Blue Crab Cocktail

We’ve all heard of the shrimp cocktail… but… Maryland has it’s own take on the popular appetizer, the Blue Crab Cocktail. 

This wholeheartedly and unabashedly Chesapeake Bay creation is (in our MD minds at least) a more gourmet adaptation. Instead of just 2 components, the cocktail sauce and seafood, we up the ante with 3! I’ll get into that more later on in the article. But, first! A brief history lesson on the seafood cocktail.

Culinary historians flit back and forth as to the exact origins of the recipe. Some say the seafood cocktail originated on the West Coast, California-ish. Some say the seafood cocktail has even earlier nods in pre-colonial Britain. Either way, folks have been enjoying some combination of seafood, tomatoes, and spice since time immemorial. The fascinating turn in the evolution of this dish comes during the early 20th century. During the height of prohibition, with alcohol bans leaving folks with oodles of unused barware, creative restauranteurs began presenting diners with appetizers served in stemware. One of the more popular presentations was the seafood cocktail. Once prohibition was overturned, and even when barware was put back to use, the trend of serving seafood cocktail in this fashion stuck. Hence why, even today, you’ll see this product of prohibition in use. 


Creamy, Cocktail, and Crabby 

The holy Trinity of the Blue Crab Cocktail; creamy, cocktail, and crabby. The creamy element is often a mayonnaise-based or aioli combination brought into existence to create balance. Balance between the tangy cocktail sauce and sweet crab meat. The position in how these components are arranged in the stemware helps to enhance the balance, often with the creamy layer on the bottom, cocktail sauce in the middle, and crab meat on the top. The crab meat itself is often lightly seasoned with either Old Bay, lemon, and fresh herbs. Unlike shrimp, which have the liberty of being dunked or dipped in the cocktail sauce, a crab cocktail is a fork and knife kind of appetizers. Encouraging the diner to submerge the crab in and through the layers, magnificently coating each bite. Here’s how to make one at home… 

Blue Crab Cocktail

Serves 4 (use 4 coupe, martini, or rocks glasses for presenting and plating) 


Creamy Layer Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Cocktail Layer Ingredients: (feel free to use your favorite store-bought cocktail sauce)

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1-2 dashes hot sauce

Crabby Layer Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Jumbo Lump Crab Meat
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chives chopped
  • Light sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Celery leaves and lemon wedges for garnish.


  1. Place each layer and that layer’s ingredients in separate bowls.
  2. For the creamy layer, whisk to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. For the cocktail layer, whisk to combine, adjusting the horseradish and hot sauce to suit your taste.
  4. For the crab layer, season the crab meat and gently stir to coat in the herbs and seasoning, being careful not to break up the jumbo lumps.
  5. To assemble, spoon 1-2 tablespoons of the creamy layer into each glass, top with 2-3 tablespoons of cocktail sauce, finishing by dividing the crabmeat between the glasses and gently filling to the rim.
  6. Garnish the glasses with sprigs of celery leaves and lemon wedges before serving.

Buy Maryland Blue Crabs Online 

The Chesapeake Bay is just marvelous. Its natural beauty and abundance has sustained our region and its people for a millennia. Cameron’s Seafood is proud to be a True Blue certified partner, which means that we only sell 100% authentic Maryland crabs, crab cakes, and crab meat. We are very proud of our home and the seafood provided from the Chesapeake Bay’s waterways. You deserve the best jumbo lump crab meat in the world, our pride and joy, delivered right to your door.

Click here to explore all of our True Blue certified blue crab options, from whole crabs to creamy crab soups to jumbo lump, we have something delicious for everyone.  

About the author

Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron’s Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.

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