This Spicy Warm Crab Bruschetta is so quick to make and is buttery + garlicky with a smoky heat. It’s a great appetizer when you want to fancy things up but keep it easy!
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Crab Bruschetta with Italian Heat
I was thumbing through The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child (so many great recipes!) and came across Petits Gratins de Crabe Au Vin Blanc, otherwise known as ramekins of crab meat in white wine sauce. The dish is a rich combination of crab meat, classic French flavorings, cream and cheese that is baked until hot and served with bread. Seriously indulgent!
But, it was the first step of flavoring the crab that really intrigued me — butter, shallots, dry vermouth and herbs. Without the cream and cheese, I thought this could be a delicious, lightened-up way to let the real crab flavor shine.
Of course, I had to give it a little spin and throw in one of my favorite ingredients…Calabrian chili! Raise your hand if you love a little spicy crab situation? (Me, me, me, I do!)
Gather Your Ingredients
In addition to kosher salt + fresh cracked black pepper, you’ll need…
- Fresh crab meat — I’ve made this with lump crabmeat and claw meat. Lump crab is pale and has a delicate flavor. Claw meat is darker and packs more of a crab punch. I prefer the claw meat, which is also more economical, but both are good. Just don’t use imitation crab, ok? 😉
- Unsalted butter— you gotta have butter! (Is there anything better than the smell of onions sautéing in butter?)
- Shallot — a sweet onion flavor perfect for crab.
- Fresh parsley — Italian flat leaf is my preference.
- Calabrian chili paste — I love using this Italian condiment to add a little smoky spice to dishes.
- Dry vermouth — this pale, fortified wine is infused with herbs and spices and is a brilliant way to introduce complex flavors.
- Lemon juice — just a little hit for some extra brightness.
- Ciabatta — or any crusty bread, like French baguette.
- Olive oil — to spread on the bread before toasting.
- Fresh Garlic — gets rubbed across toasted bread to infuse it with flavor.
- Tomato — a thin slice of ripe tomato adds contrasting texture and freshness.
How To Make Spicy Warm Crab Bruschetta
1. Toast the bread — brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil. Place the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake in a 400°F preheated oven for 10 minutes. Cool slightly then rub each slice with the cut side of the garlic.
2. Make the crab mixture — sauté shallots, parsley and Calabrian chili paste in butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the vermouth and simmer to reduce until just a thin layer of liquid covers the bottom of the skillet. Add the lemon juice, and fold in the crab meat. Cook until the meat is warmed through.
3. Assemble the bruschetta — top each slice of bread with a slice of tomato, then spoon some of the warm crab mixture. Garnish with a little extra fresh parsley + enjoy!
Common Recipe Questions
Just omit the Calabrian chili paste. It’ll still be delicious!
If you can’t find it, use red pepper flakes, a pinch of cayenne pepper, or even a few dashes of hot sauce. Always start with a little and taste so you don’t overwhelm with heat.
Minced chives, tarragon or fresh basil would all be lovely additions or substitutions for parsley.
Not at all. Place the bread in a basket and the spicy crab meat in a small bowl and let folks assemble themselves.
What to Sip with Your Crab Appetizer
Immediately, I’m thinking an Albariño, a white wine that is excellent with seafood. If you’re sticking with the Italian theme, enjoy the bruschetta with a dry Pinot Grigio.
When to Make This Recipe
Because this recipe is quick and easy, it’s great whenever you have a tight turnaround. Think impromptu cocktail hours or last minute dinner parties.
A Few More Easy Appetizers
- Pimento Cheese with Goat + Gouda
- White Beans with Chorizo + Manchego
- Grilled Shrimp + Polenta
- Burrata with Basil + Lemon
- Baked Scallops in White Wine Cream Sauce
Quick + Spicy Warm Crab Bruschetta Appetizer
- 8 slices ciabatta ½-inch thick (or other crusty bread)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic halved
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp shallots minced
- 1 tbsp flat leaf parsley mince
- ¾ tsp Calabrian chili paste (see note) or more, if you like spicy
- kosher salt + fresh cracked black pepper
- ⅓ cup dry vermouth
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 8 oz crab meat lump or claw (your preference), pick over + discard shells + cartilage
- 8 slices ripe tomato
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Rub each slice with the cut garlic cloves.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. When it starts to bubble, add the minced shallot, parsley, and Calabrian chili paste; season with a pinch of salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Cook for a minute.
- Add the dry vermouth and simmer until much of the liquid has evaporated; you want just a thin layer of liquid to cover the bottom of the skillet. Add the lemon juice + gently fold in the crab meat; cook until warmed through.
- To assemble, place a slice of tomato on the bread, then top with warm crab.
Nutritional values are estimated and provided as a general guideline only. I earn a commission from Instacart from qualifying ingredient purchases.