This Crab Marinara Recipe is made with blue crabs, San Marzano peeled tomatoes, red pepper flakes, garlic, basil and served on pasta.
This is a delicious crab sauce on spaghetti that you can make for a nice warm summer day. Your local fish market will clean the crabs for you.
Blend the whole plum tomatoes into a puree with a blender or a food processor. Alternatively, you can squish them with your hands if you like your sauce on the chunkier side.
What is Crab Marinara?
Crab Marinara is a seafood pasta dish that typically consists of spaghetti or linguine tossed with a tomato-based sauce, garlic, olive oil, and chunks of fresh crab meat. The sauce is made by sautéing garlic in olive oil, adding canned tomatoes or fresh tomato sauce, and simmering until it thickens. The crab meat is then added to the sauce and cooked for a few minutes until it is heated through. The dish is typically finished with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese. It is a delicious and easy-to-make seafood pasta dish that is perfect for a special occasion or a weeknight dinner.
Why you will love this recipe
- It is a flavorful and satisfying dish: Crab Marinara is packed with flavor and has a rich and satisfying taste that is sure to satisfy your appetite.
- It is easy to make: Crab Marinara is relatively easy to make, making it a great dish for both experienced and novice cooks.
- It is versatile: Crab Marinara can be served with pasta, rice, or bread, making it a versatile dish that can be adapted to suit a range of preferences.
- It is healthy: Crab meat is a great source of lean protein, while the marinara sauce is packed with nutrients and antioxidants from the tomatoes.
- It is a great way to impress your guests: Crab Marinara is an elegant and sophisticated dish that is sure to impress your guests at any dinner party or special occasion.
Crab Marinara Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Cleaned blue crabs
- 2 cans San Marzano Whole Tomatoes
- Red pepper flakes
- Olive oil
See recipe card for Crab Marinara quantities.
How to make Crab Marinara
In a large stockpot or dutch oven on medium heat, add the oil and wait for it to shimmer. Add the garlic for 1 minute, stirring.
Pour in the tomato puree, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the basil and the crabs and make sure the crabs are nestled in the sauce. Cover and cook for 2 hours.
When there is 15 minutes remaining on the crab cooking, cook your spaghetti or linguini. Garnish with more basil.
Hint: Make sure to buy the crabs cleaned. Ask your fishmonger to do it for you.
What to serve with Crab Marinara
- Garlic Bread: Serve the pasta with garlic bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
- Salad: A light, crisp salad can help balance out the richness of the pasta dish. Try a simple arugula or spinach salad with a lemon vinaigrette.
- Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or broccoli can add a nice texture and flavor to the meal.
- White Wine: A crisp, chilled white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc can complement the flavors of the crab and tomato sauce.
- Breadsticks: Crispy breadsticks are a great option for dipping into the marinara sauce.
- Steamed Vegetables: Lightly steamed vegetables such as green beans, carrots, or cauliflower can be a healthy and tasty addition to the meal.
- Caesar Salad: A Caesar salad with crispy romaine lettuce, shaved Parmesan cheese, and homemade croutons can be a nice accompaniment to the pasta dish.
- Blue Crabs: The blue crabs must be cleaned.
- Garlic: The garlic can be fresh or garlic from a jar.
- Tomatoes: I used San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes and pureed them. Alternatively, I like to crush them with my hands and simmer. You can also buy 2 cans of pureed tomatoes as well.
- Red pepper flakes: Red pepper flakes make the dish spicy.
Crab Marinara Recipe Variations
- Spicy Crab Marinara: Add some red pepper flakes or chili powder to the marinara sauce to give it a kick of heat.
- Crab and Shrimp Marinara: Use a combination of crab meat and cooked shrimp in the marinara sauce for a seafood medley.
- Creamy Crab Marinara: Add a splash of heavy cream to the marinara sauce to make it richer and creamier.
- Gluten-free Crab Marinara: Use gluten-free pasta, such as rice or quinoa pasta, and gluten-free bread crumbs or omit the breadcrumbs entirely.
- Crab Marinara with Vodka: Add a splash of vodka to the marinara sauce for an extra layer of flavor.
- Crab Marinara with Vegetables: Add sautéed vegetables such as bell peppers, onions, and zucchini to the marinara sauce for a more substantial dish.
- Crab Marinara with Wine: Add a splash of white wine to the marinara sauce to give it a tangy flavor.
Check out my Spicy Mexican Crab Recipe.
- Large pot: For cooking the pasta and sauce.
- Colander: For draining the cooked pasta.
- Wooden spoon or spatula: For stirring the sauce.
- Cutting board and knife: For chopping the garlic and parsley.
- Can opener: For opening canned tomatoes.
- Garlic press (optional): For mincing garlic.
- Grater (optional): For grating Parmesan cheese.
- Pasta server or tongs: For serving the pasta.
- Oven (optional): If you want to bake the crab and marinara sauce with breadcrumbs.
How to store Crab Marinara
- Refrigerate: Allow the Crab Marinara to cool to room temperature before transferring it to an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag. Store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Freeze: Crab Marinara can be frozen for longer-term storage. Allow the sauce to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. Label the container with the date and store it in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
- Reheat: To reheat Crab Marinara, transfer it to a saucepan and heat it over low to medium heat until it is hot, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you can reheat it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until heated through.
- Do not refreeze: If you have frozen Crab Marinara and thawed it, do not refreeze it. Repeated freezing and thawing can affect the texture and quality of the crab meat.
Crab Marinara Recipe Top tips
- Use fresh ingredients: Whenever possible, use fresh ingredients for the best flavor. This includes fresh garlic, parsley, and tomatoes.
- Choose high-quality canned tomatoes: If using canned tomatoes, look for high-quality brands with no added preservatives or salt.
- Use lump crab meat: For the best flavor and texture, use lump crab meat instead of canned crab meat or imitation crab meat.
- Don't overcook the crab: Crab meat can become tough and rubbery if overcooked. Add the crab meat to the sauce at the end of the cooking process and only cook it until heated through.
- Add a splash of white wine: Adding a splash of dry white wine to the marinara sauce can add depth and complexity to the flavor.
- Use a mix of spices: In addition to garlic and parsley, experiment with other spices and herbs such as red pepper flakes, basil, or oregano.
- Serve with a crusty bread: Serve the Crab Marinara with a crusty bread to soak up all the delicious sauce.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove