Crab Stuffed Shells have a cheesy crab filling with apple and bacon in jumbo pasta shells with creamy alfredo sauce. Crab meat and alfredo sauce bring the decadence, and apple and bacon bring texture. This inspired combination of ingredients celebrates the salty sweet nature of crab in a homey pasta dinner.
About this recipe
Succulent crab meat has a beautiful inherent salty/sweetness. The sweetness comes from the waters it lives in, and the degree of “sweetness” can vary with how close the crab is to molting and shedding its old shell. The saltiness comes from the ocean as well.
In this recipe for stuffed shells with crab meat, I wanted to accentuate both the natural sweetness and saltiness of crab and I did it by adding a little apple and bacon. Not a lot, so as not to overwhelm the delicate crab flavor, but enough to work with and accentuate so all comes together in an incredibly delicious bite.
And don’t skip the green onion! The bite of onion is a foil for the fat of the sauce and brightens up the whole dish.
About the ingredients
See the recipe card below for the complete ingredients listing and proportions.
Find the crab at the fresh seafood counter (i.e. not canned crab from the grocery section with tuna, sardines, etc). There are usually claw meat ($), lump crab ($$), and jumbo lump crab meat ($$$). We want the one in the middle, Lump crab meat.
For the cheeses, use real, freshly grated parmesan cheese (aka Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese). Shred the Vermont sharp white cheddar cheese using the large holes of a cheese grater. If Vermont white cheddar is not available, regular sharp cheddar can be substituted.
How to make crab stuffed shells
One of the beauties of this recipe is how easy it is to make. See the recipe card below for full details, but essentially crab stuffed shells are made thusly:
- Make the crab filling.
- Make the alfredo sauce.
- Cook the pasta shells while the alfredo sauce thickens.
- Assemble the stuffed shells.
- Bake and serve.
This recipe uses my fettuccini alfredo sauce which is hella easy to make and one of my favorite things on earth.
TIP: Jumbo pasta shells tend to sink and get stuck to the bottom of the pot as they cook, and if we let that happen they end up ruined. So it is very important to give them a stir every couple minutes and prevent them sticking to the bottom.
The crab filling and shells can be assembled in advance. Alfredo sauce has a tendency to “break”, meaning the oil separates out, once reheated so I do not recommend making the sauce and baking in advance.
Because of the tendency for the fat in alfredo to separate out from the sauce upon reheating, I recommend reheating shells either gently in a warm oven or by individual portion in the microwave. Reheating slowly helps keep the sauce from separating.
Crab Stuffed Shells
For the crab filling
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup finely diced Granny Smith apple
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
- ½ cup thinly sliced green onion
- 1 Tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped
- ¼ tsp prepared horseradish
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup shredded Vermont sharp white cheddar cheese
- 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled divided
- 1 tsp Old Bay seafood seasoning
- 8 oz cooked lump crab meat
Make the crab filling
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Add the apple to a medium mixing bowl. Toss in the lemon juice.
- Add half the bacon to the apple. Set aside the rest of the bacon for garnish.
- Add the remaining ingredients for the crab filling to the apple and bacon, and toss gently lightly with a fork to combine, taking care to minimize breaking up chunks of crab.
Make the pasta and sauce
- Make the alfredo sauce. Add the 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning to the sauce.
- While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta shells to al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool enough to handle. (*see Notes)
Assemble and bake
- Fill each pasta shell with ~1 tablespoon of crab filling and place in a 13×9 bake dish. Spoon roughly half of the alfredo sauce over the shells.
- Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes until filling is heated through.
- Serve shells topped with additional alfredo, the rest of the bacon, and green onion.
Calorie count is purely an estimate calculated using an online application to serve as a guide and not to be taken as accurate nutritional information. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.