Today is week 2 of the Holiday Food Fest. The sweet and talented Alta of Tasty Eats at Home is hosting this week’s theme of Fall Dishes. To me, Fall + Holiday = Thanksgiving. When you set aside the turkey, ham, side dishes, and desserts, Thanksgiving and all the special dinners during the holiday season mean one dish for sure—my sister’s now gluten-free Crab Casserole.
Where I live in Virginia—in King George county, which borders the Potomac River—we are lovers of all things crab. Specifically, we love the Maryland blue crab.
We eat our first steamed crabs usually in April or May and we don’t stop eating them until late October. We have many fond memories of Indian summers spent eating steamed crabs on the picnic table on the porch or under a shade tree that was already spectacular in its fall foliage.
Mr. GFE fondly refers to the blue crab as the “elusive crustacean.” It’s not uncommon for folks to have one or two crab pots set out in the Potomac or one of its tributaries.
They steam a bushel of crabs every weekend during the summer. If you’re lucky, these crabbers are either your family or your friends.
Others are sure to visit their local “waterman” and/or seafood dealer for a bushel of crabs hot off the cooker for Memorial Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and just about any celebration that occurs during crab season. Crabs are meant for both celebrating and socializing—so crabs equal good times.
So what do we do when colder weather arrives and crab-picking season ends? Do we give up crab meat for 6 months? Heavens, no.
We make dishes that contain crab meat that we’ve picked and frozen during the summer, or we head back to our local waterman/seafood dealer and buy a pound or two of crab meat that he’s picked and frozen for the winter. I’m in that latter category, although I do remember one winter when we feasted on flounder stuffed with crab meat several times.
We’d caught the flounder while fishing in the Chesapeake Bay, which was right off my parents’ summer home. We always caught and ate crabs when visiting there, too.
That particular occasion, I had picked enough crab meat to stuff the flounder before freezing. Those stuffed flounder made for an exceptional meal in January when the cold north wind was howling.
My sister found this crab casserole recipe many years ago and it’s become a winter season favorite but you can enjoy it any time of year, of course. You can even reserve enough crab meat when you’re picking your steamed crabs—if you have that much discipline. I love steamed crabs so much that I do not!
Susie makes this Crab Casserole gluten free for me by just replacing gluten-full bread with gluten-free bread. I started making it myself for those holiday meals with Mr. GFE’s side of the family. I’ve made this recipe with all kinds of gluten-free bread, both store-bought loaf bread and from “bread” I’ve made, like cornbread or corn muffins.
Susie also makes her gluten-free Crab Casserole free of dairy when Son is home by simply using soy-free Earth Balance instead of butter. We ALL love the results!
My sister Susie's divine Crab Casserole turns any event into a special occasion! She was making this recipe long before I went gluten free but it was easy for her to "convert" this casserole to gluten free (and even "more-free" later on). Adapted from the V.I.P. Cookbook: A Potpourri of Virginia Cooking, Vol. 7. Susie says to use backfin crab meat, but I use the “special," which is a mix of backfin, and leg and claw meat---it's much more reasonably priced, although any crab meat is pricey. I use whatever gluten-free "bread" I have available, like tapioca loaf (which admittedly I think is terrible in most cases, but is readily available and works well in this recipe), or Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free bread. You can easily make this recipe dairy free by using Earth Balance soy-free spread or sticks and dairy-free milk (like almond milk) and using gluten-free dairy-free bread. All "more-free" versions taste just as fabulous as the original!
Susie’s Gluten-Free Crab Casserole
My sister Susie's divine Crab Casserole turns any event into a special occasion! She was making this recipe long before I went gluten free but it was easy for her to "convert" this casserole to gluten free (and even "more-free" later on).
Adapted from the V.I.P. Cookbook: A Potpourri of Virginia Cooking, Vol. 7.
Susie says to use backfin crab meat, but I use the “special," which is a mix of backfin, and leg and claw meat---it's much more reasonably priced, although any crab meat is pricey.
I use whatever gluten-free "bread" I have available, like tapioca loaf (which admittedly I think is terrible in most cases, but is readily available and works well in this recipe), or Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free bread.
