These Open Faced Crab Melt sandwiches have buttery toasted marble rye pumpernickel bread, smoked cheddar cheese, and a luscious, delicious crab salad. Easy to make and ready in minutes, these crab melt sandwiches are perfect for lunch or a light dinner with just the right amount of crunch and decadence.
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Why this recipe works
What I did with this recipe was based on the same premise as my Open-Faced Tuna Melts in that, when I am making a toasty sandwich with a seafood salad, I don’t want to actually cook said seafood salad because of the mayonnaise. I want the bread toasty, I want the cheese melty, but I don’t want hot mayonnaise-based seafood salad.
The flavors in this crab salad – with whole grain mustard and Old Bay seasoning – go So Damn Well with pumpernickel rye I just can’t even. So I buttered the bread and toasted it, piled on the crab salad, and just melted the cheese under the broiler. Easy peasy with an amazing flavor combination, this sandwich is freaking tasty.
About the ingredients
Some notes on the ingredients listed in the recipe card below. First is the crab meat: use fresh! Canned crab really isn’t good and I am not a fan of imitation crab either. But if you do like or even prefer imitation crab, then by all means use that – just shred it to make the salad.
For the bread, I used Pepperidge Farm rye and pumpernickel bread. I’m from Boston, so Pepperidge Farm is life for me. If you can’t find marbled rye-pump bread, just pick one and use rye or pumpernickel bread. The flavors of both complement this crab salad.
I used smoked cheddar cheese because with all these rich flavors going on, I wanted the cheese to sing too. Specifically, I used Sargento smokehouse cheddar.
How to make crab melt sandwiches
Making these delectable sandwiches is very easy and is done thusly:
- Make crab salad.
- Toast bread,
- Top toast with crab salad and cheese.
I elected to toast my bread in lots of butter to make it extra awesome. Alternatively, you can just toast in a toaster and skip the butter. Also, you can melt the cheese onto the sandwich in an air fryer if a broiler is not available.
Alternate uses for crab salad
This crab salad is so ridiculously tasty, that it can be used in many more recipes than these melts.
- Serve as a dip with pretzels! Seriously, I have done this and it is amazing.
- Fill mini fillo cups for an easy appetizer or party finger food. Find mini fillo (a.k.a. phyllo) cups in the freezer section.
- Use as a stuffing for mini peppers. Just halve the peppers, remove seeds, stuff with crab salad, and serve.
- Serve in Hawaiian rolls for tasty little sliders.
- Serve with romaine, tomatoes, and red onion drizzled with ranch for a main course salad.
Also be free to add more to the salad! Bacon, red onion, tomato, sliced radish – endless possibilities!
When combining the ingredients for the crab salad, be gentle so as not to break up the beautiful big chunks of lump crab.
In toasting the bread in the pan, don’t have the pan on too high of a heat or the butter will burn.
The crab salad can be made a day in advance if you’d like.
After toasting the bread slices, keep them on a rack so they don’t steam themselves soft on the bottom.
If you love seafood and also melty cheesy sandwiches, also check out my Salmon Melt.
Open Faced Crab Melt Sandwich
For the crab salad
For the sandwiches
- 4 slices marbled rye and pumpernickel bread
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter softened
- 4 slices smoked sharp cheddar cheese
- Heat oven broiler to high.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the Crab Salad and toss together. Set aside.
- Lightly butter both sides of each slice of bread. Toast each side in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden and toasty. Transfer to a rack on a bake sheet (*see Notes).
- Divide the crab salad over each slice of bread. Top each with a slice of cheddar cheese.
- Put under the boiler to melt the cheese (alternatively, an air fryer can be used). Garnish with chives, lightly dust with more Old Bay seasoning, and serve.
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.