This Creamy Crab Pasta is a quick dinner that will have you feeling like you are at a high-end restaurant. The flavors of tarragon and lemon pair perfectly in the creamy crab sauce.
There is something so delightful about a dinner that can just be made on the stove top. For me, personally, that delight is only enhanced when you throw in pasta and seafood. Add a cream sauce to it and I’m swooning.
In this ridiculously simple stove top dinner, we are combining linguine, lump crab meat, and a fabulous homemade cream sauce to make a dinner that is done in just 20 minutes. This is perfect for entertaining, but it is easy enough to make a weeknight dinner feel like a special treat, something I think we could all use more of.
How to Make Creamy Crab Pasta
Here is a brief overview of how this simple crab pasta recipe comes together. For the full recipe including all measurements, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
- Make the pasta. Follow the package instructions. Then drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- Saute the garlic. Melt the butter and cook the garlic until fragrant, being careful not to burn it.
- Make a roux. Whisk in the flour to the garlic. Then slowly whisk in the half and half. Read more on this below.
- Make the cream sauce. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and allow it to melt. Then add the seasonings and lemon zest. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Put it all together. Stir in the pasta and lump crab meat. Add a splash more half and half if it is too thick. Top with fresh parsley and enjoy.
Because of the simplicity of this pasta dish, using good quality crab meat is important. I recommend using real lump crab meat. It will flake perfectly into the cream sauce and you will get pieces of crab in each bite. Whether you use fresh or canned crab, make sure to pick through the meat thoroughly to remove any shells.
If real crab isn’t in your budget and you want to use imitation crab meat, you totally can. It is cheaper than real crab meat, holds up well in salads, and will definitely work in this recipe. I have many recipes that I choose to use imitation crab in, including my Crab Salad.
Cooking the pasta is a simple step, but a few things are important to make it perfect every time. I love this crab meat pasta with fettuccini. The creamy sauce covers the noodles perfectly. Any pasta will work, including linguini and spaghetti.
- Use plenty of water. Since it expands while it cooks, make sure to have plenty of water in your pot. A pound of pasta needs four to six quarts of water.
- Bring it to a roaring boil. You want to see big roaring bubbles before you add the dry pasta.
- Follow the package directions. Set a timer as soon as you drop the noodles into the boiling water.
- Regularly give the pasta a good stir. Because we are using fettuccine, you want to regularly stir it. I like to do this with tongs because it better helps to separate the noodles.
- Rinse the pasta with cold water. This stops the noodles from cooking and will also prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.
Parmesan Cheese for Crab Pasta
One of the things that makes this recipe so delightful is the Parmesan cheese that we melt into the sauce to make it extra creamy. As you know, I’m going to advise that you grate the cheese from the block. It will add just another minute or two to the prep of the recipe but it will make a world of difference. Pre-shredded cheese is coated in preservatives that keep it from clumping in the package, but it also prevents the cheese from melting well.
Using Half and Half
Half and half is something we have here in the United States that is essentially half heavy cream and half whole milk. In the UK it is called half cream. If you can’t find half and half, simply combine these two to replace it.
Making a Roux
The creamy sauce in this pasta dish is what ties it all together. It is able to hold up by making a roux, combining a fat (butter in this case) and flour. The fat coats the flour and keeps it suspended in the sauce, preventing the sauce from separating. When making a roux, it is first important to fully whisk the flour into the butter. This eliminates the taste of flour.
The next key step is to add the half and half slowly, letting it fully combine before adding more. I like to add a few tablespoons at a time. This process only takes a minute or two, but you don’t want to rush it.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
This crab pasta can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat leftovers in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat, string often. Always use your best discretion when it comes to eating leftovers.
If you make this creamy crab pasta recipe or any of my other recipes, please leave a comment and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!
Creamy Crab Pasta
- 8 ounces fettuccine (100 grams) cooked according to to package instructions
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups half and half (354.882 ml) read more about half and half here
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (33 grams) shredded
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- dash freshly ground black pepper
- 8 ounces lump crab meat drained and picked through
- fresh parsley for topping
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions. When finished, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.8 ounces fettuccine
- In a clean skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn it.2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 cloves garlic
- Whisk in the flour. Very slowly, whisk in the half and half. You want to just whisk in a small bit at a time, so that you can create a roux. I like to eyeball about 2 tablespoons at a time, only adding more half and half after what you just added is absorbed, going quicker the more you add.1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups half and half
- Once you have whisked in all of the half and half bring the dish to a low simmer. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, melting it to combine. Then stir in the tarragon, lemon zest, kosher salt, and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, dash freshly ground black pepper
- Stir in the pasta and lump crab meat. Add a splash more half and half if it is too thick. Top with fresh parsley and enjoy.8 ounces lump crab meat, fresh parsley for topping