You can easily make this recipe dairy free by using Earth Balance soy-free spread or sticks and dairy-free milk (like almond milk) and using gluten-free dairy-free bread. All "more-free" versions taste just as fabulous as the original!
I have to admit that it was also nice to get out the very special handmade pottery that my dear friend Cindi gave me years ago. It’s really too pretty and special to only use one time each year … it’s a fir tree after all—aren’t fir trees around all year long?
Originally published November 12, 2009; updated November 22, 2022.
Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t think I’ve ever had crab. Lobster wasn’t my favourite thing when I tried it (at the best place to get it according to my dad), and I’m not a big meat girl, so I just never got around to trying it… The flavours in this sounds great! I might have to try =D.
Hey Lauren–Crab and lobster are very different in my opinion. Neither tastes anything like meat either—again, in my opinion. You need to come visit and let me make these dishes so you can try just a taste … and then another … and then another. 😉 It’s a delightful dish.
Thanks for commenting!
Oh my, this sounds so delicious! I think I’d have to make two – one for me, and one for everyone else. I love crab. It’s so sweet and wonderful! Unfortunately, I live in Texas, nowhere near crab country, and it’s kinda pricey! But for a special occasion such as a holiday, it’s so worth it! Can you use the finely “chopped” crab meat that they sell in stores?
Hey, Alta!–Always nice to please a fellow crab lover with another crab dish! 🙂 Yes, the crab meat available in stores is fine. And, I should have definitely made two of these casseroles. Mr. GFE and I enjoyed a serving each the other night … then Son popped in from college while we were at work. Well, you know the rest … no more crab casserole. Sigh. At least Thanksgiving will be here soon and we’ll be enjoying another crab casserole then. It is pricey as you say, so I’m not going to make another one until then. (I’m pretty sure I probably visibly winced when the owner of the seafood house told me the price of the regular crabmeat per pound.) I’ve got a pound in the freezer in waiting. 🙂
Please report back and let us know what you think! Thanks,
Alisa - Frugal Foodie says
Oh my goodness, I would be in heaven if we had delicious blue crab at Thanksgiving! This looks great!
We have been to Maryland a couple of times, many years ago for work, and I swear I will never forget all of the delicious food (and crab!) we ate while we were there.
Hi, Alisa–Thank you! Yes, isn’t it great to eat wonderful fresh seafood? Crab is my favorite though. (Shrimp is close behind.) I think you should buy some crabmeat at the store and make this casserole (dairy-free, of course). It will revive your memories even more and make you look like a rock star in the kitchen! 🙂
What a great dish that’s a bit different from traditional Fall meals. I love crab but my wife isn’t a big fan. I may have to make a small portion for myself. Thanks for the recipe.
Thanks, Brian! I know … so far I haven’t been fitting the norm for our fall meals. Glad you approve though! A serving for just you would be lovely. Then you could prevent the issue we had with Son coming home and eating the rest of the crab casserole …
Love those pecans you shared for the Holiday Food Fest … oh, if only we all could get together and share this fabulous food! 🙂
Oh, I do so want to make this…wholly yum!
Hey, Pam–Yes, do make this one … it will make you and your guests so happy! A hot crab dish in cold weather just says heavenly indulgence. 😉
Heck who said anything about guests…lol! All for meself…he he!!!
LOL, Pam, but I think you are too generous to do that. BTW, Son showed up with the rest of the crab casserole. He took it to his friends because he didn’t have time to find another container he said. Only one serving was gone. We had crab casserole for dinner! 🙂
OMG…what a darn lucky girl you were! Thanks for the kind comment! Have fun!
GIRL! The crustless pumpkin pie rocked everyones socks off! I can’t wait to look around at all of your recipes- thank you 🙂
Hey there, Erica!–Welcome to gfe! 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by to let me know about the pumpkin pie. I bet not one person complained there was no crust. Hope you enjoy the recipes you find here and come back again! There will be lots of simple gfe recipes here over the next few weeks. Well, always really since that’s the gfe concept, but I have some great recipes coming up that work so well for the holidays and special occasions. 😉
I second that Erica…thank YOU Shirley!
