She crab soup is a classic low country dish with a rich, creamy base. This recipe includes a tip for making sure every bowl gets plenty of delicious, lump crab meat.
“ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! My mom made this for me & my children and my jaw dropped after the first bite. This tasted like something out of a 5 star restaurant…”– Kaitlin
In case you’re not familiar, this is a rich soup traditionally made in the South Carolina Lowcountry, tidewater area of Virginia, and the Georgia coast. Charleston in particular, is full of restaurants claiming theirs as “the best”.
Similar to a bisque, old school she-crab soup has heavy cream, seafood stock, crab meat, crab roe, and a sprinkling of dry sherry. The roe is where it gets its name, “she-crab” referring to the female crabs that produce the roe.
These days roe is almost impossible to find. That’s mostly due to the restrictions on harvesting crabs (particularly females). We think those restrictions are a good thing, and that the roe wouldn’t really contribute to the taste of the soup anyway.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Butter – salted or unsalted will be fine. You just may need to adjust your salt accordingly.
- Onion – sweet onion is best here, and if Vidalia onions are in season they are just perfect!
- Flour – plain all purpose
- Seafood stock – you could substitute chicken stock
- Heavy Cream – you could go with half-and-half, but your soup won’t be as rich.
- Worcestershire sauce – just a touch really enhances all of the flavors
- Lemon zest – if you don’t have a lemon to zest a small spoonful of lemon juice would be okay, but the zest is really best.
- Mace – if you don’t have it nutmeg is commonly used as a substitute.
- Old Bay seasoning – there really is nothing like it.
- Cayenne pepper – it’s only ¼ teaspoon. Do yourself a favor and don’t leave it out.
- Salt – whatever you have on hand.
- Crabmeat – Use lump crabmeat. It can be fresh, canned, frozen, or come in those little containers you find at the seafood market.
- Dry Sherry – We use the cooking sherry you can get at the grocery, but if you have some of the good stuff on hand, by all means, use it!
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on an affiliate link and buy something, we may receive a very small commission. It does NOT result in additional charges to you or cost you anything extra. Click here for our full privacy and disclosure policy. As an Amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
How to make it
- Start by melting the butter in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
- Cook the onion until soft and then add the flour.
- Add the stock, stirring well.
- Reduce the heat and stir until thickened (about 5 minutes or so).
- Stir a small amount of the hot roux into the cream to temper. This means you are bringing the temperature of the cream up so it doesn’t curdle when added to the soup.
- Now add the cream and stir, bringing the heat back up to medium low or so, until it’s thoroughly heated.
- Reduce heat again, and add half the salt, the worcestershire sauce, zest, mace, Old Bay, half the crab, and cayenne pepper.
- Simmer 5 minutes.
- Combine remaining crab meat, salt and sherry in a small bowl.
- Divide soup into serving bowls and top with a scoop of the crab/sherry mixture.
- Garnish with fresh herbs, if desired.
Exact measurements are in the recipe card below.
It’s always a good idea when cooking with crab to “pick” through it before it goes in your dish.
If you’ve ever cleaned fresh crabs yourself you’ll know that it can be really difficult to get out every last morsel of shell. Biting into that hard shell isn’t very pleasant, so a thorough check to make sure it’s clean is a good idea.
Our top tip is leaving out half of the crab meat and mixing it with the sherry and a little salt. After the soup is divided into bowls then add the reserved crab mixture.
Doing this ensures that each bowl gets a generous portion of that succulent crab meat. You don’t want to start a fight over it, do you?
The only other tip we have for you has already been mentioned. Tempering the cream with a bit of the hot liquid will prevent any curdling.
Complete the meal
This recipe makes enough for 4 larger or 6-8 smaller bowls of soup.
If you want an entire meal with a southern seafood theme you’ll want to follow up the soup with Southern Style Fried Shrimp.
To keep your experience focused on low country cuisine these Charleston Pecan Chewies are a traditional sweet treat from the area, and are made with simple pantry ingredients. Gullah Style Red Rice is one that goes way back in the lowcountry too.
