Crab Rolls

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crab rolls on a plate
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I grew up with lobster rolls. After all, my mom is from Ipswitch, Massachusetts, pretty much the epicenter of Lobster Roll Nation. I’d never heard of crab rolls.

Then, one day, I wandered into Obrycki’s in search of food during a layover in Baltimore-Washington airport. Crab rolls were on the menu. OK, I’ll bite. I ordered them.

“Good call,” the bartender said. They’re my favorite. Sure they are. Everything’s your favorite when you’re the bartender. I expected a glob of mayo-based crab salad in a tired hot dog bun.

An Obrycki’s crab roll is not that. Yes, there’s mayonnaise, and yes there is a bit of celery, and the obligatory Old Bay seasoning — I think it’s the law to include it with any crab dish within 150 miles of the Chesapeake Bay — but this sandwich (can you call something on a hot dog bun a sandwich?) was all about the crab.

While not as minimalist as a New England lobster roll, which can literally be buttered lobster in a split-top roll, this crab roll is full of crab with only the Old Bay-lemon-mayo to tie it all together. Celery is a minor addition entirely for texture, not a filler.

Another image of crab rolls on a plate.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I wrote notes about this amazing lunch on a napkin, determined to reverse engineer it at home.

This is what I came up with. While probably not the exact Obrycki’s crab roll, it’s close, and really good. I used Dungeness crab because that’s what I had, but any crab will do. Obviously they use blue crab in the Chesapeake.

Oh, and good luck finding split top rolls outside of New England, and that’s one thing I won’t buy online. Just use a good quality hot dog bun, or something else that makes you happy. I won’t come to your house to beat you up if you used, say, a kaiser roll or even a tortilla.

Just make these crab rolls. They are easy to put together, cool on a hot summer day, and absolutely memorable.

Crab rolls recipe
4.89 from 34 votes

Crab Rolls

These are based off crab rolls I had at Obrycki's in Baltimore. Try to get good quality crab, as it matters. Tinned crab isn't very good here. Once made, the salad will keep a couple days in the fridge.
Course: lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 hot dog buns

Instructions 

  • Toss the crabmeat in the melted butter. Mix all the remaining ingredients except for the buns in a large bowl. Fold the crabmeat into this.
  • Grill or toast the buns; you can spread some butter on the buns first if you'd like. Fill with the crab mixture. Serve with pickles and potato chips.

Notes

NOTE: You can substitute crawfish tails, shrimp or lobster for the crab. 

Nutrition

Calories: 415kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 1259mg | Potassium: 311mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 492IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 133mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

4.89 from 34 votes (19 ratings without comment)

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30 Comments

  1. No need to seek any further when looking to make crab/ lobster rolls! I’ve faithfully used this recipe since discovering it. Another knockout recipe Hank.

  2. Rich, creamy and buttery! I made this with sweet Dungeness crab. The flavors were fantastic and the rolls were the hit of the day after a morning of catching fresh crabs in the bay. Thank you Hank!