Nourishing Tummies (Recipes)

Crab Pretzels

This morning I had a wild craving for a decadent, delicious Maryland favorite: the crab pretzel.

If you’re from Maryland or know anyone from the state, I really hope that you know what I’m talking about and are exclaiming a collective “YUM” at the mere mention of this delightful treat.

If you’re not (or are an otherwise deprived Marylander) here’s the basic idea: soft pretzel covered in gooey, scrumptious crab dip, coated in cheese, seasoned liberally with Old Bay, and cooked together until everything coalesces and becomes unbelievably melty and perfect for blissful indulgence.

Sign me up.

Anyway, today’s craving for crab pretzels was amplified by roughly 1000x due to pregnancy and the fact that we were in church and I’m always 45x hungrier during church (I don’t know why). There was a fairly large part of me that was tempted to beg Josh to take us to my absolute favorite crabby restaurant, which is said to be the original location of the crab pretzel, after our service.

But I did not feel like driving 45 minutes to get there. Nor did I feel like shelling out $15+ bucks for a single crab pretzel. Nor did I feel like dealing with an overtired one-year-old in a restaurant. Dining out with a toddler is not pleasant when you’re a hangry pregnant woman, OK? Not. Pleasant.

So I had to resort to my next best option: I would make my own crab pretzels. Yes, yes… A plan so diabolical it just might work! I’ve made soft pretzels a time or two, and man are they delicious! So I knew I had that part of the concoction down. All that was left was to secure some crab and figure out how to put everything together.

A quick Google search for crab pretzel recipes left me hanging. So many would start out promising, with a happy, cheesy crab dip – though most were notably lacking in Old Bay, but hey, everyone can’t be perfect – and then end with “and use some store bought pizza dough to whip up some quick soft pretzels”.



Not my jive. Look, if I’m going to spend a poopload of time in the kitchen making myself some regrettable and yet irresistible globs of carby crabby delight, then you better bet I’m going to do it from scratch the whole way. With my tastebuds in their fragile, picky, pregnant state, I know that there’s not room for error in providing the perfect bite. The idea of a lame pizza crust pretzel smothered in a slaved-over crab dip kind of made something inside of me die a little.

I had a passing realization that I am a food snob as I set to work scribbling through my idea journal a rough recipe for my own take on crab pretzels. However, when my piping hot handmade crab pretzels exited the oven tonight to bring Joshua’s and my tastebuds on a happy dinnertime excursion, I did not care. In fact, I did not have many thoughts besides “FEED ME NOW”!

These guys take a few hours to make but, trust me, the time is well worth it! They’re also significantly cheaper to make at home than to purchase in a restaurant, which means you can make some for the whole family! I also ended up with leftover soft pretzels that are now chilling in the freezer for later snackage. Happy, happy!

Finished crab pretzels

Crab Pretzels

Pretzel Ingredients (recipe adapted from Alton Brown’s Homemade Soft Pretzels, found originally on The Food Network):

– 1 1/2 c warm water
– 1 tsp sugar
– 2 tsp kosher salt
– 1 package active dry yeast
– 4-4 1/2 cups flour (I used 4 cups)
– 2 oz melted butter
– 1 egg yolk
– Salt for top (I used Maldon sea salt, crushed)
– Water and baking soda for parboiling

Crab Dip Ingredients:

– 8 oz crab meat
– 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
– 1 cup cream cheese
– 1/2 cup mayo
– 3 cloves garlic, pressed
– 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
– 2 Tbsp green Tabasco sauce
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1 tsp pepper
– A very liberal amount of Old Bay (I honestly don’t even know how much I used; I just kept shaking and shaking that little yellow can)

Extra Ingredients:

– Olive oil
– Shredded cheddar cheese and Old Bay for finishing pretzels

The Process:

1) Prep Pretzels:

– Add water, sugar, and salt to the bottom of a KitchenAid mixer bowl, stir, and add yeast to top. Let sit for 5 minutes, or until bubbly on top.
– Attach the dough hook attachment to the mixer and combine the melted butter and flour to the yeast mixture.
– Once ingredients are combined, increase mixing speed to medium and knead until the dough forms into a nice ball and pulls away from mixer sides.
– Remove dough, set aside for a moment, wash the mixer bowl, then coat it with a bit of olive oil and add dough back to the mixer bowl. Cover with a dish towel and set aside for 50 minutes to an hour, or until dough has doubled in size

2) Prep Crab Dip:

– While the pretzels rise (or anytime really), combine all dip ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir to combine.
– Cook in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes, remove, and set aside.

3) Meanwhile, in Pretzel-Ville:

– Divide the dough into 8 equal parts, then roll each part into a rope, and twist into pretzel shape. You should now have 8 pretzels.
– Bring a pot of water mixed with a few shakes of baking soda to a boil on the stove. Then drop each pretzel into the water, one by one, for approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute each. Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula and set aside to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper (you will probably need 2 baking sheets or will need to work in batches for this step).
– Paint the boiled pretzels liberally with the egg yolk mixture (1 egg yolk + splash of water whisked together) and sprinkle with salt.
– Bake at 450 degrees for 9-10 minutes. The pretzels will not be fully cooked when removed from the oven.

4) Marry Pretzels and Crab Dip (This is where the magic happens!):

– Spoon warm crab dip over the mostly cooked pretzels, taking care to cover all surfaces with dip.
– Sprinkle dippy pretzels with shredded cheddar cheese and a hefty sprinkle of Old Bay.
– Return pretzels to a 425 degree oven for 5 minutes or until cheese melts.
– Serve immediately!

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Gabrielle Rystedt
Gabrielle Rystedt
Gabrielle Rystedt is a writer by day and a writer by night (because writers never sleep), who spends time balancing client orders, a couple of books and her blog at Raising Rystedts. She’s a business school grad who’s dabbled in management, both at the project and company level. She loves coffee and crafting, and enjoys settling down with a good book. Though as mom to three kiddos in three years, she realistically spends most of her time reheating her coffee and typing away like a crazy person on a laptop keyboard while surrounded by (clean) cloth diapers and cheddar bunnies.

What are your thoughts?