You girls are making me blush :-0 … thanks so very much!
sounds so good! i will have to try it!
Hey, Jennifer–This might be a recipe that will turn out to be a new family favorite! 😉
This looks delicious. By far the very best crab I’ve eaten was with you and Mr GFE when we visited. Crab Norfolk. It was so, so good. When we came back home I went to a seafood restaurant nearby so that I could eat crab again. I ordered crabcakes and they tasted like light canned tuna. Know what I mean, the darker tuna that that resembles cat food? Disappointing! I realized that at my desired price point, it just isn’t going to be good here.
When I think of crab I think of you. How do you like that? 😉
Hey, Therese–I’m so glad our local crab made such an impression. It really is some good stuff. Bummer on the crab cakes in your area. Frozen crabmeat from good national brands like Phillips would be great in this recipe though. They even have claw meat that is far more economical and while it gives a slightly different taste, it’s very good, too. If you’ve ever eaten crab claws you know what I mean about a different taste. Still good though.
I think it’s appropriate that you think of me when you think of crab. LOL My astrological sign is the crab … no kidding. 🙂
P.S. I posted on the special turkey breast recipe that I gave you years ago. If you get a chance, please add a comment with your review. Thanks!
This crab casserole looks so good, no wonder your hubby was following you around. Lucky guy!I joined in on the holiday food fest and made some cute little spiced cider “Mulling Minnows” I will post to Phoebe’s site. Thanks for the invite it was fun!
Hi Robin–Usually hubby is not like that, but the crab casserole smell was driving him crazy. LOL
I saw your Holiday Food Fest entry–beautiful! I’d love to receive that gift. Its presentation is amazing! I’ll have my post up later today. I’m tempted to stay home from work to finish it, but better not. 😉
Thanks so much for stopping by and participating in Holiday Food Fest! Maybe another theme during HFF will appeal to you as well … I’m so loving all the entries. 🙂
I wanted to stop by and say “Thank YOU!” for this delicious recipe! I adore crab cakes, and this was just a wonderful meal with a salad and steamed broccoli and some brown rice. The only thing I did differently was to leave out the butter entirely (I forgot it in the microwave-oops) I was afraid the dish would be on the dry side, but it was lovely and creamy and crabby. I used 2 waffles for my bread crumbs, whole, fresh goats milk, and fresh Phillips brand crab meat from Costco. Delish, and everyone loved it! I had leftovers for breakfast the next morning, I couldn’t wait to eat it again! Thanks again for a terrific New Years Day meal!
I made this recipe this weekend for me and my fiance, who is not GF, and we both absolutely loved it. We even fought over the left overs the next day! I will definitely be making this recipe again 🙂
Hi Megan–Yippee on success in making a gfe recipe that makes both the gluten-free person and the gluten-full person happy! That’s always the goal here at gfe. 🙂 You’re building your recipe repertoire for married days of wonderful shared meals!
Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! Hugs,
Just put this in the oven and I can’t wait. It smells heavenly already. Thanks for sharing this. Went out to eat the other night and desperately wished I could have had the crab cakes, come home and found this. I think it will hit the spot perfectly!
Hi Kay–Your comment got lost in all the comments on the holiday event. So sorry. Please tell us … what did you think of the crab casserole? 😉
Happy New Year!
this is in my oven RIGHT NOW! found your blog on the gluten free community blog. can’t wait to poke around and try some of your other recipes. we are from the *southern coastal* part of virginia and can usually get good seafood also. i have heard some great things though, about those maryland seafood places!
Hey Sandi–Welcome to gfe! How wonderful that you found me from a gf community blog. 🙂 How did your casserole turn out? My sister made this dish again today for Mother’s Day. We all love it! 🙂 Hope you did, too. 😉
beverly meile says
I have a co worker that can’t have anything with Gluten, this is great I can give him the web sight so now he has more of a variety, thank you very much
Hi Beverly–Welcome to gfe! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing my blog with your co-worker. I so hope he finds it helpful!