Storing your soup
As seafood is pretty delicate we would not recommend keeping any leftovers longer than 3 days.
Keep it tightly covered in the fridge and heat slowly over low to medium low heat, stirring often.
We do not recommend freezing this soup.
Without further ado, on to the recipe! Be sure to comment below to tell us what you think and put a photo on Instagram and tag us @biscuitsandburlap!
She Crab Soup
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup onion minced
- ¼ cup flour
- 3 cups seafood stock
- 2 cups heavy cream set out for a few minutes to prevent curdling when added to hot stock
- ½ tsp worcestershire
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- ½ tsp mace nutmeg can be substituted
- 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1-½ tsp salt divided
- 1 lb lump crab meat picked through and divided
- ¼ cup dry sherry
- Melt butter of medium heat in large stock pot or dutch oven. Cook onion until soft (about 3-5 mins)
- Add flour and blend to make roux.
- Add seafood stock to roux, stirring well. Reduce to low heat and stir until thickened (about 5 mins)
- Stir small amount of hot roux into cream to temper.
- Add cream to pot and turn heat back up to medium low, stirring until heated through.
- Reduce heat to low. Add next 5 ingredients, 1 tsp of salt, and ½ of the crab. Simmer 5 mins.
- Combine remaining crab meat, salt, and sherry in a small bowl. When you divide the soup into individual bowls, top with a scoop of the crab mixture in the center of the bowl.
- chicken broth or stock may be substituted for seafood stock
- nutmeg may be substituted for mace
- be sure crab meat has been checked thoroughly for any little bits of shell
This recipe made our top 10 of 2018. See them all.
Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry says
This looks and sounds absolutely incredible. Big crab fan and I definitely need to try this!
Awww, thanks so much Bintu!
Did you ever try this?
Nicole Tingwall says
This sound amazing! Perfect for a brisk fall day.
Right? We’re ready for one of those. Haven’t even come close yet here in Atlanta. Thank you!
Joanna Stephens says
Yummy!! This sounds surprisingly easy to make!
It really is, Joanna.
Monica | Nourish + Fete says
I am with you, I’m not sure I’ve ever once cooked or prepared a meal with roe, and I don’t really see any reason to start. 🙂 And plus this soup looks and sounds plenty amazing without it! Those big lumps of crab meat in each bowl are just tantalizing – I can practically taste them from your photos!
Yeah, I guess we’re in agreement on that Monica. Thank you for your sweet words!
I love crab but don’t eat it enough – this looks delicious! Very hearty – the perfect comfort food!
We live near a coastline in CA, so we get lots of fog which always puts me in the mood for soup! This will be a hit with my family, and no roe for us. No one will miss it, just like you said!
Thanks so much, Sandra!
Hi – can’t wait to make this soup but I will make it with Dungeness Crab meat and use Better than Bouillon Fish Base. But I have a question – what the heck is mace? Have never seen this out here in California grocery stores. Is there a substitute for this? Thanks again for the recipe.
similar to nutmeg
Why do people rate a recipe without having made it? Unlike everyone above, I did make this recipe and ate it. My husband, who is a picky eater said to give you 5-stars for the recipe. He would gladly eat it again. The flavor was good, nice and smooth and easy to make. I would change the name though, since no “she” crab was used in the ingredients – Maybe call it Creamy Southern Crab Soup. Nonetheless, you hit the nail on the head with your recipe. Well done. I will make it again in the future. Thank you.
Thank you for your kind words, Max!
Did you make the seafood stock or buy it?
We used bought seafood stock, Stephanie, but homemade would be awesome if you have it.
I agree 100%, thank you for giving your review. It was definitely helpful.
if she changed the name then I wouldn’t have found her recipe. A recipe I fully plan on making in the next couple weeks. I love creamy seafood soups like this one
How many servings does this recipe make?
I made this for a special dinner for my husband. We absolutely loved it. The flavors are spot on. I will definitely make this again.
