Best Maryland Crab Soup Recipe Ever

Charlie's Maryland-Style Crab Soup

Sure, you can go to a restaurant in Pennsylvania or New York and order a cup or bowl of Maryland-Style Crab Soup, but if you're a native from the land of pleasant living, these soups don't compare.

I shudder to think how you fare with a can from the grocery store, no matter how much you paid for it. Are you craving the distinct delicious flavors of a real Maryland-Style Crab Soup? This recipe is for you, the connoisseur who wants the flavors of Baltimore, Annapolis and other towns surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.

Your spoon will always have crab.
Your spoon will always have crab. | Source

A note about prep and cook times: prep time can be shorter or faster depending on how you prep your vegetables and whether or not you are picking fresh crab.

It will be longer if you're picking fresh crab, shorter if not, and shorter if using a chopper or food processor for your vegetables.

Regarding cook time: two hours is sufficient, but if you simmer it for longer, the flavors only get better. You be the judge—taste as you go!

This recipe is presented the best way a crab-soup lover knows how: as if they were there, smelling it, wanting to eat it already. Go with your gut and your taste buds—have they ever steered you wrong?

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 2 hours
Ready in: 2 hours 30 min
Yields: Approximately 1 gallon


  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups celery, sliced
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups carrots, cut in small pieces
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • About 3 cups potatoes, diced (small, bite-size pieces, skin on)
  • Additional vegetables (see note below)
  • 14.5 oz. can beef broth, fresh or from boxed broth (bouillon cubes don't cut it)
  • 1/2 lb beef bone, ox tail, neck bone or whatever you can get
  • 1 lb crab (at least), lump and claw, 3:1 ratio of lump to claw is good
  • 2+ tablespoons Old Bay Seafood seasoning, or a good alternative, like Wye River
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, 1 tablespoon, if dried
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves
  • Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste, (Wharf Rat serves it really peppery)
  • Small amount of flavorless oil, (I like Canola)
  • Water

Notes on the Ingredients


  • For the vegetables, corn is a must, but from there use what you like. Some versions throw in slices of corn on the cob – about half-inch disks – which makes a nice presentation. Only a few, though.
  • My husband, the chef, prefers a bag of succotash (the lima beans of which are in the photo above), but you can throw in what you like, such as peas and green beans.
  • To be traditional we do not recommend straying too far from these, although folks in Baltimore sometimes throw in cabbage. Fresh is best if you can, but frozen is a great substitute.

Crab Meat

  • Regarding the crab meat, the folks at Wharf Rat in Fells Point, MD, throw in a few whole claws, which is a great touch. Second best would be fresh picked and packed crab. Third best is canned, but don’t use the stuff you find on the shelf.
  • Look for it in the seafood section of your grocer, crab house, or seafood market. The good canned stuff is refrigerated. Phillips Seafood makes good versions of Special and Claw, which is what my husband uses when we can’t go fresh.

Other Tips

  • Real Maryland Crab Soup is quite peppery. At the Wharf Rat, you can see the pepper flakes on top.
  • I like to cut some of the meat off the beef bone into small pieces.

How to Do It

  1. Heat a large soup pot to a tad hotter than medium, adding enough oil to coat the bottom. Add beef bone and any pieces you cut off. Once it starts to sizzle, add celery, carrot, and onion. Sauté long enough for the beef around the bone to brown slightly, and for the celery and onions to become a little transparent.
  2. When the beef is browned and the veggies are about ready, add fresh water – filtered or spring – to cover your ingredients. The water should go no higher than one half inch above the bone and veggies. Throw in your bay leaves and most of your parsley. Salt slightly. Turn up the heat a touch, letting it just get to a boil. Once this happens turn it down to simmer.  Cover, and let cook for about half an hour to forty-five minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, parboil your potatoes: put them in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium for five minutes.  After five minutes, strain and set to the side.
  4. When the beef stock has cooked sufficiently, add the can of tomatoes. Also add the can of beef broth. At this point, add some seafood seasoning. Heat to just below boil. Try to break apart the tomatoes as they cook. Add your vegetables, including the potatoes. My husband likes to let this mix cook for a short while – maybe fifteen minutes or so – before adding the crab.
  5. Add the crab, then add more seafood seasoning, parsley, and some black pepper. Let this all cook for a while, stirring often. After cooking for a half hour or so take a taste: you may wish to add more seafood seasoning, salt, and pepper. You may also wish to add a little more water. At some point after the soup has been cooking for a while, remove the beef bones.

Serve Hot

It’s good to grind some fresh black pepper on your portion. Serve with oyster crackers, saltines, or bread.


2.9 stars from 429 ratings of Maryland-Style Crab Soup
Try not to eat your screen. Objects ARE as delicious as they appear.
Try not to eat your screen. Objects ARE as delicious as they appear. | Source


This recipe is inspired from several recipes, including one from John Shields’ Chesapeake Bay Cooking and the classic Chesapeake Bay Fish & Foul Cook Book. It is also inspired by my husband's favorite Maryland crab soups eaten over the years as a native Marylander, including that from The Wharf Rat in Fells Point, Baltimore, MD, and Miller’s Market in Manchester, MD.

This is a great recipe for folks in places where fresh Maryland crab is scarce, or in the winter when fresh ingredients are hard to get or are prohibitively expensive. Realizing that fresh is always best, my husband tried to come up with something that is adaptable when you can’t get fresh crab or veggies.

