapeake crab meat smothered in butter with a hint of old bay. Back in the day as a restaurant chef this butter sauce was one of the most popular menu items. As much as I enjoy a good crab cake to go along with my steak this Chesapeake Crab butter sauce is even more decadent.  The sauce pairs perfectly with any cut of steak from a filet Mignon to a juicy NY Strip. If steak isn’t you cup of tea you can also serve this sauce over any type of fresh fish or even chicken breast.

What’s the Best Crabmeat to buy?

Depending on where you live will dictate your options on what type of crab to use. Here on the east coast blue crab is the most commonly found. Fresh Jumbo Lump Crabmeat is obviously the gold standard but also the most expensive and elusive. Pasteurized Jumbo Lump is a little more economical and when simmered in butter it’s hard to tell the difference between fresh and pasteurized. Lump, backfin and special are also options but they tend to get mushy when cooked in a sauce.

Other crabmeat like Dungeoness, king crab, snow crab or even lobster or langostino are also tasty substitutions for this sauce. I always recommend using what’s local, fresh and the best value. 

Pictured Fresh Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab

Be gentle with the Chesapeake Crab Butter Sauce.

One of the biggest mistakes when working with crabmeat is overworking it or busting up the lumps that you paid good money for. That’s why I like to prepare the sauce first then gently fold in the crabmeat at the end and just barely warm the crabmeat. Crab is incredibly delicate and can be reduced to stringy mush quite quickly. All you need to do is warm the crabmeat because it is already cooked. Other raw shellfish like lobster or shrimp can handle more heat and cook longer in a sauce.

Don’t Break the Butter Sauce.

When preparing any butter sauce you need to make sure that you reduce the heat before whisking in the butter. I add a tablespoon of butter just to sauté the shallots and garlic and then add heavy cream to add richness. Once the cream has reduced it’s important to let the sauce cool so that there are no bubbles in the sauce. Then you can begin quickly whisking in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. The cold butter with thicken the sauce and prevent the butter fats from separating leaving you with a greasy oily sauce. If the does break you can start over because you haven’t added the crabmeat yet.

More Crabby Goodness

crab butter sauce on top of beef tenderloin

Chesapeake Crab Butter Sauce

5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Butter Sauce, Chesapeake Crab
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 180kcal


  • 1 lb Jumbo Lump Crabmeat
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 2 tsp Old Bay
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Parsley
  • 1 tbsp Minced Shallot
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Cream


  • over medium heat saute garllic and shallots in 2 tbsp of butter until garlic and shallots have softened. then add in heavy cream and reduce by half
  • Turn heat to low and then begin whisking in butter 2 tbsp at a time until the sauce is smooth. finally gently fold in the crabmeat, avaid breaking up the lumps as much as possible. finish off the sauce with the parsley. Sauce is complete as soon as the crabmeat is warmed. Do not raise heat or butter will seperate from the sauce


Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 579mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 531IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition Facts
Chesapeake Crab Butter Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 180 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 64mg21%
Sodium 579mg25%
Potassium 129mg4%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 11g22%
Vitamin A 531IU11%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 43mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

chesapeake crab butter sauce recipe

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Recipe Rating

9 comments on “Chesapeake Crab Butter Sauce”

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for a fantastic recipe that even my husband, who's not a big fan of crab, loved. And thank you especially for your advice about reducing the heat prior to adding the butter in order to keep the sauce from breaking.
    Question: Do you think this would be good substituting chopped shrimp for the crabmeat? If yes, what alterations should I make to the recipe? Shrimp is quite reasonably priced where I live unlike crabmeat.
    Thanks again for a great sauce for steaks!

    1. Shrimp would work as well. just cook them ahead of time then make the sauce and just warm them up right in the sauce.

  2. Hi! The crabmeat isn't cooked. It's thawing in the refrigerator now. Raw crab is 'normal' for your recipe? I can hardly wait!

    1. I have never seen raw crabmeat other then whole live crabs or soft shells so Im fairly positive what you have is already cooked. Fresh crab is steamed then picked as well as Amy pasteurized crabmeat you might find.

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