Crab Ball for Holiday Food Fest

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Today is the fourth week of the fabulous Holiday Food Fest. Lovely Amy of Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free is hosting the overall event and also hosting this week. Her theme is Cocktails, Mocktails, and Appetizers. You can see Amy’s delightful mocktail recipe, Chocolate Coffee “Martinis” and all the entries here. (I’ll be hosting next week … Holiday Dishes—sides, mains, soups … anything goes.)  Let’s first focus on an appetizer. Two words—Crab Ball. Two ingredients—crabmeat and cream cheese. Could it get any simpler than that? This appetizer will have your guests thinking you are a culinary genius. They’ll spread some of your crab ball on a cracker, wax poetic about how delicious it is, and then quiz you on the ingredients. They’ll expect a long list and when you tell them honestly that it’s just equal parts crabmeat and cream cheese, they will think you are holding out on them. Seriously. No matter. Make a crab ball and serve it with complementary crackers and you’ll be the star host. Now for the cocktail part, hand your guest a glass of Reindeer Antlers “spiked” holiday punch to enjoy with the crab ball and suddenly you’re not just the star host, but a rock star caliber host—no kidding. Yes, you’re welcome. Don’t bother with mailing my invitation for your holiday open house … just shoot me an email with the time and the date. I’ll be there to witness and share in your elevation to greatness!

Crab Ball from gluten free easily

Crab Ball

8 ounces crabmeat

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

paprika or Old Bay seasoning, optional

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Mix crabmeat and cream cheese with clean hands (and even plastic-gloved, if you prefer) hands. You’ll want to mix with your hands so you can feel and then remove any bits of cartilage left in the crabmeat. As I’ve shared before (regarding the Crab Casserole), I never buy the most expensive crabmeat from the local seafood dealer. So, there’s always a small amount of shell and cartilage to be removed. It’s no big deal and well worth the savings to me.

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Shape mixture into a ball and serve immediately or place in container in refrigerator until serving time. Serve the crab ball with crackers that are complimentary in flavor. (The cracker flavor should not be so strong that it competes with the flavors of the crab ball.)

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Shirley’s Notes: If you want to add some color and a bit of spiciness, you can sprinkle a bit of paprika or Old Bay seasoning on the crab ball or even add a dash in the crab ball when mixing.

While any serving dish will work, I often serve my crab ball in a special crab dish, so that guests are instantly aware that crab is involved. We have had guests who are allergic to shellfish, so it’s nice to keep these folks safe with that visual cue.

Before going gluten free, my favorite cracker to serve with crab ball was Keebler Townhouse crackers. Elves made them so they seemed especially appropriate for the holidays. Unfortunately these elves have not expanded their Townhouse line of crackers to include a gluten-free version. (I’ll keep waiting on that.) My current favorite gluten-free crackers to eat with crab ball are Blue Diamond hazelnut or pecan crackers. These don’t have a buttery texture like Townhouse crackers (quite the opposite actually), but their flavors do complement the crab ball texture.

holiday-food-festFor large parties, I mix together one pound of crabmeat and one pound of cream cheese (two blocks), and then divide into two crab balls, one of which I keep in the refrigerator. I stay vigilant for that moment when the first crab ball is fast disappearing and guests are getting that panicky look on their faces … anxious that the person standing next to them might get the last bite (a stampede for that last bite seems to be a real possibility). Not to worry. With my hostess finesse, I slip through the mass of guests around the last dollop of crab ball and quietly place the second crab ball onto the serving dish. Ah, love and peace reign once again.

Not just gf, but gfe!

This post is also linked to What can I eat that’s gluten free? at The Gluten-Free HomemakerTempt My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed with GraceFriday Foodie Fix–Super Bowl Party Foods and Friday Foodie Fix–Crab at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


40 Responses to “Crab Ball for Holiday Food Fest”

  1. Pam on December 3rd, 2009 9:21 am

    I bet that is gooood!


    • Shirley on December 3rd, 2009 7:58 pm

      Hi, Pam–For anyone who enjoys crab, it’s a delight. Mr. GFE and I just shared some as our appetizer. :-)


  2. Lauren on December 3rd, 2009 10:17 am

    So simple! Sounds good to me =D.