Go get thee to the grocer! It's CRAB SOUP TIME!
Go get thee to the grocer! It's CRAB SOUP TIME! | Source

Comments 33 comments

BigSerious profile image

BigSerious 5 weeks ago from Harrisburg, PA Author

Add one can of diced tomatoes, or whole peeled tomatoes, chopped. I prefer tomatoes that are not flavored - let the stock do that flavoring.

David Gadabout 5 weeks ago

I don't see tomatoes listed in the recipe. Do you use just whole peeled canned tomatoes? What size?

mary stafford 7 weeks ago

I'm making this soup today smells amazing cant wait to have a bowl, I didn't know you good buy seafood broth I will have to look for it, thank you for the recipe is awesome easy to do.

Craig 4 months ago

Although I've made MD crab soup a few times in the past I always forget exactly what goes in it and how much of everything...this recipe looks right on the money and I'm so glad you have it out there...making a double or triple batch for a 30 person party this weekend! Thanks so much!

Justin 4 months ago

Do we absolutely need the beef bone? What's a good sub if so?

Also, what would be the best method to use a slow cooker?? It says sautéing in the soup pan, but could I do it in the crockpot?


Shelby 4 months ago

I made this tonight and it was absolutely AMAZING! Great recipe - Thank you!

Ryan 5 months ago

Wow, this was my first time making Maryland crab soup and this was perfect. Don't skimp on the Old Bay- it adds just the right amount of heat.

Simms 7 months ago

In the process of making it now, smells so good can't wait till its done!

bluesgirl126 9 months ago

Its only two of us...can it be frozen?

bluesgirl126 9 months ago

Making this soup this weekend! Can't wait! Will report back and let you know how it goes.

deb 12 months ago

Making it real soon!!!!

ginger 12 months ago

I can hardly wait to try this! This was such a child hood memory for me!

Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 13 months ago from Northeast Ohio

I never had crab soup before. It looks delicious. Great hub!

Carlan 14 months ago

My husband said it may be the best crab soup he has ever eaten!! Thank you for posting it!!

Nicole 16 months ago

My husband found this recipe and made it yesterday. It just may be the best we've ever had! I shared on Facebook using the link from your recipe page. Thanks!!

Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 17 months ago from Oklahoma

Looks delicious. I love a good seafood recipe.

BigSerious profile image

BigSerious 21 months ago from Harrisburg, PA Author

Fantastic, Ryan!

Ryan 21 months ago

This is the real deal. I had never made MD crab soup but had always a wanted to try. I was looking for recipes and came across this one. The description, and the fact that you name the Wharf Rat and Millers Market as inspirations, made me realize that I didn't have to look any further. The soup turned out great so I really lucked out finding this recipe. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this!!

minniemaus 21 months ago

Excellent.This is the real Maryland crab soup.

dawn 22 months ago

Thanks for the recipe in MD a year and first time trying this. Pretty great soup, will let you know if leftovers improve!

Navy wife 22 months ago

I made this a few weeks ago for a Ravens game and ended up licking the bowl clean! We are soup people, and it was one of the best soups we've ever tasted! Thanks for the recipe! This is now in the regular Friday soup night rotation!

MSGolden51 profile image

MSGolden51 23 months ago

Crab soup never had crab soup. But i have tasted crab.

torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 23 months ago

This sounds absolutely delicious. I can't wait to try it sooner rather than later. Thanks.

Kourtney Tippy profile image

Kourtney Tippy 23 months ago from Arkansas

Looks delicious, I will have try it out!

carrie Lee Night profile image

carrie Lee Night 2 years ago from Northeast United States

Yummy me some crab soup any way I can get it :). Thank you for sharing the recipe.

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

so this is it. Never thought to be so easy

Kathy Stutzman profile image

Kathy Stutzman 2 years ago from When not traveling, located in Colorado or Minnesota

Just reading the recipe made me hungry and homesick for Baltimore, can't wait to make this tomorrow!

BigSerious profile image

BigSerious 2 years ago from Harrisburg, PA Author

Steve, we'll have to try that. It sounds like a delicious addition! Thank you for sharing. :D

steve 2 years ago

wow, I live in Maryland and I make crab soup every month (making some today with leftover crabs). I make the exact same way as this recipe, with one major exception. Never use water. Use 2 boxes (32 0z) of seafood broth instead.

BigSerious profile image

BigSerious 3 years ago from Harrisburg, PA Author

Awesome, Steph! So glad you tried it and loved it!

Steph 3 years ago

I made it today ... DELISH!

BigSerious profile image

BigSerious 3 years ago from Harrisburg, PA Author

Thank you so much, Lynn! I really appreciate you looking out for me and taking time to write me with the link. I went to the page, and despite my best intentions, I felt upset when I saw it was shared 183 times while my hub has only been liked 19. I left a comment, asking to have a direct link to my article and to source my photos. Hopefully she does; in the spirit of good cooking, good eats, and technology, I would like for it to work to our mutual benefit and let it remain - but I would like for my hard work to be recognized as well.

Again, I really appreciate that you took the time to write me. Thanks again!

Lynn Vining 3 years ago

I thought you should know that the picture above and recipe (word for word) is being used on a FB page...

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