I just made this recipe, I only had about 7.4 ounces of crab (left over from crab legs) so I cut the recipe exactly in half. It turned out great. It’s just me, my fiancé and our one year old. It ended to being enough once paired with a chicken wrap and some red lobster biscuits you can buy in the store in the box.
It’s so yummy.
So glad you loved it! Thanks, Jess.
Sandhya Ramakrishnan says
This is a quick to make recipe and very delicious too. Love to have this for dinner with some crusty bread on the side.
yes, that’s the perfect way to eat it!
Thank you Sandhya!
What a delicious and comforting soup. I can’t wait to try it – it looks really easy too.
Thanks, Dannii! It is easy and delicious for sure!
I have been having so much fun trying new recipes! Today I made your recipe and it was delish!! My kids tried it as well and liked it! that’s a win!
Yay! Thanks for letting us know.
Made these over the weekend. Absolutely delicious!
Andrea Metlika says
Super delicious looking and sounding soup. I cannot wait to taste this!
Hope you love it!
Courtney | Love & Good Stuff says
This soup was easy to make, flavourful, and quite comforting. Definitely a keeper!
What a wonderful soup! My whole family loved it!
Yay! That makes us happy!
Crab is mty absolute favorite so I will be trying this ASAP! And what is roe?!
Roe is actually the name given to the eggs of the “she” crab.
Laurie Downs says
Quick and easy! Wonderful tasting. I’ve made it twice now. My Maryland husband loves it!
Thanks so much for letting us know, Laurie!
I loved this when I lived in the Washington DC area, for 35 years, and would spend time in the Outer Banks of N. Carolina. I live in Florida now, but if I can get decent crabmeat, I am definitely making this! Thank you so much for the recipe.
Hope you enjoy Alene!
Christine Krantz says
I have searched and searched for this recipe ever since eating it in Myrtle Beach ! this is super good and easy to make but expensive to find decent crab meat in my land locked state !! I have really enjoyed this on special occasions !! Thanks for sharing it !!
Awww… thanks so much Christine! Hate that it’s so expensive for you, but hopefully well worth it.
We don’t care for the taste of sherry or maybe we’ve just had bad sherry…lol. Would it still be good with leaving the sherry out? Thank you…it sounds really good!!
We’ve not tested it without the sherry, but it should still be good Tammy. The sherry does add a layer of complexity to the flavors that She Crab Soup is known for but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be good without it.
Tammy K Bowman says
Can you tell us exactly what dry sherry you used?
Hi Tammy, We just used an inexpensive cooking sherry.
What was the name of the dry sherry? I am at the grocery store right now.
Hi Sophia, I don’t remember a specific name, but you should be able to find cooking sherry in the section of your store with vinegars and cooking wines.
Today my family and I did not leave one bite of this soup in our bowls! I followed the recipe exactly minus the store bought seafood broth. Because I have a severe shrimp allergy I could not chance it so I made my own broth from scratch.
Thank you so much for this recipe, I think I’ll do 1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper next time just for the kids. I have been asked to put this on the menu every month 🤣. This was a great way to use our leftover crabs as well.
Yay! Thanks so much for letting us know, Jessica. It really means a lot when readers take the time to comment and leave a star rating on our recipes.
Would it be possible to make this in a slow cooker?
Not sure about that Starla. We haven’t tested it. If you wanted to make it ahead of time and keep it warm in the slow cooker I think that should be fine as long as you don’t go longer than an hour or two.
ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! My mom made this for me & my children and my jaw dropped after the first bite. This tasted like something out of a 5 star restaurant with it unique seasoning. She did make a few additions to the recipe. Kept the whole recipe including substituting mace with nutmeg (that’s all we have around here) but she blended up the onion it calls for, garlic, handful of fresh parsley & 2 celery sticks. I highly recommend this to anyone. She gave me your recipe + her additions so that I could make it for my littles that have been asking for it since we had it at her house lol. I’ve also shared it with a few friends & family. Thank you!
Wow! Thank you so much Kaitlin!