    • Shirley on December 3rd, 2009 7:59 pm

      Hey Lauren–Simple could be my middle name. ;-) It’s great to mix up at the last minute or prepare ahead. Simple, but elegant.


  3. Jenn on December 3rd, 2009 10:43 am

    This looks so good – LOVE your crab shaped serving dish!

    • Shirley on December 3rd, 2009 8:06 pm

      Hey there, Jenn–Thanks! The crab dish actually has a story behind it. I was given it as a gift at a Christmas party by an employer before I actually started working for them. I was so impressed that they would do that. However, once I started working at the company after Christmas, I soon found out things were not as they should be and resigned. I’ve thought about passing it on so as not to remember its history, but practicality and my love of the crab prevails. ;-)


  4. Johanna B on December 3rd, 2009 1:13 pm

    Love the crab shaped dish. I’ll have to try this recipe for Christmas – easy but classic.

    • Shirley on December 3rd, 2009 8:10 pm

      Hi Johanna–Everyone loves that dish! :-) Excellent description: “easy but classic.” This is a great crowd pleaser. Hope you will make it and report back.



  5. Kim on December 3rd, 2009 2:10 pm

    Shirley….this dip looks so good & so easy! YUM! I may use that for our Christmas Eve appetizer night. :)


    • Shirley on December 3rd, 2009 8:14 pm

      Hi, Kim–Yes, you are exactly right. It doesn’t even need the optional third ingredient. It’s amazing how wonderful the crab and cream cheese mixture taste. It’s standard fare for holidays and parties in our family. Hope it makes the grade for your holiday appetizers! Incidentally, Christmas Eve means appetizer fare at our family gatherings, too. :-)


  6. Brenda on December 3rd, 2009 5:46 pm

    If Shirley makes it and says it’s good, it’s got to be good! Every recipe of hers that I’ve tried has been DELICIOUS!

    Brenda from MD

    • Shirley on December 3rd, 2009 8:24 pm

      Brenda–You’re my biggest MD fan and cheerleader! I am always tickled to get an email from you sharing a new success with one of my recipes. I always love your dairy-free adaptations (when needed) and other adjustments you make (like less sugar), too.

      Thanks so much!


  7. Gluten Free Steve on December 3rd, 2009 11:52 pm

    My mom used to make this, and it’s one of my favorites. She pours cocktail sauce over it and it’s really good with that added in.

    • Shirley on December 4th, 2009 10:43 am

      Hi, Steve–I’m so glad this is an appetizer you really enjoy, too. You’re right … a lot of folks do like cocktail sauce on their seafood appetizers like this one. Thanks so much for mentioning that … I’m sure some readers will want to make it that way. :-)


  8. Therese on December 4th, 2009 1:11 am

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, more dreams of your delicious Virginia crab.
    one day i’ll pop for something good and eat it dipped in butter. Then, on day 2, it will be this crab ball. Heaven.

    • Shirley on December 4th, 2009 11:09 am

      Therese– :-) We’re doing the reverse. Used half of the pound of crabmeat to make the crab ball and will use the other half to make Crab Norfolk for dinner this evening. Heaven indeed … I think eating crabmeat greatly improves one’s outlook on life! LOL Plus, I’m making the Reindeer Antlers, too, for a Friday night stay-at-home date night event. ;-)



      • Therese on December 4th, 2009 11:42 am

        Oh, my. Reindeer Antlers all around! I might be making this later this month. I think it will be a hit at the farm when we visit.

        Crab Norfolk, the stuff dreams are made of.

        • Shirley on December 4th, 2009 8:59 pm

          I know you are well loved at the farm, Therese, and that’s as it should be ;-) , but make these babies and you’ll move to the top of Santa’s “girls who’ve been good” list! :-)


  9. Sagan on December 4th, 2009 12:52 pm

    Ooh that sounds so good. I bet there’s some really good gluten-free cracker recipes out there, too, to go with it.

    • Shirley on December 4th, 2009 9:07 pm

      Hi Sagan–Thank you! Yes, very yummy … we just finished it up this evening. It’s quite nice to make these special recipes for the blog. :-) My lovely blogging friend, Lauren, just made some wonderful crackers, called lavash. I really should give them a try myself.


