There’s nothing fussy about our warm seafood dip recipe: It’s pure comfort food. The savory, cheesy, creamy dip is quick to stir together, and then bakes until it bubbles. It’s one of our favorite party appetizers, but you can easily enjoy this as a special weekend snack any time of year. It’s especially welcome in the dark of winter, when you wish for the feeling of sand on your skin and a sea breeze in your hair.
Like most of our ultimate dip recipes, this one is highly adaptable. For ease, we use canned shrimp and imitation crab meat in this seafood dip, but you can easily use freshly cooked shrimp and lump crab meat instead. Change the herbs or even add Old Bay—it’s super versatile.
Ingredients for Seafood Dip
- Cream cheese: Tangy, smooth cream cheese dip recipes are some of our favorites. Use the block of cream cheese, not the spread that comes in tubs, which is too thin. Swap in low-fat cream cheese to lighten up the dip, but don’t use nonfat; the texture and flavor will be lacking without that crucial richness.
- Mayonnaise: Mayo also adds richness and tangy flavor to this indulgent dip. It keeps the texture extra smooth and silky, even with added shredded cheese. Again, use low-fat mayo if you prefer but fat-free won’t pass muster.
- Imitation crabmeat: We like imitation crabmeat recipes, especially when a more affordable swap isn’t super obvious. Of course, if you prefer, you can use a can of real lump blue or Dungeness crab meat instead.
- Tiny shrimp: Using canned shrimp makes this dip a snap to make, and saves a bit of money. If you’re looking for other types of shrimp to use, look for wild vs. farmed.
- Herbs: We use fresh chopped parsley and dried dill weed for added flavor. If you want to use all fresh or all dried herbs, here’s a handy fresh-to-dried herb conversion guide.
Step 1: Mix the dip
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, shrimp and imitation crabmeat, green onions and herbs until well blended.
Step 2: Create a bread bowl
If you wish to bake and serve the dip in a bread bowl, it’s easy to do. Cut the top fourth off the loaf of bread. Carefully hollow out the bottom portion of the loaf, leaving a shell with 1/2-inch walls. Cube the bread you removed and set aside for dipping.
Step 3: Bake the dip
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Scoop the seafood mixture into the bread shell. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Cover the top edges loosely with foil to keep them from scorching. Bake for 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 25 to 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the dip is heated through. If desired, garnish with additional sliced green onions. Serve with vegetables and bread cubes.
- Spice it up: A good shake of Old Bay seasoning is a classic match with any kind of seafood, and this dip is no exception. There are a lot of Old Bay recipes for using up everything in that yellow can.
- Change the cheese: Cheddar is a nice mild cheese that tastes great with seafood, but you can experiment with other melting cheeses. Pepper jack would add a nice bite, white cheddar would be extra tangy and Monterey Jack is a mild option. The only rule? Use a cheese with a similar moisture content. Don’t reach for a soft cheese, like ricotta, which will throw off the texture.
How to Store Seafood Dip
Leftover seafood dip should be kept in the refrigerator. The bread bowl will become soggy and tough as it sits, so transfer the remaining dip to an airtight container. It will keep for two to three days in the fridge. To serve, reheat in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until the dip is uniformly warmed through.
Can you make seafood dip ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the seafood dip in advance. You can mix the dip and prepare the bread bowl a few hours ahead of time, but refrigerate them separately until you’re ready to bake it. Together, made too far ahead, the bread will harden and be tough to chew, and the dip could make the interior too soggy. You can also keep the baked dip in the bread bowl, covered, in your oven’s warming drawer or in a small slow cooker.
Seafood Spread Tips
Can you make seafood dip without the bread bowl?
While bread bowls are easy to make, you can certainly leave it out. (If you skip the bread, the dip will also be a gluten-free appetizer.) Instead, serve the dip in a bowl alongside tortilla chips, wedges of pita, crackers or raw veggie sticks.
What if your seafood dip is too thick or too thin?
If your seafood dip is too thick or thin, it’s easy to adjust the texture to your liking. Thicken seafood dip by stirring in a tablespoon or two of cream cheese. Thin the dip by stirring in a tablespoon of milk or a squeeze of lemon juice (which will also brighten up the flavor).