  10. Linda on December 4th, 2009 9:30 pm

    Easy and delicious! That’s a great appetizer idea. Thanks for linking to “What can I eat that’s gluten free?”

  11. Winnie on December 5th, 2009 1:32 pm

    Looks tasty…has me nostalgic as my grandma used to make a similar dish for parties…
    it’s nice to discover your blog and I’m off to read more of your posts!

    • Shirley on December 6th, 2009 1:32 am

      Hi Winnie–Welcome to gfe! I’m quite enjoying your blog, too. It’s so inspiring for eating healthy … healthy, but tasty. :-)

      Remembering dishes that our special family members use to make … always full of emotions. I find special food memories take us back with them more than just about anything.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!


  12. Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free on December 6th, 2009 11:49 pm

    I love your crab dip and your hostess-with-the-mostest tips! You must really know how to keep your guests happy. Thanks for sharing this at Holiday Food Fest – and can’t wait for you to host on Thursday!

    • Shirley on December 7th, 2009 12:05 am

      Hi Amy–Thanks for the kudos on the crab dip. It’s not my creation, but it’s been around for over 30 years around here. I have no idea whose original, brilliant idea it was. Mr. GFE’s cousin’s wife would make it for us on the spur of the moment, just when we dropped in. Oh, boy, did we love her from day one!

      I do love to host parties … I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t over the years, but still always try out new recipes. :-)

      I need to sign up or McKLinky … I’ve never used it and to be perfectly honest, I’m not 100% sure what my recipe will be on Thursday. LOL I’m sure it will all work out though. ;-)



  13. Brenda on December 8th, 2009 7:35 pm

    I love that this is so easy. I hope I get to try this sometime during the holidays.

    • Shirley on December 8th, 2009 10:09 pm

      Hi Brenda–Welcome to gfe! :-) Yes, crab ball is so easy and such a crowd pleaser. I hope you get to try it, too. It can be a special little treat all by itself. Make it, add a few crackers, and you’re set for a feast. Or, add it to a variety of goodies, and it’s the star … and so are you! ;-)

      I just took a peek at your blog and I love the positive and warm sentiments expressed there. Thank you also for sharing your health journey. I’m sure it’s helped many.



  14. Lisa@blessedwithgrace on December 8th, 2009 8:58 pm

    Love crab dip. How yummy. Thanks for linking to TMTT.

    • Shirley on December 8th, 2009 10:15 pm

      Hi Lisa–Welcome to gfe! If you enjoy crab dip, you’ll love this crab ball. ;-) My pleasure to link to Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays! That’s a huge roundup … fun. :-)

      Thanks so much for stopping by!


  15. Tyrone on December 24th, 2013 11:40 am

    Should I cook the crabmeat first? I bought 8oz Private Selection Wild Caught Special Crabmeat… small pieces of white meat

    • Shirley on December 24th, 2013 12:11 pm

      Hi Tyrone–Welcome to gfe! :-) When you buy crabmeat like that, it’s already cooked, so go ahead and use it in the recipe. (Be sure to drain off any liquid first.) Enjoy!


      • Tyrone on December 24th, 2013 12:27 pm

        Thank you! I can’t wait to enjoy and see everyone’s expressions when we indulge the Crab Ball and Reindeer Antlers. I just hope that we will be satisfied with the amount.

        • Shirley on December 24th, 2013 1:04 pm

          You’re welcome, Tyrone! Oh what fun that you are making both … a little usually goes a long way with both recipes. ;-) I look forward to you reporting back if you get time after your festivities. Merry Christmas!


          • Tyrone on December 25th, 2013 4:30 pm

            Shirley, Shirley, Shirley… absolutely splendid! I just hope I don’t over indulge. I can’t stop! The punch is light and goes straight to my head ;-) I used Town House Flatbread Crisps Italian Herb; I’m not gluten free, just awakening to the idea. Also, I used Cajun seasoning. Everyone is delighted. Thank you!

          • Shirley on December 25th, 2013 4:40 pm

            Woohoo! You are welcome and thanks so much for reporting back! :-) Hope you and your friends/family enjoy to the last crisp and the last drop. ;-) Cajun seasoning was a good idea! (Old Bay works well, too.)


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